Lesson 5: What Is the Role of the Book of Mormon?
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“Lesson 5: What Is the Role of the Book of Mormon?” Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 5,” Missionary Preparation

5

What Is the Role of the Book of Mormon?

Introduction

The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ and proof of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It answers the “questions of the soul” (see Preach My Gospel, 107) that many of Heavenly Father’s children have about their lives. An essential part of conversion is receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. A prospective missionary should study the Book of Mormon daily, have a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon, and gain experience in sharing that testimony with others.

Advance Preparation

Suggestions for Teaching

The Book of Mormon Is Powerful Evidence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ

Invite students to look at their copies of the Book of Mormon, or hold up a copy for the class to examine. Then ask the following:

  • If you did not know anything about the Book of Mormon, what would you learn from simply reading the subtitle (Another Testament of Jesus Christ)?

  • What would you expect to find within the book?

Have students turn to the title page of the Book of Mormon and read the second paragraph, paying attention to what the Book of Mormon writers wanted to convince the world of. Then ask:

  • What did the Book of Mormon writers want to convince the world of?

Write the following on the board: A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ.

Have a student read aloud the section titled “The Book of Mormon Testifies of Christ” on page 105 in Preach My Gospel while the class follows along, looking for ways in which the Book of Mormon serves as a witness of Jesus Christ.

Then ask students:

  • In what ways does the Book of Mormon serve as a witness of Jesus Christ?

  • How has the Book of Mormon strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ?

Invite class members to share with another member of the class their personal testimonies of the Book of Mormon, their experiences reading and praying about it, or their favorite passages about the Savior and His mission. Tell students that one of the most important things they can do before entering the MTC is to read the Book of Mormon in its entirety and pray about its truthfulness. Encourage students to follow President Ezra Taft Benson’s advice to Church members to read 30 minutes a day from the Book of Mormon.

The Bible and Book of Mormon Support Each Other

Have students turn to page 106 in Preach My Gospel. Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from the section entitled “The Book of Mormon and the Bible Support Each Other.”

Then ask:

  • What are some of the ways in which the Book of Mormon and the Bible support each other?

  • Why should missionaries use both the Book of Mormon and the Bible as they help others to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ? (Student responses should reflect the following truth: The Book of Mormon and the Bible work together as witnesses of Jesus Christ and His teachings.)

To help the class understand this concept, ask a student to read aloud 2 Nephi 3:12. Have another student read aloud Ezekiel 37:15–17. Have the class watch for phrases that refer to the Bible and phrases that refer to the Book of Mormon. After reading these passages, ask the class:

  • How do these scriptures support the idea of two witnesses?

  • What blessings were promised as a result of the Book of Mormon and the Bible coming together?

To further illustrate how the Book of Mormon and the Bible together serve as witnesses of Jesus Christ, have a student read the following from Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy, or show the video clip of the quotation.

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Callister, Tad R

“Why is the Book of Mormon so essential if we already have the Bible to teach us about Jesus Christ? Have you ever wondered why there are so many Christian churches in the world today when they obtain their doctrines from essentially the same Bible? It is because they interpret the Bible differently. If they interpreted it the same, they would be the same church. This is not a condition the Lord desires, for the Apostle Paul declared that there is ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5). To help bring this oneness about, the Lord established a divine law of witnesses. Paul taught, ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Corinthians 13:1).

“The Bible is one witness of Jesus Christ; the Book of Mormon is another. Why is this second witness so crucial? The following illustration may help: How many straight lines can you draw through a single point on a piece of paper? The answer is infinite. For a moment, suppose that single point represents the Bible and that hundreds of those straight lines drawn through that point represent different interpretations of the Bible and that each of those interpretations represents a different church.

“What happens, however, if on that piece of paper there is a second point representing the Book of Mormon? How many straight lines could you draw between these two reference points: the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Only one. Only one interpretation of Christ’s doctrines survives the testimony of these two witnesses.

