Alma teaches his son about the state of human spirits between the time of death and the time of the Resurrection.
“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Alma 40:11-14)
-Do the two drastically different experiences of the spirit world, as described in the above verses, represent two ends of a spectrum?
-Are there some who will experience something in between these two opposing spiritual states?
Gratitude: I am grateful to have greater knowledge of the spirit world through the teachings found in the Book of Mormon. I’m also grateful to know that I can look forward to peace and rest in the spirit world if I choose to live in harmony with God’s Spirit in this life.
Amulek explains why “death bed” repentance, while better than no repentance, isn’t a good idea. The health of one’s spirit is the result of cumulative choices. Decisions that are made — day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year — form the essence of one’s spirit and that essence will largely hold sway once a person passes through the veil of death into the eternities (and receives a resurrected body).
“…I would that, after ye have received so many witnesses, seeing that the holy scriptures testify of these things, ye come forth and bring fruit unto repentance. Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:30-32)
“…I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance, until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for the same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:33-34)
-How quickly does one’s spirit start to heal and be enlightened after he or she repents and softens his or her heart toward God?
God doesn’t make mistakes or run into issues accidentally. We are here in mortality because He planned it to be so. But when we came to this Earth we lost our memory of God’s plan and the eternal realms where we came from. Angels have been sent from the beginning to remind humankind of God’s plan of redemption.
“…[God] saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them. Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.” (Alma 12:28-30)
-Is conversing with one of God’s messengers akin to conversing with God?
-Why does God usually send messengers instead of conversing with mortals directly?
-Are the angels that are sent to us always beings from the heavenly realms? Or, are they sometimes fellow mortals who are doing God’s work?
The Book of Mormon prophets affirm that Adam and Eve were real people. Their fall brought death (physical and spiritual) into the world, but God knew this would happen. His plan utilized the mortal life that occurred because of the Fall to give His spiritual children (all of us on Earth) experience we could have gained no other way. He then provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to overcome physical death for all and provide an escape from spiritual death for those who choose to follow Christ.
The verses below teach that immortality is a curse without the healing power of Christ’s Atonement.
“Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word of God would have been void…” (Alma 12:22-23)
“And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of salvation would have been frustrated…but behold it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment…” (Alma 12:26-27)
-Are some still seeking the “tree of life” in our time?
-How likely is it that God would allow His children to obtain immortality if it would be a curse to them?
-Are cherubim with a flaming sword, figuratively speaking, still guarding the tree of life (if the tree of life represents immortality separate from that provided through Christ’s Atonement)? (see Genesis 3:24)
Amulek teaches about the meaning and reality of the Resurrection made possible through Jesus Christ.
Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt. Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil….[T]his mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption. (Alma 11:42-45)
-Do you believe that, because of Christ’s Resurrection, He has cleared the way for all of us to be resurrected as described in these verses?
-Will those who have repented and sought shelter in Christ’s power have any sense of guilt at the time of the Judgment?
Alma declares that the mocker and persecutor is not suited for heaven.
“…Is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions? Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!” (Alma 5:30-31)
-Is there ever a point where the time isn’t “at hand” for each mortal soul?
-How precious is the opportunity to have life — moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour – and show God who we are during this time of mortality?
-Why is now always the best time to repent?
In teaching (and warning) King Noah and his priests, the prophet Abinadi reemphasizes what other prophets had taught before him: The Resurrection and the Judgment are closely tied and, together, define the eternal state of each soul.
“…This mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.” (Mosiah 16:10-12)
-Does God make sure that we are given every chance in mortality (and even in the spirit world) to turn to Him?
-By the time of the Resurrection will everyone’s true desires be expressed through the actions they took leading to that culminating event?
The prophet Abinadi teaches how God the Father and Jesus Christ are one God in the sense that Christ never did anything but the Father’s will despite taking on the temptations of mortality.
“I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.” (Mosiah 15:1-5)
-Is Heavenly Father and Christ being in perfect harmony, in terms of purpose, the same as their somehow being one in form?
-When God asks us to be one (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:27), is He asking us to somehow be the same person? Or, is He asking us to be one in righteous purpose?
-Who are the children of Christ?
King Benjamin declares the conditions for salvation for those who have received knowledge of the gospel and God’s goodness:
“If the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—I say, that this is the man [or woman] who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.” (Mosiah 4:5-8)
-Is there anyway to know the goodness of God and the power of Christ’s Atonement without a witness from the Holy Ghost?
Jacob addresses the urgency of turning to God and embracing His will now, during mortality, rather than letting the precious opportunity pass by and fade away.
“…My beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of day, harden not your hearts. Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?” (Jacob 6:5-6)
-Why does Jacob compare our present condition (mortality) to the light of day?
-How is God holding fast, in loyalty and love, to His children on the earth (even when they are not reciprocating)?
-Why do some harden their hearts against God’s outstretched hands?