THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
PART 8: "As I read, the Spirit of the Lord was upon me"
There are a number of reasons why non-Mormons pick up The Book of Mormon and decide to read it. Here are a few of them, not necessarily in order of importance:
IT'S EXCITING—There’s adventure, intrigue, wars, miracles, suspense, love, valiant heroes and unscrupulous villains. Not many books even come close to its drama. The narrative is entertaining as well and very educational for children and adults alike. It’s a book the whole family can enjoy as its stories are read aloud by a parent at family storytime. It’s many true episodes are gripping and satisfying—such as the story about a family of faith that escapes destruction in Jerusalem and becomes the seeds of two new nations in a far-off land. Or the account of the 2,000 valiant teenage warriors that no army could defeat. Or the story of the world’s first submarines that make their way safely across the ocean riding only the winds and currents. And the story of how the gold plates came to be and why they were written for our benefit today. The most thrilling episode is the Savior's visit to the ancient Americans shortly after his death and resurrection.
IT IS HISTORICAL FACT— For generations anthropologists, archeaologists and historians have searched for clues to solve the riddles of ancient America. Who were the American Indians? Where did they come from?
The Book of Mormon gives a detailed account of the predecessors of these early inhabitants of ancient America. The first recorded migration to this hemisphere occurred in 2000 B. C. at the time of the tower of Babel and the scattering of all the people as told in the 11th chapter of Genesis. A small group escaped the destruction and traveled across the desert to the seashore where they built eight barges and sailed across the ocean to America. They became a numerous people, but in due course, they divided into warring factions and destroyed each other, except for two survivors, one of them a prophet-historian, who kept a record of these events.
A second migration came several centuries later in 600 B.C. A faithful group of Israelites left Jerusalem shortly before the destruction of that city during the reign of Zedekiah. They, too journeyed through the desert for many years and arrived on the south coast of Arabia. There they built a single large vessel and set sail into the unknown, led by the Lord. They eventually landed on the coast of America and became a great nation. No fiction is more powerful than this true story.
IT AFFIRMS THAT THE BIBLE IS THE TRUE WORD OF GOD — The Book of Mormon affirms the authenticity of Old Testament persons and events now regarded as myth by many Bible scholars, including the Creation, Adam and Eve, the reality of the devil, Noah and the ark, the tower of Babel, The Abrahamic covenant, the parting of the Red Sea, and Moses’ authorship of the first five books of the Bible, to name a few.
The Book of Mormon joins the New Testament in affirming that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, his virgin birth, his miracles, the sermon on the mount, the Beatitudes, his crucifixion and his resurrection. It also attests to the lives of Mary, John the Baptist, John the Beloved, and the other Judean apostles
IT RESTORES MANY THINGS DELETED FROM THE BIBLE — Examples of the plain and precious truths that were lost, muddled or that are no longer believed include the following:
1. God is an exalted Man of Holiness, a man of flesh and bones; human beings are created in his image.
2. God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate and distinct beings;
3. Christian prophets have declared Christian doctrine and administered Christian ordinances since the time of Adam;
4. The Lord God Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, came to earth in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, and atoned for the sins of all mankind;
5. All men and women are the literal children of God, spirit sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father;
6. We lived with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ before coming to earth, for thousands of years perhaps;
7- We chose to come to earth to gain a body and prove ourselves worthy that we might obtain eternal life in the presence of Our Father and His Son.
8. God has a step-by-step plan of happiness in place, wherein his children, regardless of race or background, may advance and progress in truth and happiness;
9. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost, both essential ordinances, can only be performed by those holding the proper priesthood authority.
Parley P. Pratt spoke of the Book of Mormon as the principal means in directing the entire course of his life. In describing his first reading of the book he said: “I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep. As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true.”
IT REVEALS GOD’S GREAT PLAN OF SALVATION AND HAPPINESS IN DETAIL—God’s great plan is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” through the atoning sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Having anticipated humankind's situations and needs from the beginning, God has prepared a way to accomplish all his saving works among his children. The plan was presented in the premortal world where all those desiring to be born into the world accepted it.
The plan included our begetting as the spirit children of God; our preparation in the premortal world before coming to earth to receive a physical body and to be tested in all things; the subsequent creation and peopling of this world; the fall of Adam; the redeeming atonement of Jesus Christ; the orchestration of events on a world scale and on personal levels for the eternal benefit of all; and the worldwide teaching of the full gospel of Jesus Christ with all its laws, ordinances, doctrines, covenants and principles, by which man could be redeemed. With one’s sincere repentance, the plan begins to operate immediately in behalf of that individual. The Book of Mormon is one of the principle means by which God is making his plan known to the world, along with its companion, the Holy Bible.
The fullness of the gospel and God’s great plan of salvation are made clear as the reader finds the answers to life’s greatest questions —who am I? —where did I come from? —why am I here? —what happens when I die? In the pre-mortal world, two-thirds of God’s children chose to follow His plan of salvation, redemption and happiness. The other third chose to follow Satan. The plan of salvation opened the way for God’s followers to become mortals—to obtain physical bodies—to prove themselves worthy—and in due course return to live with God forever in peace and happiness.
By obedience to the gospel plan while on earth, all men and women have the opportunity to become heirs to all that the Father has, through the atonement of Jesus Christ and their personal righteousness. The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to make the plan of salvation known to all the inhabitants of the world. It clearly describes the steps whereby his children on earth may return to their Father’s kingdom in heaven:
1) Re-entry into God’s kingdom is gained only through faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, sincere repentance and forsaking of wrongdoings by the individual, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.
2) The ordinances of baptism and the bestowal of the Holy Ghost must be conferred upon the candidate by those holding the proper priesthood authority; namely, the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods of ancient times.
3) After receiving these sacred ordinances, he or she must faithfully keep God’s commandments and serve Him diligently throughout their lives.
On page 529, at the end of the Book of Mormon, the reader finds this remarkable promise that is available to all, regardless of age, race, creed, or religion:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that yea would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if yea 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 yea may know the truth of all things.”