The Book of Mormon Speaks of Christ

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.

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 “Nephitehad 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.

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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:

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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.

Zack Strong,

January 13, 2020

My Witness of Christ

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).

My faith in, and personal witness of, the divinity of the Savior Jesus Christ is the central plank in my life’s creed. More than any other thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has informed my principles, my politics, and the most decisive decisions of my life. I see and judge all things through the Gospel lens. It is no exaggeration to say that I am who I am primarily because of the pure and simple doctrines of the Son of God. I ask your indulgence as I share my personal feelings about my Savior and His Gospel and the profound influence they have been in my life.

At the outset, I want the reader to know that I do not bear testimony simply of things I have read in a book, that I heard a pastor preach, or that my parents taught me. My testimony does not come from intellectual reasoning alone. Rather, I can stand before the world and declare that my witness comes from the Holy Spirit. It is a personal and private witness that I have independent of every other person on earth. I gained this knowledge through the Spirit after sincere searching, study, fasting, and prayer.

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I have always believed in Jesus Christ from the time I was a child and heard my parents teach of Him. However, mere belief – as important as belief is – is not equal to knowledge. A person can read something in a book and believe it. He may hear a professor lecture on a topic and have faith that he has just heard the truth. However, only the knowledge imparted to one’s spirit by the Holy Ghost can rightly be called a witness or a testimony. Therefore, when I bear my testimony or witness of Jesus Christ and the points of His doctrine, please know that I am speaking not from my secular learning or out of mere hope, but from the spiritual confirmations that have been whispered to my soul on numerous occasions by the Holy Ghost.

Of the many things I can bear witness of, I first testify of the reality and existence of God the Father. He lives and governs in the Heavens. He is the literal Father of Jesus Christ. He is also the literal Father of our spirits. We are His literal sons and daughters. We lived with Him before it was our appointed time to come to earth to be tested for our faithfulness to His teachings.

In our glorious pre-earth home, we learned of our Father, walked with Him, talked with Him, felt of His love, experienced His embrace, and enjoyed His divine presence. There we learned of His Plan for our progression. Like any good father, our Eternal Father wants us to become like Him and to possess everything He possesses. The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth when he taught:

“The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

If we follow the steps outlined in the Gospel of the Son of God, we can become the “heirs of God” and receive the fulness of His blessings and glory and exaltation alongside our Savior Jesus Christ.

In the pre-mortal state of existence, we were taught the particulars of our Father’s Plan, called alternatively the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness, including the need for a Savior to redeem us from our inevitable failures. The scriptures attest that we “shouted for joy” at the prospect of coming to earth to prove ourselves and, through our faithfulness, qualify to enjoy eternal life with our Father (Job 38:7). I testify and affirm that I know we lived before and that we will live still after the death of our mortal bodies. So emphatically do I know the reality of our pre-earth existence that I wrote an entire book – The Lineage of the Gods – to witness of it and to teach the plain truth.

Lucifer was also in the beginning. The Bible confirms that he was there when the Father presented His Plan to His children. Lucifer thought he knew better and proposed an amended version of the Plan – a version which denied our right of individual agency and accountability but which, he claimed, would lead to the salvation of every soul. Through his plan, Lucifer intended to became the Savior and turn everyone’s hearts toward him. He secretly wanted to “exalt [his] throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13) and claim the position of Deity.

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Angels do not have wings, but it is a good image of Lucifer’s defeat nonetheless

Naturally, Lucifer’s self-serving and Freedom-destroying plan was rejected by our Father. Upon being rejected, Lucifer rallied his supporters and rebelled against the Father. John stated that this caused “war in heaven” (Revelation 12:7). One-third of Heavenly Father’s children sided with Lucifer while two-thirds rejected the Adversary’s plan and sided with Jesus Christ and their Eternal Father (Revelation 12:4).

