Lesson 97: Alma 40

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


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

Write the following questions on the board before class:

  1. 1.

    What makes it possible for us to live after we die? Who will be resurrected?

  2. 2.

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

  3. 3.

    What is resurrection? How will our resurrected bodies be different from our mortal bodies? What will we do after we are resurrected?

Invite students to imagine that they are missionaries and that they have an appointment to meet with someone who is seeking answers to the questions written on the board. Explain that Alma 40 is a continuation of Alma’s teachings to his son Corianton and contains answers to those questions.

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?

Divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair a number: 1, 2, or 3. 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 below). As students work, you may want to walk around the room so you can listen and help as needed.

Companionship 1—Alma 40:1–5

Questions: What makes it possible for us to live after we die? Who will be resurrected?

Prepare to use Alma 40:1–5 to answer these questions. As you prepare, decide which parts of the lesson each companion will teach. Be ready to do the following:

Give some background for the passage you were assigned. (When you teach from the scriptures, explain who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and any other circumstances that might help learners understand the passage.)

Read the verses that answer the questions. Explain how the truths in these verses help answer the questions. As you do so, make sure everyone understands that because of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected. You might also suggest that those you teach write this truth in their scriptures next to Alma 40:1–5.

Share why the promise of resurrection is important to you. You might also ask those you teach why they appreciate the promise of resurrection.

Testify of the truths you have taught.

Companionship 2—Alma 40:6–14

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

Prepare to use Alma 40:6–7, 11–14 to answer these questions. As you prepare, decide which parts of the lesson each companion will teach. Be ready to do the following:

Give some background for the passage you were assigned. (When you teach from the scriptures, explain who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and any other circumstances that might help learners understand the passage.)

Read the verses that answer the questions. Explain how the truths in these verses help answer the questions. (It may be helpful to 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.) As you read these verses, make sure everyone understands that between death and resurrection, the spirits of the righteous dwell in paradise and the spirits of the wicked dwell in prison. You might suggest that those you teach write this truth in their scriptures next to Alma 40:11–14.

Share how your understanding of this truth influences the choices you make in this life. You might also ask those you teach how their understanding of life after death has helped them.

Testify of the truths you have taught.

Companionship 3—Alma 40:21–26

Questions: What is resurrection? How will our resurrected bodies be different from our mortal bodies? What will we do after we are resurrected?

Prepare to use Alma 40:21–26 to answer these questions. As you prepare, decide which parts of the lesson each companion will teach. Be ready to do the following:

Give some background for the passage you were assigned. (When you teach from the scriptures, explain who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and any other circumstances that might help learners understand the passage.)

Read the verses that answer the questions. Explain how the truths in these verses help answer the questions. (As you prepare to teach, it may be helpful to understand that the word soul in these verses refers to a person’s spirit.) Make sure everyone understands that resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit and the body, with all things restored to their proper and perfect frame. You may want to suggest that those you teach write this truth in their scriptures next to Alma 40:21–23.

Share why you are grateful to know that your body and spirit will one day be restored to their proper and perfect frame. You might also describe how your choices are affected by your knowledge that you will one day stand before God and be judged. Ask those you teach to share their feelings about the doctrines of resurrection and final judgment.

Testify of the truths you have taught.

After students have prepared to answer their assigned questions, organize them into small groups so they can teach each other in a missionary role-play. Each group should consist of three companionships, with each companionship having prepared answers to a different set of questions. (If the class is small, have each group teach the entire class.) Encourage students to be themselves as they teach and as they learn from others during the role-play. Assure them that the Holy Ghost can inspire them and those they teach if they are sincere in their instruction and responses. Listen as they teach each other, and offer insights as you feel prompted.

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 answer your assigned questions? What did you learn as you were taught by other companionships?

  • Knowing that Corianton had struggled to obey the law of chastity, how do you think understanding the nature of life after death might have helped him resist future temptations?

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

Invite students to read Alma 40:25–26 silently, looking for the differences between the final state of the righteous and the final state of the wicked. After they describe what they have found, ask them to share how this passage influences their commitment to live the gospel. You may want to share your answer to the same question. Testify of Jesus Christ’s role in making available the blessings of the resurrection.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

Students’ understanding of scripture passages will increase when they create their own questions about the passages. Invite students to work together, as a class or in small groups, to write clues that point to specific scripture mastery passages. (You may want to select a group of passages that you would like students to learn or review.) Then have them read their clues to you. Points are awarded to you if you guess a scripture mastery passage correctly. Points are awarded to the class if you are unable to guess correctly.

Note: The length of this lesson may allow time for this scripture mastery activity. However, to ensure that students have enough time to prepare for and participate in the lesson, you may want to use this activity at the end of class, as time permits. If you do not have time to use this activity as part of this lesson, you may use it on another day. For other review activities, see the appendix at the end of this manual.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 40:11. “Taken home to that God who gave them life”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the words in Alma 40:11 do not teach that we will be brought into God’s presence immediately after we die:

“These words of Alma [Alma 40:11–14] as I understand them, do not intend to convey the thought that all spirits go back into the presence of God for an assignment to a place of peace or a place of punishment and before him receive their individual sentence. ‘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. ‘Back to God’ is a phrase which finds an equivalent in many other well known conditions. For instance: a man spends a stated time in some foreign mission field. When he is released and returns to the United States, he may say, ‘It is wonderful to be back home’; yet his home may be somewhere in Utah or Idaho or some other part of the West” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 2:85).

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

President Brigham Young taught:

“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. They are brought forth upon this earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 376).

Alma 40:11–15. What happens to 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 40:13–14. Outer darkness

When Alma used the phrase “outer darkness,” he referred to the temporary place in the postmortal spirit world in which the wicked will wait for the resurrection (see Alma 40:13–14). Other prophets have referred to this place as a prison (see 1 Peter 3:18–20; D&C 76:73; 138:28–42).