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This chapter continues Alma (Jr.)’s speech to his son Corianton, because Alma knows Corianton is worried about the resurrection of the dead (verse 1). Alma reassured him that it had not happened yet, because it won’t happen until Christ comes (verse 2). This is still 75 years before the birth of Christ, and death was not conquered until Christ resurrected himself (verse 3). Then resurrection will be possible, though the great resurrection of all of us will not happen until Christ returns again (verse 4). No one knows exactly how it will work, but we know that God knows, and that is enough. We know that in His Order, according to His plan, “there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead” (verse 5).
So what of this space in “time”, between death and the resurrection? (verse 6)
What happens to souls during this window of time? (verse 7)
Alma teaches that “time” is only an illusion, measured for us here and now physically based on our experience on this planet, and so “time only is measured unto men” (verse 8). So time for us is really only an illusion, other than there being specific Order to things – and there will be a specific time when we will be called forth in the resurrection (verse 9), and God knows when that time is (verse 10).
But what of that space between our experience of death, and our experience of resurrection?
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 (verse 11).
The “spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise” (verse 12), and the “spirits of the wicked” (those who do “evil works rather than good”) “shall be cast out into outer darkness” (verse 13). This is where the spirits remain until the resurrection (verse 14). In this way, spirits are assigned to the places (“happiness or misery”) they have chosen (verse 15), and this will happen for everyone (verse 16).
However, the resurrection itself means the “the reuniting of the soul with the body” (verses 17-20).
After the resurrection, in our resurrected bodies, we will “be brought to stand before God”, and be judged according to our works (verse 21). What Christ has done makes our resurrection possible, and everyone will receive that gift of immortality. But the quality of that immortality – the kind of life it will be – depends on the choices we make now.
But in the resurrection, everything will be “restored to their proper and perfect frame” (verses 23-24).
The righteous will “shine forth in the kingdom of God” (verse 25), for “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 26).
This is why we are grateful for the atonement, which makes entering the kingdom of God even possible, and for the Holy Spirit that does sanctify us so that we may be clean enough to do so.