With only 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon and only 531 pages, would you take four of those chapters and 8 pages just to talk about one wayward missionary’s story who committed a grievous sexual sin? Why would the Prophet Mormon think it was so important to include this story for our day?
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Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.
With only 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon and only 531 pages, would you take four of those chapters and 8 pages just to talk about one wayward missionary’s story who committed a grievous sexual sin? Why would the Prophet Mormon think it was so important to include this story for our day? Let’s explore this together.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast. We’re thrilled to be with you again this week—in fact—we’re thrilled to be with you in your homes and cars and gathering places each and every week. We consider this a sacred time together. We feel it a honor to be invited into your study space and time and to go over these scriptures and lessons together—exploring new insights and gaining deeper understanding.
Speaking of insights and understanding, please don’t miss the opportunity to add to your learning and your studies by downloading Scot’s new book: Eleven Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Book of Mormon. It won’t take but a page or two of reading and you’ll begin to see things you’ve never seen before. You’ll gain insights that will delight you and be an avenue to learning even more on your own. Scot’s goal is to help you dig and discover and explore and have new eyes to see this amazing Book of Mormon in new and powerful ways. You can download your eBook immediately at latterdaysaintmag.com/eleventhings that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/eleventhings. And because he’s received so many requests, Scot will soon be releasing an audio version of this book as well.
And thanks to the thousands of you who have already downloaded and read the book.
Today we’re going to talk about Alma the Younger’s family—his three sons where two are faithful and one has gone astray. It’s interesting to note that Lehi had six sons and two had gone astray. One third in each case. But there is something different in this story of Alma’s sons.
We have a lot of stories in the Book of Mormon, as we have mentioned in previous podcasts, about repentant sinners. This story of Corianton is a major one. Let’s not miss this—it’s a story for our times!
Here we have this incredible group of super missionaries heading to the apostate Zoramites who once had the true gospel of Jesus Christ and now they have strayed completely away from the pure doctrines. This is a very personal mission to the Zoramites—they are going there to try to recover them from their apostasy. To emphasize how difficult this mission was and to underline Alma’s faith, Mormon inscribes into the record, the prayer of Alma as they begin in earnest their preaching among them. He has seen their sinful and fallen state and he cries out in agony:
31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people.
Little did Alma know at that point that some of those afflictions he would suffer and the pain he would go through would be because of the iniquity of his own son.
His prayer continues:
32 O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me—yea, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, and also my two sons—yea, even all these wilt thou comfort, O Lord. Yea, wilt thou comfort their souls in Christ.
33 Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people.
34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
I’ve never thought of this prayer in relation to Corianton—that Alma would have success in bringing him again unto the Father in Christ Jesus.
35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.
36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
This looks like such an auspicious beginning to this mission for all of these 8 missionaries. They are blessed and filled with the Holy Spirit and they have this powerful prayer from Alma to help them start their mission.
In Alma chapters 36 through 42, we have the intimate and personal counsel of a tender father, Alma, to his three sons. Helaman receives two chapters worth of counsel, one of which is his charge to take care of the sacred records and treasures of the Nephites as we mentioned in our last podcast. We have one chapter of counsel for Shiblon and then we have four full chapters of bold counsel for Corianton. Why is this? Well, as you all know, or will come to know in your readings this week, Corianton took a wrong turn on his mission—perhaps a series of wrong turns—and he committed a very grievous sexual sin. But the reason, I think, Mormon, the great prophet abridger of the records, felt it so important to include this story in the text, is because this is a story of great hope and redemption.
Scot, do you remember that survey we did years ago on Meridian about families and if anyone had a child who had gone astray?
We asked a number of questions but the one I remember the most was: Have you ever had a child who has gone astray from the gospel and has not come back? More than 80% of those respondents answered yes to this question. We received many heartbreaking letters from readers during that survey with stories of their beloved children and how they used their agency to choose different paths from what they had been taught. If we were to do the survey again and include not only immediate family members but extended family members—we would likely hit about 100%. It happens. We don’t want it to happen. It’s one of the hardest things to face in this life. It breaks our hearts as parents to teach and train our children in the ways of Jesus Christ and His gospel, to bring our children to Church each and every week, to have our Family Home Evenings, our daily scripture study, our family prayers, our wholesome recreational activities—to do everything we possibly can and then these children choose a different path.
