After leading a mission to the Zoramites, Alma returned to his home in Zarahemla and met with each of his three sons. Corianton, the youngest, had committed a serious sin during their mission. Because the sin was widely known, his misbehavior had reflected badly on the other missionaries and had damaged their efforts (Alma 39:11).
Alma’s goal in teaching Corianton was to motivate him to repent, and then to resume his missionary service.
Alma knew that Corianton had questions about key doctrines of the gospel. Alma believed that, if his son understood the answers to those questions more clearly, he would be motivated to repent and to follow God’s commandments (Alma 42:29). Therefore, after clearly identifying Corianton’s sins and urging him to repent, Alma discussed three of Corianton’s questions in detail.
In chapter 40, Alma also shows us his own struggle with difficult questions. As he discusses the resurrection, Alma explores the limits of his own understanding. He shares some things that he knows for sure (Alma 40:9-14), some things that are his opinion (Alma 40:19-20), and some things that he doesn’t know (Alma 40:21). He distinguishes between questions that are important and questions that don’t really matter (Alma 40:5, 8). He acknowledges that different definitions of key terms can affect the answers to questions (Alma 40:15-18). He also explains that acquiring spiritual knowledge requires effort (Alma 40:3).
- Alma urges Corianton to repent (Alma 39).
- The sin: You forsook the ministry, and went after the harlot Isabel (Alma 39:1-4).
- Sexual sin is more serious than any other except murder and denying the Holy Ghost (Alma 39:5-6).
- You can’t hide your crimes from God (Alma 39:7-8).
- Advice to Corianton: Repent, “cross yourself,” counsel with your brothers, turn to the Lord (Alma 39:9-14).
- Christ will surely come. God loves us and has given us this good news even before it has happened (Alma 39:15-19).
- Question #1: When and how will we be resurrected? (Alma 40)
- I understand that you’re worried about the resurrection (Alma 40:1).
- We don’t know exactly when everyone will be resurrected, but it will be after the coming of Christ, and there is some time between our death and our resurrection (Alma 40:2-6).
- What happens between our death and our resurrection? The spirits of the righteous go to paradise, and the spirits of the wicked go to outer darkness (Alma 40:7-14).
- Some people have called this a “first resurrection.” But that’s not accurate. The resurrection means the reuniting of the spirit with the body (Alma 40:15-18).
- I don’t know if the wicked and the righteous will be resurrected at the same time. I don’t know if they will be resurrected at the same time Christ is resurrected. I only know that there is a state of happiness or misery between death and the resurrection, and after we are resurrected, we will be judged by God (Alma 40:19-21).
- “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” (Alma 40:22-24).
- After the resurrection, the righteous will “shine forth,” and the wicked will be “cast out” (Alma 40:25-26).
- Question #2: What does it mean to be restored? Won’t God make us perfect in the end? (Alma 41)
- Some people have misunderstood the doctrine of restoration (Alma 41:1).
- All things to be restored to their proper order. So, in the resurrection, the spirit will be restored to a perfect body (Alma 41:2).
- It is good for people to receive the desires of their hearts. So those who desire good will have good restored to them, and those who desire evil will have evil restored to them (Alma 41:3-8).
- Don’t assume that you will be restored from wickedness to happiness. “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:9-11).
- You won’t be restored to a state opposite to your true nature. “That which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored” (Alma 41:12-14).
- Question #3: Isn’t it unjust for God to punish sinners? (Alma 42)
- You don’t think it’s right for sinners to be punished (Alma 42:1).
- When our first parents were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they were prevented from eating the fruit of the tree of life. This gave them time to repent (Alma 42:2-4).
- If Adam had eaten the fruit immediately, he would have lived forever, he would have had no space for repentance, and the plan of happiness would have been destroyed (Alma 42:5-8).
- We have experienced spiritual death (separation from God) because of sin. There is no way to overcome this without repentance (Alma 42:9-14).
- God Himself atoned for our sins to make this possible (Alma 42:15).
- Repentance, sin, law, and punishment all go together. Repentance is meaningless if there is no sin or if there is no punishment to escape (Alma 42:16-24).
- Do you think mercy can rob justice? It can’t. If people choose to repent, they can overcome spiritual death, but if they want to do evil, they will have evil restored to them (Alma 42:25-28).
- Admonition: Don’t let these misconceptions dissuade you from repenting. Humble yourself before God (Alma 42:29-30).
- Preach the gospel, so that you can “bring souls unto repentance” (Alma 42:31).
It is important for us to have a correct understanding of the plan of salvation, so that we will be motivated to make the decisions which enable God to save us. Salvation isn’t automatic; we have to choose it. We do this by humbling ourselves, receiving correction, and abandoning our sins (repenting).
God has done so much for us. He made it possible for us to overcome both physical and spiritual death. He has given us time to repent. Now, the choice is ours. Do we want to overcome our sins and gain true happiness? Or do we want to continue in our sins and remain miserable?
I will respond to Alma’s teachings by recommitting to the path of repentance. I will remember that repentance is the way I access the Atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome my sins and find true happiness.
Blog Posts about Alma Teaching Corianton
- What Does It Mean to Be “Long-Suffering?” (3/1/2019)
- Why Did God Prevent Adam and Eve from Partaking of the Tree of Life? (2/10/2019)
- What Is a “Probationary State?” (2/8/2019)
- What Does the Book of Mormon Teach About the Fall of Adam and Eve? (2/6/2019)
- How Is the Word “Atonement” Used in the Book of Mormon? (1/30/2019)
- Why Is It Important to Prioritize Our Questions? (1/4/2019)
- A Perfect, Just God, and a Merciful God Also – Alma 42:15 (11/26/2017)
- Wickedness Never Was Happiness – Alma 41:10 (11/25/2017)
- They Are Their Own Judges – Alma 41:7 (11/24/2017)
- I Admit It May Be Termed a Resurrection – Alma 40:15-18 (11/23/2017)
- This Is the Thing of Which I Do Know – Alma 40:7-9 (11/22/2017)
- Now, I Unfold unto You a Mystery – Alma 40:3 (11/21/2017)
- Ye Cannot Hide Your Crimes from God – Alma 39:7-8 (11/19/2017)
- I Have Inquired Diligently That I Might Know- Alma 40:3 (8/31/2016)
- Cross Yourself in All These Things – Alma 39:9-10 (8/9/2016)
- I Perceive That Thy Mind Is Worried – Alma 40:1, 41:1, 42:1-2 (7/19/2016)
- As Soon as They Are Departed – Alma 40:11-13 (2/21/2016)
- The Spirits of All Men…Are Taken Home – Alma 40:11 (2/15/2016)
- A Spiritual Death – Alma 42:9-10 (2/6/2016)
- A Perfect, Just God, and a Merciful God Also – Alma 42:15 (1/8/2016)
- The Work of Justice Could Not Be Destroyed – Alma 42:15, 2 Nephi 2:13 (1/4/2016)
- Whosoever Will Come May Come – Alma 42:27 (7/31/2015)
- That Which Ye Do Send Out – Alma 41:14-15 (7/30/2015)
- I Give It as My Opinion – Alma 40:20-21 (7/29/2015)
- Acknowledge Your Faults – Alma 29:12-13 (7/27/2015)
- Cross Yourself in All These Things – Alma 39:9 (7/27/2015)
- Alma 42:3-5 Lest He Should Put Forth His Hand (11/18/2014)
- Alma 39:4 This Was No Excuse For Thee, My Son (11/17/2014)