05 February 2015

Alma 42: Alma's final advice to Corianton

You'd think that Alma would be getting close to done lecturing his son Corianton. But you'd be foolish to doubt Alma's ability to keep talking, even when he runs out of things to say.

He launches into another speech, because he could clearly see that Corianton was concerned about the justice of God with regards to his punishment of the sinner. (How did Alma possibly know that his son was thinking this?)
And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery. Alma 42:1
However he knew, one thing was clear: a lesson was coming. Alma takes his time, but I'll sum it up.

Sinning is good, because it opens up the chance of redemption. God planned for Adam and Eve to sin, so he could later save them and the rest of mankind.
For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated. 42:5
After the fall, man had lost touch with God, but his soul was still alive, yet he had a spiritual death. So it became clear that mankind had to be reclaimed from the spiritual death. Or else.
Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. 42:9
Men had become carnal, sensual and devilish, so they had to use this time to repent. Otherwise they could not recieve mercy. If they did happen to recieve mercy without repentance, then it would "destroy the work of justice". But don't worry, because the work of justice can't be destroyed, because then God would cease to be God.

This line, "Then God would cease to be God," is a new favorite of Alma's. You'll see it again, don't worry.
Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. 42:10

Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. 42.13
Okay, so men need redemption, and they can't be redeemed unless there is a punishment, and so that explains heaven and hell.
Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul. 42.16
A man also can't repent unless he's sinned first. And a person can't sin without a law. And there can't be any laws without punishments. So we need a bunch of punishments first, and then we can figure out some laws, and then we can figure out who has sinned, and then they can repent, and then they can get mercy, and then they can go to heaven. QED.
Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? 42.17
 Without laws, murderers won't be afraid that they will die, and men won't realize they have sinned. Justice and mercy wouldn't exist, and neither would God.
Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder? 42:19
 And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin. 42:20
 And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature? 42:21
 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. 42:22

But of course, (according to Alma) God exists, and so does mercy, and so everyone who repents is good to go. Phew! But watch out, because only the "truly penitent" are saved.
But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice. 42:23
 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. 42:24
Here Alma poses a good question. He asks if mercy robs justice. This is often a problem that people pose with redemption through faith instead of through works. Should a mass murderer go to heaven if he repents right before excecution?

Yes, apparently. Or else God would cease to be God. I'm convinced.
What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. 42:25
So, whoever does good deeds and repents of their sins will go to heaven, and the rest will go to hell. Sounds pretty straightforward.
Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds. 42:27 
If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God. 42:28
Alma tells his son to stop making excuses for himself, and to go be humble, and to go preach the word to the people.

Also, stay sober, son.

O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility. 42:30 
And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen. 42:31

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