GraceWatcher's Mormon and Biblical Studies
The Restored Gospel

Information is compiled by pjones@gracewatcher.org

I use the internet name "GraceWatcher" on the web, because I feel that the gospel (which means good news) is true. It has changed my life. It has showed me to a better way of life. I have a better understanding of the scriptures. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father, truly, loves me. I know that Jesus came that I may have life and have it to the full. So, as you go through these pages, let the Holy Spirit show you the heart of this gospel, and the truths that it contains. For this will bring the immortality and the eternal life of man.
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This site is not provided to answer the critics. They don't believe there is an answer. This information is for those who have faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but don't know how to answer some of the critic's questions.

There are many who want to believe in the church. However they feel challenged by the anti-Mormon critics. Perhaps they have a faith built from prayerful study, but don't know how to reconcile the critics with the testimony they have. This information will allow them to have the information to quench the "fiery darts of the wicked."

Some of those who make it their mission to attack the church believe that they are honest. They take the stand which they believe their conscience requires. There are many more, who feel that the LDS church deserves their contempt. These people do not feel constrained to stick with the truth. Many misrepresentations and falsehoods are deliberately used if it achieves their objective of further discrediting the LDS church.

I believe that the Lord continues to keep the information we have balanced. If the opposition is getting too strong then he will reveal additional knowledge that will build faith. If a testimony can be built only on logic, then he will allow the adversary to add some additional information to encourage study, soul searching and prayer. The type of knowledge we gain may also be geared to our level of understanding. The stronger challenges might come to those who have the stronger testimonies.

There are those who have as their goal to present attacks against the church that will be stronger than the testimonies of those to whom they are speaking. It is my goal to provide an answer to those critics. Let us realize that the critics will be there, but we need to be balanced in our understanding. Many criticisms can actually build faith if they are correctly understood. With the information available we can either build faith or create doubt depending on the perspective we use to analyze the data.

The information may not be available to always give a convincing reply. In those cases, possibilities will be suggested for further study. It is not possible to respond once-and-for-all to the anti-Mormon claims. Those criticisms and attacks are always changing. This is a task that will never be complete:

My name is Paul Jones and this is the "new and improved" GraceWatcher Ministries.  I'm Christian ("Lightworker")-- have been since I was young-- and I've made an attempt of sharing some of the interesting LDS studies I've found.

I should point out right away that this site does not attempt to prove anything-- I believe that spiritual things must be spiritually discerned. The purpose of this web site is to demonstrate that the claims of the LDS church are rational, plausible, and defendable.

In addition to providing links to these interesting LDS studies, web pages, etc., this site attempts to refute those who are critical of my religion.

There are numerous people, publishers, organizations, and web sites who make hostile charges against the LDS faith. This web site attempts to answer such objections or direct the viewer to other web sites which answer such objections.

"For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things." (2 Nephi 2:11)
Well that about wraps it up. I know that I have not given any specifics in this opening article, but it is only meant as an introduction to the site. The details you will find within the documents I will be presenting. Naturally as I find new information that I deem to be of value, I will update the site. If you have a comment to make on any of the subjects or you would like to know my opinion on specific issues, then do not hesitate email me with your thoughts.


 

 



I brief word from the web master of this web site
 

It is hard to understand why so many people are prepared to accept facts as recorded by historians in secular history and yet refuse to accept ecclesiastical history as recorded in the scriptures by men whose characters are beyond reproach, and even refuse to believe, as having come from the Lord, prophecies that have been fulfilled and verified by secular history. Especially have men through the ages refused to accept prophets of their own time, and many of them have been persecuted, ridiculed, and slain.

The scriptures are replete with incidents lamenting the fact that the majority of people have always refused to accept the prophets who have cried repentance unto them and reminded them of their iniquities. You will remember what the Savior said to the multitude when denouncing the Scribes and the Pharisees:
 

We have record of many other revelations that were received by the prophets in early days as well as in modern times. Prophecies concerning the birth, mission, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are foretold many times by different prophets, both in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon, some of them hundreds of years before his birth. We have the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Lehi, Alma, and many others prophesying of this great event.

