Sunday School Lesson 30

July 29, 2004 | 4 comments
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Lesson 30: Alma 39-42

Why is the lengthy discussion of resurrection in chapters 40-31 addressed to Corianton? Why does that part of Alma’s sermon come before his discussion of the punishment of sin (chapter 42)?

Chapter 40

Verses 2-4: Why do you think Alma reiterates what he doesn’t know when he tells Corianton about the resurrection?

Verse 5: It seems odd that Alma doesn’t care about the facts of the resurrection when we often make such a big deal about it. For him, it is enough to know that the dead will be resurrected. How would you explain that? What might it teach us?

Verse 6: Why must there be a space between death and the resurrection? Why can’t it be immediate or almost immediate?

Verses 11-12: How does what Alma says here square with our understanding of the three degrees of glory?

Verse 13: What does the term “outer darkness” mean in other scriptures? See Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30; and D&C 101:91, 133:73.) What does it refer to here?

Verse 15: Alma says we can think of life in the spirit world as a state of resurrection (even though it isn’t the resurrection of the body). In what sense is this a resurrection? Why is Alma willing to use resurrection to speak of life in the spirit world?

Verse 20: Alma gives his opinion that the righteous will be bodily resurrected at the time of Christ’s resurrection? First, why does he mention it as his opinion? Was he right? Are we as scrupulous in distinguishing our opinions from the truth as Alma was?

Verse 23: What does it mean to be restored? We say that the Church has been restored. Alma says that the spirit will be restored to the body. We talk about ill people being restored to health. What does that word imply?

Chapter 41

As you read this chapter, notice that Alma speaks here of restoration rather than the need to pay the price for sin: if we choose evil in this life, the Father allows us to continue to be what we have become through those choice; if we choose good, he allows us to continue to be what we have become by those choices. Given those options, why is an Atonement necessary?

Verses 3-6: We see two kinds of restoration, restoration to good and restoration to evil. In what sense is the latter a restoration? In verse 6 “repented of his sins” and “desired righteousness until the end of his days” seem to be parallel. If they are, then we can understand the second as an explanation of the first. Does that make sense? If so, how? Is there a similar connection between works and desires in verse 3?

Verse 10: We often quote “Wickedness never was happiness.” What does it mean in the context of Alma’s discussion of restoration?

Verse 11: What does it mean to be in a state of nature? Since the Church does not believe the doctrine of original sin and that doctrine is the doctrine that we naturally desire to do evil, Alma must be saying something different here. What is he saying?

Verses 12-13: How does Alma’s use of the word “restoration” help us understand such things as the resurrection and the judgment? Does it give us any insight into the restoration of the Church?

Verses 14-15: What do these verses offer Corianton? Why are they important advice to him? Given what Alma has taught about restoration so far, why isn’t it too late for Corianton to be merciful?

Chapter 42

As you read this chapter, think about the context of what Alma is saying. How will the teachings of this chapter effect Corianton? How is it motivated by Corianton’s particular problems? What does Corianton seem not to have understood in the previous chapter?

Verse 4: Here we seem to see Mormon’s interjection: “thus we see.” How does the story of Adam and Eve help us see that earth life is a time of probation?

Verse 7: What is the significance of the fact that Adam and Eve were allowed to follow their own will? Is it significant that Alma speaks of their will rather than of their wills?

Verses 8-9: Verse 8 says “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death.” Then verse 9 says “it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.” Can you explain why each is true?

Verse 11: Why would our souls be miserable if they were cut off from the Father?

Verses 13-15: How does Alma’s teaching about restoration in the previous chapter fit with this teaching?

Verses 15-16: One way to read what Alma is saying: God has given a law with necessary consequences and, then, he takes those consequences on himself if we allow him to do so. Does that make sense? Can you explain it? Why can’t there be repentance if there isn’t a punishment?

Verses 18-19: Is Alma saying that fear of punishment and remorse of conscience are the same? Isn’t there a difference? When we fear punishment are we behaving the same as when we feel sorry for having done wrong? Does Alma’s discussion here depend on the fact that he is speaking to Corianton?

Verses 27-30: Who can escape having their deeds restored to them? If we are restored to righteousness, to whose righteousness are we restored?

Verse 28: How does this verse fit with Alma’s teaching about restoration in chapter 41?

Verse 29: Here we see Alma’s principle for harrowing his son’s soul. What might this verse say about those who “cannot forgive themselves”?

Verse 30: Does this perhaps explain why Alma has explained the doctrines of restoration and the resurrection and the atonement to Corianton? What does it seem Corianton has been thinking? How do we let the justice and mercy of God have full sway in our hearts? What does that mean? What does it mean to be brought to the dust in humility? (How, for example, does that differ from depression?)

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4 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 30

  1. danithew on July 29, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    Jim F.,

    I don’t know if I’ve paid sufficient attention to your previous Sunday School lesson posts. In fact I don’t think I have. I really appreciate the way you go to the trouble of linking up the verses with the questions you are asking. That’s a lot of work.

    You ask the question (for verse 11): Why would our souls be miserable if they were cut off from the Father?

    I have come to believe that human souls desperately crave, more than anything else, God’s love. It’s what we all need. It’s what we all need to feel. The way Lehi and Nephi describe the feelings they have, when they eat the fruit from the tree (in the vision)… they say it is the most delicious thing they have ever eaten and that it comes from the most beautiful tree. The superlatives that are used to describe this dream-experience — which represents people partaking of the love of God, just underscores the significance of this. If I can brutally mess with a Beatle’s lyric: “All you need is [God's] love.” I think that’s really really true, on the most fundamental and primal level of any human experience. If we can experience God’s love we will be supremely happy.

  2. Julie in Austin on July 30, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    very interesting discussion on this over at Sons of Mosiah, under ‘My Sunday School Controversy’

  3. Julie in Austin on July 30, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    OOps, the Sons of Mosiah post is really more for the previous week.

  4. greenfrog on August 30, 2004 at 12:03 pm

    I’m puzzled at the difference between the restoration of the body and the spirit. As I understand these passages, the body is “restored” to a condition that represents the ideal form (whether the individual’s mortal body ever fit the ideal measure). This concept is offered as a way by which God addresses the potential inequalities of real life from phelidamide to baldness.

    That seems to me to contrast sharply with the idea that the spirit is restored to its condition at the time of death — good for good, evil for evil. (It also confuses me a little to think of a spirit being restored at all — I thought we taught that the spirit continues following death — if that’s the case, why would it need to be “restored” at all?)

    So why would the restoration of the body be to a different concept of perfection (“idealized”) than the restoration of the spirit (“complete”)?