You and I were among the two-thirds who originally chose the Lord and rejected Satan. Now we are here on earth, with our memories of those earlier times deliberately veiled, to prove whether we will again choose the Father’s Plan for our eternal happiness. The great quest of life is to again learn about the Father’s Plan, as well as Lucifer’s plan which is embodied in communism, and to choose the correct path. This quest is difficult because Satan hates us and is waging relentless war against us (Revelation 12:17). However difficult to follow, the only correct path is that which leads back to the Father through our Mediator Jesus Christ.

I testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Anointed and Chosen One. Before His mortal birth, He was Jehovah of the Old Testament. When He was born of Mary, He became known as Jesus. He is the literal Son of God in both body and spirit. While fully human as to His flesh, He was also fully God. Because of this, He was and is the only One empowered to fulfill the Father’s Plan.

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The Lord fulfilled the Plan of Salvation by sacrificing Himself to appease the demands of eternal justice and broken laws. Because He was the only sinless One, He stood outside the grasp of justice and the curse of broken laws. The sacrifice of His guiltless blood appeased justice and gives the Lord the power to extend mercy and grace to those who believe in His name, repent of their sins, become baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, and who follow His commandments with sincere heart to the end of their lives. The Savior’s sacrifice is called the Atonement which means that by His blood and mercy we are again made one with God.

Elder Richard G. Scott, a modern apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, eloquently explained the necessity of Jesus’ Atonement:

“Each of us makes mistakes in life. They result in broken eternal laws. Justice is that part of Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness that maintains order. It is like gravity to a rock climber, ever present. It is a friend if eternal laws are observed. It responds to your detriment if they are ignored. Justice guarantees that you will receive the blessings you earn for obeying the laws of God. Justice also requires that every broken law be satisfied. When you obey the laws of God, you are blessed, but there is no additional credit earned that can be saved to satisfy the laws that you break. If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. Only the life, teachings, and particularly the Atonement of Jesus Christ can release you from this otherwise impossible predicament.

“The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God . . . The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of your repentance. Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience. Through His mercy you can resolve the consequences of broken laws” (Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” General Conference, October, 2006).

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The scriptures amply attest that Jesus Christ is the only One through whom we may receive forgiveness of sins and return back to our Father one day. The Atonement not only secures the salvation of those who repent and follow Christ, but it offers the Savior’s help, mercy, love, and blessing in times of need, distress, depression, sickness, and persecution. Paul gave one of my favorite statements when he insisted:

“For we have not an high priest [Jesus] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrew 4:15-16).

The ancient prophet Alma likewise testified of “the throne of grace.” Said he:

“[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 the 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 the 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).

While working out the Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior took upon Himself the terrible weight of guilt felt by those who sin. What’s more, He took upon Himself the physical and mental pains, anguish, and suffering we experience through sickness, abuse, accidents, etc. He felt our heartbreak, feelings of loss, depression, confusion, anger, and betrayal. He felt everything horrible you have ever experience or will ever experience. He not only felt and experienced that all that you have experienced, but all that everyone has experienced or caused others to suffer. There is nothing you have ever felt that He doesn’t fully understand from His own personal experience. The Spirit intellectually comprehends everything, but the Savior voluntarily took upon Him all our physical suffering so that He could actually comprehend it and therefore know how to alleviate our pain and mend our broken hearts, minds, and bodies. He truly is the Great Physician.

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It is this same Jesus who is the Lord of lords and King of kings. It is He whose name we must take upon ourselves. It is He in whose holy name we pray. It is He who calls us to Him and offers His mercy on terms of repentance and faithful obedience. It is Jesus Christ who will soon return to earth to cleanse the earth, heal the persecuted, and claim His right to rule. Though I do not and cannot comprehend the depths of suffering He endured in Gethsemane and on the cross in order to be able to offer me His forgiveness, mercy, and love, I thank Him for His gift! I know He is the Son of God, the Redeemer of Mankind, and the only One before Whom I will bow and worship.