Nephi records in some detail his visions of these happenings, as shown to him by an angel of the Lord. He beheld Mary, the mother of Jesus, bearing a child in her arms, even the Lamb of God, the Redeemer of the world. He saw the prophet who baptized him, the Holy Ghost descending upon him, his work with the Twelve, his healing the sick, the casting out of devils and unclean spirits.

God’s purpose for having prophets upon the earth is to relay his messages for the benefit and blessing of mankind by whatever means of space communication he elects to use. In his overruling providence he has prepared a way for us to gain immortality and eternal life, which Jesus said was his work and his glory. Before and since Christ’s great sacrifice for us the message has been revealed through the prophets that we must be obedient to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, and by repenting of the sins of the world, we can gain exaltation.
 
How important it is that we listen to the prophets! The scriptures contain numerous warnings to us in these latter days of the calamities that will come upon us, and they have been and are coming to pass. Only as the world repents and accepts and lives the teachings of the gospel as revealed by God through his Son Jesus Christ and the prophets will we save ourselves from destruction.

“Messages from the beyond have come in great numbers through the ages, faithfully interpreted by the Jeremiahs, the Ezekiels, and the Daniels; by the Nephis, and the Moronis; by the Peters, and the Pauls, and in modern times by the Joseph Smiths. Better than radioed or television communications have come personal messages without space capsule, plane, or rocket ship. Man has a long way to go before he comes into the realm of inhabited planets. Yet there is such a thing as space communication. Man has spoken to God and received answers from him. Such messages have been coming for the benefit and blessing of the inhabitants of the earth for upward of 6,000 years.”
 

This is the only church, I am sure, that believes in such a restitution of all the things that the holy prophets have spoken. Other churches believe in a reformation, but that is only man’s wisdom. Restitution comes from God the Eternal Father. And so we can’t look forward to the second coming of the Savior without there being a restitution of all things, and that’s the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 

The Book of Mormon is a keystone because it establishes and ties together eternal principles and precepts, rounding out basic doctrines of salvation. It is the crowning gem in the diadem of our holy scriptures. The Book of Mormon is a necessary keystone of our own individual faith. The Book of Mormon establishes the truthfulness of the Bible. (1 Ne. 13:40.) It is evidence “to the world that the holy scriptures are true.” (D&C 20:11.) It foretells the establishment of the fulness of the gospel of peace and salvation. It was written to give us principles and guidelines for our eternal journey.


 

 


Articles of Faith of the LDS Faith
 

The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were written by Joseph Smith in answer to an inquiry from John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, about the beliefs of the Mormons. The articles give a concise overview of some of the basic beliefs of the LDS people.

History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535—541

1. WE believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Joseph Smith
Nauvoo, Illinois, 1842


 

 


 
The major mission of the Book of Mormon, as recorded on its title page, is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon. Over one-half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ's name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament. He is given over one hundred different names in the Book of Mormon. Those names have a particular significance in describing His divine nature. (See Names and Titles of Jesus Christ)

Let us consider some of the attributes of our Lord, as found in the Book of Mormon, that show that Jesus is the Christ. Then let us confirm each of those attributes about Him with a brief quote from the Book of Mormon.

He is Alive: "The life of the world... a life which is endless." (Mosiah 16:9.)

He is Constant: "The same yesterday, today, and forever." (2 Nephi 27:23.)

He is the Creator: "He created all things, both in heaven and in earth." (Mosiah 4:9.)

He is the Exemplar: He "set the example .... He said unto the children of men: Follow thou me." (2 Nephi 31:9-10.)

He is Generous: "He commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation." (2 Nephi 26:24.)

He is Godly: He is God. (See 2 Nephi 27:23.)

He is Good: "All things which are good cometh of God." (Moroni 7:12.)

He is Gracious: "He is full of grace." (2 Nephi 2:6.)

He is the Healer: The "sick, and... afflicted with all manner of diseases... devils and unclean spirits... were healed by the power of the Lamb of God." (1 Nephi 11:31.)

He is Holy: "O how great the holiness of our God!" (2 Nephi 9:20.)

He is Humble: "He humbleth himself before the Father." (2 Nephi 31:7.)

