Many people have heard of The Book of Mormon, but most do not know what it is or what it says. At best, most folks have heard negative rumors about it from their pastor, the internet, or popular culture. Yet, they have never taken the time to study its words and learn for themselves what it says. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I maintain that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is an inspired book of scripture to be read alongside the Bible. It is a holy book that speaks of Jesus Christ and encourages us to look to Him alone for salvation. I devote this article to bearing my personal testimony of The Book of Mormon’s witness of Jesus Christ.
Before discussing The Book of Mormon, let’s talk about the Bible. What is the Bible? The name “Bible” comes from the Latin word biblia, and its Greek counterpart, meaning “the books.” It is a collection of writings by inspired prophets and apostles throughout the ages of time. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called “Mormons,” believe that the Bible is God’s word and that it testifies of our Savior Jesus Christ.
In 2007, President M. Russell Ballard, one of the ranking leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a talk titled “The Miracle of the Holy Bible.” He cleared up some of the misconceptions about our beliefs when he explained:
“It is a miracle that we have the Bible’s powerful doctrine, principles, poetry, and stories. But most of all, it is a wonderful miracle that we have the account of the life, ministry, and words of Jesus, which was protected through the Dark Ages and through the conflicts of countless generations so that we may have it today.
“It is a miracle that the Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.
“The Holy Bible is well named. It is holy because it teaches truth, holy because it warms us with its spirit, holy because it teaches us to know God and understand His dealings with men, and holy because it testifies throughout its pages of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .
“How grateful we should be for the Holy Bible. In it we learn not only of the life and teachings and doctrines of Christ, we learn of His Church and of His priesthood and of the organization which He established and named the Church of Jesus Christ in those former days. We believe in that Church, and we believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same Church, restored to earth, complete, with the same organization and the same priesthood.
“Without the Bible, we would not know of His Church then, nor would we have the fulness of His gospel now.
“I love the Bible, its teachings, its lessons, and its spirit. I love the Old Testament’s compelling, profound stories and its great prophets testifying of the coming of Christ. I love the New Testament’s apostolic travels and miracles and the letters of Paul. Most of all, I love its eyewitness accounts of the words and the example and the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love the perspective and peace that come from reading the Bible.
“Brothers and sisters, I am sure many of you have had the experience of hearing people say that “Mormons are not Christians because they have their own Bible, the Book of Mormon.” To anyone harboring this misconception, we say that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and the author of our salvation and that we believe, revere, and love the Holy Bible. We do have additional sacred scripture, including the Book of Mormon, but it supports the Bible, never substituting for it. . . .
“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). We love the Bible and other scriptures. That may be surprising to some who may not be aware of our belief in the Bible as the revealed word of God. It is one of the pillars of our faith, a powerful witness of the Savior and of Christ’s ongoing influence in the lives of those who worship and follow Him.” (President M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” General Conference, April, 2007).
The Bible is, above all else, an inspired witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in and witness of Jesus Christ and, therefore, also believe in, read, and testify of the Bible. No one should ever hold the misconception that we are not Christians or that we don’t cherish the Bible. The very name of our Church proclaims to the world that we believe in Jesus Christ!
Latter-day Saints earnestly believe in the Bible’s prophecies. For instance, we take it seriously when Amos declared: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). This clearly shows the need for prophets and continuing revelation. This is further bolstered by other Biblical passages that we hold dear; namely, Paul’s statements that “God hath set . . . in the church” both “apostles” and “prophets” (1 Corinthians 12:28) and that the Lord’s Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20).
Where are the Christian denominations today claiming prophets and apostles as both the Old and New Testaments obviously require? If you believe the Bible is the word of God, you must also believe that the Lord calls men as prophets and apostles, organizes them according to a very specific format and structure (Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 16:18-19; Luke 6:13; Luke 10:1; Acts 1:24-25), and that He leads them through revelation suited to their situation.
We testify that the Lord has given mankind prophets once again in our day, beginning in 1820 with Joseph Smith whom I testify was a true prophet in the mode of Moses, Elijah, Peter, Abraham, and the others. If it is true that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8) as the Apostle Paul taught, then we should look for Him to direct his Church today through prophets as He did anciently. For Bible-believing Christians, there’s simply no dismissing the well-established principle of the Lord’s people receiving revelation through prophets called by Him.
