Book of Mormon Lesson #30: “The Great Plan of Happiness”
1. Joseph F. Smith: [Alma 40:6-14 – the spirit world] Father (Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch) told [Bishop Edward Hunter] that the Spirit of Jesus Christ was full-grown before he was born into the world; and so our children were full-grown and possessed their full stature in the spirit, before they entered mortality, the same stature that they will possess after they have passed away from mortality, and as they will also appear after the resurrection, when they shall have completed their mission. Gospel Doctrine, pp. 455-56.
2. Joseph Smith: [Following death] The spirits of the just are … blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. They are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326.
3. Parley P. Pratt: Many spirits of the departed, who are unhappy, linger in lonely wretchedness about the earth, and in the air, and especially about their ancient homesteads, and the places rendered dear to them by the memory of the former scenes. Key to the Science of Theology, p. 117.
4. Brigham Young: [Alma 40:11 – spirits are taken home to God] When the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God in the sense that they are prepared to see, hear, and understand spiritual things. To go into the presence of God is not necessarily to be placed within a few yards or rods, or within a short distance of his person. Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 368.
5. Orson Pratt: When our spirits leave these bodies, will they be happy? Not perfectly so. Why? Because the spirit is absent from the body; it cannot be perfectly happy while a part of the man is lying in the earth. Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 289.
6. Joseph Smith: The great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits, where they go after death, is to know that they come short of the glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their own accusers. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 310-11.
7. Joseph Fielding McConkie & Robert Millet: [“This day shalt thou be with me in paradise”] There is nothing in the original word in Greek from which this was taken that signifies paradise; but it was – this day thou shalt be with me in the world of spirits. In confirming these truths, the Prophet said: “Hades, the Greek or Sheol, the Hebrew, these two significations mean a world of spirits. Hades, Sheol, paradise, spirits in prison, are all one: it is a world of spirits. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 299 (quoting TPJS, pp. 309-10).
8. Joseph Smith: Every man that has been baptized and belongs to the kingdom has a right to be baptized for those who have gone before; and as soon as the law of the Gospel is obeyed here [the gospel ordinance] by their friends who act as proxy for them, the Lord has administrators there to set them free. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 357.
9. Brigham Young: When the angel who holds the keys of the resurrection shall sound his trumpet, the peculiar fundamental particles that organized our bodies here, if we do honor to them – though they be deposited in the depths of the sea, and though one particle is in the north, another in the south, another in the east, and another in the west – will be brought together again in the twinkling of an eye, and our spirits will take possession of them. Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 28.
10. John Taylor: I know that some people … will say that all the parts of the body cannot be brought together, for say they, the fish probably have eaten them up, or the whole may have been blown to the four winds of heaven, etc. It is true the body, or the organization, may be destroyed in various ways, but it is not true that the particles out of which it was created can be destroyed. They are eternal; they never were created. … It is in accordance with acknowledged science. You may take, for instance, a handful of fine gold, and scatter it in the street among the dust; again, gather together the materials among which you have thrown the gold, and you can separate one from the other so thoroughly, that your handful of gold can be returned to you; yes, every grain of it. You may take particles of silver, iron, copper, lead, etc., and mix them together with any other ingredients, and there are certain principles connected with them by which these different materials can be eliminated, every particle cleaving to that of its own element. Journal of Discourses, vol. 18, pp. 333-34.
11. Dallin H. Oaks: [Alma 41:3 – desires of their hearts] Just as we will be accountable for our evil desires, we will also be rewarded for our righteous ones. Our Father in Heaven will receive a truly righteous desire as a substitute for actions that are genuinely impossible. … This principle means that when we have done all that we can, our desires will carry us the rest of the way. It also means that if our desires are right, we can be forgiven for the unintended errors or mistakes we will inevitably make as we try to carry those desires into effect. What a comfort for our feelings of inadequacy! Pure in Heart, p. 59.
12. Gordon B. Hinckley: So many of us are fearful of what our peers will say, that we will be looked upon with disdain and criticized if we stand for what is right. But I remind you that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). Evil never was happiness. Sin never was happiness. Happiness lies in the power and the love and the sweet simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need not be prudish. We need not slink off in a corner, as it were. We need not be ashamed. We have the greatest thing in the world, the gospel of the risen Lord. Gen. Conference, April 1997.
13. Joseph Smith: [Alma 42:8, 16 – the “great plan of happiness”] In obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, … and as God has designed our happiness – and the happiness of all His creatures, He never has – He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His laws and ordinances. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 256-57.
14. Neal A. Maxwell: The plan cannot bring true happiness to anyone whose life is grossly inconsistent with its standards. … It has no place of honor for one too concerned with losing his place in the secular synagogue. … Believers in the plan are not automatically immune to the consuming cares of the world. … Some of our present circumstances may reflect previous agreements now forgotten, but once freely made. The plan always points the way, but does not always smooth the way. Gen. Conference, April 1994.
15. Neal A. Maxwell: In the plan of happiness, the Great Shepherd, Jesus, will neither drive nor even herd us along the strait and narrow path. Doing such would be against God’s agency-drenched plan. Instead, exemplifying and beckoning, Jesus says, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22), the very words and the manner of the true shepherd. … Meanwhile, strange, is it not, how we are willing to settle for so much less? We are like an eager child at a candy store who will settle for just “one of these and one of those,” when the Owner desires to give us the whole store (D&C 84:38) Whom the Lord Loveth, pp. 73-74.
16. J. Reuben Clark: I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to save every one of his children. I do not think he intends to shut any of us off because of some slight transgression, some slight failure to observe some rule or regulation. … I believe that in his justice and mercy, he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose. Gen. Conference, Oct. 1955.
17. C.S. Lewis: Mercy, detached from justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the grannies of the rock of Justice. The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, p. 294.
Next week: Alma 43-52 “Firm in the Faith of Christ”