In this scripture block, Alma teaches his son Corianton about individual agency and eternal rewards and consequences. As students discuss these teachings, they will be reminded that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10 ) and that righteousness never brings misery. They will see that the choices they make on the earth will determine their degree of happiness after death. You can help students understand the role Jesus Christ can play in meeting the demands of justice. As we choose to repent and follow Him, we benefit from the plan of mercy and progress toward eternal happiness.
Some Doctrines and Principles
After death, all people enter the world of spirits (see Alma 40:6–15, 21).
Salvation is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Alma 42).
Suggestions for Teaching
Alma 40–42. Introduction
As you begin teaching, you may want to point out that Alma 40, 41, and 42 contain words of Alma to his son Corianton, who had committed serious sin while he was serving a mission among the Zoramites. Each chapter addresses a different doctrinal question. Invite students to read Alma 40:1, 41:1, and 42:1, looking for the topic of each chapter.
How would an understanding of these topics help Corianton repent?
Alma 40:1–5, 8–10, 16–25. Resurrection Is the Restoration of the Spirit to the Body in Its Proper and Perfect Frame
Ask students to review Alma 40:1 silently.
Which part of the plan of happiness was Corianton worried about?
Ask students to read Alma 40:2–5 silently.
According to Alma in verse 5, what matters more than knowing how many resurrections there will be?
Invite students to search Alma 40:16–23 individually, looking for additional teachings about resurrection. List their responses on the board. They may suggest the following ideas:
The first resurrection begins with individuals who lived and died “from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ” (verse 18).
After the resurrection, all people will be brought before God for judgment (see verse 21).
Resurrection is the restoration of the spirit to the body in its proper and perfect frame (see verse 23).
Ask a student to read Alma 40:23 aloud. Then share the statements by Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Joseph F. Smith on page 244 in the student manual. The statement by Elder Oaks is also available on the companion DVD A.
What does it mean that “all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame”?
How can this doctrine bring us comfort and hope?
Testify that because of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected, and their bodies will be free from mortal deficiencies.
Alma 40:6–15, 21. After Death, All People Enter the World of Spirits
Draw the following chart on the board:
Divide the class in half. Ask half of the students to study Alma 40:11–12, looking for truths about spirit paradise. Ask the other half to study Alma 40:13–14, looking for truths about spirit prison, which is called “outer darkness” in verse 13. (Note that some members of the Church today view the term “outer darkness” as a description of the final destination of the wicked who are banished to perdition with Satan. However, in Alma 40, the term refers to spirit prison.) After students have had sufficient time to study their assigned verses, ask students from each half of the class to share what they have learned. Record their insights on the chart. Then, for additional truths from latter-day revelation, ask the students who have read about spirit paradise to study Doctrine and Covenants 138:12–14, 30–34, 57. Ask the students who have read about spirit prison to study Doctrine and Covenants 138:31–34, 57–59. Invite them to share what they find. As they do so, add to the list on the board.
What determines whether a spirit will be happy or miserable in the spirit world? (See Alma 40:12–13.)
As we ponder these truths about the spirit world, what can we learn about the attributes of God? (Help students see God’s justice, mercy, and continual efforts to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” [Moses 1:39].)
Alma 40:11, with its assertion that “the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life,” can be confusing for students. We know that when people die, their spirits go to the spirit world, not immediately back into God’s presence (see D&C 138). To help students understand Alma 40:11, you may want to ask them to read the statements by President Joseph Fielding Smith and President George Q. Cannon on page 242 in the student manual.
Alma 41. “Wickedness Never Was Happiness”
Scan Alma 41:1 with students and identify the doctrine discussed in this chapter.
Write restoration on the board.
Read Alma 41:2–6 with students.
In these verses, what is the meaning of the word restoration?
“There is no truth more plainly taught in the Gospel than that our condition in the next world will depend upon the kind of lives we live here” (Decisions for Successful Living , 164).
How is resurrection connected to the plan of restoration?
Ask students to read Alma 41:7–15 silently. Invite them to look for and mark words and phrases that show what will be restored to those who desire and choose righteousness in this life. Also invite them to look for and mark words and phrases that show what will be restored to those who desire and choose wickedness.
What blessings will come to those who choose to repent of their sins?
Why did Alma counsel Corianton to be merciful, just, and righteous toward others?
Why is it impossible for wickedness to lead to happiness?
“There are absolute truths of eternity. They do not change as a society drifts from them. No popular vote can change an absolute, eternal truth. Legalizing an act does not make it moral. Don’t be fooled by the argument ‘Everybody’s doing it.’ Your spirit should be offended and your intelligence insulted by such reasoning.
“When all of the evidence is in, the world’s graduate school of hard knocks will teach what you … were taught in the kindergarten of your spiritual training, ‘Wickedness never was happiness’ (Alma 41:10)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 50; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 40).
As a conclusion for this discussion, you may want to remind students that while wickedness never leads to happiness, righteousness always leads ultimately to happiness. To emphasize this point, you could have students read Mosiah 2:41.
Alma 42. Salvation Is Made Possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
As you prepare to teach this section, you may want to preview “The Mediator,” presentation 15 on Book of Mormon DVD Presentations (item number 54011). Consider using it to enhance the lesson.
Ask students to read Alma 42:1.
What was Corianton’s lack of doctrinal understanding?
Explain that Corianton could not see how God could be just and yet consign a sinner to a state of misery. Alma began to respond to Corianton’s misunderstanding by recounting the Fall of Adam and teaching about its consequences. In Alma 42, Alma explains how the plan of happiness gives everyone a fair opportunity to receive eternal happiness.
“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 106; or
Assign half of the class to read Alma 42:2–7 and the other half of the class to read Alma 42:8–14. As students read, ask them to identify consequences of the Fall of Adam. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they have learned. You may want to write their answers on the board.
In what ways do you think this explanation of the Fall could help Corianton resolve his concern?
According to Alma 42:4, what is one of the reasons our Heavenly Father gave us a probationary state?
Assign students to work in pairs. Assign one member of each pair to study Alma 42:15–22 and look for what is meant by the “demands of justice.” Assign the other member of each pair to study Alma 42:22–26 and look for what is meant by “mercy claimeth all which is her own.” After sufficient time, have these partners teach each other what they have learned. Then conduct a discussion with the entire class, using some or all of the following ideas:
How does the plan of redemption allow for God to be both just and merciful?
Why does each of us need the Atonement in order to receive mercy?
What can we expect if we choose not to repent?
How do these verses help to explain the interaction between justice and mercy as described in Alma 42:23–24?
Read Alma 42:27–31 with students.
What impact did Alma hope his teachings would have on Corianton?
What does Alma 42:29–30 teach each of us to do?
You might consider inviting students to read Alma 48:18, 49:30, and 63:2. (Note that, as reported in Alma 62:52, Helaman had died. Therefore, the reference to Shiblon’s brother in Alma 63:2 is likely a reference to Corianton.)
What do these verses suggest about how Corianton responded to the teachings of his father?
Encourage students to consider their lives and the sins that currently trouble them. Testify of the Savior’s willingness to forgive and of the increased peace and happiness that come to us when we repent.