He is Joyful: "The Father hath given" Him a "fulness of joy." (3 Nephi 28:10.)

He is our Judge: We "shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him." (Mosiah 16:10.)

He is Just: "The judgments of God are always just." (Mosiah 29:12.)

He is Kind: He has "loving kindness... towards the children of men." (1 Nephi 19:9.)

He is the Lawgiver: He "gave the law." (3 Nephi 15:5.)

He is the Liberator: "There is no other head whereby ye can be made free." (Mosiah 5:8.)

He is the Light: "The light... of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened." (Mosiah 16:9.)

He is Loving: "He loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life." (2 Nephi 26:24.)

He is the Mediator: "The great Mediator of all men." (2 Nephi 2:27.)

He is Merciful: There is a "multitude of his tender mercies." (1 Nephi 8:8.)

He is Mighty: "Mightier than all the earth." (1 Nephi 4:1.)

He is Miraculous: A "God of miracles." (2 Nephi 27:23.)

He is Obedient: Obedient unto the Father "in keeping his commandments." (2 Nephi 31:7.)

He is Omnipotent: He has "all power, both in heaven and in earth." (Mosiah 4:9.)

He is Omniscient: "The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning." (1 Nephi 9:6.)

He is our Redeemer: "All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer." (1 Nephi 10:6.)

He is the Resurrection: He brought to pass "the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." (2 Nephi 2:8.)

He is Righteous: "His ways are righteousness forever." (2 Nephi 1:19.)

He is the Ruler: He rules "in the heavens above and in the earth beneath." (2 Nephi 29:7.)

He is our Savior: "There is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ... whereby man can be saved." (2 Nephi 25:20.)

He is Sinless: He "suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation." (Mosiah 15:5.)

He is Truthful: "A God of truth, and canst not lie." (Ether 3:12.)

He is Wise: "He has all wisdom." (Mosiah 4:9.)



As I reflect on these and many other marks of our Lord's divinity, as found in the Book of Mormon, my heart cries out with the hymnist: Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy pow'r thruout the universe displayed; Then sings my soul my Savior God, to thee, How great thou art/How great thou art/ (''How Great Thou Art," Hymns, 1985, no 86.)

Once one is convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ, then he must take the next step; he must come unto Christ. Learning the precepts found in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called the most correct book on earth, the Book of Mormon, is but the first step. Abiding by those precepts found in the keystone of our religion gets a man nearer to God than through any other book. Can we not see why we should be reading this book daily and practicing its precepts at all times?
We have an increasing number who have been convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ. Now we need an increasing number who will use the Book of Mormon to become committed to Christ. We need to be convinced and committed.

Let us turn again to the Book of Mormon, this time to learn some principles about coming unto Christ, being committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him. We will quote but a few of the numerous passages on the matter.

First we need to know that Christ invites us to come unto Him. "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them,... yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:33-34.)

Come, for He stands "with open arms to receive you." (Mormon 6:17.)

Come, for "he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause." (Jacob 3:1.)

"Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him." (Omni 1:26.)

As Moroni closed the record of the Jaredite civilization, he wrote, "I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written." (Ether 12:41.) (See Book of Mormon Peoples)

In Moroni's closing words written toward the end of the Nephite civilization, he said, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him,... and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you." (Moroni 10:32 .)

Those who are committed to Christ "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" that they may be in "even until death." (Mosiah 18:9.) They "retain the name" of Christ "written always" in their hearts. (Mosiah 5:12.) They take upon themselves "the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end." (Moroni 6:3.)

When we live a Christ-centered life, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ." (2 Nephi 25:26.) We "receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love." (Jacob 3:2.) Even when Nephi's soul was grieved because of his iniquities, he said, "I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support." (2 Nephi 4:19-20.)

We remember Alma's counsel: "Let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings." (Alma 37:36-37.)

"Remember, remember," said Helaman, "that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ,... that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds,... [they] shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery." (Helaman 5:12.)

