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The Book of Mormon: A Second Witness of Jesus Christ
The Book of Mormon serves as a second witness of Jesus Christ. A religious text used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, the Book of Mormon is a companion to the Bible. Mormons use the King James translation of the Bible in the English language, and other carefully chosen translations in other languages.
A Companion to the Bible
The Book of Mormon resembles the Bible in that it contains a mixture of stories and sermons recorded by early prophets to help us learn about Jesus Christ and His dealings with mankind. It contains the records of several early groups of people who came from the Holy Lands to the American continent. Those who were righteous were led by prophets, just as were the people of the Bible. These prophets recorded the revelations they received about Jesus Christ, their testimonies of Him, and at one miraculous point, their visitation from Him.
One prophet wrote in the Book of Mormon:
- And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26).
The Book of Mormon records events that occurred from approximately 600 BC to 400 AD. The prophets of these people learned that Jesus Christ would one day be born, that He would take on their sins and die for them, and that He would be resurrected. They also knew He would visit them in time.
The Book of Mormon opens with a title page written by the last of these ancient prophets. This page explains the purpose of the book: “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
The first prophet whose writings we have in the Book of Mormon wrote: “For the fullness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.”
This prophet, Nephi, received a vision of Jesus Christ when he was still a teenager, as did his father. In this vision, he saw the birth of Jesus Christ, His ministry, and His death. He also saw the future resurrection of the Savior.
The Book of Mormon refers to Jesus Christ and His ministry more often than does the Bible, despite its shorter length. The ancient prophets, having descended from Israelite stock, knew of God and of the coming of the Savior and had brought with them the religious records of the Jews that were available up to 600 BC. The prophecies received by these prophets taught them even more about Him, and they bore testimony of Jesus Christ and His divinity.
There are some who feel that because Jesus was seen only by those in a very small portion of the world, there is no real proof of His divinity. However, because the Book of Mormon demonstrates that He also came to visit his “other sheep” after His death and resurrection, there can be no doubt Jesus Christ existed and was and is divine. (See John 10:16.) Jesus Himself assured his apostles He would visit others after His death. This follows the tenet of Jewish law that truth be established by two or more witnesses. The Book of Mormon, then, is the second witness.
The highlight of the Book of Mormon concerns this visit to the Nephites. Jesus Christ spent several days helping them organize their church properly, teaching them, and giving them blessings. Miracles occurred. All of this was recorded and preserved, to be brought forth in our day to serve as a second witness of Jesus Christ.
- And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
- And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Ne. 11:8–11).
Following are several testimonies of Jesus Christ, recorded by Book of Mormon prophets and given to help people of our day gain a testimony of Him:
- I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true; and I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name (Alma 5:48).
This testimony was given about 83 BC. (Book of Mormon prophets had been given the name of Jesus Christ in revelation.) Alma was a prophet who was converted by a martyr. He went on to become the leader of Jesus’ followers and gave one of the world’s most powerful sermons on faith.
- But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). This testimony comes from Lehi, whose son authored the first account in the Book of Mormon. Lehi was a prophet and the ancestor of those who would one day see Jesus Christ. He was a descendent of Joseph of the Old Testament. This testimony was given to his family as he prepared to die.
- Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come. And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
- But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true? (Alma 30:39). This testimony was given by Alma to Korihor, who was attempting to convince people there was no God and that there would be no Savior.
The Book of Mormon contains powerful teachings about God, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. It builds on the teachings found in the Bible and some are given more clearly as they have not passed through many different editors and translators. Following is a sampling of gospel truths about Jesus Christ and God’s plan as taught in the Book of Mormon:
Salvation and Grace
- And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free. And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
- Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise (2 Nephi 2).
Come unto Christ
- Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; 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, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
- And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot(Moroni 10).
The Importance of Children to the Savior
(These verses refer to Jesus Christ during his visit to the Americas.)
- And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again; And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them (3 Nephi 17:21-24).
How to Gain Faith
(This is an introduction to a sermon on how to gain faith.)
- Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
- Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me (Alma 32).
The Book of Mormon teaches readers about the Savior Jesus Christ. It expands our knowledge of his teachings, clarifying things religious leaders and scholars have debated for centuries. It helps us learn how to gain a testimony of the Savior and provides a witness of His divinity and of the Bible.