To understand what the Book of Mormon is, let’s first discuss the Bible.
The word “Bible” is derived from the Greek word, ‘biblios’, meaning many books, or a collection of books. In its simplest form, the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with man through His holy prophets in the Old World, the focal point being the birth, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It follows many dispensations of rebirth, strength at following God’s word, and a general falling away. Each dispensation began with God calling a prophet to restore what had been preached previously, to lay the groundwork for the gospel to be established again, and to call the people to repentance. The despensational head prophets are very familiar to us; Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and others.
At some point, religious leaders compiled the writings (books) into one book, and the Bible was born.
In like manner, the Book of Mormon is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient people of the American Continent through prophets He called from among them.
Our loving Heavenly Father loves all of His children, and has sought to make his gospel known to many different people, not just those in Jerusalem.
While speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem, he referred to his “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)
The focal point of the Book of Mormon is the visit of Jesus Christ after his death and resurrection in Jerusalem. While there, he called 12 Disciples and gave them authority to baptize and organize His church. He also told them “that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (3rd Nephi 15:21) And also that “I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister, I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd;” (3rd Nephi 16:1,3)
Mormons believe that these other ‘sheep’ also wrote their experiences and recorded God’s dealings with them as well. At some future date, these records will be unveiled, giving more witness to God’s mercy and love for all His children.
The books of the Book of Mormon were compiled by the second-to-last prophet in their dispensation, named Mormon (hence the name: Book of Mormon).
Of the record, Mormon wrote that it was written: “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title Page to the Book of Mormon).
The difference between the Bible and the Book of Mormon comes in how each book was distributed.
The Bible was compiled and translated by men who believed it to be a true record of God’s dealings with man. We are eternally grateful to these men, who saw its value as God’s word, and protected, and saved it for future generations. We are also indebted to the visionary men who believed it should be shared with all men, not just the clergy.
The Book of Mormon, however, ends with the entire destruction of the righteous people. The last prophet, therefore, hid the record until the time would come when God wanted it to be brought to light.
That time occurred in the early 1800’s with a young man named Joseph Smith, whom God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ visited and called to restore what was lost–the same as with the other dispensational prophets from early days. Part of this ‘restoration’ involved revealing to the world God’s dealings with the early American inhabitants.
To accomplish this, the last Book of Mormon prophet, Moroni, was sent as an angel to reveal the location of the hidden record. Joseph Smith later received the record, written upon plates of gold, and translated it by the power of God, whereupon it was immediately distributed to the world through missionaries.
Since that time, many have learned about the Book of Mormon and later asked themselves, “This is fine and dandy, but how can I know if it is true?”
The answer is the same as for any knowledge; you can pray to know. Moroni (the last Book of Mormon prophet) gives this promise: “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 Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:4-5)
It really is as simple as that. I have read, studied, pondered and prayed to know of the truth of this record, and I bear witness that it is true. Not because someone told me, but because God told me through the Holy Ghost, who witnesses by “the fruit of the Spirit (which) is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
I know that if you will give place in your heart that this book may be true, and pray in faith, you too will know.
If you’d like to have a free copy of the Book of Mormon so you can learn for yourself, Click Here.
To learn more about the first prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith, Click Here.