These pages at the beginning of the Book of Mormon are awesome. They explain the contents of the book, its purposes, and give a brief history of how it was restored in our day through the boy prophet Joseph Smith. They are short and very worthwhile to read, especially if you’ve never read this book before. It gives you a little insight into the origins before you start your study.
I love this quote by Joseph Smith:
“…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.”
We can get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. That is a great promise. How do we abide by its precepts?
I looked up Abide in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here are some of its meanings:
- to bear patiently (Practice bearing patiently the things you learn from the Book of Mormon)
- to endure without yielding (Endure without yielding to the precepts that inspire you from this precious book)
- to wait for (Wait for the gospel truths taught in the Book of Mormon to come to pass)
- to accept without objection (Put aside doubt & fear to accept without objection the truths preserved in the Book of Mormon)
- to remain stable or fixed in a state (Be stable in what you learn from God as you read this book; don’t waver or be casual with God’s revelation)
- to conform to.(Conform to the teachings in the Book of Mormon that help us know and become like our Savior Jesus Christ)
Testimony of 3 witnesses
These three men were shown the Book of Mormon by the angel Moroni and they touched and handled the gold plates the record was written on. They said it was “marvelous in our eyes.”
It is marvelous to me as well. This testimony (sure witness) was given to Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer by “the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ…”. The same is true for us today. It is by grace that we have been given this great treasure to show us the way back to our Father in Heaven.
- How do I treat this treasure from God?
- Do I abide by its precepts?
- Do I cherish it?
Testimony of 8 witnesses
These men handled the plates through a cloth. They gave their “names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen.”
How can we put our names out to the world, to witness for Jesus Christ and this treasured book He has allowed to come forth in these latter days?
Each week at Church, we have the gift of renewing our baptismal covenants with God, and one of these covenants is that we take upon us the name of Christ. As members of Christ’s true Church on the earth, do we look forward to this weekly opportunity. Do we take this sacred bond seriously and take upon us the name of Christ in all we do (even when we’re driving!)?
Testimony of Joseph Smith
This whole account by Joseph Smith is beautiful to read. But one thing that stood out to me this time reading it was how he was commanded by God to be responsible for the plates and “that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.”
We can liken this to our testimonies, which are precious spiritual knowledge. If we let this treasure slip away through careless spiritual inaction or neglect (by not studying the Book of Mormon and words of living prophets, by not praying or serving our fellowmen), we cut ourselves off from the Spirit.
But if we use all our endeavors to preserve our testimonies through prayer, scripture study, repentance, reliance on the Holy Ghost, and faith in Jesus Christ, God will protect our spiritual core beliefs that can help us get through this wicked world in one piece.
Joseph said that “the most strenuous exertions were used to get them [the plates] from [him].” Satan will also use the most strenuous exertions to undermine and destroy our testimonies.
Joseph said “the persecution became more bitter and severe than before, and multitudes were on the alert continually to get them [the plates] from me if possible.”
Think of that in light of our testimonies of Christ, and how so many in the world lie in wait to steal it from us, if possible. The world mocks, hates, points the finger of scorn at our beliefs, tries to pull us down into the muck they’re standing in, and deceive or twist the truth. We must beware and guard our testimonies, because they are as precious as the plates were to Joseph back then.
After Moroni visits Joseph Smith a third time in his bedroom at night, he gives him a warning that Satan will try to tempt him to use the plates to get gain because of his poor circumstances. I think Satan is always trying to tempt good people to use good things for bad purposes. He might tempt us to use our Church calling to set ourselves above others or get popularity. He might encourage us to use our testimonies to get popular or set us up as judges of others who don’t seem as spiritual as us. He might whisper in our ears to use our abundance for our own pleasure, instead of helping others that are needy and poor in some way.
If Satan can twist the good in our lives to his purposes, he wins a vital battle.
Humility is the key to fighting him. As soon as we start patting ourselves on the back for a job well done or for how spiritual we are because we’ve studied and learned so much more than others…BAM! He’s got the first threads of captivity around us. And he never stops trying to wind the thread around us again and again until we are bound quite tight. So repent daily, as President Nelson has urged us to do. Come unto Christ–which the Book of Mormon helps us to do!!!