I know we fought in the war in heaven for moral agency—you know it’s never called Free Agency in the scriptures—and this was so important to our Heavenly Father. I’ve just wondered sometimes—and maybe you have too—that agency is great for parents but not for children! Well, the thought has crossed my mind a few times—and yes, I’m kidding—but here in this incredible story of Corianton we do find hope and direction for us as parents.
Now, we don’t know the details of the story of Corianton and what exactly happened that he swerved from the sacred ministry of his mission but we do have some poignant insights from his father, Alma, as he begins to counsel him.
First we have insight in Alma 39 verses 1 and 2:
1 And now, my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother; [can you imagine Corianton’s heart pounding at this moment with his venerable father?] for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? [Does it always work well to compare your children?] Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?
2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; [At this point you know that Corianton could feel the hammer coming down…]—then Alma says: Thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.
Isn’t that an interesting lead to the story? Corianton had been boasting in his strength and wisdom. Is it possible that a small thing like boasting could lead one to a major sin like fornication with a harlot? This is certainly worth noting.
Boasting puts one in a position of thinking one is wiser or smarter than God. It happens today a great deal. Someone finds something negative on the Internet about the Prophet Joseph Smith or about the Church of Jesus Christ. They read it and think they have made a discovery that trumps their own knowledge base, their testimony and the very foundations of truth. They begin to spread this around with new found enthusiasm and start to bring others with them. This is the tip of the iceberg for boasting. Boasting is a serious sin and a gateway to much more serious sins.
And Alma does not miss this opportunity to teach this to us all.
In verse 9 of chapter 39, Alma teaches:
9 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.
Now, what does that mean to “cross yourself in these things?”
I love that question because there are a number of verses of scripture that give us answer to this. I must say, I hope that you are actively marking your scriptures—whether electronic or paper—it mattereth not—with references and cross references that speak to you. Do you know how to do your own personal references and link scriptures in your electronic scriptures? If not, please find someone about 10 to 12 years old and get some help! This particular teaching about crossing ourselves has been fascinating to me mainly because of one verse from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.
Let’s turn to the King James Version or KJV of Matthew 16:24:
24 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Joseph Smith gives us this wonderful revelation here—and it goes right along with Alma’s teachings: 26 And now for a man to take up his cross, [listen closely] is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments.
That is so powerful. Let me repeat: To take up your cross is to deny yourself all ungodliness and every worldly lust. Imagine how powerful this doctrine would be for those who struggle with pornography. And how do we cross ourselves in this?
Just like with the little decisions of boasting in his strength and wisdom that Corianton made—”deny ourselves” is a series of little decisions.
It’s like going off desserts: You deny yourself dessert. It’s there in front of you. It’s free for the taking. It’s readily available and in great quantity. It’s surely delicious and unquestionably desirable. But you deny yourself of this.
How about R-rated movies? Oh, but you say, “This one is really important and there’s only three or four times the “F word” is used and only a few sex scenes. And I’ve heard they’re not as graphic as some PG-13 movies!” Seriously? Deny yourselves of these things—which are the very definition of ungodliness! At the least, there are filters that can take all of this out of a film. I remember once we wanted to apply some heavy filters to a film we were interested in seeing and after we applied the many filters the film was 29 minutes shorter. Really?
And how about magazines? I remember our wonderful Stake Patriarch in Virginia, J.D. Evans, once counseled the priesthood brethren: “Don’t read something from a magazine that is at Jiffy Lube or the barber shop or the doctor’s office that you know you shouldn’t be reading.” I’ve never forgotten that wise counsel. That’s just so smart. Deny yourself of this ungodliness! This is crossing yourself!
You often see a magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store. It may have a very tantalizing line like: Find out the real reason why so and so’s marriage is on the rocks. So and so tells all!” Is that really worth losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost over? Do you know how easily HE is offended and will not abide in darkness?
And how about books that we read? Do we indulge ourselves in romance novels that have inappropriate and tawdry descriptions of infidelity, fornication, adultery, or sexual acts? Cross yourself in this! That is to deny yourself of this ungodliness and will invite the Spirit to continue to be your closest companion.
