What’s happening? Alma is teaching Corianton the probationary nature of this life, the fundamental doctrine of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and how justice and mercy play into our recovery through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
Why does it matter? The foundation of the whole plan is centered on (1) the Fall of Adam and Eve and then (2) our recovery from that Fall (as well as our own sins) through Jesus Christ. This is basic doctrine, but also complex in execution and easily forgotten when one is justifying their sins.
Between the lines: Often it’s confusing how mercy and justice fit into our doctrine. Alma tries to make it as clear as he can here.
Quote of the day: “And thus we see there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” ~ Alma 42:4
42:1 Wouldn’t Corianton have already known the principles of resurrection, restoration, and justice? If so, how could he have forgotten?
“Let us examine the effects of sin. Suppose one is traveling on the celestial path and commits a sin. The effect is a loss of light. Embracing evil lowers the trajectory of one’s path as the Holy Spirit withdraws.” ~ MJ Bateman, 2006
42:2-5 Why is the Fall of Adam and Eve so important to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation?
“Latter day scriptures help us understand that [Adam and Eve’s] Fall was a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us. Because of the Fall, we are blessed with physical bodies, the right to choose between good and evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life. None of these privileges would have been ours had Adam and Eve remained in the garden.” ~ Gospel Principles manual
42:6-12 What is a ‘probationary state’ and why did we have to go through it?
You are now experiencing mortal life. Your spirit is united with your body, giving you opportunities to grow and develop in ways that were not possible in your premortal life. This part of your existence is a time of learning in which you can prove yourself, choose to come unto Christ, and prepare to be worthy of eternal life. It is also a time when you can help others find the truth and gain a testimony of the plan of salvation. ~ True to the Faith manual
42:13-15 What is the ‘justice of God’?
“Justice has many meanings. One is balance…. Thus, when the laws of man have been violated, justice usually requires that a punishment be imposed, a penalty that will restore the balance… laws of God are likewise concerned with justice. 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.” ~ DH Oaks
42:17 What does justice demand? Who pays that demand? See Mosiah 2:38-39; Alma 34:16; and D&C 19:17.
42:18 Why is sin painful?
“For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us. The gospel plan is the great plan of happiness. It is contrary to the nature of God and contrary to the very nature of man to find happiness in sin. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ We know that some anxiety and depression is caused by physical disorders, but much (perhaps most) of it is not pain of the body but of the spirit. Spiritual pain resulting from guilt can be replaced with peace of mind. In contrast to the hard words condemning sin, listen to the calming, healing words of mercy, which balance the harsher words of justice.” ~ BK Packer, 2001
42:22,25 Can God cease to be God or what is Alma really saying? See also Mormon 9:19.
42:24-27 Alma has good news: how can justice be satisfied?
42:30 Why is true repentance not excusing ourselves?
“To change is difficult…. Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is ‘re-turning’ toward God.” ~ NA Anderson
ACTIVITY: What brings you joy? A self-evaluation sheet to help choose goals and pastimes.