“Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Lesson 4: Sections 5, 17,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 7–8
“Lesson 4,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 7–8
The Lord established the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through witnesses.
The Lord has instituted the divine law of witnesses to assist his children in receiving the truth.
The Lord always sends his words through witnesses who testify of him and his word.
Two or more witnesses give a binding voice in the testimony of truth.
Through the testimony of witnesses the Lord establishes the truth of his work before his children.
Men are left without excuse and may either accept or reject the word of God.
Witnesses were called to bear testimony to the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith is a witness to the book’s truthfulness.
Three men were called to bear witness to the world that the Book of Mormon came by divine power
Eight men were also called to bear witness to the world that Joseph Smith had the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
The Savior bore witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
We have the opportunity to receive our own personal testimony through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true (see Moroni 10:4–5).
Sections 5, 17
Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.
2 Corinthians 13:1. How does the Lord establish the truthfulness of all his words?
Exodus 4:10–17. How was this principle followed in sending Aaron with Moses?
Matthew 18:15–16. How did the Lord apply this law?
1 John 5:7. The Lord requires two witnesses of men to establish the truth. How many does he provide?
D&C 6:28. How was this principle used in the Restoration?
2 Nephi 27:12, 14. What is the significance of this prophecy?
Gos. Doc, pp. 467–68. The Book of Mormon is a record with witnesses that are unimpeached.
DS, 1:203–28. A discussion of the law of witnesses.
DS, 3:227–32. Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.
George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, 2:251–55. What witnesses do we have of the Book of Mormon?
16-mm film, The Three Witnesses (28:00)
Why was it so important that witnesses were called to bear testimony of the Book of Mormon? (See Notes and Commentary for D&C 17:3–4 in the student manual.) Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet, described her son’s feelings immediately after the Three Witnesses saw the angel Moroni and the plates (see Notes and Commentary on D&C 17:4). You may wish to read this with the students and explore the reasons why the Prophet would feel that way.
A discussion could also be held on how the testimony of the Three Witnesses fulfilled the divine law of witnesses. Scriptures under the study sources for this lesson could be used, as well as President Joseph Fielding Smith’s explanation of the divine law of witnesses found in Doctrines of Salvation, 1:203–28 (see also 1 John 3:7). Students could be shown that the law of witnesses has at least two purposes: (1) it assists God’s children in understanding the truth, and (2) it causes man to become accountable in using his own agency to either accept or reject the truth.
The teacher might also wish to review with the class the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Of what did each bear testimony?
The class could be asked to identify the witnesses that testified that the Book of Mormon was true. These witnesses could be listed on the chalkboard as they are identified. They could include the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Three Witnesses, the Eight Witnesses, internal evidences, external evidences, consistency of history, testimonies of those who have read the Book of Mormon, and personal testimony received by the Holy Ghost.
Which of these is the most important witness? How does such a witness come?