If Thou Shouldst Fall at This Time – Alma 20:17

17 But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved.
The Book of Mormon teaches clearly that the state of our soul at the moment of death has far-reaching consequences. Nephi told his brothers that those who “die in their wickedness must be cast off” from the presence of God (1 Nephi 15:31-33). Mormon said that a person who dies with bitterness in his heart “must go down to hell” (Moroni 8:14). And, in the passage above, Ammon warns the father of King Lamoni that if he should die at that moment, in his anger, he could not be saved.
Obviously, we need to keep these passages in context. We know that one of the meanings of “hell” is spirit prison, which is a temporary state for the souls of the wicked, while they await the resurrection and judgment (see D&C 76:84-85). We also know that righteous spirits labor to save the souls of people in spirit prison (D&C 138:57-59). Nevertheless, it seems clear that we should place a high priority on repenting promptly and on avoiding states of mind and heart which would not serve us well at the moment of death.
Does this mean that our state of mind at the moment of death can invalidate a lifetime of thoughts, words, and actions? Of course not. But, as Dallin H. Oaks has taught, those thoughts, words, and actions don’t constitute our payment of a heavenly entrance fee. Rather, they represent our efforts, in conjunction with the power of the Atonement, to become the kind of people who can dwell in God’s presence:

The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become (“The Challenge to Become,” Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 2000).

Or, as Alma taught, “that 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 34:34).
Today I will remember that the decisions I make and the attitude I adopt toward the experiences of the day are moving me closer to the person I will be when I return to the presence of God.
This entry was posted in Alma, Death and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to If Thou Shouldst Fall at This Time – Alma 20:17

  1. Marty Zobel says:

    This is why there’s confusion about death-bed repent.


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