"And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, . . . and the power of God unto salvation" (D&C 68:3-4).
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the benefit and blessing of living scripture as declared by those sustained as prophets, as well as canonized scripture found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The prophet Nephi wrote, "My soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children" (2 Nephi 4:15). Written scripture, especially the Book of Mormon, brings us to believe in God and "be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:11).
Several months ago a friend and I had the opportunity of presenting a set of scriptures to an associate who is not a member of the Church. Knowing that this might be a life-changing event for him--and for us--we took the time to have his name embossed on each volume. As we presented these sacred records to him, we could tell he was deeply moved by the significance and sincerity of our offering. For several minutes he examined each book without speaking, rubbing his hand on the cover and turning some of the pages.
Recognizing the importance of the moment, we helped him turn to the title page of the Book of Mormon and began to explain that the Book of Mormon was another testament, or witness, of Jesus Christ. He then asked a question that all missionary-minded members are anxious to hear: "Why do we need additional witnesses of Jesus Christ other than the Bible?" Rather than responding quickly, we asked him why he thought this might be important. His answer seemed even more inspired than his question. He suggested that since there appeared to be so many variations of the Bible and its teachings, we needed some kind of clarifying voice, something that would help us understand the Bible better. His observation opened the door for us to share our feelings and testimonies regarding both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
We began by expressing our devotion and deep conviction to the doctrines and teachings of the Bible, especially the New Testament. Being able to read many of the Savior's words as He taught the gospel during His earthly ministry strengthens us, helps us come to know Him, and teaches us that we can become more like Him. We then declared that, like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is additional evidence that God loves all of His children and has provided a way for us to return and live with Him once again. We spent the next hour or so reviewing many aspects of the Book of Mormon, including its history and divine origin. Allow me to share a few of the things we discussed.
A Book with a Promise We first explained that the Book of Mormon is a book with a promise. Although its history is compelling by itself, it is a book of scriptural significance that should be received and read under the influence of the Holy Ghost. All who study and ponder its teachings are given a promise found in the last chapter of Moroni (see Moroni 10:3-4) as well as in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, where we read: "We invite all men [and women] 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." We then spent several minutes teaching about prayer and how the Holy Ghost can speak to our hearts and confirm that the Book of Mormon is true.
A Book with a Purpose Next we stated that the Book of Mormon is a book with a purpose. From the title page we read that the Book of Mormon was "written by way of commandment" and "by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation" to "come forth by the gift and power of God" to the convincing of each of us "that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God." In a personal expression of this purpose, Nephi, as one of the authors of the Book of Mormon, wrote, "The fulness 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" (1 Nephi 6:4).
A Book That Teaches the Great Plan of Happiness Additionally, we explained that the Book of Mormon is a book that teaches "the great plan of happiness" (Alma 42:8; see also vv. 5, 13, 31; 2 Nephi 9). In profound yet understandable terms, the Book of Mormon teaches the purpose of life, from whence we came, and what happens when we die. We learn of faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, of repentance, of the importance of baptism by immersion, and of the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. By studying and feasting upon the doctrines of the Book of Mormon, we gain "a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men," with a desire to "endure to the end" that we may "have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:20).
A Book That Testifies That Jesus Is the Christ Most importantly, we declared that the Book of Mormon is a book that testifies that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. Great prophets throughout the Book of Mormon have borne solemn witness that Jesus Christ is the Creator of the earth (see Mosiah 3:8), the Redeemer of mankind (see Helaman 5:9-12), the Only Begotten of the Father (see 1 Nephi 11:18-21; Jacob 4:11). These Book of Mormon prophets knew Him, as Abraham and Moses did, and received and taught His everlasting gospel. As we read and study their words, we gain a deeper understanding of the Savior's matchless love, His perfect life and example, and the blessings of His great atoning sacrifice.
A Book That Authenticates the Prophetic Mission of Joseph Smith We then testified that the Book of Mormon is tangible evidence that Joseph Smith was chosen by the hand of the Lord to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth in these latter days. As stated in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, "Those who gain [a] divine witness from the Holy Spirit [of the divinity of the Book of Mormon] 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."
Ever since Samuel Smith set out to preach the gospel with a few first-edition copies, the Book of Mormon has blessed the lives of millions around the world. I pray that we will continue to use the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ to share the gospel message with family and friends. If we do this, as was the case with our dear friend, many will respond with great interest to know more about the life and mission of the Savior and His great plan of happiness for each of us.
I express my solemn witness that the Book of Mormon is true. It is a book that has brought about a mighty change in my life. I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. His gospel has been restored to the earth. President Thomas S. Monson is His prophet and living oracle at this time. The Spirit I feel as I daily read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon strengthens my understanding and testimony of these things and reaffirms to me that they are true. I humbly share this testimony and my personal witness with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.