“Lost Truths Restored: Part III,” Tambuli, Oct. 1989, 9
In this three-part series, Gilbert W. Scharffs, a Latter-day Saint Institute of Religion instructor, lists what the Book of Mormon adds to our knowledge of the Savior. In the first article in the series (August 1989 issue), Brother Scharffs discussed the greater understanding the Book of Mormon provides of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice. In last month’s issue, he discussed such topics as the Lord’s love for all men; Jesus Christ as the source of real freedom; and the Savior’s pre-mortal form. In this concluding article, he reviews how the Book of Mormon clarifies the Savior’s ministry, explains continual revelation, and bears testimony of Jesus as the Christ.
17. The areas of the Savior’s earthly ministry included more than Palestine. Jesus’ dominion extends to the entire world. The New Testament verse in which Christ proclaims “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice” (John 10:16) is confusing to many. In America, the Savior stated, “Ye area they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold” (3 Ne. 15:21). Christ then said, “I have other sheep, which are not of this land,” which he would yet visit (3 Ne. 16:1).
18. The Book of Mormon teaches us more about baptism. Since baptism is for the remission of sins, some wonder why the Savior, who was without sin, had to be baptized. The gospel of Matthew says only that it was “to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Since our Lord is holy, why was he baptized? Nephi said that Jesus was baptized to witness his obedience to the Father and to show us what we must do to be saved (see 2 Ne. 31:5–9). The Book of Mormon also makes it clear that baptism was practiced long before the Savior’s mortal ministry (see Mosiah 18:14).
19. Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount receives some clarification in the Book of Mormon. The Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Bible is magnificent, but the account is unclear in some places. The Book of Mormon clarifies a few of those places. For example, Matthew 5:3 and 5:6 read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Third Nephi 12:3 and 12:6 add “who come unto me” to the phrase “poor in spirit” and “with the Holy Ghost” to the phrase, “they shall be filled.” [3 Ne. 12:3, 6]
20. Jesus Christ has an eternal priesthood that can be shared with man. In the four gospels, the concept of the Savior’s power and authority is not clearly associated with the idea of a priesthood like that which the priests and Levites possessed. The letter to the Hebrews discusses Jesus Christ as the “great high priest,” yet it barely touches upon his authority as the means whereby his disciples might govern the Church (see Heb. 4:14; Heb. 5:10).
In the Book of Mormon, Alma explains much more about the high priesthood. The Lord ordained priests to teach the people, and these priests were ordained after the order of the Son of God, so that the people “might know in what manner to look forward to [the] Son for redemption” (Alma 13:2). The High Priesthood existed from the foundation of the world, prepared from eternity for those worthy to receive it (see Alma 13:1–12). The Book of Mormon also states that Melchizedek had a father, clarifying Hebrews 7:3 [Heb. 7:3], which declares that he was without father and mother (see Alma 13:18.)
21. Christ is the source of continual revelation yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Most Christian sects believe that there is no revelation from Deity today as there was in biblical times. Mormon, however, was emphatic that revelation continues (see 3 Ne. 29:6). So was Moroni who wrote: “I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations. …
“He that denieth these things knoweth not the gospel of Christ.” (Morm. 9:7–8).
22. The Book of Mormon prophesies that the Savior would restore his church in our day. The Bible predicts the Restoration, but the Book of Mormon gives more details concerning the Lord’s work in the latter days. Lehi declared that “the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing them out of darkness unto light” (2 Ne. 3:5). Several prophets write that the Book of Mormon itself would be part of the Restoration. (See 2 Ne. 27; Ether 5).
23. Jesus declared that his church must bear his name. The Bible does not name Christ’s church. Today, hardly any of the titles of the Christian churches include the name Jesus, and the titles of only a few groups include the name Christ. The twelve disciples whom the Savior chose to lead his church in the Americas engaged in mighty prayer and fasting to learn what to call the church. The Savior answered “How be it my church save it be called in my name?” (3 Ne. 27:8).
24. The Messiah has not forgotten the Jews. I recall a Jewish professor, Harris Lenowitz, mentioning that the Latter-day Saints overall treat the Jews very kindly. He added, “But I’m worried. Mohammed treated us kindly at first. So did King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in the late 1400s. The same with Martin Luther two centuries later. But when the Jews wouldn’t convert, these leaders and their people turned against us. I’m worried that the same could happen again with the Mormons.”
Of course, we told him that such a thing would go against a fundamental principle of the Church: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may” (A of F 1:11).
We then discussed the promises in the Book of Mormon concerning the Jews. In 3 Nephi 29, Mormon talks about the House of Israel, the Jews in particular, when the Book of Mormon shall become available. The Lord will begin to fulfill his covenant with them concerning their restoration to their lands of inheritance (3 Ne. 29:1). He says that we “need not say that the Lord delays his coming unto the children of Israel (3 Ne. 29:2). Mormon teaches that “the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel” (3 Ne. 29:3). Mormon finishes by writing, “Ye need not any long hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel; for behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn” (3 Ne. 29:8).
As Latter-day Saints, we know that the Lord will do his own work among the Jews; we need not be too concerned about their conversion (see D&C 45:48–53).
25. The Book of Mormon is a latter-day witness that Jesus is the Christ. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1). The Bible emphatically testifies of Christ, and the Book of Mormon adds its persuasive testimony to that of the Bible. Every major prophet in the book of Mormon prophesied of the Savior and taught of him. The testimonies of three additional biblical prophets, unknown in today’s version of the Bible, are also recorded in the Book of Mormon (see 1 Ne. 19:10). The Book of Mormon records the Savior’s visit to the American continent and records his teachings there. The Savior himself explains the testimony of the Book of Mormon prophets concerning who he is:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
“And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Ne. 11:10–11).
How much would we really know about Jesus Christ without the Book of Mormon? Would we be “carried about with every wind of doctrine,” “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?” (see Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:7). In a great prayer, the Lord said to the Father, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Book of Mormon prophets and to Joseph Smith for letting us know Jesus Christ better, that we might have an opportunity for eternal life.