I also testify of the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost. Each member of the Godhead – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is a separate and individual Being. These three souls are united in their efforts, desires, and goals. Their great work is to help us return to Them and to become like Them. This would be impossible without the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Ghost who confirms truth to our minds and hearts. Without His confirming whisperings, we could know nothing of God or the Savior. All revelation comes through the workings of the Spirit. When a person testifies that they know Jesus is the Redeemer, they can only do so after having the Holy Ghost testify this same verity to them.

The priceless and incomparable blessing of the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost comes to us only after we have been baptized into the Lord’s Church and have had authorized Priesthood holders place their hands upon our head and direct us to receive the Holy Ghost. This gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the chief blessings in mortality. It is this member of the Godhead who teaches us of Christ, gives us a testimony, guides us through life’s dark times, sanctifies us from sin, and prepares us to return to our Father in Heaven. I testify that, though I have at times ignored His soft voice, the Holy Spirit is a reality – a real Being whose sole mission is to testify of the Father and Son and bring us to Them.

I further give my witness of the divine origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This organization is the Lord’s true Church established again in our present day. The Savior established His Church when He was upon the earth and directed Peter, James, John, and His apostles to spread it to the world. This they faithfully did. However, both the historical and scriptural records are painfully clear that the Lord’s Church, after just a couple generations, went astray and ceased to bear the divine stamp of approval.

The New Testament is full of warnings about impending apostasy. Paul warned that there would be a “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). Peter, the Lord’s chief apostle, testified that there would be “false teachers” in the Church which would preach “damnable heresies” and lead the Saints into error (2 Peter 2:1-3). Even in Old Testament times prophets foresaw the future and noted that there would a mass apostasy from the truth. Amos, for instance, prophesied:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).

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The martyrdom of Peter

The apostasy happened as predicted. The wayward Christians “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The Lord’s apostles were tragically martyred, ending the chain of Priesthood authority needed to perform vital saving ordinances like baptism. The lack of authorized prophets ended the flow of formal revelation between the resurrected Redeemer and His Church.

As unbelief and false ideologies ensnared the Saints and the prophets were killed one-by-one, the Lord’s Church ceased to exist. Because there were no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord and expound correct doctrine, the Lord’s simple teachings became confused, perverted, and mixed with pagan traditions. All of these things made necessary a full restoration of the Priesthood, prophets, and the organization of the true Church.

From the beginning of man, whenever the Lord has had dealings with us, He has operated through prophets. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Lord called a man to be a prophet when He saw the time was right to restore His Church. The young man whom He called was named Joseph Smith. This humble Christian was searching for the true Church when he took the advice found in James 1:5 and prayed to know the answer to his problem.

The Father of us all responded to Joseph Smith in a powerful, unprecedented manner. The Father, accompanied by the Son of God and the palpable power of the Holy Ghost, appeared to the fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith as he knelt in humble prayer in a now sacred grove of trees in New York state. Joseph Smith asked the Heavenly Beings which church He should join. The Savior answered that Joseph should join none of them because they had all perverted His Gospel. Joseph was informed that he was to be the instrument in the Lord’s hands to restore His ancient Church, complete with its powers and Priesthoods and doctrines.

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Throughout the years, a large number of skeptics have mocked Joseph Smith for his account of this monumental vision. They have mocked him for claiming to be a prophet called of the Almighty to establish a Church and bring forth scripture and declare doctrine and prophesy with the authoritative words “thus saith the Lord. . .” Yet, notwithstanding the skeptics and all their spurious, hate-filled books and films and pamphlets attempting to demonstrate that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a liar, the Spirit confirms the truth to honest truth-seekers. And the truth is, as confirmed to my soul, that Brother Joseph was a good man, a man chosen of the Lord, a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. I honor and revere his name and happily bear witness of his calling as prophet of God and restorer of Christ’s Church.

The Prophet Joseph Smith defended himself and his vision of God the Father and His Son in these words:

“I soon found . . . that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute me. . . .

“However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation” (Joseph Smith History 1:22, 24-25).

