Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon “the keystone of our religion.” It is tangible evidence that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.
President Ezra Taft Benson asked “How important is the Book of Mormon? …all the church stands or falls with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it” (Teachings Presidents of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson, p. 128).
In the world today many people have tried to attack or at the very least, dismiss the Prophet Joseph Smith’s claim that the Book of Mormon has a divine origin. Some have called it a fake or a fraud. Others have called it a genius work from the mind of Joseph himself, rather than a divine ancient record of scripture. Each individual must decide for themselves whether the Book of Mormon is fact or fiction, devilish or divine.
Regarding this challenge, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that “Joseph’s story of the gold plates was fantastic. It was hard to believe and easy to challenge. Could he have written it of his own capacity? It is here, my brothers and sisters, for everyone to see, to handle, to read. Every attempt to explain its origin, other than that which he gave, has fallen of its own weight. He was largely unschooled; and yet, in a very brief time, he brought forth the translation which in published form comes to more than 500 pages…through all of these years critics have tried to explain it. They have spoken against it. They have ridiculed it. But it has outlived them all, and its influence today is greater than at any time in its history” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain,” Ensign, Nov. 2007).
The Book of Mormon is exactly what it claims to be. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is a record of inspired scripture, written by ancient prophets. Joseph Smith brought it forth “by the gift and power of God” (Title Page). As you study the Book of Mormon, you can pray for a witness to know if it is true, if its message that Jesus is the Christ is true, and if its messenger, Joseph Smith was a true prophet.
Question & Answer Section
Q: What does The Book of Mormon teach about its divine origin and inspired purposes?
A: In the Title Page it states that it was brought forth by the interpretation and means of the gift of God. The Book of Mormon remembers its roots and purpose to save the posterity of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas known as the Nephites and Lamanites, but its purpose is to all the world, both Gentile, Jew and all the House of Israel.
In both the Title page and the Introduction, it iterates that it is brought forth by way of the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, meaning that it has relevance to all of God’s children, not just a nice read meant for some.
The purposes of the book are many, but can be stated in three distinct points. First, to prove that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Second, that Joseph Smith is Christ’s revelator and prophet in these last days, and third, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord’s true church once again established on the earth, preparatory for the second coming of the Lord.
Q: What does The Book of Mormon teach about witnesses to the book?
A: The Lord establishes His words by witnesses, to, “…as many witnesses as seemeth Him good…”. God has an established eternal pattern, in which His works are proved by the testimony of three. With The Book of Mormon, the first witness is the work itself, in the miracle of the way in which it came about.
Second, the eleven witnesses to the original gold plates, plus Joseph Smith, whose testimonies are written in the preface of the book to all the world.
The Lord uses different types of witnesses to share the proof of His works and kingdom. Sometimes it’s directly through His divine power, as when the Savior performed his miracles. Another way is by a more temporal manner, as when the eleven witnesses bore record, in a way only some would believe.
The third witness, is in the works of God, shown in the lives of those who partake of this great work through the words of The Book of Mormon, as a declarative witness.
As Latter-Day Saints, we are now given the call to bear testimony of our living witness to the world, through the way we live. As we remain faithful to our witness and covenants, progressively moving forward as Later-Day Saints, we shall be free from the spots, blood and sins of this world. We must honor our witness to one day be ready to dwell in the heavens with our Father and Savior Jesus Christ, and the honor shall all be theirs.
Q: What did Joseph Smith share about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon?
A: Joseph Smith shared how he learned about the golden plates through the heavenly visitation of the angel Moroni, who was the final prophet to write in The Book of Mormon. Joseph was warned that he needed to use every endeavor to keep them safe, until their return to Moroni. He also shared in what manner the plates were translated in his history.
Q: What can we learn, in The Book of Mormon, about its divine origin?
A: In the book we read about how Joseph of Egypt, prophesied that God would raise up a seer out of his loins, which would bring forth the book unto light, by the power of God. His name would also be Joseph. Because of the faith of The Book of Mormon prophets, their words proceed out of God’s mouth, by means of The Book of Mormon, unto their seed, unto the remembering of the covenants which God made with their fathers unto salvation.
Q: What can we learn in The Book of Mormon, which testifies about the way it was written, and how it would be translated?
A: The Book of Mormon was written by way of the ministries of Christ through His prophets, which took place among the people of the middle Americas. Nothing was added unless it was sacred. Nephi commanded his succeeding stewards of the work, to only add things which were pleasing unto the Lord God, for their profit and learning.
Mormon compiled The Book of Mormon from the plates of Nephi and other sacred records. He also searched, and found an even spiritually greater version of the words of Nephi, from the time he left Jerusalem. He added it to the record he had been abridging, now found in The Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon was written that it might reclaim the Lamanites, that they might once again become a delightsome people. No one could bring the book to light, save he be given power by God, with singleness of heart, and the welfare of the ancient and long dispersed covenant people of the Lord.
There was a sealed portion of The Book of Mormon, written in a language that no one could interpret, because the Lord had confounded it. It is yet to be revealed, and tells more completely the revelations of the end of the world as was shown to Mahonri from The Book of Mormon.
