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Relief Society Lesson Prep: #9 Witnesses of the Book of Mormon

Three Witnesses
Even though we have the witnesses of those who were called to be special witnesses of the Book of Mormon, in the end, it is our own witness that we have to rely on to get us through each day. We need to know what the special witnesses had to say about the Book of Mormon, and we need to know that they never recanted their testimonies, that they stuck to what they said to their dying breath. And just to be clear, they all stuck to their testimonies of the Book of Mormon to their dying day, even if they had left the Church. Nephite Witnesses We tell the world that the Book of Mormon is inspired and divine, but we sometimes forget that so is the Bible. Speaking of the Book of Mormon, President Smith said this:
It is the American volume of scripture, and is just as sacred and inspired as is the Bible, which contains the sacred records of the Hebrew race on the eastern hemisphere.
“Origin of the First Vision,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1920, 503; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 3:209.
When we speak with those in the Christian community at large, we need to remember that we also believe that the Bible is of divine origin, and is also the record of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, which includes the Jews. The Book of Mormon prophets all knew that the Nephites were going to be destroyed by the Lamanites. All the main prophets from Lehi on down were shown the future of their descendants. It was their pleading with the Lord to save the remnant of their descendants that prompted the promise from the Lord that a record of their people would be preserved to come forth in a future generation for the salvation of their posterity. The Lord even got the record started before the prophets started to ask for it. He had already instructed Lehi and Nephi to make records, which by Nephi’s own admission, he did not know the reasons for making them. The Nephite prophets knew that their record would come forth in a day when even the record of the Jews (the Bible) was in need of support because of unbelief. That is why the Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ. Those prophets wanted those of our generation to know that they knew of Christ and his mission, and that he had revealed the fulness of the gospel to them as well. Our Witnesses As part of our baptismal covenants we promise to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places. We each need to have our own testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel we preach. President Smith gave this statement of his own assurance of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon:
I am just as firmly convinced that this Book of Mormon from which I have read is the word of God and was revealed, as Joseph Smith declared it was revealed, as I am that I stand here looking into your faces.
In Conference Report, Oct. 1949, 89; see also Doctrines of Salvation, 3:231–32.
President Smith was very clear about our responsibility to get our own personal witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
… No member of this Church can stand approved in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon.
In Conference Report, Oct. 1961, 18.
This is a serious charge. If we want to be approved by God, we have to seriously and carefully read the Book of Mormon. The Lord expects it of us. One way we can know that the book is true is to see how it was written. It was written as events unfolded, not centuries after the fact. It was written by prophets who were instructed by the Spirit of God to write certain events, with the eternal understanding of the significance of these events shown to them so they could write in such a way as to benefit us most. The most important part of this pattern is that they did not write this record for the people of their own day. They wrote for us in our day, knowing that they would be in the grave many centuries before anyone of us ever saw their testimonies. They wrote to us with all the energy of their hearts in the hopes they could convince us to follow Christ and gain salvation through him. We were the people they wrote the book for, not their own people in their own day and time. Because we were going to be the ones to take this message to their posterity, they wrote their records to convince us of the truthfulness of what they were saying. The salvation of their descendants depended upon it. The more we read the Book of Mormon the more precious it will become to us. This is the sentiment about reading the Book of Mormon left to us by President Joseph Fielding Smith.
This record endears itself to me more and more day by day as I see unfolded the fulfillment of prophecies uttered by these prophets who now speak from the dead, and from the dust to the nations of the earth, crying unto them repentance, and calling upon them to believe in Christ.
In Conference Report, Apr. 1925, 73.

 
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