Nephi said, the Lord "hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh." (2 Nephi 4:21.) Those who are consumed in Christ "are made alive in Christ." (2 Nephi 25:25.) They "suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." (Alma 31:38.) They are "clasped in the arms of Jesus." (Mormon 5:11.) Nephi said, "I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul." (2 Nephi 33:6.) Lehi said, "I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love." (2 Nephi 1:15.)

Let us read the Book of Mormon and be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Let us continually reread the Book of Mormon so that we might more fully come to Christ, be committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him.

We are meeting the adversary every day. The challenges of this era will rival any of the past, and these challenges will increase both spiritually and temporally. We must be close to Christ, we must daily take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. (See Sacrament Prayers)

In the final letter recorded in the Book of Mormon from Mormon to his son Moroni, he gave counsel that applies to our day. Both father and son were seeing a whole Christian civilization fall because its people would not serve the God of the land, even Jesus Christ. Mormon wrote, "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God." (Moroni 9:6.) You and I have a similar labor to perform now to conquer the enemy and rest our souls in the kingdom.

Then that great soul Mormon closes his letter to his beloved son, Moroni, with these words:

"My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.

"And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever." (Moroni 9:25-26.)

My prayer for each of us is that we too will follow that inspired counsel: "Be faithful in Christ." Then He will lift us up and His grace will be and abide with us forever.
 


Overview of the Book of Mormon

 

In this wooden box, Joseph Smith hid the Book of Mormon plates. The inside of the box measures 14" x 16". The depth is 6 1/4" sloping to 4". The lid and bottom are walnut, and the sides are made from boxwood. The box was also used as a lap desk. In the possession of emeritus Church Patriarch Eldred G. Smith.

 The Prophet Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion" and said that a person "would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (TPJS, p. 194), for it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:8-9). To members of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon forms the doctrinal foundation of the Church and speaks the word of God to all the world.

The Book of Mormon both confirms and supplements the Bible: "Behold, this [the Book of Mormon] is written for the intent that ye may believe that [the Bible]; and if ye believe [the Bible] ye will believe [the Book of Mormon] also" (Morm. 7:9). The Bible is primarily a record of God's dealings with the forebears and descendants of Jacob or Israel in the ancient Near East. Latter-day Saints believe the Book of Mormon to be a record of God's dealings principally with another group of Israelites he brought to the Western Hemisphere from Jerusalem about 600 B.C. (see Lehi). They anticipated the birth and coming of Jesus Christ and believed in his Atonement and gospel. Their complex, lengthy records were abridged by a prophet named Mormon, inscribed on plates of gold, and buried by his son, Moroni, after internecine wars destroyed all of the believers in Christ in the New World except Moroni (A.D. 385).

JOSEPH SMITH AND THE BOOK OF MORMON. In his short lifetime, Joseph Smith brought forth many scriptures (see Doctrine and Covenants; Pearl of Great Price). His first prophetic calling was to bring forth the Book of Mormon. In 1823, at age seventeen, he was shown the hidden record by Moroni, then a resurrected angelic messenger from God (JS—H 1:27-54). After several visitations during the next four years, Joseph was allowed to remove the sacred record from its resting place in the hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York. Despite many interruptions and persistent persecutions (JS—H 1:57-60), Joseph Smith translated the lengthy record in about sixty working days. Latter-day Saints bear testimony that he did this "through the mercy of God, by the power of God" (D&C 1:29), "by the inspiration of heaven" (Messenger and Advocate [Oct. 1834]:14-16; JS—H 1:71, n.). He had the assistance of several scribes, chiefly Oliver Cowdery, who wrote what Joseph Smith dictated. The book was published in Palmyra in 1830. At least eleven witnesses, in addition to Joseph Smith, saw and/or hefted the Book of Mormon plates before he returned them to Moroni (see Book of Mormon Witnesses).

