Alma concluded his counsel to his son Corianton by explaining that Heavenly Father had provided a way for those who sin to obtain mercy. He taught that the justice of God demands that sinners be cut off from the presence of God. He then testified that Jesus Christ would “appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:15) by suffering for all who have sinned and by providing mercy to the penitent.
Invite a student to read aloud the following scenario:
A young man’s parents find out that he has done something wrong. When they discuss the problem with him, he tries to excuse his behavior rather than acknowledging the wrong choice he has made. After the young man’s parents explain that he will receive consequences for his poor choice, he becomes upset and claims it is not fair that he will receive consequences.
What are some other examples of times when we might be tempted to try to excuse our wrong behavior rather than acknowledging our errors and accepting the consequences?
Remind students that in Alma 41 we learned that Alma taught his son Corianton that at the Final Judgment we will be restored to either happiness or misery according to our works and desires in this life. Explain that Alma 42 is a continuation of Alma’s teachings to Corianton.
Invite a student to read Alma 42:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Corianton thought would be unfair, or unjust, about the Final Judgment.
What did Corianton feel was unfair? (That sinners would be consigned to, or delivered into, a state of misery. Invite students to consider marking this concern in verse 1.)
Why might Corianton have wanted to believe that it was unjust for those who have sinned to be punished? (If students need to be reminded that Corianton was struggling with various sins, refer them to Alma 39:2–3.)
Summarize Alma 42:2–10 by explaining that Alma addressed Corianton’s concern. He taught that the Fall of Adam brought all humankind into a fallen state in which they must experience physical death and spiritual death. This life became a probationary time for humankind to repent and learn to serve God.
Invite a student to read Alma 42:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the result would be if there were no plan of redemption.
According to verse 11, what would be the result if there were no plan of redemption? (After experiencing physical death, we would be miserable, “being cut off from the presence of the Lord.” Remind students that separation from the Lord’s presence is called spiritual death.)
Why do you think being cut off, or separated, from the presence of the Lord would make us miserable?
Remind students that Corianton tried to “suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery” (Alma 42:1). Explain that God does not want us to miserable. On the contrary, through His plan of redemption God has made it possible for us to be saved from misery and to return to His presence for eternity.
Invite a student to read Alma 42:13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what allows the plan of redemption to be brought about.
What allows the plan of redemption to be brought about? (The conditions of repentance. Write the following truth on the board: The plan of redemption can be brought about only on conditions of repentance. Invite students to consider marking this truth in their scriptures.)
According to verse 13, what would be the result if there were no conditions of repentance? (Mercy could not take effect without destroying the work of justice.)
Invite students to explain in their own words what mercy and justice are. If needed, help them understand that mercy is “compassion, tenderness, and forgiveness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Merciful, Mercy,” scriptures.lds.org) and that “justice is an eternal law that requires a penalty each time a law of God is broken” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Justice,” scriptures.lds.org).
According to verse 13, what would happen if God allowed mercy to destroy the work of justice? (“God would cease to be God,” which will never happen.)
Display some water and oil (such as vegetable oil or olive oil). Invite students to watch what happens as you pour some water and then some oil into a clear container or bowl. Ask a student to try mixing the two liquids together using a spoon.
How might the water and oil in this example represent justice and mercy? (Just as water and oil do not mix, justice and mercy seem to be incompatible.)
Point out that unlike this example with water and oil, there is a way for justice and mercy to come together in Heavenly Father’s plan of redemption.
Invite a student to read Alma 42:15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what makes it possible for God to be both just and merciful.
According to Alma 42:15, what makes it possible for God to be both just and merciful? (If needed, explain that the phrase “God himself” in this verse refers to Jesus Christ. Help students identify the following doctrine: Through His Atonement, Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice so that mercy could be extended to us. Write this doctrine on the board.)
Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite the class to listen for the title President Packer used to refer to Jesus Christ.
“By eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption.
“Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing.
“But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator. …
“Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice. …
“The extension of mercy will not be automatic. It will be through covenant with Him. It will be on His terms, His generous terms” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 55–56).
What title did President Packer use to refer to Jesus Christ? What is a mediator? (A mediator is one who stands between two parties to help resolve a conflict.)
In what ways is Jesus Christ our Mediator with Heavenly Father? (Because He suffered for our sins, Jesus Christ made it possible for us to return to live with Heavenly Father eternally.)
What does it mean to you to know that the Savior would willingly suffer in your place so that you can have mercy extended to you?
Organize students into groups of two or three. Invite students to read Alma 42:22–23 in their groups, looking for what is required in order for mercy to be extended to us.
What is required for us to obtain mercy and avoid the full demands of justice? (When students have identified repentance as the means by which we obtain mercy, write the following principle on the board: If we repent, we will receive mercy through the Savior’s Atonement.)
Invite students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 42:24–28 in their groups. Ask them to look for words or phrases in these verses that could encourage a person to choose to repent. Invite students to consider marking the words or phrases they find.
What words or phrases in verses 24–28 could encourage a person to choose to repent? (As students respond, invite them to explain why the words or phrases they mention could encourage a person to choose to repent.)
Explain that Alma 42 is the final chapter containing Alma’s teachings to his wayward son Corianton. Ask a student to read Alma 42:29–31 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Alma desired for Corianton. (Invite students to consider marking what they find.)
What do you think it means that Alma wanted Corianton’s sins to trouble Corianton?
Why did Alma want Corianton’s sins to trouble Corianton? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: Rather than seeking to excuse our sins, we can let our sins trouble us and bring us to repentance.)
Why do you think that in order to repent we need to avoid excusing our sins?
Point out that Corianton repented of his sins and had a positive impact on the Church (see Alma 49:30).
Review the truths you have discussed today. Share your testimony of the mercy and redemption available through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. Invite students to prayerfully consider how they will apply the truths they have learned. Encourage them to act on any promptings they may receive.