The Most Correct of
Any Book on Earth
How the Book of Mormon Can Lead its Readers into God's Presence
In only the first eleven verses of the Book of Mormon, we learn about Lehi praying to the Lord with all his heart, in behalf of his people. The result was a pillar of fire dwelling on a rock in front of him, and Lehi hearing and seeing much. Ultimately, in this same day, Lehi is carried away in vision into the presence of God sitting upon His throne, surrounded by angels. In this same vision, Lehi also sees One (Christ) descending from heaven to come down and go forth upon the face of the earth.
One of the lessons we can derive from Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8, is the folly of following or trusting any man. Starting in verse 5: "...I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me FOLLOW him...as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that HE would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass that after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field...[and] a tree whose fruit was desirable to make one happy."
These experiences by Lehi are followed by Nephi's experience of drawing near to God by abiding true precepts. After trials of faith and exercising diligence, Nephi likewise is drawn into the presence of God and experiences the vision of all, including visions of the future Jesus Christ and His condescension to descend to redeem us. Nephi's experience and lessons could be summarized:
Nephi testified that he was a witness of the Lord, just as the prophet Isaiah and his brother Jacob also were: "And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him. And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words." (2 Nephi 11:2-3)
Nephi shares with us a promise that we too can be partakers of the mysteries of God, just as he had: “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well as in times to come; wherefore the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19)
Nephi then commends us to repent, receive the Holy Ghost, and come unto Jesus Christ, with the promise that Christ will manifest Himself to us in the flesh as we diligently seek to do His will and follow His commandments: “Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark. For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (2 Nephi 32:4-6)
Jacob was the next person who demonstrated and walked the path to being redeemed and brought into the presence of God: “And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh...” (2 Nephi 2:4)
Jacob said the following about Sherem, who he met later in his life: “And he had a hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I had truly seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore I could not be shaken.
Having been taught about the Lord by his father, Enos pondered on the things of God until they "sunk deep into my heart. (Enos 1:3)" He had a "wrestle... before God" (Enos 1:3). He says, "And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens" (Enos 1:4).
And as sure as promised, and based in eternal laws, "...there came a voice unto me, saying, Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed" (Enos 1:5). This phrase that the Lord uses, "Thou shalt be blessed," is another way of promising Enos Eternal Life and the promise to be brought back to the Lord's presence. This came to pass because of Enos' faith in Christ, who he had never before heard or seen (Enos 1:8).
Then, as any servant called of God is inclined to do, such as Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob before him, Enos then proceeded to intercede and pray for promises on behalf of others, including both his Nephite brethren as well as the Lamanites (who were among his "enemies"): "Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them" (Enos 1:9).
King Benjamin and King Mosiah
King Benjamin demonstrated a way of life that can be instructive in terms of developing a relationship with heaven and its angels:
King Benjamin conferred his kingdom upon his son Mosiah, who was also a righteous king: "And it came to pass that king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him" (Mosiah 6:6). King Mosiah also worked for his own support just like his father had done. As a result, King Mosiah was worthy to inherit and handle the "interpreters" in order to translate the records found by Limhi. Thus, Mosiah was able to enjoy and employ a gift from God, and thus he was called a Seer.
Received a true messenger sent by God (ie, Abinadi). Having been caught in the snare of wickedness as a member of King Noah's priesthood, he hearkened to a messenger sent by God to proclaim repentance. After repenting and leading a group of believers to the land of Zarahemla, Alma continues laboring for God, preaching and baptizing unto repentance. Mosiah 26:14-18 says: "...after he had POURED OUT HIS WHOLE SOUL to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying: Blessed are thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi. And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them. And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people. Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called, and they shall be mine.”
Alma the younger
After having run around with the sons of Mosiah trying to destroy the church, being the very vilest of sinners, it was the prayers and faith of their parents and neighbors that brought an angelic visitation to Alma and the Sons of Mosiah.
