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The Book of Mormon

A photo of a copy of The Book of Mormon.What is the Book of Mormon?

As part of the restoration of the gospel in these, the last days before the Second Coming of Christ, the Lord has revealed scriptures which until now have been hidden from the world. Among these scriptures is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is “a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of Jesus Christ.  It helps us understand His teachings, including those in the Bible.

In September 1823, Joseph Smith was visited by a heavenly messenger named Moroni, a resurrected being who had been a prophet in ancient America. Moroni had been the last living warrior and prophet in a culture that had been destroyed for its wickedness. Moroni had fought, and then fled, burying the records of his people to keep them safe. Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in the same way that angels often appeared to Church leaders in the New Testament. Moroni informed Joseph that God had a work for him to do and told him that a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent was buried in a nearby hill. He stated that the record contained the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ ( Joseph Smith—History 1:27–34).

In September 1827, Joseph received the record, which was written on thin plates of gold. Joseph translated the book into English by the inspiration of God and called the book the Book of Mormon. It is named after Mormon, an ancient prophet who compiled and abridged the sacred record. The book verifies, as another testament of Christ, the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is, then, a second witness that affirms the truth of the Bible. Since its publishing in 1830, the Book of Mormon has blessed the lives of millions of people through its powerful message about Jesus Christ and His gospel. In fact, over 140 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been published and distributed.

 

How is the Book of Mormon another witness of Jesus Christ?

The Book of Mormon record begins with the account of a prophet in Jerusalem named Lehi, who preached repentance just prior to the Babylonian captivity.  The Lord told Lehi his life was in danger and to take his family and flee into the wilderness. This Lehi did, and he and his little group were led to the American continent through the inspiration and protection of God. As the years passed, the original group split in two and other groups of people were discovered, including the “Mulekites,” descendants of Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah of Judah, who had also been led to safety. Prophets were called to preach among these people, who were descended from the tribes of Israel. These prophets encouraged the people to live according to the dictates of the Law of Moses. However, these prophets also received revelation regarding the future coming of Jesus Christ. One of the earliest prophets was Nephi, who recorded his vision:

I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another. And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence. And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:11–21).

All the Book of Mormon prophets taught the people to believe in Christ. They taught the gospel of repentance, they baptized, and they taught the meaning of the atonement. Signs were given when Jesus was born in Bethlehem–the Book of Mormon peoples experienced a night with no darkness and the appearance of a new star. When Christ was crucified, huge calamities befell the people.  There were three days of darkness following tempests, floods, and earthquakes.  Only the more righteous of the people survived:
And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place. And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death. 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 they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not. And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. 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 was clothed in a white robe; 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 into heaven (3 Nephi 11:1–12).
Christ stayed with the people for some time, teaching and organizing His Church in the same manner He had done in Israel. The people remained righteous for hundreds of years after Christ’s visit. In fact, they were so righteous that: “they had all things in 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 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” (4 Nephi 1:3, 16).
However, the people gradually became “lifted up” in their pride, causing contention and a swift decline into wickedness and strife.  The various groups became embroiled in a formidable and final battle that resulted in the genocide of an entire people.  That is why the Book of Mormon is called a record of a “fallen people.” The Book of Mormon is a message for our day. In fact, its last living prophets saw our day and knew of our needs. Moroni testified that there is only one way to know that the Book of Mormon is a true record:
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 should 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).
There are many who attempt to refute the truth of the Book of Mormon. Since its publication, however, these refutations have been brought down one by one. At present there are hundreds of proofs that the Book of Mormon is a true, ancient document.

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