Alma teaches that transgressing God’s law, in the absence of repentance, demands punishment. But sincere repentance allows such sins to be forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man. Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?” (Alma 42:16-21)
“But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored to his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:22-23)
-Is person inevitably in the grasp of justice when he or she knows God’s law but does not humble himself or herself before God in sincere repentance on a regular basis?
Alma teaches his son that all people will be restored (in the Resurrection) to what they have become based on their desires and actions in this life.
“Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness…All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in the carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature? O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.” (Alma 41:10-13)
-Why will Christ save souls from their sins but will not save them in their sins (see previous post entitled Ye Cannot Be Saved in Your Sins)?
-How can one be helped by Christ to move away from his or her sins through repentance so that his or her nature changes toward what is good, righteous, and just?
Alma teaches his son that the restoration of the body to the spirit (Resurrection) is required as part of God’s perfect execution of justice in line with Christ’s Atonement.
“…The plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.” (Alma 41:2)
-How does the Resurrection stem from God’s justice?
Gratitude: I am grateful to know our Heavenly Father will always uphold what is just and right. Everything, sooner or later, will come full circle in the light of truth and justice because of His wisdom and power (including the restoration of the body).
Alma teaches his son about the Resurrection:
“The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame…Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God. But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.” (Alma 40:23, 25-26)
-Is true eternal happiness possible without a physical body?
Gratitude: I am grateful to know my body will be restored to me in the Resurrection because of Christ’s work in fulfilling His Atonement—not just restored, but perfectly restored!
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?
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)
Alma teaches that our mortal lives are a time of preparation for the eternities.
“And we see that death comes upon mankind…which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” (Alma 12:24)
-Do you do believe your spirit will continue to live after your physical body dies? And, other than no longer having a physical body, that you will still be you?
-Do you believe that your spirit will be reunited with your (reconstituted and perfected) physical body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
-How important is it to come to grips with the truth about whether you will exist throughout the eternities or not?
-Is it ever wise to stay in the agnostic camp any longer than is necessary to decide what you believe?
-Do you think a person will live his or her life substantially differently based on whether they believe in the eternities or not?
-Can you see how, whether a person subscribes to the religion of atheism or another religion that believes mortal life is only part of the existential picture, religion is an inevitability for human beings?
-Which consequences have the potential to bear greater weight? Those that come from believing in your existence in the eternities and investing in mortal choices accordingly when existence in the eternities is a reality? Or, those that come from deciding there is no existence after death and making choices accordingly when there is no existence after death?
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?
Amulek teaches that reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain the kingdom of heaven. Such reconciliation requires true repentance away from sin.
“…No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” (Alma 11:37)
“[Christ] shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death, for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Alma 11:40-41)
-How does Christ draw a person from being in sin and save him or her from sin? Will He ever violate the principle of free agency to do so?
-If to be in sin means being complacent about wrongdoing, is it clear why Christ won’t save a person in his or her sin?