"...For three days and three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there. But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors; For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God." (Alma 36:16-23)
Alma eventually eventually forsakes his political/governmental position to be able to labor full time preaching and proclaiming the gospel tirelessly.
The sons of Mosiah (Ammon, Aaron, Omner, & Himni)
Having been converted and born of God concurrently with Alma the Younger, these four sons of Mosiah rejected all their rights to political kingship and royalty, and dedicated their lives to preaching the word of God anywhere that God directed them. Eventually they embarked on a lifelong mission to seek to reclaim the Lamanites through the preaching of the gospel. Clearly, the Lord saw their true intent and faith and told their father, Mosiah: "Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and THEY SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites" (Mosiah 28:7). We can see the Lord made good on his promise to deliver Mosiah's son "out of the hands of the Lamanites" in every case, and we must needs suppose that they also inherited eternal life.
Lamoni, his father, and the Anti-Nephi-Lehies
Lamoni. “The dark veil of UNBELIEF was being cast away from his mind...and it came to pass that he arose...and as he arose, he stretched forth his hand unto the woman and said: Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou. For as surely as thou livest, behold I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name." (Alma 19:6,12-13)
Lamoni's father. "What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold...I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest...when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees, yea even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying: O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will GIVE AWAY ALL MY SINS TO KNOW THEE., and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead..." (Alma 22:15-18)
Anti-Nephi-Lehies. As a direct result of the conversion of Lamoni, and his father, thousands of Lamanites in seven different lands and cities were converted to the Lord and did never fall away--preferring to suffer death by their enemies than to risk killing again and losing the remission of their sins.
Nephi and Lehi, sons of Helaman, and the conversion of 300 Lamanites
Nephi was the Chief Judge of the people, but having become weary of their iniquity, he gave up the position of political power so that he could devote himself completely to preach the word of God the remainder of his life, and his brother Lehi did likewise.
They did preach with much power, insomuch that many were led to confess their sins and be baptized unto repentance, including thousands of the Lamanites. As they continued their work among the Lamanites, they were thrown into prison for many days, but even this was part of the workings of the Lord so that He could bring about the salvation of more souls.
After this time of service, dedication, and sacrifice, the Lord manifested Himself to Nephi and Lehi. They were encircled about by fire that did not burn them and an eyewitness to the scene described what he saw: "...the faces of Nephi and Lehi; and behold, they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels. And he beheld that they did lift their eyes to heaven; and they were in the attitude as if talking or lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld" (Helaman 5:36).
Shortly thereafter, as the others present had a chance to demonstrate their own faith: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us? And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you. And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed. And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire. And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world. And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came; and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them. And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt” (Helaman 5:40-49).
Later in the Book of Helaman, Nephi had this to say about the prophets before him: "Our father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things. Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come. And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them, that they were redeemed by him" (Helaman 8:22-23).
Christ's visit to the 2,500 at Bountiful
Soon after Nephi's departure from the land, many people began to persecute the believers in Christ, saying that the time had passed for the signs to appear of which Samuel the Lamanite had prophesied of Christ's birth. Once again, it is only when a servant of God, Nephi's son Nephi, humbled himself by bowing to the earth and crying mightily all that day to God on behalf of his people, that the voice of the Lord came to him. Nephi is assured that the sign of Christ's birth will be given that very night, which appearance spares the lives of the believers. Although the ensuing 33 years is a continual scene of war, trials, pride, and division, Nephi is able to receive an endowment of great power and authority from God, according to his faith, obedience, and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord.
"Nephi, having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, and having had power given to him that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ...Therefore, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds—went forth among them in that same year, and began to testify, boldly, repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. And he did minister many things unto them...with power and with great authority...for it were not possible that they could disbelieve his words, for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily. And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people....