Or how about just the various headlines on a Cosmopolitan magazine? I think you know exactly what I mean—your spirit knows.
I remember a wonderful moment we had just outside Buckingham Palace in London one beautiful day. We were with two of our daughters and some dear friends, Clint and Lori Todd, and we were there in the crowd trying to get a really good view of the changing of the guard. This is a sight to see with full pomp and order and colors and precision. There must have been at least five thousand onlookers gathered to witness this occasion. And, of course, those other 4,994 people were really blocking our view to get some good pictures. Our friend, Clint Todd, was not afraid to climb up the big stone wall next to us to get a better view of the event. As he climbed above everyone a voice cried from the midst of the crowd: “Don’t do it mate! It’s not worth it!” Clearly that person knew that the bobbies would be there any moment to haul Clint off from the wall. But that line from a lone voice in the crowd is such wise counsel for each of us in the scenarios we’ve been discussing: “Don’t do it mate! It’s not worth it!” That line has become part of our own family culture—we use it often. And YOU are welcome to borrow that same line and add it into your own family culture—it really works! But you have to say it with a British accent!
And what about places we go? Shouldn’t we be extremely careful of putting ourselves in places where we can be exposed to the wrong influences? Cross yourself in this! Deny yourself of this ungodliness! That is what is means to take up the cross of Christ!
I remember, Scot, your brother Paul, years ago, went out to find a friend he had been helping for a season. He looked and looked and looked for him one late night when he hadn’t come home and finally found him in a bar passed out from drinking. He literally picked him up and carried him out of there on his shoulders, but I remember his prayer: “Please Heavenly Father, don’t let me die in this bar. Mother always taught us to avoid this kind of place—don’t let me die here.” The point here is your Mom did always teach you to avoid such places—deny yourself of this ungodliness.
And somehow, Corianton did not deny himself—he did not cross himself. We don’t know much about this Isabel. She is only one of four women named in the text of the Book of Mormon—Sariah, Mary, Abish and Isabel. It is possible that her name is Isha-ba ‘al which would mean “woman of Ba ‘al.” We don’t know how this false god Ba ‘al got around so much, but there he is again (although obviously he’s not real—he’s just a projection of Satan’s temptations—there is no god Ba ‘al.). And she, Isha ba ‘al, or Isabel was tempting many just outside the borders of the mission field where Corianton was serving—in the borders of the land Siron. Had he stayed in the mission boundaries he would have been fine!
Alma said to Corianton about this wicked harlot Isabel:
4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
And then, I think, one of the most stinging lines from Alma is in verse 11:
“Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.”
How hard that would have been for Alma AND for Corianton.
And can you imagine how Satan would have swept in and filled Corianton’s mind with guilt and shame and how he would have made him want to run away, never have anything to do with his mission or the ministry of the Lord again? The adversary would have had a heyday with Corianton—but here is this patient, powerful, truthful father, Alma, who lays it all out for him.
8 But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day, Alma taught him.
Oh, Maurine, that reminds me of a wonderful moment in Dr. Robert Patch’s Book of Mormon class I was taking many years ago at BYU. We were going over that very verse you just quoted that “ye cannot hide your crimes from God” and one of my friends, a fellow student in the class, Nolan Crab, raised his hand to make a comment. Nolan was blind and he said that when he was young and trying to figure out various things around the house he became quite fascinated with matches. He would hear his dad strike a match and it would create heat and it could light a fire in the fireplace or a candle. He listened closely to know where the matches were kept. So, one day, he got a plastic bag, like a little sandwich bag, and he sneaked over to the drawer where he heard his dad put the matches. He reached in and felt around until he found where they were and then he took a handful of them and hid them in the plastic bag. He then carefully and quietly closed the drawer and started sneaking by his dad to go outside and try out these matches. His dad said, “Nolan! Where are you going with all those matches?” Nolan said, “How did you know I had them?” He said, “Well, Nolan, they’re in that plastic bag and you can see right through the clear plastic.” Nolan said, “I didn’t know you could see through plastic.” Nolan then said to the class, “That’s just like our sins. We think we can carry them around and even hide them from God, but just like those matches—He can see them perfectly.”
That’s such a great reminder of the need for repentance. And Alma didn’t mince any words with Corianton about repentance and the absolute necessity of turning his heart to God.
