“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalms 37:4).
I recently preached a sermon in Phoenix on the subject of being filled with desire and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. You might think it odd to bring the two subjects together, but I hope that once you have digested my thoughts you will be able to see that they do, and much more.
My curiosity got the better of me, so I searched the internet to see what other people had posted concerning their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. I came across a man named Greg Trimble who provided his testimony, which included an eleven point list of reasons why he believed that the Book of Mormon was of God. Greg’s title was, So…You Think The Book of Mormon is a Fraud (Greg notes that he is a Mormon, and you can find his blog post here.
I will list the points that Greg made and provide input as needed as an “Editor’s Note.” Then, at the end of the list of points I will put my thoughts together, focusing on the promise from God contained in the above-quoted scripture in the book of Psalms.
Greg starts out, “If you’re ever having doubts about the Restoration or about Joseph Smith, just read the Book of Mormon and ask yourself these 11 questions:”
1) Could an uneducated boy come up with 531 pages of ancient scripture on his own that was historically accurate and prophetic in nature?
Editor’s Note: Joseph Smith, Jr. was 24 years old when the Church of Christ was restored in April, 1830.
2) Would it be possible for that boy to understand and include ancient Hebrew literary writing styles such as idioms and Chiasmus, some of which weren’t even discovered until long after Joseph Smith was gone?
Editor’s Note: Chiasmus in the United States was not known until Nils W. Lund published articles on the subject; The Presence of Chiasmus in the Old Testament, American Journal for Semitic Languages 46, 1929-30.
3) How would Joseph Smith have been able to know so much about the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi and his family traveled? The book includes findings in that region that no one had discovered yet.
Editor’s Note: Bertram Thomas of Britain was the first European to cross the desert Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter) in 1930 to 1931. In 1928 he was also the first to describe his Omani experiences while serving as a wazir (minister) in the Sultan’s court. He said of the mountains of Dhufar, “What a glorious place! Mountains 3,000 feet high basking above a tropical ocean, their seaward slopes velvety with waving jungle, their roofs fragrant with yellow meadows…. A crowd of villagers came along with more milk. This is their staple diet with honey…. Two wide fig trees, as big and shady as good English walnuts, and bursting with apple- like fruit made inviting bivouacs.” (Bertram Thomas, Arabia Felix Across the Empty Quarter of Arabia, Charles Scribners & Sons, New York, 1932, pages 48-78).
Nephi’s description of the land we understand to be the land of Dhufar: In the record found in 1 Nephi 5:62-67 Nephi describes the same area Bertram Thomas saw, which was unknown to the Western world at the time the Book of Mormon came forth in 1830: “we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit, and also wild honey….”
4) How could Joseph Smith come up with roughly 200 new names in the Book of Mormon and then have them turn out to be Semitic in nature?
Editor’s Note: ref. Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, by John A. Tvedtnes.
5) If you think Joseph Smith couldn’t have written this book, then where did it come from? If one says the devil put him up to it then why would Satan want to publish another testament of Jesus Christ and a book that does nothing but promote righteousness? Jesus said that a house divided against itself would fall.
Editor’s Note: Matthew 12:24-30.
6) Who were the “other sheep” that would hear Jesus’ voice in John 10:16?
Editor’s Note: “And verily, I say unto you, that ye are they of which 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.…And verily, verily, I say unto you, 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” 3 Nephi 7:20, 24.
7) Why are there volumes of books written by non-LDS authors stating that Christ came and visited the Americas a couple thousand years ago, just like it says in 3rdNephi? (See Example, He Walked the Americas). How would Joseph Smith have known this when at the time no one even considered it?
Editor’s Note: L. Taylor Hansen, He Walked the Americas, Amherst Press, Amherst, Wisconsin, 1963.
8) If we have the stick of Judah (record of the Jews, or the Bible), then where is the stick of Joseph that is referenced in Ezekiel 37:15-20? The Book of Mormon is the only explanation for this scripture. Lehi was a descendant of Joseph. Think Joseph Smith could have gotten that right by sheer chance?
Editor’s Note: “And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph, which was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren” Alma 8:3.
9) How could there be so many witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the plates, and not one of them deny their testimony, even when some of them became bitter toward Joseph Smith? With so many people involved…a hoax of this magnitude could never go uncovered.
Editor’s Note: This is in reference to the testimonies of the 3 witnesses and also the 8 witnesses that are recorded in the front of the Book of Mormon. A prophecy was also recorded concerning the witnesses, as found in 2 Nephi 11:133: “Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein.”