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Watch a film about Joseph Smith’s remarkable life and mission here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xVw6PsSinI&t=2476s

What integrity and sincerity! I find in Joseph Smith a pure heart and noble motives. The Savior told us to judge a man by his fruit. If we apply this to the Prophet Joseph Smith, we must judge that he was a true Christian who did good, served his fellow man, promoted goodness and righteousness, condemned evil and spoke against corruption, and spent his short life bearing witness of truth.

Joseph’s sincerity is not to be doubted for, in the final equation, he refused to recant his testimony and was murdered alongside his brother for it. No man would suffer so much and give so much for a lie. There are much easier ways to become rich, famous, and powerful, if that was truly his intention. Yet, I declare my witness that Joseph Smith was a thoroughly good man who did more to uplift and elevate humanity than any man since Jesus Christ. Much of his work is embodied in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which, through God’s Priesthood authority bestowed upon his head by the hands of angels and resurrected beings, he restored to the world.

Apart from a life of Christian service and love, the Prophet Joseph Smith left us tangible proof of his divine call to be a prophet and restore the Savior’s Church. He left us The Book of Mormon. Most people who reject and condemn The Book of Mormon do so without ever having seriously examined the book and without having sincerely prayed about its authenticity. The Book of Mormon is a book of scripture similar to the Bible. It does not replace or do away with the Bible and it certainly doesn’t contradict the Bible when the Bible is properly interpreted and understood. Together with the Bible, The Book of Mormon bears witness of Jesus Christ and confirms His true doctrines. The two witnesses have become “one” in the Lord’s hand, as Ezekiel foresaw (Ezekiel 37:16-19).

Book of Mormon6

See Ezekiel 37:16-19

Whereas the Bible is a collection of writings and revelations from Hebrew prophets living in the Old World, The Book of Mormon is a compilation of writings made by ancient Israelite prophets living in America. They lived on this very land, a land which the Lord has declared to be a Promised Land “choice above all others” (Ether 2:10). It was America that was the location of the Garden of Eden and many other historical events. It is a chosen and special land that has been inhabited for millennia by peoples specifically brought here by the hand of God. These ancient peoples had prophets and were led by the voice of Jehovah Himself. The culminating event among one of these peoples – the Nephite people – was a visitation by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ after His Ascension in the Holy Land.

A 1960 publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says this of The Book of Mormon:

“The Book of Mormon tells the same truths about God and His work that are told in the Bible, though in many cases in a more simple and plain way. . . .

“Jesus is the central figure of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Everything was written to emphasize His mission as Redeemer and Savior of the world. While the Nephites were camped at the Red Sea, three days’ journey from Jerusalem, Nephi saw in vision many of the great events that would happen down to our own time. Most importantly, however, was his vision of Jesus. Nephi saw Him as a babe in Mary’s arms. He saw Him as a man baptized by John in the Jordan River. Nephi saw Jesus with the twelve apostles going among the people healing their sick and ministering comfort and consolation to all alike. Finally, Nephi saw Jesus crucified on the cross for the sins of all men. All this happened in Palestine just as Nephi saw it in vision six hundred years earlier.

“The Book of Mormon picks up the message and story of Jesus right where the Bible ends. It tells of His visits to America after his resurrection in Jerusalem. It tells how Jesus organized His Church among the Nephites with apostles at the head just as He had done in Palestine. To the Nephites He proclaimed the same principles of salvation, faith, repentance and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins as they are taught in the New Testament. He blessed little children and said they need no baptism because they are innocent and already free from sin. Like the Bible, the Book of Mormon foretells the coming of Christ in the last days to reign personally upon the earth.

“The great message of the Book of Mormon, then, is the same as that of the Bible; that Jesus lives and is the author of salvation to all who will believe and follow Him” (M. Lynn Bennion and J.A. Washburn, History of the Restored Church, 18-19).

