The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.
The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.
The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.
After Mormon completed his writings, he delivered the account to his son Moroni, who added a few words of his own and hid up the plates in the Hill Cumorah. On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.
In due course the plates were delivered to Joseph Smith, who translated them by the gift and power of God. The record is now published in many languages as a new and additional witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that all who will come unto Him and obey the laws and ordinances of His gospel may be saved.
Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that 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.”
In addition to Joseph Smith, the Lord provided for eleven others to see the gold plates for themselves and to be special witnesses of the truth and divinity of the Book of Mormon. Their written testimonies are included herewith as “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses.”
We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
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I have underlined several things that stood out to me. There is an exact date when Moroni came to Joseph Smith. That date is coming up in a few days. September it seems is when it all began to come to light-- a book containing the fulness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, an additional witness to the Bible. When Joseph had the first vision he wasn't told of the Book of Mormon. It seems September 21st was the first time Moroni came to Joseph Smith and the very first mention of the Book of Mormon in our day. September it seems is when it all began. September 14th was my baptism so its sort of when it all began for me too. I remember my friend taking me to the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors Center. It was Labor Day, we were both fasting and praying to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Up until that point the new and everlasting gospel made sense. I say 'new and everlasting' because I was raised knowing about the gospel-- the good news that Jesus was born and died for us. But the 'new and everlasting gospel' really is new. It was certainly new to me. It took right about 6 months and 2 sets of missionaries, all 4 of my friend's brothers and countless other people who helped me learn, understand and make sense of the new and everlasting gospel. Up until Labor Day of 1997 the gospel had come to make sense. But my dear friend knew that the gospel had to touch my heart not just my mind. I firmly believe it needs to touch both heart and mind, if you don't have both its not sustaining. So we went fasting and praying to the Mesa temple. My answer came with a burning in my heart and a firm knowledge that Jesus Christ did in reality visit the people on the American continent. That is where my testimony started and it has blossomed from there. I had grown up knowing all about the Bible, learning Bible stories and the miracles of Jesus Christ. I have always known He was the Savior of the world. My faith has been added upon.
The idea of praying to know something was right was a very new concept back then, it made sense and sounded wonderful but it was very new all the same. Actually reading the Bible and making sense of it was huge, I grew up thinking only pastors and incredibly smart people did that. I have struggled with regular, consistent prayer and scripture study. I went on a mission and my MTC companion saw me consistently falling asleep during studying, during praying... I really struggled. I was groggy most of the time, there wasn't much exercise, it was very sedentary. I actually started getting up a half hour earlier hoping it would help. I do remember feeling better. I don't remember ever talking about it much with my companion but it must have really bothered her because she told other people. Later another companion came to me with preconceived notions about me making our time together another struggle. I had gained a bad reputation it seemed that followed me for at least half of my mission. No one needs to have their faults passed around for all to see. Was I really evil and unworthy of love and approval because I fell asleep in prayer and scripture study? The gospel really is new to people. No one knows the struggle someone has gone through. For me every happy event in the church has been marked by sadness, marked by further disapproval from my parents and they weren't afraid of showing it-- baptism, BYU, mission and temple marriage. At my baptism when I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, I was told that it would be through my children that my family would receive the fullness of the gospel. I clung to that all these years, it gave me peace but also pressure that I would have to raise amazing children, missionaries to my mother. Yet in my weakness, it has still proven to be true when my husband and I started our family. 5 children later my mother will go to Primary when she comes to visit and she has been to one of the kid's baptisms. She has come a long way in being comfortable with the church.
I think of yesterday's reading at the very end...
"And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."
Don't judge. I am certainly not the poster child of an ideal Mormon. I have struggled with everything I have ever done and everything I continue to do--motherhood, homeschooling, housekeeping, meal planning. I can do none of them exceptionally well. I guess you could say I am a good example of perseverance.
If I obey God and do what he would have me do then I will have peace in this life and peace in the world to come.