Lesson 97: Alma 40

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

As Alma warned his son Corianton about the consequences of sin, he also taught about life after death. He explained that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected. He taught about the spirit world, where the dead, depending on their choices in mortality, wait in either paradise or prison until the Resurrection.

Note: In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to teach one another. Before class, prepare handouts containing the accompanying instructions for companionships. Become familiar with each set of instructions so you can help students as they prepare to teach.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 40

Alma teaches Corianton about the spirit world and the Resurrection

Invite a student to read aloud the following account told by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“Many years ago I stood at the bedside of a young father as he hovered between life and death. His distraught wife and their two children stood nearby. He took my hand in his and, with a pleading look, said, ‘Bishop, I know I am about to die. Tell me what happens to my spirit when I do’” (Thomas S. Monson, “Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Oct. 2011, 4).

Invite students to consider what they would have said to this young father if they had been in President Monson’s position.

Ask a student to continue reading aloud President Monson’s account:

President Thomas S. Monson

“I offered a silent prayer for heavenly guidance and noticed on his bedside table a copy of the triple combination [the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price]. I reached for the book and fanned the pages. Suddenly I discovered that I had, with no effort on my part, stopped at the 40th chapter of Alma” (Thomas S. Monson, “Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon,” 4).

Explain that Alma 40 is a continuation of Alma’s teachings to his son Corianton and contains doctrines that can answer questions about what will happen to us after we die.

Invite students to read Alma 40:1 silently. Ask students to identify why Alma discussed resurrection with his son.

  • Why did Alma teach Corianton about resurrection?

  • As you recall Corianton’s choices, why might he have been worried about resurrection?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 40:2–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma taught Corianton about the Resurrection. Ask students the following questions, and invite them to consider marking the answers in their scriptures.

  • According to verses 2 and 3, who did Alma say would make the Resurrection possible? (Jesus Christ. You may want to point out that Jesus Christ was the first person on this earth to be resurrected [see 1 Corinthians 15:20–23].)

  • According to verse 4, who will come forth from the dead and be resurrected?

Write the following doctrine on the board: Because of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected.

  • Why is it important to know that everyone will be resurrected because of Jesus Christ?

Write the following questions on the board:

  1. 1.

    Where will we go when we die? What is it like there?

  2. 2.

    What is resurrection? How will our resurrected bodies be different from our mortal bodies?

handout iconDivide the class into pairs. Assign each pair a number: 1 or 2. Invite each pair to work as if they were a missionary companionship, preparing to teach a brief lesson to answer the questions on the board that correspond to their assigned number. To help them prepare, give them a copy of the instructions corresponding to their number (see the accompanying handouts).

Explain that after students have studied the instructions, they will have an opportunity to share what they have learned by teaching others. They will have about five minutes to prepare and about seven minutes to teach. Encourage both students in each pair to participate in preparing and teaching the lesson.

Companionship 1—Alma 40:6–14

Begin your lesson by explaining that when we die, our spirits are separated from our physical bodies.

Invite one of the people you are teaching to read Alma 40:6–7, 11 aloud. Ask the others to follow along, looking for what happens to our spirits when we die. (Explain that in these verses the words soul and souls refer to our spirits.)

  • According to verse 11, where did Alma say the spirits of all people go between death and the Resurrection?

Explain that the words “taken home to that God who gave them life” in Alma 40:11 do not mean that we will be brought into God’s presence immediately after we die. To clarify the meaning of this phrase, read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972):

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“These words of Alma [Alma 40:11–14] as I understand them, do not intend to convey the thought that all spirits [immediately] go back into the presence of God. … ‘Taken home to God’ [compare Ecclesiastes 12:7], simply means that their mortal existence has come to an end, and they have returned to the world of spirits, where they are assigned to a place according to their works with the just or with the unjust, there to await the resurrection” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. [1958], 2:85).

Invite one of the people you are teaching to read Alma 40:12 aloud. Ask the others to follow along, looking for where the spirits of the righteous go after death.

  • According to verse 12, where do the spirits of the righteous go? (Help those you are teaching identify the following doctrine: Between death and resurrection, the spirits of the righteous dwell in paradise. You may want to mark the phrases in verse 12 that teach this doctrine and invite those you teach to do the same.)

  • What words or phrases in verse 12 describe what paradise is like?

Invite one of the people you are teaching to read Alma 40:13–14 aloud. Ask the others to follow along, looking for where the spirits of the wicked go after death.

  • According to verse 13, where do the spirits of the wicked go after death?