We proclaim to the world that the Lord is good, that He loves all people everywhere, and that He graciously reveals His word to people throughout the earth whenever they are receptive enough to receive it. Whereas the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with the House of Israel in the Old World, The Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with two peoples, including Israelites, who inhabited the ancient American continent.
These two civilizations were blessed with prophets who taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first group, the Jaredites, left the Old World at the time the Lord confounded the languages at the Tower of Babel. They were led by prophets to the American continent where they established an ancient Christian society. Over time, they devolved into wickedness, murdered the prophets, and harbored Satanic secret societies which led the people into a civil war that ended in their total annihilation. Around the time of their tragic fall, the Lord brought another people into this land – the Nephites.
The majority of The Book of Mormon concerns the Nephites and their usually hostile brothers, the Lamanites. The Nephites were Israelites of the tribe of Manasseh. They were named after Nephi, the son of a Hebrew prophet named Lehi. Lehi, a lineal descendant of Joseph of Egypt, preached in Jerusalem at the same time the great prophet Jeremiah was preaching – that is, around 600 B.C. The Israelites at Jerusalem rejected Jeremiah’s words and threw him into prison. Jeremiah received a revelation in which the Lord attested to the fact that He had sent many prophets to Israel:
“Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them:
“Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers” (Jeremiah 7:25).
The Hebrews not only rejected Jeremiah, they also rejected Lehi’s warnings and sought to kill him. The Lord warned Lehi to flee out of the land and subsequently led his family into the Americas through Nephi’s instrumentality.
Nephi was a humble man who became a great prophet of the Lord. He spent his life teaching his people about Jesus Christ and prophesying that He would come to redeem all who would believe on His name. Nephi wrote: “[M]y soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ” (2 Nephi 11:4). Nephi particularly loved citing the words of Isaiah which also foretold of the coming Messiah and many of his writings were explanations of Isaiah’s earlier prophecies.
Nephi bore frequent and powerful testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. He once stated:
“I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved. . . .
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. . . .
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . .
“. . . the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.
“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:20, 23, 25, 28-29).
Nephi was emphatic – we are saved by Christ! His is the only name through which salvation comes. It is His grace that rescues us from sin. We are to talk, preach, and prophesy of Him and teach our children to look to Him. Nephi believed in the Son of God and He wanted us to also “bow down before him” in humble discipleship.
Another time, Nephi taught:
“And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;
“And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:12-13).
In what is perhaps my favorite declaration from The Book of Mormon, Nephi issued this challenge to all who would read his words:
“And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal. . . .
“. . . be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.
“And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jews, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye – for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things” (2 Nephi 31:4, 9-11).
Nephi was not the only ancient American seer to speak of Christ. All the prophets recorded in The Book of Mormon record taught of Jesus and encouraged all to have faith in Him. Jacob, Nephi’s younger brother, gave us these words:
“And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come.
“Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest. . . .
“Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ” (Jacob 1:7-8).
Jacob loved to teach about the most important moment to ever play out on earth – the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement of Jesus Christ includes not only His suffering for our sins in Gethsemane and His crucifixion on the cross, but His resurrection and conquest of death and hell. Because of the Lord’s resurrection and Atonement, we, too, will rise from the grave and receive resurrected and immortal bodies before the Judgment Day. In a rousing sermon, Jacob taught of these great truths and the central role the Savior’s Atonement plays:
“Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he [Jesus] shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came . . . for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.
“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
“Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement. . . .
“O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. . . .
“O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell. . . .
“And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. . . .
“And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment. . . .
“. . . behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. . . .
“And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.
“And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before h im at the great and judgment day.
“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. . . .
“O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.
“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open” (2 Nephi 9:5-8, 10-11, 15, 18, 21-23, 41-42).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the central feature of His Gospel. Everything else is a mere appendage to that glorious event. All men, no matter how wicked or flawed, will be resurrected because of the Lord’s mercy. Those who receive greater reward, however, will be those who, having the opportunity, embraced the doctrines of the Lord, believed on the name of Jesus Christ, entered into His covenants via the straight and narrow path, and endured to the end of their mortal lives in faithfulness.
These truths are taught many times and in many ways throughout the entirety of The Book of Mormon. Lehi, Nephi’s and Jacob’s father, gave this witness of the Redeemer:
“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. . . .
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon. . . .
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh . . . And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:6-7, 25-27).
Hundreds of years after Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob, a king named Benjamin delivered a sermon which shows how thoroughly and inexorably Christian The Book of Mormon is. After having been instructed by an angel, he taught his people these glorious truths about the Messiah’s life and ministry:
“[The Lord] shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
“And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world. . . .
