Alma 41:7-15 – LeGrand Baker – “Eternal Punishment”
7 they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.
8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.
10 …Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 …they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
15 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.
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It is my carefully considered opinion that in our Father in Heaven’s entire existence he has never punished anybody for anything. Now before you take that out of context let me explain. Our Heavenly Father is a tender, loving parent who will do, and who has done, everything possible for the salvation of his children. He is a God of absolute mercy. Now, we have our entire existence in linear time to determine whether we will accept all or only part of his merciful love. He is also a God of absolute justice, guaranteeing to each one of us all of the blessings we are WILLING to accept. He cannot force us to be happy as he is happy, just as he cannot force us to learn to be free from sin. So he blesses us, loves us and teaches us through the Holy Ghost how to listen and love him in return. If we are slow to listen, then he warns and even threatens us. But he does not punish us, he only tries to let us understand the consequences of our own bullheadedness.
I think that is what Alma is trying to explain that to his own wayward son, and that is also what the Lord explained to the Prophet Joseph and his friends.
5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment.
13 Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;
After I sent the above to our friends, I received the following from a very dear friend:
February 3, 2012
From Chauncey C. Riddle
Legrand: Just read your message of 11/27/11 about punishment. I completely agree with you that Father only blesses. Every so-called cursing is actually a blessing intended to help the recipient. God is love and his love extends to all. It is conditional, depending on the capacity of the recipient to receive. I find the pervasive comments about the importances of unconditional love to be very tiring because they reveal so little thought.
Best to you, CCRiddle