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The Book of Mormon is, without any question, my favorite book. I have learned more from this one 500-page volume of scripture than all the other books I have ever read combined. There is a true power in The Book of Mormon. The Spirit resides in its sacred pages. It testifies of Christ at nearly every turn. It refers to the wondrous Atonement dozens of times and explains its doctrine in a pure and simple manner. It explains the nature of man’s Fall, the necessity of a Savior, the reality of the Savior Jesus Christ, the truthfulness of the Atonement, and testifies that salvation only comes through the Lamb of God.

A particularly powerful passage from The Book of Mormon expels any thought that the book is not a Christian book. The ancient prophet Nephi proclaimed:

“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.

“Wherefore, we speak concerning the law [of Moses] that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.

“. . . 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 25:26-29).

Yes, Jesus is the Christ! The Book of Mormon brings people to Christ. It points its readers’ minds and hearts to the Redeemer. It encourages us to keep the commandments, to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, to meet together to worship the Lord, to love God and our fellow man, to sustain the Bible as God’s word, to sustain the prophets which the Lord sends among us, to gain a personal witness of truth for ourselves rather than relying upon the words of men, and a thousand other useful and correct things. I love The Book of Mormon!

If The Book of Mormon is not true, then everything I have testified of is a lie. But The Book of Mormon is true. I know this because the Spirit has confirmed it to my mind, heart, and spirit on numerous occasions. I can stand before the world and declare the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, the integrity of the Prophet Joseph Smith who translated it from an ancient record, and the importance of the book’s message.

One of the most important messages of The Book of Mormon is to warn us of Satanic threats to Freedom. My second book, Red Gadiantons, is partially devoted to explaining these prophetic warnings of secret conspiracies that anciently existed and which the past prophets saw would exist in our day and threaten the overthrow of the world. Elder Hans Verlan Andersen, a past General Authority of my Church, stated:

“It appears that one of the main purposes of the Lord in giving us the Book of Mormon was to warn us against destroying ourselves through the adoption of Satan’s form of government. Two mighty civilizations were destroyed on this land choice above all other lands and the cause of destruction was the same in each case – the corruption of the government by wickedness” (Hans Verlan Andersen, Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, 64).

In modern times, prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have warned that the ancient record is true – a Satanic conspiracy bent on mankind’s destruction does exist. They have identified this Satanic conspiracy as communism. Much of my life’s work has been devoted to fighting communism for this very purpose. More to the point, when I was twelve years old I received a personal witness from the Holy Ghost that communism was not dead and the Soviet Union never collapsed, as the world assumed, and that communism remained the greatest threat to the world.

That knowledge fired my soul and I have worked endlessly to open people’s eyes to the truth I learned through the Spirit and have confirmed by thorough research and my experience living in Russia as a missionary. It is not merely a point of speculation, but a part of my actual knowledge that communism is the wickedest and most powerful enemy facing mankind and that it will consume us if we do not actively oppose it.

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Captain Moroni waving his Title of Liberty

The Book of Mormon not only discusses the workings and goals of Satan’s secret conspiracies, but provides a vibrant account of the antidote to its spiritual and political poison. My hero from The Book of Mormon is a great warrior called Captain Moroni. Moroni single-handedly saved his nation from defeat and subjugation in a series of bloody wars. It was this great man who rallied his people. He did so with a slogan he called the Title of Liberty. It read: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12).

This Title of Liberty was hoisted upon every tower and loudly proclaimed throughout the land. Captain Moroni and his army fought valiantly to secure the Freedom of their people. They fought to defend the free government God had given to them and the right of the people, under that government, to make their laws and select their own leaders. It is a free government supported and defended by a righteous, Christian populace that has the power to thwart the machinations of evil individuals like modern communists.

The account of Captain Moroni and his fellow Freedom Fighters is inspiring. I draw tremendous strength from it. One of Moroni’s most trusted generals was a man named Teancum. One day, I wish it will be said of me what it was said of him upon his gut-wrenching death: “[H]e had been a man who had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty” (Alma 62:37). It has always been one of my highest aspirations to be like the Nephite Freedom Fighters Captain Moroni, Teancum, Lehi, and Lachoneus. I intend to do my utmost to see that the flame of Freedom is never extinguished and that my own countrymen look to God, their religion, their Freedom, their peace, their wives, and their children and do whatever it takes to preserve them.

