Lesson 98: Alma 41

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

Continuing to counsel his son Corianton, Alma taught that the plan of restoration includes not only physical resurrection but also a spiritual restoration in which our eternal state reflects our mortal actions and desires. Alma emphasized that wickedness can never lead to happiness.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 41

Alma teaches Corianton about the plan of restoration

Ask the class to consider how a person’s actions might be influenced if they believe the following statements (pause after each item to allow students to respond):

There is no life after death.

After we die, we will be made perfect regardless of our works on earth.

In the Final Judgment, we will be rewarded for our good deeds and punished for our bad deeds.

  • Why is it important to have a correct understanding of what will happen to us after we die?

Remind students that in Alma 40 they learned about Alma’s teachings to Corianton about the spirit world, resurrection, and judgment. Explain that in Alma 41 we learn that Corianton was confused by what some people were teaching about the resurrection. Point out the phrase “gone far astray” in Alma 41:1, and invite students to read this verse looking for what was causing some of the people to go astray.

  • Why were some of the people going astray? (You may want to explain that to wrest the scriptures is to twist, distort, or change their meaning.)

  • What did Alma say he was going to explain to Corianton?

Once students identify the word restoration, you may want to write it on the board. Explain that restoration means to bring back or to put back into a former state.

Explain that Alma wanted Corianton to understand that there is a physical aspect and a spiritual aspect to what he called the “plan of restoration” (Alma 41:2). Invite students to search Alma 41:2–5 silently, looking for the things that will be physically restored to us after death and the things that will be spiritually restored. You might want to suggest that students mark what they find. Before students read, it may be helpful for you to explain that requisite means required or necessary.

  • What is the physical aspect of the plan of restoration mentioned in Alma 41:2? (In the resurrection, the spirit will be restored to the body, and all parts of the body will be restored.)

  • What is the spiritual aspect of the plan of restoration described in Alma 41:3–5? (As students respond, write the following truth on the board: We will be restored to either happiness or misery according to our works and desires in mortality.)

Invite students to imagine they are teaching these verses to a Primary class.

  • How would you explain the doctrine of spiritual restoration so that children can understand it?

Remind students that Corianton had broken the law of chastity and had forsaken his missionary responsibilities (see Alma 39:2–4).

  • How might a correct understanding of the doctrine of spiritual restoration have helped Corianton make better choices? How can understanding this doctrine influence our actions and desires?

Testify of the truth of this doctrine, and share your thoughts about the justice of God in restoring each of us to good or evil according to our desires and our actions.

Write the following question on the board: What if I have sinned?

  • According to the plan of restoration, what do we receive if we have sinned?

  • Is there any way to have goodness and happiness restored to us when we have done wrong?

Invite a student to read Alma 41:6–9 aloud. Ask the class to look for what we can do to have goodness and happiness restored to us even when we have sinned. (We must repent and desire righteousness our entire lives.)

  • What words or phrases in Alma 41:6–7 suggest that we are responsible for what we receive in the resurrection? In what sense are we our own judges? (Our choices in mortality determine the kind of judgment we will receive when we stand before God.)

Point out that some people think they can return to dwell with God without taking personal responsibility for their actions. They often say that their sinful choices are fun. Sometimes those who engage in sin may even appear to be happy.

Invite students to stand and read Alma 41:10 aloud in unison. Point out that Alma 41:10 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to suggest that students mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily. (Because this is a scripture mastery passage, you might have them repeat it together more than once. You might ask if anyone in the class can repeat it from memory.) When they are finished, ask the class to be seated. On the board, write “Wickedness never was happiness.”

  • Why is it true that “wickedness never was happiness”?

  • What is an example of how Satan would have us break a commandment and believe that we can still experience happiness?

To help students appreciate the difference between fleeting worldly pleasures and the happiness the Lord offers, read the following statement by Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy:

“Activities always forbidden by the Lord and for many years frowned upon by society are now accepted and promoted by that same society. The media serves up these activities in such a fashion as to make them look very desirable. …

“… Don’t mistake telestial pleasure for celestial happiness and joy. Don’t mistake lack of self-control for freedom. Complete freedom without appropriate restraint makes us slaves to our appetites. Don’t envy a lesser and lower life. …

“… The commandments you observe were not given by a dispassionate God to prevent you from having fun, but by a loving Father in Heaven who wants you to be happy while you are living on this earth as well as in the hereafter” (“They’re Not Really Happy,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 39–40).

Write the following statement on the board. You may want to suggest that students write it in their scriptures next to Alma 41:10. (The statement is found in “To ‘the Rising Generation,’” New Era, June 1986, 5.)

“You cannot do wrong and feel right. It is impossible!” (President Ezra Taft Benson).

Tell students that Alma 41:11 explains why it is impossible to be truly happy when making wrong choices. Copy the following chart on the board (you may want to do so before class begins), or prepare it as a handout for each student. Arrange students in pairs, and instruct them to match each phrase from Alma 41:11 with its meaning. Also invite them to discuss the accompanying questions.

Phrases in Alma 41:11 that describe being in a “state of nature”

Meaning

  1. 1.

    “In a carnal state”

 
  1. a.

    Limited and burdened by our sins

  1. 2.

    “In the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity”

 
  1. b.

    Lacking the blessings and direction of God; the loss of the companionship of the Holy Ghost

  1. 3.

    “Without God in the world”

 
  1. c.

    Ruled by the will of the flesh

In this verse, we see that “the nature of God” is “the nature of happiness.” What does this tell you about why sinfulness is contrary to the nature of happiness?

What are some specific examples of why people may find themselves in a state of unhappiness?

