Alma discusses restoration. He tells Corianton that when someone wrests the scriptures, they begin to worry about things they shouldn’t, and that worrying beyond the mark leads them astray. (1) Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wrest (the verb) as “to pull, force, or move by violent wringing or twisting movements.”
To me, this conjures up the idea of someone forcing the word of God to mean what they want it to mean, twisting meanings in a way that is forced and wrong, in order to justify their own desires, which do not match God’s. To wrest the scriptures could mean taking the words out of context and putting them in a foreign one where they don’t belong, to justify wickedness. Mostly, to wrest the scriptures infers a lack of the Spirit as one’s study companion.
Do I feast upon God’s words? Or do I wrest them?
I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.”Alma 41:2
He talks about being judged by our works and desires of our heart and being restored to that which we clung to in this life—righteousness or evil.
The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desire of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.”Alma 41:5-6
The repentant soul is “redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.” (7)
We will be our own judges, because we won’t be capable of lying when we stand before God. Good works alone won’t save us, but the state of our hearts. We cannot earn our way into heaven by doing a certain number of good works, although good works often stem from a humble, repentant heart.
I think being our own judges means we won’t be able to justify sin, even if we were very skilled at doing that on earth. Standing in Christ’s holy, mighty, powerful presence will make us see the truth, speak the truth, and acknowledge the truth, even unto our condemnation if we have chosen evil.
But if we have done as our prophet, Russell M. Nelson, has counseled—daily repent to keep our hearts humble and our wills aligned with God’s—we will be able to look up with a clear conscience to our Savior Jesus Christ in the last day, because repentance makes honest men and women of us and softens our hearts to do His will. We give Him our burdens, and at the judgment bar, we will be able to judge that we are holy, because He is holy and pure, and we trust that He can do the same for us.
Alma tells Corianton that “the decrees of God are unalterable” (8) and not to “risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.” (9)
He then tells him about the glorious restoration Jesus Christ has made possible.
Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.”Alma 41:10
When we sin, we are contrary to God, so we can never be restored to good when we embrace evil. The only way to restore our relationship to Christ, who has power to wash away our sinfulness and purify us to stand before Him with confidence, is through the glorious gift of repentance.
Restoration does not mean taking something in its natural state and placing it in an unnatural state.
O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.”Alma 41:13
This is why we strive with all our hearts, might, minds, and souls to emulate and serve our Savior, to the best of our abilities, and then rely on His atoning power to save and redeem us. If we are unkind to others in this life, and never repent of this sin, we will have unkindness restored to us in the next life. If we are unmerciful to others now (which is so easy to do in this political and social climate of anonymity on the internet), we will have the same restored to us in the next life.
Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you against; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.
For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.”Alma 41:14-15
Do I believe in the Law of Restoration, as taught by Alma? If I do, my actions should reveal the state of my heart. Am I repenting consistently and sincerely? Am I feasting upon God’s words? Am I being merciful to those I come into contact with, both physically and in the social media world? Am I seeking the Spirit to help me judge righteously between truth and error, and right and wrong?