“Again and again the Book of Mormon acts as a confirming, clarifying, unifying witness of the doctrines taught in the Bible so that there is only ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’” (“The Book of Mormon—a Book from God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 75).

After showing the video or reading the quotation, ask:

  • What is the value of having two scriptural witnesses of Jesus Christ?

  • What do you learn from Elder Callister’s talk that could help you teach others about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible work together?

The Book of Mormon’s Role in the Gathering of Israel

To provide context as you teach the next principle, you might have students reread the second paragraph on the title page of the Book of Mormon and underline or highlight the promise that readers can “know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever.” Explain that this paragraph alludes to the fact that God’s children in the scattered house of Israel must be gathered. Remind students that God made covenants anciently with His children. However, the Lord scattered members of the house of Israel across the earth as a result of their unrighteousness and rebellion.

Assign students to read one of the following scripture passages and look for how God’s children are gathered: 1 Nephi 10:14; 3 Nephi 16:4–5; or 3 Nephi 20:13. Then ask questions like the following to help them identify the doctrine taught in these scripture passages:

  • According to these passages, what must happen for individuals to be gathered as part of the house of Israel? (They must be brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.)

  • What is the role of the Book of Mormon in this process? (Though students may use different words, they should identify the following truth: The Book of Mormon serves as a tool to help gather God’s children by helping them come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.)

Read the following statement, in which Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addresses the role of the Book of Mormon in the gathering of Israel.

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McConkie, Bruce R.

“As far as the gathering of Israel is concerned, the Book of Mormon is the most important book that ever has been or ever will be written. It is the book that gathers Israel and that reveals, in plainness and perfection, the doctrine of the gathering. … It is the Book of Mormon that causes people to believe the gospel and join the Church, and, as we have heretofore seen, it is the power that brings to pass the gathering of Israel” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 554).

Next, ask questions like the following:

  • How do missionaries participate in the gathering of the house of Israel? (By helping others study and understand the Book of Mormon so that they can come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, confirmation, and enduring to the end.)

  • Why is it vital that missionaries use the Book of Mormon as they help others to come unto Christ?

Receiving a Testimony of the Book of Mormon Is an Essential Part of Conversion

Have a student read aloud the following account from the autobiography of the Apostle Parley P. Pratt (1807–1857), in which he describes his experience of reading the Book of Mormon for the first time:

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Pratt, Parley P.

“I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.

“As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1874], 38).

  • How did the Spirit of the Lord affect Parley P. Pratt as he read the Book of Mormon?

  • Can you share a time when the Spirit touched you as you have read a particular Book of Mormon scripture or passage?

Invite students to underline or highlight the following sentence in Preach My Gospel, page 104: “The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit, is your most powerful resource in conversion.” To help students understand this truth, have them read the section “The Book of Mormon Draws People Nearer to God” on page 108 of Preach My Gospel. Then ask:

  • According to this section in Preach My Gospel, what are some of the specific things that can happen when a person begins studying the Book of Mormon?

  • Why is helping investigators study and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon one of a missionary’s most important objectives?

Explain to the class that they can help investigators feel the converting power of the Book of Mormon by helping investigators find answers to life’s most important questions within its pages. Have a few students take turns reading aloud the paragraphs and questions found on page 107 of Preach My Gospel. Ask the class to look for the meaning of the phrase “questions of the soul.” Then discuss the following:

  • What does the phrase “questions of the soul” mean to you?

On the board, write the following truth:

The teachings of the Book of Mormon answer the questions of the soul.

Discuss the following with students:

  • How would you use the Book of Mormon to find answers to your questions of the soul?

  • What questions of the soul have you found answers to in the Book of Mormon?

Consider giving a short demonstration to the class on how to use the Book of Mormon to find answers to questions of the soul. Select one of the questions in the list on page 107 in Preach My Gospel. Using the Book of Mormon passages listed with the question, demonstrate how the Book of Mormon answers the question you selected. Consider also demonstrating how to use the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, or Guide to the Scriptures to find answers to questions. Share your feelings with the class about how the Book of Mormon can also help them and their investigators to find answers to their questions.