I bear my witness of Freedom. It is an eternal principle. The Lord is more interested in extending the blessings of Freedom than any mortal who ever lived. His Atonement and sacrifice for us is the ultimate defense of Freedom. It represents Freedom from the grave, Freedom from sin when we repent, Freedom from despair as we turn our hearts, and so forth. As Paul told us, we have “been called unto liberty.” Because of this, we ought to “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Freedom – the most precious word in the English language!

To ensure Freedom in these last days of turmoil when Satan rages upon the earth making war against the Saints, the Lord inspired a group of men to establish a free country and Constitution. I bear my witness that the Founding Fathers of the United States were humble men of faith and goodness, that they were inspired by the Almighty to break away from tyrannical Britain and establish a free Republic, and that the Holy Spirit rested upon them and inspired them in crafting the Constitution. I revere the Constitution and consider it equally valid as any declaration of holy scripture. It is part of my religion. The principles of Liberty are part and parcel of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

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In modern revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord declared that He inspired the Constitution. He specifically commanded His followers to importune for a redress of their grievances through the appointed Constitutional method, or:

“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

“That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80).

The Lord Himself established the Constitution. He did it to ensure the Freedom of “all flesh.” He wants us to be free and to be accountable for our own choices. The Constitution, when correctly administered and interpreted, provides exactly this. So correct and important are the provisions of the U.S. Constitution that the Lord also revealed that anything “more or less” than them “cometh of evil.” Specifically, He revealed:

“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7).

If at times I seem fanatically devoted to the Constitution and the men who crafted it, it is because it is part of my religion. I can witness of the truthfulness of the Constitution’s principles and of the integrity of the Founding Fathers as strongly and confidently as I can witness that Jesus is the Christ. I will die before I recant that testimony. As I live, it is true. And I will spend my days promoting the principles of the Lord’s Constitution, come what may.

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President Russell M. Nelson

Though I brushed upon it earlier, I want to stress that I have an emphatic, burning testimony that there are literal, living prophets in our midst today – men like Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and Peter who receive revelation for mankind in the name of the Lord and who hold the same Priesthood authority to direct the affairs of the Savior’s Church in our day. The most powerful witness I have ever received from the Holy Spirit in fact is the witness that prophets again walk the earth. I witness and testify that this is true.

At the present time, the man called of Christ to be the earthly president of His Church, and the man who holds the office of prophet, seer, and revelator for the world, is Russell M. Nelson. The Spirit reconfirms the truth that we have a living prophet whenever I hear him speak. I am so incredibly grateful to know – and I again declare that I know it with all my soul – that there is a prophet on earth. He is a man I can look to for sure guidance, wisdom, and inspired counsel. He is the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth – our captain and president. The entire world would benefit immeasurably from knowing and heeding the words of the Lord’s modern prophets, including President Russell M. Nelson.

I close my witness by repeating my unshakeable testimony of Jesus Christ. In Him all my faith and hope center. He is the Son of God. He lives as a perfected, resurrected, exalted Being of flesh and bone. He offered His own blood for a sacrifice in order to appease justice and grant you and me a chance to repent. This Atonement is the greatest event ever to transpire on this or any other world created by the hand of our Master. Through repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of His Gospel, we can receive His mercy and forgiveness, our wounds can be healed, our hearts can be changed, our families can be strengthened, and our world can be transformed.

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By calling upon our Heavenly Father in Christ’s holy name, we can receive answers to our most pressing prayers and perplexing questions. Yes, we can even receive a firm personal witness through the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Messiah! With this witness etched in your soul, nothing can ever come between you and the Savior. I love Him and testify of Him and His present work to gather, save, and free mankind, in His sacred name. Amen.

Zack Strong,

August 4, 2019.

Click the following link to watch a well-made series about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/bible-videos/videos?lang=eng