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The Book of Mormon: What is it?

Updated on June 7, 2020

What is the Book of Mormon?

"The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation." -Book of Mormon Introduction

As it’s stated on its cover page, it is "Another Testament of Christ", and is not, in ANY way, slanderous to the Bible. In fact, it is quite the opposite, in that it upholds, strengthens, and supports the Bible. "But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." -Matt 18:16 While the Bible takes place in Jerusalem, and gives an account of Christ's life and Ministry, the people in the Middle East weren't the only people in the world. Christ himself told his Apostles "...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 Christ, shortly after his Resurrection, visited the people of other nations, those on the American continents being one of them. This account is recorded in 3 Nephi, chapters 11-28.

"And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fullness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer." -3 Nephi 16:4

What Are the Golden Plates?

The Golden Plates are the record from which the Book of Mormon was translated, originally composed by a prophet named Mormon. These plates contain "Not even a hundredth part" of the history of the ancient ancestors to modern day Native Americans, and the inhabitants of Mexico and all of South America. These records were written and compiled over the course of 600 B.C. to a little after 400 A.D, ending with the destruction of a civil group of people, named Nephites, to their common enemies, the Lamanites. Most records recorded back in these days were written in forms of Scrolls, (often termed as "rolls") Tablets of wood (called "Sticks") carved in stone, or etched on thin sheets of metal plates and bound on one side (known as a Codex. Codices were also used with paper/animal hide materials) The latter being the case with the Golden Plates.

Who is Mormon, Moroni, and the Nephites and Lamanites?

Understanding the Heritage

Engraved by a prophet named Mormon, these plates contain a condensed recorded history, as well as writings and teachings from prophets that came from Jerusalem, and were led to the American Continents. At about 600 B.C., in the reign of King Zedekiah (2 Chronicles 36), a prophet named Lehi is preaching to the people of Jerusalem to repent or they would be destroyed. The people rejected Lehi and sought to take his life, as they had the other prophets before him. God tells Lehi to take his family and flee into the wilderness, where he would eventually lead them to a promised land, "and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands." - 1 Nephi 2:20.

Eventually Lehi and his family, build a ship and are led to where they land in South America, which they call the land Bountiful. Laman is the Eldest of Lehi's sons, and also one of the most rebellious, while Nephi, is the 4th son, and the most righteous. Their children and posterity are grouped as Lamanites and Nephites. Eventually the Lamanites become a wild a wicked people, while the Nephites (generally) are righteous, but is not to say they have their moments of downfall and defeat. Over the course of time prophets are called, the people prosper, they get proud, they have wars, they are taught the will of God, they multiply, and eventually cover the entire face of the two continents now North and South America.

Towards the end of the book nearing 400 A.D., the people known as the Nephites become so corrupted, that the Lamanites begin to have advantage over them, and begin to destroy them entirely. As these final battles are taking place, a prophet named Mormon is called to gather all the records of the people since the time of Lehi's preaching in Jerusalem to the present time "...and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni." -Mormon 6:6. Mormon continues to lead his people into battle against the Lamanites, watching in despair as his people are slaughtered and killed. Eventually the last Nephite alive, Mormon's son Moroni, finishes the records and adds in his own testimony before burying and preserving plates shortly before he, too, is killed off by the people known as the Lamanites.

Moroni Buries the Plates

A Book of Mormon Story

Why is the Book of Mormon so Important? - Why is the Bible Important?

Because it teaches, testifies, and enlightens us to Christ, his teachings, our purpose here, and makes us known to God. Without it, the world would be faithless and wandering in darkness. The Book of Mormon also testifies of Christ, though he was not born in the Americas, the prophets here testified of his being, his role, his purpose, his commandments and also taught the people to believe and have faith.

"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." -Article of Faith 8. The Prophet Joseph Smith said "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." That is a HUGE statement. While most would base the truthfulness of what we believe from the organization and the prophet Joseph Smith, in reality, the Keystone is the Book of Mormon. Christ himself stated "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit...Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." -Matt 7:15-17, 20

The Fruits of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Prophet Joseph Smith is The Book of Mormon. Only by reading its pages, pondering its message, and asking God if this is from him and is in fact true, can we know through his Holy Spirit what is right. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is." -Moroni 10:5

A Book with a Promise

Prophets through Time: Moses, Nephi, Joseph Smith and Gordon Hinckley
Prophets through Time: Moses, Nephi, Joseph Smith and Gordon Hinckley

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