I've already explained what we believe about God, and Jesus Christ, and God's plan for us. I've talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how living prophets teach us today. I explained how God established his full gospel on the earth again after centuries of pieces of it missing, by calling Joseph Smith as a prophet and restoring his (God's) priesthood authority upon the earth. And I've given a short history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So where does the Book of Mormon fit in? Why is our church so well known for this book? If you've heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have almost certainly heard of The Book of Mormon. It is, after all, where we get our nickname - "Mormons."
|All pictures in this post are from the image library on lds.org.|
So what is The Book of Mormon? What's in it? How do we have it? Why do we believe it?
In a nutshell, The Book of Mormon is the historical record of a people that lived in ancient America. It is another testament of Jesus Christ, just like the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Book of Mormon and the Bible go hand in hand. One is the record of God's dealings with the people in ancient Israel, and one is the record of God's dealings with the people in ancient America.
The Book of Mormon was written and recorded by ancient prophets, just like the Bible. It follows the stories of a group of people who God led out of Jerusalem before the city was destroyed in 600 BC. He led them to America, and the Book of Mormon covers their history from about 600 BC to 400 AD. And it's awesome.
|It's got Nephi, who was seriously rock solid. He followed God's commandments even when it meant living in the desert on raw meat. And building a boat and sailing across an OCEAN. And having his brothers try to kill him a bunch of times.|
|And Abinidi, who stood up to a wicked king and his corrupt priests.|
|And these people, who all secretly got baptized while hiding from the king and his soldiers.|
|And Ammon, who saved a bunch of sheep and cut off a bunch of people's arms.|
|And Captain Moroni! Who was awesome!|
|And the two thousand stripling warriors! Who were also awesome! ("Stripling" means young, by the way. And I LOVE these guys! They're my favorite!!!)|
|And Samuel the prophet, who stood on the wall of a wicked city to tell them that Christ would be born in five years.|
By far the biggest moment of the Book of Mormon is when Christ personally visits the people. After his death and resurrection in Jerusalem, he came to the people of the Americas. He taught them personally and ministered to them.
For several hundred years after his coming, the people lived in righteousness. But then they fell into wickedness again, and then they became really wicked. The two great nations of the Book of Mormon - the Lamanites and Nephites - had a huge war until almost all of the Nephites were destroyed.
Finally there were only a handful of Nephites left, including Mormon and Moroni, two righteous men whom God had protected. Mormon was in charge of the record of their people, which had been handed down from prophet to prophet to prophet over hundreds of years. He abridged and edited all the records together. The resulting book is named after him - The Book of Mormon. He gave those records to his son Moroni to finish writing and to protect.
After Mormon died, Moroni wandered around as the very last of his people. He finished the record and sealed it up, burying it in the earth so that it could come forth at the right time according to God's purposes.
When Joseph Smith prayed to God in the early 1800s asking him which church to join (you can read my blog post about that here), the time had come. Joseph was instructed where to find the records abridged by Mormon, and was able to translate the book with God's help.
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, that was written specifically for us - the people living now at this time.
It was written to help us understand Christ's mission, and to gain testimonies of him. It was written, as Moroni said, "[to convince] the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations."
The only way you can know for yourself whether the Book of Mormon is true or not is to read it, and then ask God if it is true. Moroni, the prophet who finished the Book of Mormon, promised this:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye 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 ye may know the truth of all things."
So see for yourself. Request a free copy of the Book of Mormon here. Read it. Read all about Nephi, and Mosiah, and Helaman and his two thousand warriors, and Alma and Ammon and Captain Moroni and Mormon, and most importantly - read their testimonies. Read their witnesses of Christ. And then "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ," ask if it is true.
1. This page, Mormon.org: The Book of Mormon, has very clear explanations of where the Book of Mormon came from and what it is.
2. This video rocks.