9 And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.
We don’t do our children any favors if we let them wallow in sin or never tell them the truth about the consequences of their actions, but rather mollycoddle them or insulate them from the truth and let them go on in their actions. Yes, I know that our children have their moral agency, I know we have to try to preserve our relationships with them—but we have our stewardship as well to teach them and do everything in our power to lead them in the ways of truth and invite them to come unto Christ.
I was re-reading C.S. Lewis’s book, The Magician’s Nephew just three weeks ago and I came upon a wonderful dialogue between the young boy, Digory, and the White Witch. Digory and his friend Polly have discovered a magical world called Narnia where light and dark are clearly displayed. A great Lion, Aslan, represents the Savior, and the White Witch is the symbol of Satan and his temptations. Digory’s mother is sick and dying in our world, and because he loves her, he is excited to have found an apple in Narnia that he thinks will heal her. Yet, he is not to take the apple from this magical world, and has read on a sign that if he does it will lead to despair, and so it is hidden in his pocket. When he comes upon the White Witch with his friend, Polly, who is also from earth, he tries to run from her. The conversation between them is worth hearing as we learn more about the nature of temptation and lies. Listen closely and pay attention to her evil methods:
“Foolish boy,” said the Witch. “Why do you run from me? I mean you no harm. If you do not stop and listen to me now, you will miss some knowledge that would have made you happy all your life.”
“Well, I don’t want to hear it, thanks,” said Digory. But he did.
“I know what errand you have come on,” continued the Witch. “For it was I who was close beside you in the woods last night and heard all your counsels. You have plucked fruit in the garden yonder. You have it in your pocket now. And you are going to carry it back, untasted, to the Lion; for him to eat, for him to use. You simpleton! Do you know what that fruit is? I will tell you. It is the apple of youth, the apple of life. I know, for I have tasted it; and I feel already such changes in myself that I know I shall never grow old or die. Eat it, Boy, eat it; and you and I will both live forever and be king and queen of this whole world—or of your world, if we decide to go back there.”
“No thanks,” said Digory, “I don’t know that I care much about living on and on after everyone I know is dead. I’d rather live an ordinary time and die and go to Heaven.”
“But what about this Mother of yours whom you pretend to love so?”
“What’s she got to do with it?” said Digory.
“Do you not see, Fool, that one bite of that apple would heal her? You have it in your pocket. We are here by ourselves and the Lion is far away. Use your Magic and go back to your own world. A minute later you can be at your Mother’s bedside, giving her the fruit. Five minutes later you will see the color coming back to her face. She will tell you the pain is gone. Soon she will tell you she feels stronger. Then she will fall asleep—think of that; hours of sweet natural sleep, without pain, without drugs. Next day everyone will be saying how wonderfully she has recovered. Soon she will be quite well again. All will be well again. Your home will be happy again. You will be like other boys.”
“Oh!” gasped Digory as if he had been hurt, and put his hand to his head. For he now knew that the most terrible choice lay before him.
“What has the Lion ever done for you that you should be his slave?” said the Witch. “What can he do to you once you are back in your own world? And what would your Mother think if she knew that you could have taken her pain away and given her back her life and saved your Father’s heart from being broken, and that you wouldn’t—that you’d rather run messages for a wild animal in a strange world that is no business of yours?”
“I—I don’t think he is a wild animal,” said Digory in a dried-up sort of voice. “He is—I don’t know—”
“Then he is something worse,” said the Witch. “Look what he has done to you already; look how heartless he has made you. That is what he does to everyone who listens to him. Cruel, pitiless boy! you would let your own Mother die rather than—”
“Oh shut up,” said the miserable Digory, still in the same voice. “Do you think I don’t see? But I—I promised.”
“Ah, but you didn’t know what you were promising. And no one here can prevent you.”
“Mother herself,” said Digory, getting the words out with difficulty, “wouldn’t like it—awfully strict about keeping promises—and not stealing—and all that sort of thing. She’d tell me not to do it—quick as anything—if she was here.”
“But she need never know,” said the Witch, speaking more sweetly than you would have thought anyone with so fierce a face could speak. “You wouldn’t tell her how you’d got the apple. Your Father need never know. No one in your world need know anything about this whole story. You needn’t take the little girl back with you, you know.”