“For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.
“But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Mosiah 3:5-12).
What a marvelous testimony of Christ! King Benjamin was emphatic – salvation is only in Christ. Only by faith on His name, repentance, and obedience to His commands can we be saved. Saving those who trust in His name is the Lord’s eternal purpose. It is the reason He suffered so much agony. He loved us and therefore He laid down His life for us that we, through “faith on the Lord Jesus Christ,” can be saved.
Later still in the book’s timeline, a missionary named Amulek could be found teaching the same doctrine of Christ. In one instance, he explained the Savior’s impending Atonement and mankind’s future Resurrection:
“And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. . . .
“The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
“Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit” (Alma 11:40, 43-44).
Another time, Amulek shared this sweet testimony:
“Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and . . . he shall atone for the sins of the world. . . .
“And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law [of Moses], every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.
“And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.
“And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety. . . .
“. . . now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you” (Alma 34:8, 14-16, 31).
All who believe in Jesus Christ can call unto Him and immediately begin their path to Him and Heavenly Father. His mercy can cover our sins, rescue us from the grasp of hell, and fully redeem us. We simply have to have faith in the Savior and bring our lives into harmony with His Gospel.
Perhaps even more powerfully than Amulek, Alma, the Nephite prophet in Amulek’s day, conveyed the magnitude and scope of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He taught that the Savior not only died for our sins, but that He felt our sickness and pain, heartache and sorrow, regret and bitterness. Through His mercy, we can be healed, uplifted, comforted in our depression and grief, and saved from every dark and evil thought and feeling and physical ailment. Alma proclaimed:
“[B]ehold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all – for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. . . .
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that he word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:7, 11-13).
Jesus the Christ not only died a cruel death on the cross, but He bled at every pore because the agony and weight of our collective sins, pains, brokenheartedness, disappointment, bitterness, and sicknesses (Luke 22:44). The Jews in Jerusalem did not sufficiently appreciate or comprehend the act being performed in the Garden of Gethsemane by their Lord and Redeemer. Yet, across an ocean in ancient America the Nephites had been taught plainly of the Savior’s Atonement.
About six years prior to the Lord’s birth in the Holy Land, a Lamanite prophet named Samuel prophesied of many events connected with the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. At the time, the Nephites were falling into unrighteousness. Samuel warned the people and focused his teachings on Christ:
“[N]othing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people. . . .
“And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life. . . .
“And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits. . . .
“For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord” (Helaman 13:6; 14:8, 13, 15-17).
From Samuel’s day until the death and resurrection of Christ in Palestine, the prophets continued to preach of the imminent Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many unique signs were given to the people of the Americas, including major geological upheaval and the destruction of many wicked cities at the time of the Lord’s death on the cross. According to Samuel, these signs were given “to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men – And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved” (Helaman 14:28-29).
These events bring us up to the crowning moment in The Book of Mormon. After the resurrected Lord’s Ascension in Israel, He appeared to other peoples throughout the world. If you search, you can find fascinating secular records of His appearances in many lands. The Book of Mormon record, however, is the clearest of them all and is of divine origin.
Six-hundred years previous to this event, Nephi foretold of the Lord’s appearance. He wrote that “after Christ shall have arisen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my beloved brethren; and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do” (2 Nephi 26:1). Other prophets had periodically repeated this promise. Shortly after the Ascension, the prophecy was fulfilled in dramatic, miraculous fashion.
We read of the moment of the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites in this passage:
“And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven. . . .
“And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
“Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name – hear ye him.
“And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
“And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
“And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension in to heaven.
“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
“And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
“Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Nephi 11:3, 6-17).
What a remarkable event! This group of some 2,500 Nephites had the privilege of seeing the Lord, hearing His voice, and handling His perfected, glorified, resurrected body of flesh and bone just as the apostles had done in the Holy Land (Luke 24:36-43). They knew for themselves, as we must come to know for ourselves, that He was indeed the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind!
Jesus taught the Nephites many things during His visit, including the Sermon on the Mount with a few clarifications. He told the people: “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21). He chose twelve apostles, organized them, and gave them Priesthood authority to administer sacraments and ordinances just as He had done during His mortal ministry. He commanded everyone to “diligently” study Isaiah’s prophecies, “for great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). He healed the sick, blind, and maim as He had done in Palestine. He blessed the little children and angels came down out of Heaven and ministered to them. And He even touched upon events that would happen during our time – the time preceding His Second Coming. Truly, the appearance of the Son of God was the crowning event recorded in The Book of Mormon and stands as additional proof that this book bears witness of Him and Him alone.
