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 teaches that the Spirit of God withdraws from those who do not repent. To be prepared to dwell with God in the eternities, a person needs to reconcile himself or herself to God through Christ’s Atonement and allow God to dwell in (and purify) his or her heart through His Spirit.
“…If ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doeth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb. And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God…” (Alma 34:35-37)
-Is it possible to be at rest spiritually? Do the powerful forces of God’s love, and Satan’s rebellion against God, allow anyone stay in place spiritually speaking?
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?
Teaching his fellow Nephites in the city of Ammonihah, Amulek testifies that the prayers of the righteous are all that is keeping God’s judgments from coming upon the people in the generally wicked city.
“…If it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword. But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared; now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword; and the time is soon at hand except ye repent.” (Alma 10:22-23)
-Are the righteous being cast out from any large groups or societies in our time? If so, will those who are removing the righteous from among them inevitably face famine, pestilence, and war?
Alma teaches the principle that we reap what we sow with our actions.
“…All men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.” (Alma 9:28)
-If works can increase grace and grace can increase works. Does it make sense to denigrate the role of one or the other? Does it make more sense to emphasize their mutually reinforcing and “symbiotic” relationship?
-Since Christ has made works meaningful through His Atonement (opening up the way for the Father to treasure up all the good a person does and magnify it through all eternity), how vital is it to show appreciation for this unrivaled opportunity and move forward with good works?
Jesus Christ is our wholly benevolent and righteous King who has power even over death!
“…O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; for were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished. But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.” (Mosiah 15:18-20)
-What does it mean to align one’s life to be in harmony with the Founder of Peace?
-Would many that chafe at the thought of having an earthly king be willing to receive their Heavenly King?
-Will anyone not receive their Heavenly King when a full consciousness of what He has done, and the love He extends, is obtained?
Knowing his people had a clear knowledge of God’s law, Jacob pleads with them to not be entangled in sin but to turn with a repentant heart toward the true God.
“…Turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation. Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty–but I know my guilt; I have transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am prey to his awful misery.” (2 Nephi 9:45-46)
-Are you actively preparing your soul for the Day of Judgment?
-Who must you rely on to be prepared?
-To prevent being bound by the chains of sin, does a reliance on Christ need to be a constant daily endeavor? Is participating in this daily endeavor the difference between being spiritually-minded and being carnally-minded?
-Why will any remaining guilt be remembered with perfectness at the Day of Judgment?
-How can all guilt be washed away before the Day of Judgment?
After teaching about the power of Christ’s Atonement to bring about the Resurrection and a Last Judgment that will be both merciful and just (see They Must be Judged According to the Holy Judgment of God, O How Great the Plan of Our God!, and It Must Needs Be an Infinite Atonement), Jacob describes those who will inherit the kingdom of God.
“But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (2 Nephi 9:18)
-Who is the Holy One of Israel? (see Jesus Christ)
-What does it mean to be a saint of the Holy One of Israel?
-How is belief in the Holy One of Israel expressed in everyday life?
-What does it mean to endure the crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world?
-What does it mean to inherit the kingdom of God?
Lehi testifies to his sons that God is eternally consistent and how they will fare (physically and spiritually) depends on their choices in relation to God’s standards:
“His ways are righteous forever. And he has said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” (2 Nephi 1:20)
-What does it mean to prosper in the land? And, how is it the opposite of being cut off from God?
Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:
“When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone. … But what I count as real prosperity, as the one thing of all others that is of great value to every man and woman living, is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same. That is prosperity of the truest kind” (Heber J. Grant, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant , 124).
Lehi, the Book of Mormon prophet, speaks of some of the special characteristics of the promised land as established by God in the Americas.
“[T]his land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (2 Nephi 1:7)
-Is there any land where God does not bless the obedient and withdraw blessings from the wicked?
-Has God established certain lands — such as the promised land of the Americas — where this dynamic of blessing and cursing is swifter and more pronounced? Why would He do so?
-Does iniquity abound in America (or areas within the Americas)? If so, are there signs of God withdrawing His favor from these peoples and places? Are their signs of liberty being lost?