Therefore, there were ordained of Nephi, men unto this ministry, that all such as should come unto them should be baptized with water, and this as a witness and a testimony before God, and unto the people, that they had repented and received a remission of their sins." (3 Nephi 7:15-25)
In spite of Nephi's preaching and miraculous works, there many who did not believe and rejected his message. As a result, the Lord executed his own judgment upon the more wicked part of the people before He would come to them in person at the Temple at Bountiful (foreshadowing the conditions of His return at His 2nd Coming in that those who have not rejected the prophets will be spared). The Lord himself related: [it was] "because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations. And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them...O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will COME UNTO ME ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God...And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name...And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost...Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God..." (3 Nephi 9:10-22).
Following the devastation, darkness, and silence, a voice from heaven announces the Beloved Son three times. After descending from heaven to stand among the people, Jesus Christ declared who He was and invited them all to come forward to feel, touch, and see Him for themselves. The Savior spent most of the day allowing every one of these 2,500 people to interact with Him. If each person only spent about 15 seconds with the Lord, it would have taken at least 10 hours for all to come forth, see, feel, and to then know of a surety for themselves so that they could bear record of what they experienced.
The Lord is truly eager, yet patient in desiring each and every one of us to meet with Him personally while we are in the flesh, as demonstrated repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon.
The Nephites of 4 Nephi
A near Zion-like society lasts for about 200 years (see 4 Nephi).
What the people of this society did do:
1) Truly repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus, and received the Holy Ghost (v. 1);
2) No contentions or disputations, and did deal justly with one another (v. 2);
3) Had all things in common, there was no rich nor poor, all were made free (v. 3);
4) Continued in fasting and prayer, and meeting together often to pray and to hear the word of the Lord (v. 12);
5) Had no envy, strife, tumults, whoredoms, lyings, murders, nor lasciviousness; no robbers nor any manner of "ites" (v. 16-17).
What the people of this society did not do (while in their righteous state for about 200 years):
1) Wore costly apparel and things of the world (v. 24);
2) Divide into classes and began to use churches to "get gain" (v. 26);
3) Denied the more precious parts of Christ's gospel and began to receive all manner of wickedness (v. 27);
4) Exercised power and authority over others (v. 30);
5) Built up churches unto themselves and adorned them with all manner precious things (v. 41);
6) Had secret oaths and combinations (v. 42).
The brother of Jared
He did "cry unto the Lord" and "cry unto the Lord" and "cry unto the Lord"...The Lord finally told him: "And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth. And this I will do unto thee BECAUSE OF THIS LONG TIME YE HAVE CRIED UNTO ME."
Later, when the brother of Jared did not call upon the name of the Lord for the space of four years as they remained in tents on the seashore, it was related that the brother of Jared "repented of the evil which he had done" following the Lord’s rebuke. The brother of Jared receives vision of all things AFTER this experience as he prays for mercy upon his people to be able cross the great deep not in darkness. Because of his exceeding faith he was be able to see the Lord's finger initially, and then the entire person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mormon did most of the abridging of the larger plates and added them to the plates Nephi had prepared. He was able to see the examples of others and was able to experience them for himself, too. Growing up, Mormon was a sober child and quick to observe. By the time he was 15 years old he had been visited of the Lord and knew of the goodness of Jesus Christ.
Moroni also declared that he had seen and spoken with the Lord, much like a second bookend to the Book of Mormon with Lehi and Nephi being the first: "And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things; And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing. And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen." (Ether 12:38-41). Note that we are also commended to seek Jesus Christ, to come into His presence.
Moroni concludes the Book of Mormon with this admonition: “And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. 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 10:30-33).
In summary, each of these examples from the Book of Mormon provides a unique way to understand what is required to be redeemed and to enter back into God's presence. The Book of Mormon is, as the LDS Church named it, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” in that it shows that the only way to redemption, salvation, and progression back to the Father is only through Him. He, Jesus Christ, is the only way and the only gate and the only individual that can do it. The Book of Mormon is indeed the most correct book, as Joseph declared it to be, because it is the only book that so completely provides examples of individuals who have followed Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ only, sufficiently to enter into the presence of God and obtain Eternal Life.