After providing this model to students, invite them to follow the same process. Ask them to select one of the questions from the list and then review the accompanying passage in the Book of Mormon to find doctrines or principles that answer the question. After giving them sufficient time to prepare, invite students to briefly share what they found with another student. When they have finished, discuss the following:

  • How can missionaries use the Book of Mormon to help investigators find answers to the questions of the soul?

To further illustrate how the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul, show the video “A Book of Mormon Story.” Ask students to watch for how the Book of Mormon answered some of Brother Cook’s questions before he joined the Church.

After the video you might ask:

  • What were some of the important questions that were answered for Brother Cook when he read the Book of Mormon?

  • How did finding these answers affect him?

Invite students to consider an important gospel-related question that they or a friend desires an answer to. Testify that the Lord will help answer their question through their study of the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon Confirms the Truth of the Restoration

Invite students to take turns reading aloud the section in Preach My Gospel entitled “The Book of Mormon Is the Keystone of Our Religion,” starting on page 103 and continuing up to the table on page 104. As they read, ask them to reflect on Joseph Smith’s statement about the importance of the Book of Mormon. Then ask:

  • In what ways is the Book of Mormon the “foundation of testimony”?

  • Why do you think the adversary opposes the Book of Mormon and seeks to keep people from reading it? (Because it is the keystone of our religion.)

Explain that there are many people in the world who have difficulty believing the account of Joseph Smith and the origin of the Book of Mormon. Missionaries should be prepared to address investigators’ doubts about the Book of Mormon’s divine origin.

As a class, read together the section entitled “Use the Book of Mormon to Respond to Objections” found in Preach My Gospel, pages 108–9. Ask students to look for counsel that would help them to strengthen the faith of investigators who have concerns or doubts. Ask questions like the following to help students identify a principle found in their reading:

  • According to President Benson, why is it important for a person with concerns about our beliefs to know whether the Book of Mormon is true?

  • In what ways can the Book of Mormon help a person to resolve spiritual concerns and doubts?

To summarize principles that students identify, you might write this principle on the board: Receiving a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true can help investigators overcome spiritual concerns and doubts.

Display the following statement from President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), and have several students each read one or two paragraphs aloud:

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Hinckley, Gordon B.

“Each time we encourage others to read the Book of Mormon, we do them a favor. If they read it prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, they will know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the book is true.

“From that knowledge there will flow a conviction of the truth of many other things. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then God lives. …

“If the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is verily our Redeemer, the Savior of the world. The great purpose of its preservation and coming forth, according to its own statement, is ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.’ (Title page of the Book of Mormon.) …

“If the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, for he was the instrument in the hands of God in bringing to light this testimony of the divinity of our Lord. …

“If the Book of Mormon is true, the Church is true, for the same authority under which this sacred record came to light is present and manifest among us today. It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior in Palestine. It is a restoration of the Church set up by the Savior when he visited this continent as set forth in this sacred record” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, June 1988, 6).

Consider asking the following questions:

  • Why is it so important for investigators, missionaries, and members to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon?

  • How does the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon confirm that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God? (see Matthew 7:13–15).

  • How has your testimony of the Book of Mormon helped confirm to your heart the eternal importance of the Restoration?

Consider sharing your own testimony that the Book of Mormon is evidence of the truthfulness of the Restoration. Conclude your lesson by inviting a few students to share their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and to explain why they are excited to help others read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.

Invitations to Act

Remind prospective missionaries that the best way to prepare for a full-time mission is to begin doing missionary work now. Invite class members to set personal goals to do the following:

  • Read the entire Book of Mormon and pray to know of its truthfulness, even if they have already done so in the past.

  • Establish a habit of reading daily from the Book of Mormon.

  • Introduce someone to the Book of Mormon during the coming week (either in person or through social media) and invite them to read and pray about it.