“Lesson 5 Teacher Material: The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 5 Teacher Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
Display a picture of Moroni burying the plates.
Ask students to describe what they know about what is happening in the picture. You might also ask what they think Moroni knew about the impact the record would have on future generations.
Invite students to read Mormon 8:12–16, looking for what Moroni taught about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
What did Moroni want to make clear about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon?
Display the following statement by Joseph Smith that he often repeated when asked about the Book of Mormon translation:
I did translate the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. (Joseph Smith, in James Palmer, Journal, 75, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; capitalization modernized)
Invite students to share what they discovered in the preparation material about how the Book of Mormon came forth “by the gift and power of God.” (If needed, encourage students to briefly review section 1 of the preparation material.) You could also invite them to ask any questions they might have from their study about the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Invite students to review what they learned from the statements by Joseph Smith and Elder Neal A. Maxwell at the end of section 1 of the preparation material. (You may want to invite a student to read these statements aloud.)
Why do you think we should be more concerned with the “substance of the book” than “with the process by which we received it”?
Ask students how many of them would like to see the gold plates for themselves and why.
Why do you think the Lord does not prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon by allowing the plates and other artifacts to be shown to the world?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 5:3, 6–7, looking for why Joseph did not show the plates to those who wanted proof. Have students explain what the verses teach.
Explain that this revelation was given to Joseph as a result of Martin Harris asking for a witness that Joseph had the gold plates. Martin was Joseph’s friend and had the financial ability to help publish the Book of Mormon once it was translated. Martin’s wife, Lucy, entered a complaint to the local magistrate, accusing Joseph of defrauding her husband and others for financial gain. In March 1829 Martin went to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to ask Joseph Smith for evidence of the plates’ existence.
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 5:11–15, looking for one way the Lord would establish the truth of the Book of Mormon record. Ask students to explain what they learn from these verses.
Explain that the Lord revealed that Martin Harris could be one of the Three Witnesses if he would “bow down” and “humble himself in mighty prayer and faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:24). Three months later Joseph invited Martin Harris to join Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in seeking the special witness the Lord had promised.
Display the picture of Joseph Smith and the Three Witnesses from the preparation material, and ask the class to recount what happened when these men prayed for a witness of the plates.
How did Joseph feel about the Three Witnesses seeing the plates? (If needed, have students review Lucy Mack Smith’s account in the preparation material.)
How is the testimony of the Three Witnesses strengthened by the fact that they never denied their witness, even when each of them was estranged from the Prophet and the Church?
Invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 5:15–16 and Moroni 10:3–5, looking for how all people can gain a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. As students explain what they learned from these scripture passages, help them identify a principle similar to the following: The Lord will manifest the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon through the Holy Ghost to all who seek a witness.
How does a witness from the Holy Ghost compare with physical evidence, like seeing the plates or having a complete knowledge of all of the details of the Book of Mormon translation?
Invite a student to read aloud the following story from Brother Tad R. Callister, former General Sunday School President:
One of my good and bright friends left the Church for a time. He recently wrote to me of his return: “Initially, I wanted the Book of Mormon to be proven to me historically, geographically, linguistically, and culturally. But when I changed my focus to what it teaches about the gospel of Jesus Christ and His saving mission, I began to gain a testimony of its truthfulness. One day while reading the Book of Mormon in my room, I paused, knelt down, and gave a heartfelt prayer and felt resoundingly that Heavenly Father whispered to my spirit that the Church and the Book of Mormon were definitely true. My three-and-a-half-year period of reinvestigating the Church led me back wholeheartedly and convincingly to its truthfulness.”
If one will take the time to humbly read and ponder the Book of Mormon, as did my friend, and give ear to the sweet fruits of the Spirit, then he or she will eventually receive the desired witness.
The Book of Mormon is one of God’s priceless gifts to us. (Tad R. Callister, “God’s Compelling Witness: The Book of Mormon,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 109)
What experiences have helped you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true? (Give students the opportunity to share what they wrote in their preparation material at the end of section 2.)
Conclude by sharing your testimony that, while we have not seen the gold plates, nor were we present when the Book of Mormon was translated, we can read and study the book and obtain a spiritual witness for ourselves that it is indeed God’s word.
Invite students to consider why critics of the Lord’s Church aggressively target the Book of Mormon. Encourage the class to study the preparation material for the next class, looking for how they might increase their ability to defend the Book of Mormon.