Alma concluded his counsel to his struggling son Corianton by explaining that Heavenly Father provided a way for those who sin to obtain mercy. He taught his son about the punishments that the law of justice demands for sin. He then testified that Jesus Christ would “appease the demands of justice” (Alma 42:15) by suffering for all who have sinned and are willing to repent. The Lord provides mercy to the penitent (repentant).
Close your eyes for a moment and ponder what it might be like when the time arrives for your Final Judgment. As you review your life, do you want the Final Judgment to be fair? Why might you want your judgment to be fair?
Now, consider what the word fair means. One definition of fair includes getting what you deserve; the idea of fairness is related to the scriptural term justice.
Draw a simple set of scales in your scripture study journal like the one shown here. Then write the word Justice below your drawing. Leave room in your journal to include other labels on your drawing as you continue the lesson.
To help you better understand the concept of justice, read the following explanation from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Justice has many meanings. One is balance. A popular symbol of justice is scales in balance. …
“… The idea of justice as what one deserves is the fundamental premise of all scriptures that speak of men’s being judged according to their works” (“Sins, Crimes, and Atonement” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 7, 1992], 1).
Alma’s son Corianton was worried about the fairness of the Final Judgment. Read Alma 42:1, and mark what Corianton thought would be unfair or unjust about the Final Judgment.
Remember that Corianton had committed various sins, some of which were very serious (see Alma 39:2–3); therefore, Corianton may have wished or hoped that it was unjust for those who have sinned to be punished.
In your scripture study journal, write why you think those who have not repented of their sins would worry about receiving “what one deserves” at the judgment.
In Alma 42:2–11, Alma addressed Corianton’s concern by explaining that the Fall of Adam brought about physical death (a separation of the body and spirit at the death of the body) and spiritual death (a separation from God because of sin). Thus it was necessary that a plan be established to reclaim mankind from their fallen state. Otherwise all mankind would remain in a sinful state and be miserable forever according to the demands of justice.
Read Alma 42:12, and identify what caused mankind to enter their fallen state. Now read Alma 42:14, and mark the consequence of our disobedience that is required by justice. On the picture of the scales that you drew in your scripture study journal, write Violation—disobedience or sin under the left scale and Penalty—cut off from God’s presence under the right scale.
From what Alma taught, what does the law of justice require when an individual is disobedient? (Because of our disobedience, the law of justice requires that we experience remorse and be cut off from God’s presence.) Ponder for a moment a time when you experienced regret and sorrow or a withdrawal of the Holy Ghost for something you did wrong. Imagine that feeling multiplied by everything you have ever done wrong, and then imagine that feeling remaining with you forever.
Based on what Alma taught, do you want the Final Judgment to be based solely on justice? Do you want to get what you “deserve” for the things you have done wrong?
One of God’s divine attributes is that He is just. The demands of justice condemn each of Heavenly Father’s children and would not allow any of us to dwell with Him in our sinful state. Consider the following question: Is there any way for these demands of justice to be erased or dismissed?
Many people might respond to this question by suggesting that if we repent, we will not have to suffer the consequences of our sins. Though this answer is ultimately correct, it is important to understand that to erase or forgive the consequences would be unjust because the demands of justice would not be met. Alma taught that dismissing the penalty without satisfying the demands of justice is not possible. Read Alma 42:25, and look for what would happen if God simply removed the consequences for sin and left justice unsatisfied.
Ponder the following question before reading Alma 42:15 to find the answer: If the punishment for our sins cannot be taken away, how can we ever have peace of conscience and be restored to the presence of God?
It may be helpful to understand that the phrase “appease the demands of justice” means to satisfy or pay for the punishments justice demands.
From Alma 42:15 we learn: Jesus Christ’s Atonement satisfied the demands of justice so that mercy could be extended to the repentant. Complete the picture of the scales you drew in your scripture study journal by writing Satisfied by mercy—the Atonement of Jesus Christ under the “Penalty …” phrase.
Imagine you have a friend who has been struggling under the burden created by his or her sins. In your scripture study journal, write how you would explain to your friend how Jesus Christ’s Atonement allows mercy to be extended to each of us.
Ponder what it means to you to know that the Savior willingly suffered the punishments justice demands in your place so that you could be extended mercy?
Read Alma 42:22–24, and mark what Jesus Christ requires in order for mercy to be extended to us. The phrase “truly penitent” in verse 24 means sincerely repentant. Based on what you have read, complete the following principle: If we repent, we will receive ____________________ through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, referred to Jesus Christ as a mediator. A mediator is one who stands between two parties to help resolve a conflict. As you read his words, look for how the Savior is needed for mercy to be extended to the sinner:
“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” (“The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 55–56).
As Alma concluded his talk with Corianton, he summarized everything he had been trying to teach his son. Read Alma 42:26–31, and mark what Alma desired for Corianton as he came to understand the doctrines and principles Alma taught him in this chapter. Notice Alma’s desire for Corianton to not make excuses for his sins, but rather for him to allow the doctrines and principles related to justice, mercy, and the Atonement to “have full sway in [his] heart” (Alma 42:30). How can you allow these doctrines and principles to have full sway in your heart?
In your scripture study journal, write your thoughts about the following question: If you could personally express your gratitude to the Savior for His sacrifice on your behalf, what would you tell Him?
It is important to know that Corianton repented and ultimately had a great impact on the growth of the Church (see Alma 49:30).
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Alma 42 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: