BOOK OF MORMON - LESSON 1
Introduction To The Book of Mormon
"The Keystone of Our Religion"
A study of this lesson will help us understand how the Book of Mormon is
the keystone of our religion and how abiding by its precepts helps us draw
nearer to God.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.
Many witnesses have testified of the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon was written for our day.
The Book of Mormon can bring us nearer to God.
The Keystone Of Our Religion
On Sunday, November 28, 1841, the Prophet Joseph Smith had spent the day
in council with the Twelve at the home of Brigham Young. The Prophet
indicated that Joseph Fielding was also present, having recently returned
from his mission to England. Joseph Smith said of his teaching that
day, "I told the brethren that 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." (DHC, 4:461; also quoted in the Introduction to
the Book of Mormon, paragraph 6)
WHAT IS A KEYSTONE?
Dictionary definition: "1. the wedge-shaped piece at the summit of an
arch, regarded as holding the other pieces in place. 2. something
on which associated things depend; foundation: the keystone of one's philosophy."
(Random House Webster's College Dictionary 1996, p742)
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ARCH IF THE KEYSTONE CRUMBLES OR IS REMOVED?
WHY DO YOU THINK JOSEPH SMITH CALLED THE BOOK OF MORMON THE KEYSTONE OF
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Just as the
arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand
or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon." (Ensign,
Nov 1986, p6)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The Prophet's expression
that 'the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion' means precisely
what it says. The keystone is the central stone in the top of the
arch. If that stone is removed, then the arch crumbles, which, in
effect means that Mormonism so-called--which actually is the gospel of
Christ, restored anew in this day--stands or falls with the truth or falsity
of the Book of Mormon." (Conference Report, Apr 1961, pp39-40)
WHY DOES THE CHURCH "STAND OR FALL" WITH THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE BOOK OF
President Benson: "There are three ways
in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is
the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our
doctrine. It is the keystone of our testimony." (Ensign,
Nov 1986, p5)
HOW IS THE BOOK OF MORMON THE
"KEYSTONE IN OUR WITNESS OF CHRIST"?
WHAT ARE THE THREE PURPOSES OF THE BOOK OF MORMON?
Before sealing up the plates Moroni engraved a brief summary of the record
which has been included in the Book of Mormon as the title page.
He wrote that the three purposes of the book are:
As we thoughtfully and prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, we come to
further learn that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, cares about us.
We learn how he operates in the lives of people and how he blesses us for
obedience. The Book of Mormon has brought many to Christ, for it
is a powerful witness of him.
"...to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel
what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers"
"that they may know the covenants of the Lord,
that they are not cast off forever"
"And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile
that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all
I think one of the most difficult accusations we
deal with is the charge that we are not Christians, that we do not believe
in Christ. The Book of Mormon powerfully dispels that concept to
those who are willing to read it. As Moroni states, it was written
to convince "the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ." And
as Nephi declared so eloquently, "And we talk
of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ,
and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to
what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2
A few chapters later, Nephi summarized how it is that the Book of Mormon
is the keystone of our witness in Christ, how a belief in Christ and this
book are intricately tied together, "And now,
my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken
unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these
words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe
in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them
unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good" (2
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE BOOK OF MORMON ABOUT JESUS CHRIST?
HOW HAS THE BOOK OF MORMON STRENGTHENED YOUR TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST?
HOW IS THE BOOK OF MORMON THE
"KEYSTONE OF OUR DOCTRINE"?
HOW IS THE BOOK OF MORMON THE
"KEYSTONE OF OUR TESTIMONY"?
D&C 10:45-46: "Behold, there are many
things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon
my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you should translate this
first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work.
"And, behold, all the remainder
of this work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets,
yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth
unto this people."
President Benson: "the Lord Himself has
stated that the Book of Mormon contains the 'fulness of the gospel of Jesus
Christ' (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching,
every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon
we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation.
And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn
the ways of salvation and exaltation." (Ensign,
Nov 1986, p6)
HOW HAS THE BOOK OF MORMON INCREASED YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF IMPORTANT DOCTRINES?
Several years ago, I went with some friends on a visit to Temple Square.
We spend a lot of time in the Visitor's Center looking at the exhibits
and viewing some of the movies. One individual in the group was not
a member of the Church. She said to me on the drive home, "I like
a lot of things about your Church." She went on to list things like
the youth program, the welfare program, and Family Home Evening.
She then said, "This is all great, but I could not be a member of your
church because I cannot believe the Joseph Smith story."
Believing the Joseph Smith story is fundamental
to believing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed
the Lord's church. How does one come to believe that Joseph Smith
was indeed a prophet.
In the early months of my mission, I visited with
many devote Christians whose belief was a
powerful in their faith. Having grown up in central Utah, surrounded
by Mormons, I had never had such a challenge to my faith and testimony.
I entered a period of doubt. I even considered leaving my mission
and returning home. I became physically sick through this challenging
period. While laying in bed, I pondered all of this and determined
that I had to do exactly what I had been challenging the people to do,
to read the Book of Mormon and to prayerfully consider its validity.
I did just that and over a period of days and weeks, I came to know in
an unshakable way that the Book of Mormon is exactly what it purports to
be, a true witness of Jesus Christ and an account of the Lord's dealings
with his people on the American continent. Know that the book was
true, I then knew that Joseph Smith was indeed the Lord's prophet and that
the work of restoration and the subsequent organization of the Church was
true. Needless to say, I completed a successful mission because of
the powerful witness I gained of the Book of Mormon. The Book of
Mormon has continued to be the "keystone" of my testimony, for it was my
witness of that book that pulled me out of a period of spiritual darkness.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO GAIN A TESTIMONY OF THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE BOOK OF
Consider Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5.
Witnesses Of The Book Of Mormon
As Joseph Smith was translating the plates, he learned that he would not
have to be the lone witness of the plates.
WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE WITNESSES OF THE GOLD PLATES?
Ether 5:2-4: "And behold, ye may be privileged
that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth
"And unto three shall they
be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that
these things are true.
"And in the mouth of three
witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of three,
and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God and also
his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost bear record--and
all this shall stand as a testimony against the world at the last day."
WHAT OTHER WITNESSES VALIDATE THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Whenever the Lord has
established a dispensation by revealing his gospel and by conferring priesthood
and keys upon men, he has acted in accordance with the law of witnesses
which he himself ordained. This law is: 'In the mouth of two or three
witnesses shall every word be established.' (2 Cor. 13:1; Deut. 17:6; 19:15;
Matt. 18:15-16; John 8:12-29.)
"Never does one man stand
alone in establishing a new dispensation of revealed truth, or in carrying
the burden of such a message and warning to the world. In every dispensation,
from Adam to the present, two or more witnesses have always joined their
testimonies, thus leaving their hearts without excuse in the day of judgment
should the testimony be rejected" (Mormon Doctrine, p436).
See supplement, The
Most Correct of Any Book on Earth, a summary of evidences validating
the antiquity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Why Study The Book of Mormon?
26 Reasons for Studying the Book of Mormon.
President Benson listed 26 reasons for studying the Book of Mormon (The
Book of Mormon Is The Word of God, Covenant Recordings, Inc., © 1986):
Let us focus on a few of these reasons.
The Book of Mormon Was Written for Our Day.
It is the word of God.
A man can get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book.
It is addressed to us in our day.
To convince us that Jesus is the Christ.
It teaches us to come unto Christ and to abide by His gospel.
It exposes the enemies of Christ.
It confounds false doctrines.
It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies,
and doctrines of the devil in our day.
God expects us to read and study the Book of Mormon.
We are to use it as a basis for our teaching.
We are to liken the Book of Mormon scriptures to us, that it may be for
our profit and learning.
We use it to handle objections to the Church.
It is to be used as a standard for the Lord's people, the House of Israel.
It testifies that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
It is the great finder of the golden contact.
It is a great sieve - it does not teach things pleasing unto the world.
Our missionaries are more effective by using it.
It makes our homes and families stronger.
Social, ethical, cultural, and educational converts will not survive under
the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fullness of the
gospel, which the Book of Mormon contains.
Church classes cannot be spirit filled unless used as a standard.
Our nation will degenerate unless we heed the words and teachings of the
Book of Mormon.
To lift the church from condemnation.
Persuades and prepares men to go on missions.
Those who receive it in faith and work righteousness shall receive a crown
of eternal life.
Those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, it shall turn
to their own condemnation.
Provides spiritual and intellectual unity in one's life.
A Person Can Get Nearer to God.
Though the Book of is an ancient document, it was written and preserved
for the latter days.
2 Nephi 25:21: "Wherefore, for this cause
hath the Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall
be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to
generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed
should never perish as long as the earth should stand.
"Wherefore, these things
shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand;
and they shall go according to the will and pleasure of God; and the nations
who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which
2 Nephi 27:22: "Wherefore, when thou hast
read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses
which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again,
and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not
read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto
the children of men."
Mormon 8:34: "Behold,
the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that
which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth
"Behold, I speak unto you
as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath
shown you unto me, and I know your doing."
President Benson: "The
Book of Mormon...was written for our day. The Nephites never had
the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant
for us.... Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified
that he wrote for future generations.... If they saw our day and
chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that
how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask
ourselves, 'Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include
that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me
live in this day and age?'" (Ensign, Nov
In the Prophet's statement he said that "a
man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other
WHAT ARE PRECEPTS?
Commandments or principles.
HOW CAN THE PRECEPTS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON BRING
US NEARER TO GOD?
Consider the teachings by King Benjamin and Alma
on testimony and conversion (see Mosiah 4-5 and Alma 5).
Consequences of not studying the Book of Mormon.
D&C 84:54-58: "And
your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because
you have treated lightly the things you have received--
"Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole
church under condemnation.
"And this condemnation resteth upon the children
of Zion, even all.
"And they shall remain under this condemnation
until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon
and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but
to do according to that which I have written--
"That they may bring forth fruit meet for their
Father's kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be
poured out upon the children of Zion."
In the April 1986 General Conference President Benson
said that "We have felt that scourge and
Our salvation is absolutely dependent on knowing
that Book of Mormon is from God.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "These
are deep and solemn and ponderous matters. We need not think we can
trifle with sacred things and escape the wrath of a just God. Either
the Book of Mormon is true or it is false. There is no middle ground.
Either it came from God or it was spawned in the infernal realms.
It declares plainly that all men must accept it as pure scripture or they
will lose their souls. It is not and cannot simply be another treatise
on religion. It either came from heaven or from hell. And it
is time for all those who seek salvation to find out for themselves whether
it is of the Lord or of Lucifer." (CR,
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "It
seems to me that any member of this Church would never be satisfied until
he or she had read the Book of Mormon time and time again, and thoroughly
considered it so that he or she could bear witness that it is in very deed
a record with the inspiration of the Almighty upon it, and that its history
"...No member of this Church can stand approved
in the presence of God who has not seriously and carefully read the Book
of Mormon." (Conference Report, Oct 1961)
The Book of Mormon has power to create change.
President Marion G. Romney: "I
feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of
Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children,
the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who
dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect
and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention
will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love
and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the
counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith,
hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and
lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."
(Conference Report, Apr 1980)
President Benson: "It
is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed
does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony
of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something
more. There is a power in the book that will begin to flow into your
life the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find
greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid
deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow
path." (Ensign, Nov 1986, p7)
If you have thoughtfully and prayerfully studied this lesson,
you must stand convinced that an ongoing study of the Book of Mormon is
absolutely necessary. It has the power to change and strengthen lives.
Everyone of us need that. It is the "keystone" of our religion and
we need to make it the keystone of our testimonies. I would suggest
making two commitments for the year 2000:
In harmony with the Gospel Doctrine study course, read the entire Book
of Mormon. Do not end the year 2000 until you have read everything
from Nephi's description of "having been born of goodly parents" to Moroni's
great promise. Begin your daily study with prayer.
Commit to giving away a copy of the Book of Mormon. Commit to giving
away at least one copy. What if every member of the Church gave away
just one copy in 2000? We have the greatest message in the world.
Let's share it.
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