PURPOSES AND CONTENTS. The Book of Mormon, as its modern subtitle states, stands with the Bible as "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." Its main purposes are summarized on its title page: to show the remnants of the Book of Mormon people what great things God did for their forefathers, to make known the covenants of the Lord, and to convince "Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." The central event in the Book of Mormon is the appearance of the resurrected Christ to righteous inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere after his ascension into heaven at Jerusalem. During his visit, Christ delivered a sermon that is similar to the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the New Testament, but with certain vital clarifications and additions. He declared his doctrine, the fulness of his gospel necessary to enter the kingdom of God; and he established his Church with its essential ordinances, and ordained disciples to preside over the Church. At this time, Christ also explained the promises of God to Israel; healed the sick and disabled; blessed the children and their parents; and expressed his great love, allowing each individual to come forward and touch the wounds he had received during his crucifixion (see 3 Ne. 11-26). The record of Jesus' visit and many other passages in the Book of Mormon verify the divine sonship, ministry, Atonement, resurrection, and eternal status of the Lord Jesus Christ and show that the fulness of his gospel is the same for all people, whenever and wherever they have lived.

The ancestors of these people to whom Jesus appeared had been in the Western Hemisphere for about 600 years. The Book of Mormon opens with the family of Lehi in Jerusalem at the time of the biblical prophet Jeremiah. Lehi was warned by God about 600 B.C. to take his family and flee Jerusalem before it was destroyed by Babylon (1 Ne. 1:1-2). The account, written by Lehi's son Nephi1, first tells of his family's departure from Jerusalem and of his dangerous return to the city with his brothers to obtain sacred records that contained their lineage, the five books of Moses, and a history of the Jews and writings of prophets down to Jeremiah's time (1 Ne. 3- 5).

The group traveled in the wilderness until they reached a pleasant land by the sea where Nephi, with God's instruction, built a ship that took them to the New World (1 Ne. 17- 18). Nephi's older brothers, Laman and Lemuel, expressed resentment at Nephi's closeness to the Lord and did not want him to rule over them (1 Ne. 16:37-39; 18:10). When the family reached the New World, this antagonism led to a schism between the Nephites and Lamanites that pervades the Book of Mormon.

As the Nephite sermons, prophecies, and historical records were compiled and handed down, the writers emphasized that those who keep God's commandments prosper. Unfortunately, many who prospered became proud and persecuted others, with war as the eventual result. The desolation of war humbled the people, who began again to call upon God.

Ancient American prophets, like biblical prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, and Daniel, were shown visions of the future of various nations. For example, Nephi foresaw Christopher Columbus' discovery of America, the influx of Gentiles into the New World, and the American Revolution (1 Ne. 13:12-15, 18-19), as well as the birth and earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Christ's birth, ministry, and death were prophesied by Lehi, Nephi, Benjamin, Samuel the Lamanite, and other prophets. When Mosiah1 discovered a people who had left Jerusalem with Mulek, a son of Zedekiah (see Jer. 52:10; Omni 1:12-15; Hel. 8:21), and King Limhi's messengers found a record of the extinct Jaredites, the Nephites learned that they were not the only people God had brought to the Western Hemisphere.

After the appearance of Jesus Christ, the Nephites and Lamanites enjoyed peace for more than 160 years (4 Ne. 1:18-24). Then, many who had been righteous broke their covenants with God, and the Church and their civilization began to collapse. At last, in A.D. 385, the few remaining Nephites were hunted and killed by Lamanites. The book ends with Moroni, the last Nephite, writing to the people of modern times, admonishing them to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him" (Moro. 10:32).

MODERN APPLICATIONS. Latter-day Saints embrace the Book of Mormon as a record for all people. In addition to instructing their contemporaries and descendants, the prophets who wrote these ancient records foresaw modern conditions and selected lessons needed to meet the challenges of this world (Morm. 8:34-35). Their book is a record of a fallen people, urging all people to live righteously and prevent a similar fall today.

The Book of Mormon has had a profound effect on the Church and its members. It is so fundamental that Joseph Smith said, "Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations and where is our religion? We have none" (TPJS, p. 71).

The Book of Mormon teaches that the living God has spoken to several peoples throughout the earth who have written sacred records as he has commanded (2 Ne. 29:11-12). The Book of Mormon is one such record.

It also stands as evidence to Latter-day Saints that God restored his true and living Church through Joseph Smith. The importance of this belief for Latter-day Saints cannot be overestimated, for they are confident that God watches over the people of the earth and loves them, and that he continues to speak to them through contemporary prophets who apply unchanging gospel principles to today's challenges.