After the Savior’s visit to the Nephites here in America, the people established a Zion-like society. For a little shy of two-hundred years, the people lived in harmony and peace. We read:
“[T]here were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
“And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. . . .
“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
“And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.
“There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:2-3, 15-17).
Sadly, the people of the land enjoyed peace, prosperity, and ease for so long that they became prideful, began to wear “costly apparel, and all manner of pearls, and of the fine things of the world,” “began to be divided into classes,” “began to build up churches unto themselves,” and “began to deny the true church of Christ” (4 Nephi 1:24-26). Like our own day, there were “many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel” (4 Nephi 1:27).
Eventually, a secret society was formed by those who opposed the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ. The people’s general wickedness and the ruthlessness of this secret cabal led the people into a frenzied war of rampant destruction. Women and children were sacrificed to pagan gods. Cities were burned with fire. Women were ravaged and mutilated. By 400 A.D., the followers of Christ and anyone who claimed the name “Nephite” had been exterminated throughout ancient America and the only inhabitants left were those who disbelieved in the former Nephite traditions. These unbelieving peoples eventually split into warring factions and, lacking the light of Christ, devolved into nomadic, warlike, and hostile tribes. It would be another 1200 years before Christians began to inhabit America once more.
In every event and story of The Book of Mormon, whether tragic or uplifting, the inspired writings are focused on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of lords, the true Messiah. In total, there are almost 4,000 references to Jesus Christ in The Book of Mormon! This dwarfs even the New Testament’s multitudinous references to the Savior. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is the most Christ-centered book in existence. One cannot read in its pages without encountering fervent testimonies of the Lord, stories of extreme faith in the Redeemer, and sermons on Christian doctrine. The stories of deep-felt conversion, missionary adventures, and wars won through faith in Christ are, simply, thrilling!
I repeat: Nothing is more well-established than that The Book of Mormon speaks of Christ. Because of this fact, when we read the book with a sincere heart, it touches and moves us. The current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, whom I testify really is a prophet of Almighty God, recently gave a sermon on The Book of Mormon. He witnessed:
“Something powerful happens when a child of God seeks to know more about Him and His Beloved Son. Nowhere are those truths taught more clearly and powerfully than in the Book of Mormon. . . .
“The Book of Mormon provides the fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be found anywhere. It teaches what it really means to be born again. From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period. . . .
“When I think of the Book of Mormon, I think of the word power. The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console, and cheer our souls. . . .
“I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal and living Son of our living God. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our great Exemplar, and our Advocate with the Father. He was the promised Messiah, the mortal Messiah, and will be the millennial Messiah. I testify with my whole soul that in a most miraculous and singular way, the Book of Mormon teaches us of Jesus Christ and His gospel” (President Russell M. Nelson, “The Book of Mormon – What Would Your Life Be Like Without It?” General Conference, October, 2017).
The Book of Mormon, in companionship with the Holy Bible, a witness of our living Lord! These two books of scripture dash to pieces false doctrine, rebut anti-Christian philosophies, and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The Book of Mormon writers possessed a version of Old Testament prophecies. They knew that one day these words would go to all mankind. The prophet Mormon, the chief compiler and namesake of The Book of Mormon record, wrote that the intent of the book is to confirm the Bible’s witness of Jesus! In fact, his witness of the Bible’s authenticity was part of his final testimony. The last words Mormon wrote were these:
“Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up. . . .
“And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world. . . .
“Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews. . . .
“For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that ye will believe this also. . . .
“. . . and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen” (Mormon 7:5, 7-10).
Mormon knew that The Book of Mormon was written “for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible].” And if you believe the Bible’s witness of Christ, it is only logical “that ye will believe [The Book of Mormon] also” because both books bear solemn witness of the Savior, preach the same doctrine, and declare the same essential truths.
President Russell M. Nelson explained how these two great books of scripture compliment one another and work together. He said:
“The Bible and the Book of Mormon are both witnesses of Jesus Christ. They teach that He is the Son of God, that He lived an exemplary life, that He atoned for all mankind, that He died upon the cross and rose again as the resurrected Lord. They teach that He is the Savior of the world.
