“Shouldn’t Moroni’s promise always work?” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 50–51
Daniel H. Ludlow, director of Church Correlation Review. To understand the promise found in Moroni 10:4, a person should read and ponder the verses immediately before and after. In the first edition of the Book of Mormon (1830), Moroni chapter 10 [Moro. 10] was all written as one paragraph.
Let us examine carefully and individually verses 1–5:
Verse 1: “Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.”
Although Moroni is addressing himself specifically to “the Lamanites,” these words, as well as all of the words in the Book of Mormon, apply also to the Jews and the Gentiles. (See title page.)
Verse 2: “And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.”
The words these records refer to the records upon which Moroni was then writing (the plates of Mormon), which were later received by Joseph Smith and translated as the Book of Mormon.
Verse 3: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.”
Too frequently this verse is not quoted in connection with verse four and, when quoted, is often misinterpreted. However, it is a key verse to understanding the full promise of Moroni 10:1–5. When analyzed thoroughly, this verse indicates that the honest seeker after truth must do two things:
1. Read the Book of Mormon. The words these things in verse three refer back to the words these records in verse two—the records from which our present Book of Mormon was translated.
2. “Ponder” the dealings of God with men as recorded in the Book of Mormon, and then compare them with the dealings of God with men as recorded in the Bible. Although the word Bible is not found in this verse, Moroni indicates that the person should “remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.” The Bible provides a story of the Creation and the history of events from that time forward. However, the account of the Creation and subsequent happenings are not contained in the Book of Mormon. In fact, Moroni had earlier acknowledged that the Book of Mormon would not include this information. In explaining his abridgement of the Book of Ether, Moroni wrote:
“And now I, Moroni … take mine account from the twenty and four plates which were found by the people of Limhi, which is called the Book of Ether.
“And as I suppose that the first part of this record, which speaks concerning the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower, and whatsoever things transpired among the children of men until that time, is had among the Jews—
“Therefore I do not write those things which transpired from the days of Adam until that time.” (Ether 1:1–4; italics added.)
Thus, if a sincere person hasn’t gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon after reading it, he should—as Moroni seems to suggest here—read the Bible as well, pondering in his heart both scriptural accounts of God’s dealings with his children.
Verse 4: “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, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Note that the word read is not even included in this verse; rather, the verb is receive. In other words, after the person has (1) read the Book of Mormon and (2) pondered the dealings of God with the peoples of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, he must then put himself in a frame of mind where he would be willing to “receive” or “accept” all these things. Then he must ask “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ.” Sincere pondering of the scriptures helps put a person in an appropriate frame of mind to ask for—and receive—divine guidance.
The things we should be in a position to receive (accept) may refer not only to the Book of Mormon, but also to everything mentioned in verses two and three. Similarly, the word it near the end of verse four (“he will manifest the truth of it unto you”) may refer to the process of God’s dealing with men, along with referring to the Book of Mormon itself. In either case, if a person receives “the truth of it,” he will believe in (accept) the Book of Mormon.
Verse 5: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
This verse indicates that the principles contained in the formula for learning truth as explained in verses one through four can also be applied to areas other than learning the truth of the Book of Mormon.
As to whether this promise is Moroni’s or the Lord’s, Doctrine and Covenants 68:4 reads [D&C 68:4]:
“And whatsoever they [the Lord’s chosen servants] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”
When Moroni “speaks” or writes by the power of the Holy Ghost, his writings represent the “will … mind … word … [and] voice of the Lord.” Thus it is appropriate to say this promise comes from the Lord through the writings of Moroni.
When a person follows this divine formula, the results are certain: He will gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. God cannot and does not lie, and his promises made through his prophets are sure. Therefore, any person who claims to have followed the various requirements but says he has not gained a testimony should check to see which step he has not followed faithfully or completely:
1. He should read and ponder the Book of Mormon—all of it.
2. He should remember the methods God has used in working with the peoples of both the Book of Mormon and the Bible—and ponder these things in his heart.
3. He should put himself in a frame of mind where he would be willing to accept (receive) all of “these things”—the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the way God works with men.
4. “With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” he should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ “if these things are not true.”
5. He should be able to recognize the promptings and feelings which will be evidences to him of the truth of “these things” (including the Book of Mormon) as they are made manifest unto him “by the power of the Holy Ghost.”