I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the ‘Mormon’ Church.
The nickname ‘Mormon’ was given to The Church because of The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The book is named after the prophet that compiled and abridged a lot of records of the Nephite and Lamanite people on the American continent. Mormon is not someone that is worshiped (that is reserved for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ), but we do honor him for his contributions and his life of service to God. The nickname of ‘Mormon’ was used as a derogatory term when the Church began, but we do not mind being called ‘Mormons’ in our time…It is certainly a quicker name to say, and recognizable over most the world.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion
A keystone is the stone that is placed last in an arch. It is what holds up the arch. If the keystone is removed, the arch falls.
The keystone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon has a divine origin, Joseph Smith translated it, and The Book of Mormon stands as a true witness to the truthfulness of the Bible and the role that Jesus Christ plays in this world. Our faith hangs on the reality and truth of the keystone- The Book of Mormon.
How did we get The Book of Mormon?
Joseph Smith had an angel appear to him in his bedroom at the age of 17. He had already spoken with God the Father, and Jesus Christ 3 years earlier, and had been praying to find out what his standing was with the Lord. The angel told him that he was a messenger from God, and that God had an important work for Joseph to do. The angel talked to him about what was to come, and told him about the golden plates that had been prepared for our day. Joseph first saw the plates the next day, and when he had grown and matured for several more years, Joseph Smith was given the golden plates by the angel and translated them by the gift and power of God.
For those that scoff at God’s ability to do such a thing, I offer a couple questions: If you believe in God (and I am assuming that you do believe in God), and that He is all-powerful, all knowing, and has a heck of a lot more abilities than you or I, and If you believe He made this world- not only man, but everything in this world… why would you put a limit on what He can do? Of course God can make an angel appear in a bedroom if He chooses to. Of course He can provide a translator. Just look at the cell phone in your hand and pull up Google Translate if you think such a thing is impossible. If men can make such things with their puny wisdom and understanding, God with His experience, knowledge and ability can make a simple translator for Joseph to translate a bunch of records full of eternally important writings.
But, you might protest, this was 150 years ago- there were no cell phones back then. Agreed, and there were none 1000 years ago when God gave such stones to the ancient Israelite priests. Remember, He built a world a few billion years ago- God is more advanced technologically than some give Him credit for. And, He has known for a long time that we need The Book of Mormon today, so He made it happen.
What exactly IS The Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon is a collection of writings from prophets that were aware of our day, who were aware that we would need another witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. These were prophets that had a personal relationship with God. Nephi, Alma, Moroni, Enos, and many more prophets of God were involved in writing down the religious history of the people on this continent, descendants of Jacob and the House of Israel.
We know that Heavenly Father has other plates and records in reserve that are sealed to us at this point but The Book of Mormon is the teachings that we need to know right now, in our day and generation.
Why would God give us another book- we already have the Bible!
As a world, we need to know that the Bible has timeless truths in it, that its witness of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost is true. In 1 Nephi :13, we are taught the reasons that we need this second witness of Christ- because there have been plain and precious things, including covenants, removed from the Bible to keep men without full knowledge of the Gospel of the Lamb.
The Book of Mormon clarifies many of the teachings in the Bible, reaffirms the divinity of the scriptures, and through it, Heavenly Father corrects the translation errors that men have made over the years. There are some verses and teachings in the Bible that have many different interpretations within different sects of Christianity. The Book of Mormon, as a second witness, makes clear where men have strayed from the meaning, by accident, and in some cases by design. Having a second, independent book of divine scripture is a powerful witness to the truthfulness and reality of both the events and people of the Bible.
We need to know what our purpose in life is, what happens after we die, what the consequences would be if we turn our backs on God. We need to know the covenants that God made with His people- the covenants that include us and our day, not just in the Old Testament times. We need to understand that God loves us each as an individual, and desires each one of us to make sacred covenants with Him so that we can go back and live with Him again when our turn on Earth is completed. We need the Holy Priesthood. These are the truths that we learn in The Book of Mormon.
Why a 14 year old, uneducated boy, Joseph Smith?