That was where the Witch made her fatal mistake. Of course Digory knew that Polly could get away by her own ring as easily as he could get away by his. But apparently the Witch didn’t know this. And the meanness of the suggestion that he should leave Polly behind suddenly made all the other things the Witch had been saying to him sound false and hollow. And even in the midst of all his misery, his head suddenly cleared, and he said (in a different and much louder voice): “Look here; where do you come into all this? Why are you so precious fond of my Mother all of a sudden? What’s it got to do with you? What’s your game?”
“Good for you, Digs,” whispered Polly in his ear. “Quick! Get away now.” She hadn’t dared to say anything all through the argument because, you see, it wasn’t her Mother who was dying.
“Up then,” said Digory, heaving her on to Fledge’s back and then scrambling up as quickly as he could. The horse spread its wings.
“Go then, Fools,” called the Witch. “Think of me, boy, when you lie old and weak and dying, and remember how you threw away the chance of endless youth! It won’t be offered you again.” (C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, excerpt from Chapter 13)
Isn’t that amazing the numbers of times she used lies, deceptions, belittling, shame, last-chances and also degrading Aslan—or the Lord to try to get Digory to respond to her. She tries to convince him that doing the wrong thing is the kind thing to do. We need to pay attention to how Satan uses these tools in our own lives. He is clever, but we have the gift of the Holy Ghost who is the revealer of all truth. We must do everything in our power to keep Him as our constant companion.
Let’s go back to Corianton? Did he repent? Did he turn his life around? Did he turn from this horrible mistake and live a good life?
There was a tender moment about this in a Facebook Live broadcast with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom and Sister Carole M. Stephens—who was then the first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency.
Sister Stephens said this:
I was thinking about some of the struggles that are happening with young single adults, with many age groups now with men and with women and a whole lot of them are sexual sins and I thought about Alma and his son, Corianton. We reviewed a lot of questions [for this broadcast] and one of them was: If we find out someone we’re dating or someone we’re serious about has an issue with pornography, should we continue to date them? Or should we run? What should we do? And when I got to Alma 39 I read about Corianton who had committed sexual sin and I read all the advice and the counsel that his father gave him, how he taught him and I thought to myself: Would you give up on a Corianton?
Sister Stephens went on: “Let me clarify that by saying this: What’s in the heart? Are you dating someone who has a good heart, whose honest about it, who is willing to work with you? Who is willing to take the twelve-step course and really study the scriptures? Can you do this together? Can you work through this together? What’s the condition of his heart—I think there’s where a lot of this decision will come. And then you study in Alma, you continue to study the things that [Alma] taught his son and the thing I love is when you come to Alma 48. I think Corianton got it. I think he figured out what the important things were. I know that he did because it says in Alma 48, verse 17:
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
18 Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.
“It doesn’t say in that verse,” Sister Stephens continues, “also Alma and his sons, except for Corianton, because he committed sin. Corianton was called back to the work. Corianton figured out what was right and what needed to happen in his life to be able to progress. And he relied on the atonement of Jesus Christ to be able to do that.” (Face to Face with Young Single Adults with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Sister Carole M. Stephens and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, March 8, 2016)
I truly love Sister Stephen’s insights and have never forgotten that moment in that broadcast.
Neither have I. This whole story of Corianton is such a story of hope and of promise. We all fall short at times in our lives. We all have our struggles. We all can become blind at times or become resistant or hard-hearted towards the Spirit. Corianton is a great example and reminder that there is truly hope—hope in Christ—for each one of us.
And I think that’s why Mormon included this story in the record—we know he had hundreds of times more material to choose from—and he was inspired and felt to include the story of Corianton’s fall and repentance and rise to become a holy man of God. Mormon had seen our day. He knew this story would help. That brings us so much joy.
And Maurine, I can’t help recalling, when I study these wonderful chapters, a very sacred and special story in my own life. You know which one I’m talking about.
I certainly do.
On June the 12, 1999, we had gathered as a family at my parents’ home in Provo, Utah. My Dad was in his last hours on this earth and we wanted to be with him. He could not talk anymore but he was alert and attentive to us and could communicate with his eyes and with his hand squeezes. We had a couple of hours as a family with him, then he seemed to be at peace and calm and wanted to rest for a while. We took all the children back home and it wasn’t long before Mom called and said, “Dad is gone.” I said, “Mom, we’ll be right there.”
We hurried as fast as we could. Dad’s body was still very warm when we arrived and Maurine and I surrounded Mom with love and with tears. Mom and Dad read the scriptures together every day of their lives and it was time for that last reading together. Even though Dad was already gone, Mom opened up the Book of Mormon to where they had been reading the day before and she began in Alma, chapter 40, verses 11 and 12–and she read it aloud to us and directly to my Dad—and I know his spirit was near:
11 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.
12 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.
Then Mom said, “Paul, I’m going to read that last verse again—and she looked at his face and eyes with that longing look of someone who had been a widow less than an hour:
12 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.
With tears streaming down her face, she closed her triple combination and put the book down and gave Dad a hug, knowing that was the last time she would read the scriptures with him in this life.
That is one of the sacred moments of our whole life. That doctrine was comforting to us at that tender moment and it was comforting to Corianton in his time of need.
I think it’s fascinating that in this crossroads time for Corianton, Alma was emphasizing true doctrine as he called his son to repentance. And this was extremely effective.
President Boyd K. Packer taught:
“Moved upon by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 121:43; see also Alma 39:12), [Alma] had rebuked Corianton with sharpness. Then, after plainly, patiently teaching these fundamental principles of the gospel, there came the abundance of love.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith was taught through revelation that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
“Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death” (D&C 121:41-44).
President Packer continued:
“Alma said: “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” (Alma 42:30).
“Corianton’s grandfather, also named Alma, was among the priests who had served the wicked King Noah. He heard Abinadi the prophet testify of Christ, and he was converted. Condemned to death, he fled the evil court to teach of Christ. (See Mosiah 17:1-4.)
“Now Alma, in turn, was the father pleading with his son Corianton to repent.
“After sternly rebuking his son and patiently teaching the doctrine of the gospel, Alma the loving father said, “And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance” (Alma 42:29).
“In agony and shame, Corianton was brought “down to the dust in humility” (Alma 42:30).
President Packer concluded:
“Alma, who was Corianton’s father and also his priesthood leader, was now satisfied with Corianton’s repentance. He lifted the terrible burden of guilt his son carried and sent him back to the mission field: “And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. … Go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness. … And may God grant unto you even according to my words” (Alma 42:31).
“Corianton joined his brothers, Helaman and Shiblon, who were among the priesthood leaders. Twenty years later in the land northward, he was still faithfully laboring in the gospel. (See Alma 49:30; Alma 63:10.)” (Packer, Boyd K. “I Will Remember Your Sins No More,” General Conference, April 2006)
I love that long-term perspective of seeing Corianton true to the end of his days. That whole talk of President Packers, by the way, in April 2006, is worth studying this week. It is perfect for this lesson.
It is good to remember what Joseph Smith wrote a long time ago to the Saints scattered abroad:
“Let everyone labor to prepare himself for the vineyard, sparing a little time to comfort the mourners; to bind up the broken-hearted; to reclaim the backslider; to bring back the wanderer; to re-invite into the kingdom such as have been cut off, by encouraging them to lay to while the day lasts, and work righteousness, and, with one heart and one mind, prepare to help redeem Zion, that goodly land of promise, where the willing and obedient shall be blessed. Souls are as precious in the sight of God as they ever were; and the Elders were never called to drive any down to hell, but to persuade and invite all men everywhere to repent, that they may become the heirs of salvation.” (History of the Church, 2:229.)
And the Savior taught the Nephites about how to deal with sinners in 3 Nephi 18:32:
32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.
There is little in life that brings more joy than to be the means of leading someone to turn to the Savior with full purpose of heart and see the Lord heal them.
That’s all for today. We so appreciate your joining us each week. Please spread the word about the Podcast—send your friends and family to latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast Next week we will be studying “the war chapters” of the Book of Mormon, Alma chapters 43-52. It might surprise you why these chapters are included and what they are all about. Thanks for Paul Cardall for the beautiful music and thanks to Michaela Proctor Hutchins for producing this podcast. Have a wonderful week and see you next time.