The seer stone which Joseph used to help translate, which Mahonri was commanded to hide up and not show to anyone, “…until the Lord should show them unto the children of men…” was recently fulfilled, when the church revealed the visual of the stone to the world.
Seer stones are called interpreters, and no man can “look in” them, save he be commanded to. The time has been fulfilled that the world may see them, but not use them.
Q: What do Book of Mormon writers teach about the great worth of the Biblical record as they had it on the brass plates?
A: The Book of Mormon bears witness of the truthfulness of the Bible. Lehi and his family had the scriptural record of the prophets from the beginning, down to the time of Lehi and Jerimiah. Nephi states, “[so that] …we could preserve the commandments unto our children.”
King Benjamin also had The Plates of Brass, which were written in the Egyptian language, and taught this language to his three sons, saying, “…were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.”
Without the Old Testament record as found on the plates of brass, we would not have The Book of Mormon, for, “…it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates.”
It says in both 1 Nephi 5 and Alma 37, that the plates of brass will one day go forth, and be known by every nation, kindred, tongue and people, probably much like our scriptural cannon is available today. Possibly even being a supplement or replacement to the current Old Testament, for the time frame it covers, for in that some of the words of the prophets of God were changed or even lost.
However, this fulfillment of revealed scripture will be brought to pass on a much larger scale than the bringing forth of The Book of Mormon. For with the communication and technology available today, the world will know and word will spread quickly.
Alma 37 also mentions that ALL plates which contain holy writ shall be kept bright and brought forth, even as the plates of brass. In other words, they too will come forth unto the children of men for our profit and learning.
Q: What does Nephi teach about the origins and truthfulness of the Bible?
A: The angel who spoke with Nephi, tells him that those most plain and precious things which were taken away from the book of the Lamb, by the formation of that great and abominable church, of which Nephi was shown in vision, before that church was forced to give the Holy Bible up to the public by means of the reformers, were all restored by the writings of the ministrations of the Lord to His prophets, through The Book of Mormon.
The verses also illustrate that the book of the Lamb of God, or the Holy Bible, came forth in purity by the hand of a Jew, and that when it went out by the Jew, it contained all the covenants and many of the prophecies of the holy prophets.
Q: What do Book of Mormon writers teach about the importance of the Book of Mormon in establishing the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible?
A: The Book of Mormon teaches that both the Bible and The Book of Mormon, “…shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.”
The Book of Mormon says that it is written for the intent that, “ye may believe [the Bible]; and if ye believe that (The Bible), ye will believe [The Book of Mormon] also; and if ye believe this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.
The Book of Mormon perfectly parallels the experience of the Son of God coming to earth, and His ministry, exactly as the Bible proclaims.
Q: In what ways did Book of Mormon prophets and missionaries use the brass plates to effectively teach the gospel?
A: The Lord used the Brass Plates to unfold the plan of salvation to the people through their prophets, teachers and missionaries. Nephi used the scriptures found in the brass Plates to encourage his brethren to go with him to go and get the Brass Plates.
Laman and Lemuel were also reproved by the words spoken by Nephi, which were written in the Brass Plates, that he used to help Straiten them.
The words from the books of Moses were used to preach repentance and believing on the name of the Son of God.
Q: How does The Book of Mormon bear witness of Biblical events and people, which are being denied or mythologized by the world?
A: The confounding of the tongue of Adam’s language at the building of the Tower of Babel, which is a Biblical truth, is also confirmed in The Book of Mormon.
The Apostle of the Lord John the Beloved, is verified as the writer of the revelations of the ending of the world. In The Book of Mormon, the angel said that these revelations would later come forth in their purity, from the sealed portion of The Book of Mormon.
This is significant because even the scripture in revelations 22:18, which states that the book of Revelations shall not be changed, save the curses spoken of be added towards the ones who add to it, is outlined. Consider the verse below from chapter 22 verse 18, and the suggested outcome as it is written of.
“18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”
A more correct translation would read something like this:
“18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, for if any man shall change or take away from these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is verified in The Book of Mormon, as He visits the Nephites, and bears His token witness. He is also mentioned in the Biblical account as going to visit His other sheep, who we know through The Book of Mormon are the Nephites. Adam and Eve and the books of Moses are discussed in The Book of Mormon. David and Solomon are also mentioned in The Book of Mormon.
Q: Which evidences are most compelling to you in feeling that the origin of the Book of Mormon is truly divine? What are you doing (or are you willing to do) to gain a personal testimony about the divine origins of the Book of Mormon?
A: The words of Christ within and without The Book of Mormon are my concrete evidence. I need no other evidence. As I live the life, read the words of the prophets, attend church, the Temple, and enjoy The Gift of Holy Ghost, I am willing to do family history work and Temple ordinances for my ancestors.
Q: Imagine someone you care about asks you to explain why you feel the Book of Mormon has divine origins. What three things would you use to help support your position? What scriptures could you share to personally testify of their truthfulness?
A: One, it bears witness of Jesus Christ as another testament. Two, it shares God’s continuing words from the ancestors of the American Indians, which helps clarify mishaps from translation changes and errors in the Bible, which was first presented as pure and easy to understand, but altered and taken away from before it went out to the world. Three, every writer in The Book of Mormon has an identity, easily characterized by the manner in which they express their souls, in the performance of their scripted testimonies.