The Book of Mormon also is important to Latter-day Saints as an aid in understanding the Bible and the will of God. Nephi prophesied that many "plain and precious" truths and covenants would be taken from the gospel and the Bible after the deaths of the apostles (1 Ne. 13:26-27). Many questions that have arisen from the Bible are answered for Latter-day Saints by the Book of Mormon, such as the mode of and reasons for baptism (2 Ne. 31; 3 Ne. 11:23-26); the proper way to administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Moro. 4-5); the nature of the Resurrection (Alma 40); the effects of the Fall of Adam, and the reasons for evil and suffering in the world (2 Ne. 2). The Book of Mormon reinforces the LDS doctrine that the gospel of Jesus Christ existed before the Creation and has been revealed to prophets and believers throughout time.

Also sacred to Latter-day Saints is the Book of Mormon as a tutor in discerning the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Many Latter-day Saints, including those born into LDS families, trace their conversion to Jesus Christ and their commitment toward the Church to prayerful study of the Book of Mormon, and through it they learn to recognize the Holy Spirit. Thus, the book becomes a continuing symbol of personal revelation and of God's love for and attention to the needs of each person. It also declares that all mankind will be judged by its precepts and commandments (Mosiah 3:24; Moro. 10:27; see Judgment). It is evidence that God remembers every creature he has created (Mosiah 27:30) and every covenant he has made (1 Ne. 19:15; 3 Ne. 16:11). The Book of Mormon is the base from which millions have begun a personal journey of spiritual growth and of service to others.

For LDS children, the Book of Mormon is a source of stories and heroes to equal those of the Bible—Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in the lions' den, the faithful Ruth, and brave Queen Esther. They tell and sing with enthusiasm about the army of faithful young men led by Helaman1 (Alma 56:41-50); of the prophet Abinadi's courage before wicked King Noah (Mosiah 11-17); of Nephi and his unwavering faithfulness (1 Ne. 3- 18); of Abish, a Lamanite woman who for many years appears to be the lone believer in Christ in King Lamoni's court until the missionary Ammon taught the gospel to the king and queen (Alma 19); and of Jesus' appearances to the Nephites (3 Ne. 11- 28). There are many favorites. The book is used to teach children doctrines, provide examples of the Christlike life, and remind them of God's great love and hope for all his children.

The book is central to missionary work. It is the Church's most important missionary tool and is destined to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (Rev. 14:6-7). All LDS missionaries encourage those they contact to read and pray about the book as a means of receiving their own testimony from God about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, a witness of Jesus Christ.

Latter-day Saints are regularly admonished to make fuller use of the Book of Mormon. In 1832, two and one-half years after the book was published, the word of the Lord warned the Saints that they had treated the revelations too lightly and had neglected to "remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon" (D&C 84:57). Church leaders repeatedly encourage members to make the Book of Mormon a greater part of their lives. President Ezra Taft Benson has counseled Latter-day Saints to read the book daily and to share it and the gospel message with all the world.

READING THE BOOK OF MORMON. This sacred record asks the reader to approach its words with faith and prayer. One of its teachings is that readers will "receive no witness until after the trial of [their] faith" (Ether 12:6). Therefore, although aspects of the book may seem unusual or improbable at first, it invites its readers to entertain them as possibilities until the whole picture becomes clear and other feelings are experienced and thoughts considered. Moreover, the final inscription of Moroni2 on the title page asks readers to look beyond human weaknesses in the book: "If there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God." He closed his own book within the Book of Mormon by exhorting all who receive these things to ask God, with a sincere heart and with real intent, having faith in Christ, if they are not true, and promises that God will manifest the truth of it (Moro. 10:4).

Latter-day Saints of all ages and interests find rewards in reading the Book of Mormon. At first, people tend to focus attention on its main messages and story lines. With further reading and pondering, they discover numerous themes, meaningful nuances, interesting details, and profound spiritual expressions.

