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Gale’s Witness of the Book of Mormon

At the time of the Second Great Awakening in the United States in the early 1800’s, a number of groups of the religious gathered together with the overwhelming feeling that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was not found on the earth among the multitude of Christian denominations. These felt that a Protestant reformation was not enough to correct the errors of the orthodox Christian churches. Many of these people had experienced profound spiritual events that put them on the path of seeking a complete restoration of Christ’s primitive church. A few actual churches were formed, of which the Campbellite movement is an example. But many of these seekers became early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, casually nicknamed Mormonism by some. They recognized the Church of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of their searching and personal revelatory experiences. They recognized the “Mormon Church” as the full restoration they were seeking.

Book of MormonJoseph Smith, then a teenager, was not one of those who had an inkling that a complete restoration was needed. He fully intended to choose one of the Christian sects and was drawn to Methodism. That many in his family had converted to Presbyterianism is likely one of the reasons he went into the woods to pray about which church he should join. The fact that all the sects claimed the truth with the Bible as their foundation, yet disagreed on so many matters of doctrine, is the reason Joseph sought knowledge from God. He felt he could not resort to the Bible for a firm answer. His family was solidly Christian, and Joseph shared the general Christian belief in the Bible and in a trinity, in which God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost were manifestations of the same essence.

Joseph was completely taken off guard when he received a personal vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in answer to his prayer. He was also unprepared for the way people reviled him for claiming to see a vision, and especially for describing a visitation of two glorious, resurrected men — God the Father, and Jesus Christ — which put the lie to trinitarianism. Persecution began then and never ceased, until he was martyred.

In this vision, Christ told him not to join any of the churches, expressing a special distaste for the creeds that belied His nature and caused a great many sincere Christians to stumble. Jesus said He was about to restore His primitive church, with the power and authority to act in His name, and revelation through prophets to guide it, of which Joseph was the first. Shortly after this first vision, Joseph was visited by an angel, a resurrected man named Moroni, the last of the prophets to lead a fallen people that had once lived on the American continent. Moroni led Joseph to an ancient record and bid him to translate it through the power of God. It was the publication of The Book of Mormon that launched the restored Church of Jesus Christ.

Why did God choose to begin the Last Dispensation of Time (before the Second Coming) in this manner? Wouldn’t it have sufficed to use the Bible only? There are many reasons why the Book of Mormon was necessary for the re-establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, and why it needed to “hiss from the dust” in ushering in the Last Days. And why it needed to come forth before the work could commence.

The Book of Mormon is full of revelation from ancient prophets who lived in Old Testament times, and these prophets predicted very clearly the future coming of Christ. They understood the nature of the atonement and that salvation comes only through Christ. They understood the nature of the resurrection, which is barely touched upon in the biblical record. They prophesied of the coming Christ by name. (If the Old Testament record ever contained the name of the Savior, it was removed long ago.) The Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ. The Savior visited the Book of Mormon peoples after His resurrection. The account of His visit is marvelous, even more so than the New Testament account. The Book of Mormon adds its testimony to the Bible that Christ indeed was born to Mary, ministered in the Holy Land, was crucified and resurrected, brought us salvation, and is indeed, the very Son of God.

There is a very special spirit exuded by the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith called it the “most perfect book.” Mormons read the Bible and study it deeply. They also read and study the Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelation), but nothing can compare to the Book of Mormon as a spiritual feast. That spirit manifests to the sincere seeker that it is true and comes from God. This witness is available to anyone who reads it — every time he or she reads it. The Lord promises confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to anyone who reads it and seeks Him in prayer for that confirmation, nothing doubting. “Nothing doubting” means the person is willing to follow God’s will in light of this new knowledge — to act, not just to know.

If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also true.

I read the Book of Mormon as a fifteen year old searching for God. I knew The Church of Jesus Christ was true the second I first set foot in a Mormon chapel and received a strong spiritual witness of that fact. But the Mormon missionaries would not baptize me unless I read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it were true, for that would give me a sound spiritual anchor that would help me to endure to the end in faith. I love the Book of Mormon and testify that it is the “most perfect book.” In it is Christ.

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