Point out that when Alma used the phrase “outer darkness,” he did not refer to the final state of Satan and those who are damned. He referred to the state of the wicked between the time of their death and the time of their resurrection. Today, we usually refer to this state as spirit prison (see verse 13, footnote a). Invite those you are teaching to consider writing “spirit prison” in their scriptures near verses 13–14.

Explain that from Alma 40:13–14 we learn the following doctrine: Between death and resurrection, the spirits of the wicked dwell in spirit prison.

Ask those you teach how their understanding of life after death has helped them.

Testify of the truths you have taught.

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Companionship 2—Alma 40:21–25

Begin your lesson by asking those you are teaching to think about injuries, illnesses, or other limitations that they or their loved ones have experienced. Consider sharing an example of a limitation that you or one of your family members has experienced. (Be careful to not share anything that is too personal or private.)

Point out that we experience limitations because our bodies are imperfect and mortal, or subject to death.

Invite those you are teaching to take turns reading aloud from Alma 40:21–25. Ask them to look for what Alma taught about resurrection and how our resurrected bodies will differ from our mortal bodies.

  • What can we learn from these verses about resurrection and the difference between resurrected bodies and mortal bodies? (Help those you are teaching identify the following doctrine: Resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit and the body, with all things restored to their proper and perfect frame. Invite those you teach to consider marking words or phrases in Alma 40:21–23 that teach this doctrine.)

Read aloud the following statement by Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy. Ask those you are teaching to listen for what it means that “all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame” (verse 23).

Elder Paul V. Johnson

“Resurrection makes it possible for a person’s spirit and body to be united again, only this time that body will be immortal and perfect—not subject to pain, disease, or other problems [see Alma 11:43]. …

“Each of us has physical, mental, and emotional limitations and weaknesses. … None of these problems will plague us after we are resurrected. …

“… [Jesus Christ] can make us whole no matter what is broken in us” (Paul V. Johnson, “And There Shall Be No More Death,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 121–22, 123).

  • Why are you grateful to know that when you are resurrected, your body will be immortal and perfect, with all things restored to their proper and perfect frame?

Share why you are grateful to know that your body and spirit will one day be restored to their proper and perfect frame. Testify of the truth you have taught.

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Organize students into small groups so they can teach each other in a missionary role play. Each group should consist of two companionships, with each companionship having prepared answers to a different set of questions. Assure them that the Holy Ghost can inspire them and those they teach if they are sincere in their instruction and responses. As students teach one another, you may want to walk around the room so you can listen and help as needed.

After students have had time to teach each other in groups, consider asking the class some of the following questions:

  • What did you learn as you prepared to teach or were taught by other students?

  • Why do the truths we have discussed today matter to you?

Remind the class of the account of the young father who wondered what would happen to his spirit when he died. Explain that President Monson read Alma’s teachings about paradise to the young father. Invite a student to read aloud the remainder of President Monson’s account:

President Thomas S. Monson

“As I continued to read about the Resurrection, a glow came to the young man’s face and a smile graced his lips. As I concluded my visit, I said good-bye to this sweet family.

“I next saw the wife and children at the funeral. I think back to that night when a young man pleaded for truth and, from the Book of Mormon, heard the answer to his question” (Thomas S. Monson, “Precious Promises of the Book of Mormon,” 4).

Testify of Jesus Christ’s role in making available the blessings of the Resurrection. Encourage students to think of ways they can show their gratitude for the truth that we will be resurrected because of Jesus Christ.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 40:11–15. Where is the spirit world?

President Brigham Young (1801–1877) taught:

President Brigham Young

“Where is the spirit world? It is right here. … Do they [the spirits of those who have died] go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 376).

Alma 40:11–15. What happens to spirits in the spirit world?

The booklet True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference provides the following explanation of the condition of spirits in the spirit world:

“When the physical body dies, the spirit continues to live. In the spirit world, the spirits of the 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’ (Alma 40:12). A place called spirit prison is reserved for ‘those who [have] died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets’ (D&C 138:32). The spirits in prison are ‘taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and all other principles of the gospel that [are] necessary for them to know’ (D&C 138:33–34). If they accept the principles of the gospel, repent of their sins, and accept ordinances performed in their behalf in temples, they will be welcomed into paradise” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 46–47).

Alma 40:12. “Those who are righteous”

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the phrase “the spirits of those who are righteous” in Alma 40:12 refers to individuals who have been baptized and have lived according to the covenants they have made (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1955], 2:230).