10) How could the Book of Mormon never contradict itself while being an extremely complex book? After all these years…someone would have found something… but no?
Editor’s Note: To prove this statement, one must give the book a very lengthy and in-depth study, of which the detractors are not willing to give.
11) And the most important question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel while I read the Book of Mormon?”
Editor’s Note: “And 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, and 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.
I found that these eleven points were very good. They show that Greg had read the Book of Mormon, and that he had done what Moroni had exhorted all who would read the book to do “…that ye would ask God, the eternal Father,in the name of Christ, if these things are not true.” I also believe that according to the promise “…if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Greg received his answer that the Book of Mormon was truly of God and not of the man, Joseph Smith. I can add to that thought with my testimony that Moroni’s final conclusion is true: “and by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.”
However, Greg did not continue in Christ’s words, where he would understand that Jesus Christ did not teach that there is to be a President at the head of His church that would be above His chosen apostles (1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 2:20-22, 4:11-13; Moroni 2:1, 6:2; Mormon 4:80-82). Jesus Christ did not teach the concept of “baptism for the dead” (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 9:4; Acts 2:38-39; Alma 16:230; Moroni 8:11-29) or “eternal marriage” (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:4-9; Mark 12:23-25; Luke 20:33-35; 4 Nephi 1:12-13). The facts are that these supposed teachings of Jesus Christ are neither taught nor supported in the Bible or the Book of Mormon, except by condemnation of such practices.
Let me try to help clarify my point by first quoting the words of Christ found in John 8:31-32: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
These words that Jesus spoke provide a guide to all professed believers in Jesus Christ. A believer must continue to seek the complete truth contained in the words of Christ if he or she desires to become a true disciple. As a believer in Christ walks down that path, allowing the Holy Ghost to confirm all the words of Christ, they will come to understand and see the truth of what Jesus Christ taught in both records, the Bible and Book of Mormon.
There is a basic tenet that we, of the Church of Christ, endeavor to hold tight to and teach, which is: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” Hebrews 13:8. Therefore, if Jesus Christ does not change, Christ’s church today must have the same name, doctrine, structure, and practices as the church had when Christ built it.
There is a blessing that Jesus Christ spoke of in 3 Nephi 5:48-49, where Christ emphasizes, “more blessed are they which shall believe in your words” speaking of the record found in the Book of Mormon: “And again, more blessed are they which shall believe in your words, because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they which shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility, and be baptized; for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.”
There are two important points that need to be emphasized from the above-quoted words of Jesus Christ. The first, if we would allow ourselves to consider the testimonies of those found in the Book of Mormon to be true concerning Jesus Christ and what He taught we would be “more blessed.” The second, that through humility with a true desire to be a follower of Jesus Christ we would come to understand the need to be baptized in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the remission of our sins, thus becoming “more blessed.”
Before I begin to compare the testimonies of both books I want to quote from the Book of Mormon concerning its stated purpose as to why God brought it forth.
“And the angel spake unto me, saying, These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them;” (1 Nephi 3:192. To help bring clarity to the statement, “which have been taken away from them” I want to provide an example by comparing the following words of Jesus Christ; first from the Bible: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” Matthew 5:6.
Now, the same words of Christ as found recorded in the Book of Mormon: “And blessed are all they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost” 3 Nephi 5:53. You can quickly see that the Bible had not included the words, “with the Holy Ghost.”
One can read the Bible commentaries of Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, or John Gill where they dance all around the subject but never hit the mark. Jesus Christ provided us the example found in the Bible when He was baptized by John, by saying, “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:14-17). That if Christ who was “without spot” (1 Peter 1:19) had need to be baptized to fulfill the will of His Father in all things, “how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water” (2 Nephi 13:7-11).
The words that Jesus spoke, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, “for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,” provide a complete thought that included the promise to those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness,” that they could be filled with the Holy Ghost. This is what the angel was referring to when speaking to Nephi, “and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them.”
There are many more examples that I could rehearse, but I believe I have provided enough to, hopefully, spark the desire within you to continue in the words of Jesus Christ. I invite all who have an opportunity to read this article and have doubts concerning the Book of Mormon to try the experiment found in the book. May God bless you in your pursuit of the truth!
“Now I Moroni,… would exhort you that when ye shall read these things,… that you 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;” Moroni 10:1-10.