(Answers: 1-c, 2-a, 3-b)

To help students see how persisting in a “state of nature” relates to the doctrine of restoration, invite a student to read Alma 41:12. After the verse has been read, ask students to answer Alma’s question. Then have students read Alma’s answer to his own question in Alma 41:13. (You may want to suggest that they mark what Alma said will be returned to us as part of the plan of restoration.)

Ask students to imagine they have a friend who is choosing to act in ways contrary to the Lord’s commandments but wants to be restored to righteousness. Invite students to explain the doctrine of restoration to a partner, as though they were that friend, using Alma 41:12–13. (Students may use their own words or the wording of the statement written on the board: “We will be restored to either happiness or misery according to our works and desires in mortality.”)

Show students a boomerang or draw a picture of one on the board.

Ask students what a boomerang does when thrown correctly. (It returns to the location from which it was thrown.) Ask them to read Alma 41:14–15 silently, looking for ways in which a boomerang might represent the truths taught in these verses. (You might want to suggest that students mark these verses.) Invite students to explain what they have found.

  • What are some things you hope to receive from others and from the Lord in this life and in the next? (Answers could include kindness, mercy, and love. Consider listing students’ responses on the board.)

  • When have you given goodness, mercy, or kindness to others and later received it back?

Encourage students to set a goal to act in ways and develop attitudes that reflect what they hope to have restored to them in this life and in the next. Testify of the happiness that comes as we act in righteousness.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Alma 41:10

Note: Because of the nature and length of this lesson, the following activity would be best used on another day when you have extra time.

Write the following on the board: … is happiness.

Invite students to come up with an inverse statement of the doctrine taught in Alma 41:10. (One possible answer is “Righteousness is happiness.”) Then invite students to list specific righteous acts that they feel would fit in the blank. (For example, “Serving others is happiness.”) Ask students if they can testify that any of these righteous acts lead to happiness. After a few students have shared their experiences and testimonies, invite the class to write on a pocket-sized card or piece of paper one or two righteous acts they can do during the week to increase their happiness. Encourage them to carry their papers with them as a reminder and to report on their efforts in the coming days.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 41:10. Wickedness never was happiness

The following statement from True to the Faith reinforces the idea that students can have fun and find happiness in righteous ways:

“Many people try to find happiness and fulfillment in activities that are contrary to the Lord’s commandments. Ignoring God’s plan for them, they reject the only source of real happiness. They give in to the devil, who ‘seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself’ (2 Nephi 2:27). Eventually they learn the truth of Alma’s warning to his son Corianton: ‘Wickedness never was happiness’ (Alma 41:10). …

“As you seek to be happy, remember that the only way to real happiness is to live the gospel. You will find peaceful, eternal happiness as you strive to keep the commandments, pray for strength, repent of your sins, participate in wholesome activities, and give meaningful service. You will learn to have fun within the limits set by a loving Father in Heaven” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 79–80).

Alma 41:10–11. All men are in “a state of nature”

President David O. McKay taught that we have a dual nature and the ability to choose happiness through self-mastery:

Living a life of truth and moral purity brings joy and happiness, while violations of moral and social laws result only in dissatisfaction, sorrow, and, when carried to extreme, in degradation.

“Man has a dual nature—one, related to the earthly or animal life; the other, the spiritual life, akin to the divine. Man’s body is but the tabernacle in which his spirit dwells. Too many, far too many, are prone to regard the body as the man and, consequently, to direct their efforts to the gratifying of the body’s pleasures, its appetites, its desires, its passions. Too few recognize that the real man is an immortal spirit, which ‘intelligence or light of truth’ was animated as an individual entity before the body was begotten, and that this spiritual entity, with all its distinguishing traits, will continue after the body ceases to respond to its earthly environment.

“Whether a man remains satisfied within what we designate the animal world, satisfied with what the animal world will give him, yielding without effort to the whim of his appetites and passions, and slipping further and further into the realm of indulgence, or whether, through self-mastery, he rises toward intellectual, moral, and spiritual enjoyments depends upon the kind of choice he makes every day—nay, every hour of his life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1967, 6–7).

Alma 41:11. “Contrary to the nature of happiness”

Elder F. Enzio Busche of the Seventy explained that dedicated study of the words of the Lord’s anointed servants will help us be aware of when we are slipping into a state that is contrary to the nature of happiness:

“We all are prone, once in a while, to be in a state contrary to the nature of happiness, and not necessarily because we have pursued wickedness or iniquity to a full extent. But so long as we are in this earthly probationary state, the adversary can influence us. We may have become a little careless. We may have neglected our relationships with those closest to us. … Perhaps we may have permitted small bad habits or attitudes to enter into our lives; or perhaps we have even lost to some degree an understanding of the importance of keeping a covenant with exactness. If so, we are in a dangerous state. We must become aware of it. We cannot afford to ignore the situation. We may observe that for some time we are not really happy, that we must constantly force ourselves to smile, or perhaps that we are in a state close to depression. … Although we might deceive others, we cannot deceive ourselves, and we cannot deceive the Lord. …

“The gospel in its fulness is being preached throughout the world by the Lord’s anointed servants, that everyone may come to an awareness of his state. In order to be close to the words of the Lord’s anointed, it is necessary to read and study the scriptures with commitment and dedication. …

“… The Lord does not want us to become aware of our state of nothingness and misery (see Mosiah 4:11; Alma 26:12; Hel. 12:7; Moses 1:10) only at the Day of Judgment. Now and every day in our mortal lives, He wants to sharpen our awareness, that we may become our own judges, as He calls us to a continuous process of repentance” (“University for Eternal Life,” Ensign, May 1989, 72).

Alma 41:11. We can change our nature through the grace of Christ

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon ‘the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah’ (2 Nephi 2:8). As we choose to follow the Master, we choose to be changed—to be spiritually reborn” (“Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 20).