There are examples in the Bible of God using young men to do His work. The boy Samuel , Daniel (of the lions den)and the other boys who were taken by Nebuchadnezzar, even Joseph of Egypt (with the coat of many colors) was a youth when he was taken and begun on his path to being a prophet of God.
Joseph Smith was 14 when he realized he needed to know which, if any, of the religions in his area were true. His family was split between several churches, and Joseph wanted to join the right one, so he approached God in prayer to ask- just as it says to do in the Bible. Now, an important point to understand is that Joseph Smith was not just a random teenager in a random place having a spectacular experience. He was fore-ordained, and guided by God to play the role in returning the Gospel of Jesus Christ back to the world in preparation for the second coming of Christ. He was in the right family with the right lineage, was born at the time God ordained, and lived in the place that God chose many hundreds, or even thousands, of years before. None of this was random, it was a carefully crafted chain of events by God.
When we are born, we have forgotten our pre-existence in Heaven. That is by design so that we can learn and grow by faith without compulsion, and decide for ourselves who we want to follow for eternity. Joseph Smith the boy had no idea that he was going to be a prophet and have conversations with God and Jesus Christ. He was just a young man that wanted to know the truth. He found it- or, the Truth found him, ready and willing to do the work of the Lord. Translating The Book of Mormon, and reestablishing the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth was what Joseph was foreordained to do.
Joseph’s wife, many years later, told her son “The Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity—I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, your father would dictate to me for hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him”. < “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald 26 (Oct. 1, 1879), 289–90.>
There were other witnesses to the Golden Plates as well, none of whom ever denied the reality or truthfulness of what they had been privileged to see and handle, even after some left the Church.
The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith by the gift and power of God. For more information on the translating process, click HERE
What are the covenants contained in the Book of Mormon?
A covenant is a 2-way promise between Heavenly Father and His children. It is an “If you do this, then I will do this for you” kind of promise that God makes with us. There are many covenants that God wants to make with each one of us. What He asks in return is that we obey His commandments; That we love God with all our hearts, might, mind and strength; That we follow Christ and be a witness of Him, always remember Him, and that we love and serve Him by loving and serving one another.
In return, God covenants with us that we will be sanctified through Christ, that we will be forgiven of our sins through the atonement of Jesus Christ, that we can be with our families for eternity, and that we will live with Him and our families again. And these are just a few of the covenants. Read through 1Nephi 13 to identify specific covenants that God made with the prophets, that apply to us today.
My testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel
I was given a testimony by Father in Heaven over 33 years ago, and it has continued to grow and mature through the years. I know that The Church is true, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Christ and that He loves each one of us. I know that God answers our prayers, although sometimes the answer is “No” or “Be patient”. I have had my prayers answered in unmistakable ways and had experiences that have guided me to distinguish truth from false. I know that the Book of Mormon is a divine record, and that we can get closer to God by prayerfully reading this book than we can by any other single action. The Book of Mormon is the true keystone of our religion, and it is a precious treasure for each person.
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 HolyGhost.” (Moro. 10:4.)
God does not lie, and He is always reaching out to His children. Prove Him by reading the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If it is something you truly wish to know and you approach it with an open heart, He will answer you. Nothing important is easy, so put some effort into it.
“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words.” (D&C 46:13–14.)
I leave this testimony with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior.
To my readers:
I have recently begun my university studies again. This post is an assignment for one of my classes.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints understands the importance of education which is why they have 3 universities- BYU Provo, BYU Hawaii, and BYU Idaho. Unfortunately, there are only so many people that can be admitted to these outstanding universities. To make an education available to members all over the world, BYU Idaho began a program called Pathway. Through this program, a student goes through 3 semesters of preliminary classes to assure that they have the understanding and knowledge necessary to be successful in a degree program. A student earns university credit while working through the Pathway program, and pays only $68 per credit (in the United States- the cost is different in each country. For example, Russians pay only $17 per credit because of the difference in economies and cost of living). Once the student successfully makes it through the 3 semesters of Pathway, he or she then has the opportunity to continue on and work towards a certificate, Associates degree, or a Bachelors degree, all at only $68 a credit or less. These degrees are all online, making it possible for anyone, anywhere to receive a university education.
I will be-finally!- completing my BS through BYU-Idaho, starting with the Pathway program.