The first chapter of the Book of Mormon contains a prophecy about the future birth of Jesus Christ. It was given to an ancient prophet named Lehi. He became a prophet while living in Jerusalem just before the fall and was sent by prophecy to take his family and a few others to an unknown land, which we know today to be the American continent.
The group brought with them the scriptures available at that time and taught from them. In addition, they had prophets who continued to teach them the gospel, including prophesying of the birth, mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book is, in modern times, subtitled to show it is a second witness of Jesus Christ, fulfilling the Biblical admonition for two witnesses:
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
In the book we learn Lehi’s descendants would know when Jesus Christ was born through signs given to them. They would also know of his death through signs that would result in the deaths of those who were wicked. Those who remained would be privileged to see the resurrected Jesus Christ sometime after his death and resurrection. They were among the “other sheep” Jesus told His disciples He was leaving to teach:
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
During His visit to them, Jesus Christ organized their Church and chose twelve to lead and to baptize. He taught them basic principles of the gospel and prayed for them. When it was time to leave, the people wept and He stayed on a little longer. He called the sick and disabled to Him and healed them. In one of the most moving scenes in the book, He called the children to Him. He blessed each one and encircled the group with fire. Then angels came from Heaven to minister to the children.
The Book of Mormon’s mission is to testify of Jesus Christ. It validates His claim of divinity because He was seen by people far away from the place where he lived and died, after His death.
“Reasonable people may sincerely question its origin; but those who have read it prayerfully have come to know by a power beyond their natural senses that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it “came forth by the gift and power of God … to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ” (Book of Mormon title page).
It is here. It must be explained. It can be explained only as the translator himself explained its origin. Hand in hand with the Bible, whose companion volume it is, it stands as another witness to a doubting generation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is an unassailable cornerstone of our faith” Gordon B. Hinckley, “Four Cornerstones of Faith,” Ensign, Feb 2004, 2–7.