The first-time reader may find the Book of Mormon difficult at times. Its style, as translated into English, is somewhat similar to that of the King James Version of the Bible, and the reader who is not familiar with the Bible will encounter some unfamiliar word usages. The 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon is annotated with many Bible references and aids to facilitate a more detailed comparison.

Book of Mormon prophets Nephi, Jacob, and Abinadi quote extensively from Isaiah (see, e.g., 2 Ne. 6-8 [Isa. 49-51]; 2 Ne. 12-24 [Isa. 2-14]; Mosiah 14 [Isa. 53]), an Old Testament prophet whose poetic style and allusions have challenged readers of the Bible and also have proved difficult to many who study the Book of Mormon. Initially, some Church leaders encourage first-time readers to move through these chapters, understanding what is accessible and saving the rest for later study. In Isaiah's writings, Latter-day Saints find an important testimony of Christ and of the fulfillment of God's covenants with the house of Israel. Christ admonished his followers to "search these things diligently, for great are the words of Isaiah" (3 Ne. 23:11).

Another possible hurdle for readers is the book's nonchronological insertions. Nephi and Jacob and Jacob's descendants wrote first-person accounts from about 590 B.C. until about 150 B.C., and then Mormon (about A.D. 385) inserted a shorter chapter to explain his role as abridger of another record. Then the reader is returned via Mormon's abridgment to the history of Nephi's successors and of the descendants of Alma1. As groups of people break away from and return to the main body, parts of their records are incorporated into the book, causing the reader to jump back to earlier events. Likewise, Moroni's abridgment of the very ancient book of Ether appears out of chronological order near the end. In addition, the Book of Mormon, like the Old Testament, describes events from widely separated intervals. As an abridgment, it contains only a small part of the proceedings of these ancient peoples.

APPROACHING THE TEXT. The arrangement of the Book of Mormon lends itself to many approaches. Three mutually supportive avenues are most often followed. First, the book serves as a source of guidance and doctrine, yielding lessons and wisdom applicable to contemporary life. This approach is recommended in the writings of Nephi, who wrote that he "did liken the scriptures unto [his people], that it might be for [their] profit and learning" (1 Ne. 19:23). Latter-day Saints find its pages rich with ennobling narratives, clear doctrines, eternal truths, memorable sayings, and principles. Knowing the conditions of the latter days, the ancient prophets periodically address the individual reader directly. Latter-day Saints emphasize the need to read the Book of Mormon prayerfully, with faith in God, to benefit personally from its teachings and to come unto Christ.

A second approach to the Book of Mormon, adding historical dimension to the first approach, is to study the book as an ancient text. The reader who accepts the Book of Mormon as an ancient Hebrew lineage history written by prophets in the New World will find the book consistent with that description and setting. The book is a repository of ancient cultures that are as far removed from modern readers as are those of the Old and New Testaments. Continuing research has found Hebrew poetic forms, rhetorical patterns, and idioms, together with many Mesoamerican symbols, traditions, and artifacts, to be implicit in the book or consistent with it.

Finally, one may enjoy the Book of Mormon as a work of literature. Although the style may seem tedious or repetitive at times, there are order, purpose, and clarity in its language. Its words are often as beautiful and as memorable as passages in the Psalms, the Gospel of John, and other notable religious works of prose and poetry.

Most faithful readers of the Book of Mormon, however, do not define or limit themselves to any single approach or methodology, for these approaches are all transcended by the overriding implications of the book's divine origins and eternal purposes. Study and faith, reflection and application, all help a person know and comprehend the messages of the Book of Mormon. But for millions of Latter-day Saints, their most important experience with the Book of Mormon has been the spiritual knowledge that they have received of its truth. It has changed and enriched their lives and has brought Jesus Christ and his teachings closer to them.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Book of Mormon home page; Overview of the Book of Mormon home page)

Bibliography

Benson, Ezra Taft. A Witness and a Warning. Salt Lake City, 1988.

Downs, Robert B. Books That Changed America. London, 1970.

Faust, James E. "The Keystone of Our Religion." Ensign 13 (Nov. 1983):9.

Nibley, Hugh W. "The Mormon View of the Book of Mormon." Concilium 10 (Dec. 1967):82-83; reprinted, CWHN 8:259-64.'


 



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