Alma continues speaking to his son Corianton, who is worried about spiritual matters, such as the resurrection of the dead. Alma tells him that Christ will bring to pass the resurrection of the dead.
Now, Alma tells his son something interesting. Alma is a prophet of God, yet he admits that there are mysteries that no man knows except God. That seems to infer that maybe he has questions that haven’t been answered yet. But he gives his son counsel about what to do when you don’t know something spiritually.
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.”Alma 40:3
First, it seems we have to be humble enough to realize there are some things we will never know in this life. They are for God alone, and He will reveal them to us in His own due time.
Second, Alma shows that he has diligently inquired to have this next truth revealed that he will share with his son. That infers that he has devoted much time, study, prayer, and patience to this matter. I don’t picture Alma inquiring about the resurrection once and having God unveil this mystery to him. I imagine him praying and studying for weeks, months, even years before these eternal truths were revealed to him in a powerful way he could share with others.
Revelation on Resurrection
A time appointed for all men to come forth from the dead.
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.”Alma 40:4
Alma seems to be content with the details he still does not know from God. He learns some truth, but he does not let what he doesn’t know bother him in a way that leads to falling away from God. Instead, he allows what he doesn’t know to strengthen his faith in God, the Almighty. He knows God holds all the answers, so he is content with the knowledge he is given and shares it with others to strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ. This is shown in the next verse:
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.”Alma 40:5
He doesn’t whine about what he doesn’t know. He is content with the truths he does know and trust God with the rest.
There’s a space between death and resurrection.
Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection.”Alma 40:6
And now, Alma demonstrates to his son how he went about seeking revelation from what he knew. He realizes there is a space after death—a lot of time—before Christ comes to earth and dies and the resurrection takes place.
He asks questions of God, “What becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection?” (7)
He uses what he knows to build his questions for God. He knows there could be different times appointed unto men to rise, but he isn’t worried about that part right now. He understands that men and women die at different times, so it makes sense that they might be resurrected at different times. But he wants to understand what these souls do during the limbo time between their mortal deaths and resurrection with their bodies.
Alma repeats this question and tells Corianton he has “inquired diligently of the Lord to know; and this is the thing of which I do know.” (9)
Death is not the end. All men return home to the God who gave them life.
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.”Alma 40:11
Death isn’t the end. An angel has told him this truth, that all men—wicked and good—return to a heavenly home we have forgotten in this mortal existence, because of the veil placed over our minds when we were born into this world.
Those spirits who were righteous go to a place called paradise.
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 trouble and from all care, and sorrow.”Alma 40:12
What a blessing! We often are frightened of death, but if we have kept God’s commandments, repented, and exercised faith in Jesus Christ in this life, then this space of time between death and resurrection will be one of peace and happiness. We won’t be sad at all. It will be a relief.
Those spirits who chose to follow Satan will go to a spiritual prison.
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part or 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 become of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
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; and they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.”Alma 40:13-14
Paradise and Spirit Prison are NOT the resurrection prophesied about by prophets. Resurrection means soul and body reunited.
Their consignation to happiness or misery” (17) is NOT the resurrection Jesus promised everyone when He died for us. This is a limbo state of the soul before it is resurrected.
Behold, I say unto you, Nay, but it (the resurrection) meaneth the reuniting of the soul with the body, of those from the days of Adam down to the resurrection of Christ.” (18)
Alma makes it clear that this partitioning of souls according to who they have chosen to follow in life is a waiting period before the resurrection. And Jesus Christ will be the first to be resurrected. After that, Alma admits he doesn’t know how or when those souls who have died before Christ will be resurrected. He just knows they will be, and leads into the last truths in this chapter.
All men will be brought before the judgment bar of God to be judged after they are resurrected.
But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.”Alma 40:21
This brings about the restoration that has been prophesied by all prophets on earth.
The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.”Alma 40:23
Perfect. I love the sound of that. Who doesn’t want to be perfect, like our Savior, someday. And He has made this possible through His Atoning sacrifice, willing death, and infinite Resurrection.
All resurrected peoples will be granted a kingdom, according to the judgement they receive from Jesus Christ.
And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.
But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.”Alma 40:25-26
Who wants that? Follow God and live!!!
These truths about the afterlife and resurrection Alma shares with his son are so beautiful. They help me understand what this earth life is about, and increase my faith in Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer. Those two titles have so much meaning, in light of these truths. Savior—the One who rescues me from my fallen body and the sins and mistakes I make in this life. Redeemer—the One who perfects me in the next life, if I believe in Him and use repentance to gain access to His redeeming power.
Am I living each day so I am prepared to die?
This life is not the end. From the truths Alma teaches, we know that there will be a space of either happiness or misery for us after death, according to our choices here on earth.
Am I prepared to stand before God in a resurrected body to be judged of my works in this life?
If I believe in Jesus Christ and keep my covenants with Him, the answer can be a resounding YES!