“Scriptural witnesses authenticate each other. This concept was explained long ago when a prophet wrote that the Book of Mormon was “written for the intent that ye may believe [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the Book of Mormon] also.” Each book refers to the other. Each book stands as evidence that God lives and speaks to His children by revelation to His prophets.
“Love for the Book of Mormon expands one’s love for the Bible and vice versa. Scriptures of the Restoration do not compete with the Bible; they complement the Bible. We are indebted to martyrs who gave their lives so that we could have the Bible. It establishes the everlasting nature of the gospel and of the plan of happiness. The Book of Mormon restores and underscores biblical doctrines such as tithing, the temple, the Sabbath day, and the priesthood” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Scriptural Witnesses,” General Conference, October, 2007).
The Book of Mormon does not replace, but bolsters the Bible! In our day of so much criticism and skepticism, it is refreshing to know that the Lord has given us a second major witness that the Bible’s declarations about Him and His work are indeed true and relevant! Even Nephi, all those ages ago, knew that modern man would have both Bible and The Book of Mormon. He recorded the words of the Lord directed to those who scoff at The Book of Mormon and rejected it because they already have a Bible and erroneously believe there can be no more revelation:
“And because my words shall hiss forth – many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. . . .
“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. . . .
“Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
“Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. . . .
“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. . . .
“. . . and my word also shall be fathered in one” (2 Nephi 29:3, 6, 7-10, 12, 14).
It has always puzzled me why Christians try to limit the Lord and tell Him, in essence, that He can’t say more than He already has. Not only is this a feeble attempt to limit the Lord’s power, but it also makes the Bible’s declarations about the need for prophets and continuing revelation null and void. Furthermore, I’ve always wondered why my fellow Christians are not excited for more revelation from Heaven. Why wouldn’t you want to hear more instruction from the Master? Why wouldn’t you want additional light and knowledge to support and clarify what the Bible teaches? Why wouldn’t you want an extra witness to support and verify what the Old and New Testament seers said? Why don’t you want more of the words of Jesus?
President Gordon B. Hinckley, a former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once spoke to those not of our faith:
“[W]e say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it. This invitation I extend to men and women everywhere with my solemn testimony that this work is true, for I know the truth of it by the power of the Holy Ghost” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Marvelous Foundation of Our Faith,” General Conference, October, 2002).
To those who may be skeptical, set aside your skepticism for a moment and do what the Lord anciently instructed: “Come and see” (John 1:39). Come and see what the Lord has revealed in our day. Come and see what rich treasures of knowledge The Book of Mormon has to offer. Come and see what modern prophets are saying today. Ignore the lies and distortions that dissenters on the internet say about our Church and come and see for yourself.
I guarantee when you humbly search in The Book of Mormon and pray to God for wisdom as the Apostle James taught (James 1:5-6), that new light will shine into your life. Your understanding of the Bible will grow Your soul will be refreshed. Your testimony of the Savior will deepen and strengthen. Your knowledge of your relationship with your Eternal Father will expand. And your happiness will increase.
If my guarantee is not enough, then hear the words of the final prophet to write in The Book of Mormon. He was a man named Moroni. He issued this divine promise:
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5).
This promise works. I have tried it. It works! If you ask Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and you are truly sincere and prepared to follow whatever answer you receive from the Holy Spirit, then you will receive a confirmation in your soul that The Book of Mormon is a true book.
I have received this witness. I know it is true. I know it through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know it was translated, not written, by Joseph Smith. I know that it speaks of a real people whom the resurrected Lord truly visited. I know it was compiled by prophets of Jesus Christ who spoke the truth. And I know and testify that this sacred book has shaped, directed, and improved my life in innumerable ways.
The Book of Mormon is such a powerful book for two primary reasons: 1) Because it speak of Jesus Christ; and 2) because it is true. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a true witness of the Savior. It confirms the Bible’s witness of the divinity of Jesus. It confirms the Abrahamic covenants made with the House of Israel. It confirms that we will all be resurrected and stand before God at the Judgment Day. It confirms that Jesus worked out the Atonement and died for our sins and that we must look to Him only for salvation. Yes, The Book of Mormon speaks of Christ!
It is only fitting that we end with a declaration made in The Book of Mormon by a holy prophet. They are words to live by. They rivet our focus on the Savior and encourage us to look to Him. We must all eventually come to know and accept that: “[T]here is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness” (Alma 38:9).
I share this testimony with you – that Jesus Christ lives and that The Book of Mormon is a true witness to His divinity – in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
January 13, 2020