In this chapter, Alma continues his speech to his third son, Corianton. Unfortunately (as it was bound to do eventually) it takes a turn for the boring. He devotes the chapter to explaining the resurrection to Corianton.
Now my son, here is somewhat more I would say unto thee; for I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead. Alma 40:1Alma is really proud of his knowledge of the resurrection. He takes 26 verses to explain it to his son, but it's shocking how little he knows about it, and how proud he is of the little he knows. I've tried to sum up his speech below.
It's going to happen, but only after Christ comes.
Behold, I say unto you, that there is no resurrection—or, I would say, in other words, that this mortal does not put on immortality, this corruption does not put on incorruption—until after the coming of Christ. 40:2It hasn't started yet.
Behold, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead. But behold, my son, the resurrection is not yet. Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection. 40:3We don't know when it's going to happen. But God knows.
Behold, there is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead. Now when this time cometh no one knows; but God knoweth the time which is appointed. 40:4There might be two or three resurrections. It doesn't matter. God knows how many times he plans on doing it, though. And that should be enough for you.
Now, whether there shall be one time, or a second time, or a third time, that men shall come forth from the dead, it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case—that there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead. 40:5In the meantime, though, a lot of people are going to die. So God came up with a sort of pre-heaven and pre-hell for people who haven't yet been resurrected. Good people go to a state of happiness, which is called paradise. Bad people are cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Everyone stays in their designated muster station until the resurrection.
Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection. 40:6
And now I would inquire what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection? 40:7
Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, 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. 40:11
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are 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. 40:12
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil. 40:13
Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection. 40:14Some people call this a "first resurrection". In the middle of the speech, Alma sort of says "Yeah, that makes sense. Let's go with that. First Resurrection". But then he changes his mind. "Aw, jeez, though... there has to be more to a resurrection than just being in a happy holding cell for a while... you have to be reunited with everyone, Adam and Eve and everybody who died before..."
Now, there are some that have understood that this state of happiness and this state of misery of the soul, before the resurrection, was a first resurrection. Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection, the raising of the spirit or the soul and their consignation to happiness or misery, according to the words which have been spoken. 40:15
And behold, again it hath been spoken, that there is a first resurrection, a resurrection of all those who have been, or who are, or who shall be, down to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. 40:16
Now, we do not suppose that this first resurrection, which is spoken of in this manner, can be the resurrection of the souls and their consignation to happiness or misery. Ye cannot suppose that this is what it meaneth. 40:17
Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but it meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ. 40:18
Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven. 40:20So now you know all about the resurrection!
1. There is going to be a resurrection, but only after Christ comes.
2. We don't know when it might happen, or how many resurrections there might be. But, luckily, God knows when, and how many he plans on doing.
3. In the meantime, people are going to die. The good ones go to paradise, and the bad ones go to a scary place called "outer darkness".
4. Some people call this process of deciding who goes to which place the "First Resurrection". Alma was almost convinced but he decided, after careful study, that this isn't a bona fide resurrection, because it doesn't meet all of his criteria.