‘Plan of mercy’ explained to wayward son

Scriptural account a ‘type, example’ of forgiveness

Quoting the Savior's declaration, "I will remember your sins no more," President Boyd K. Packer used the account of a "loving father and a wayward son" in the Book of Mormon as a "type and example."

"Alma, the father, was a prophet; his son, Corianton, a missionary," President Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said during the Saturday afternoon session. President Packer then related this account, quoting from verses from the Book of Alma.

Corianton, while serving a mission among the Zoramites with his brothers, Helaman and Shiblon, forsook his ministry and went to the land of Siron after the harlot Isabel. Explaining that the sin of unchastity is "most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost" (Alma 39: 5), Alma told his son that his iniquity had turned away investigators. Then, Alma the loving father became Alma the teacher, teaching his son of the coming of Christ, "that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people" (Alma 39:15).

Knowing his son was worried about the resurrection of the dead, Alma then taught Corianton, "There is a time appointed that all shall come forth from the dead" (Alma 40:4). Between the time of death and resurrection, Alma continued, "the righteous are received into a state of happiness" (Alma 40:12) and the evil are "led captive by the will of the devil" (Alma 40:13).

Then perceiving that Corianton was worried about and could not understand the "justice of God in the punishment of the sinner," Alma taught his son about justice and mercy, that "the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice. . . ."

Then, bluntly, Alma said: "Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul" (Alma 41:16).

Alma himself "had once greatly disappointed his own father, Corianton's grandfather," going about "seeking to destroy the church" (Alma 36:6) until he was struck down by an angel (see Mosiah 27:14). Feeling the agony of guilt, he remembered the teachings of his father "concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world."

He cried out, "O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me. . . . And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more" (see Alma 36:17-21, 24).

Teaching his son that mercy cannot rob justice, 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. . . ." (Alma 42:30).

Corianton, in agony and shame, was brought "down to the dust in humility" (Alma 42:30). Then, satisfied with his son's repentance, Alma the priesthood leader "lifted the terrible burden of guilt his son carried, and sent him back to the mission field. . ." (Alma 42:31).

Twenty years later, Corianton was still faithfully laboring in the gospel. (See Alma 63:10; see also Alma 49:30.)

"It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way," President Packer declared. "Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addiction, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to escape from their influence."

Reminding the congregation of the Atonement of Christ, President Packer quoted Doctrine and Covenants 18:11: "For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him."

"Christ is the Creator, the Healer," President Packer said. "What He made, He can fix. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance and forgiveness."