“5 Ways You Can Tell the Book of Mormon Was Written for Our Day,” New Era, January 2018
You’ve probably heard people say that the Book of Mormon was written for our day. It’s a true statement. Prophets have declared it.1 The book itself says it.2 But what makes this book so well suited for this particular time in history?
There’s always been confusion in the world, but it’s a little different today. Not only are there lots of ideas floating around, but there are also many more ways to communicate them to more people. When bloggers and trolls talk religion, finding the truth can feel like listening for a melody while an orchestra’s instruments are all tuning up.
Fortunately for us, the Book of Mormon rings true. It teaches us in plain terms about our Heavenly Father’s plan and Jesus Christ’s role in that plan (see, for instance, 2 Nephi 2; 9; Mosiah 2–5; Alma 11–12; 34; 42). It teaches us very simply what the steps are on the path to eternal life (see, for instance, 2 Nephi 31). And it contains Jesus Christ’s teachings, in person, following His Resurrection (see 3 Nephi 11–28).
Prophets have never been all that popular, and that hasn’t really changed. People still question and criticize them and their teachings—they just have a multitude of communication platforms to do it on. There’s never been a time when it’s been more important to follow the prophet.
In one sense, the Book of Mormon is the story of what happens when people choose to be humble and follow the Lord’s prophets—or not—in good times or in bad.
Not following prophets
Led to safety
Examples: Lehi’s family; Jared’s people; Alma the Elder’s people
Supported in trials
Example: Alma the Elder’s people strengthened and comforted (see Mosiah 24:10–15)
Left to suffer for a time
Example: People of King Noah (see Mosiah 11:24)
Given knowledge from God
Example: People of Gideon given new teachings about Jesus Christ’s Atonement (see Alma 7)
Left to dwindle in unbelief
Example: Lamanites (see 2 Nephi 5:20)
Warned of coming dangers
Vulnerable to captivity or destruction
In addition, the Book of Mormon has many examples of how to react when people are making fun of or questioning your beliefs. For instance:
Don’t let ridicule get to you—“heed them not” (see 1 Nephi 8:33–34).
Bear testimony (see Jacob 7:12).
Counter false claims with the truth (see Alma 30:31–34).
Show that all kinds of evidence can support faith (see Alma 30:44).
Be steadfast and patient in heeding the prophets’ words (see 3 Nephi 1:8).
In our time, it is absolutely essential that we learn spiritual truths and gain a personal testimony. Those who will spiritually survive the last days are those who “are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide” (D&C 45:57).
Fortunately, the Book of Mormon is like a how-to guide on coming to know the truth for yourself. From Nephi to Moroni, we read how those with “desires to know” can study and “ponder” and “cry unto the Lord,” asking “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” and can have the truth “manifested unto [them] by [the] Holy Spirit,” because “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (1 Nephi 2:16–17; Moroni 10:3–5).
President Monson has said: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”3
The Book of Mormon gives us some of the greatest examples of how to share the gospel powerfully and effectively. For instance, the sons of Mosiah had the right motivation (see Mosiah 28:3), studied the scriptures and taught with power and authority (see Alma 17:2–3), loved and served the people, built on common beliefs, bore bold testimony at the opportune moment, worked hard, and followed the Spirit (see Alma 17–22).
This is the winding-up scene of the history of the world: the latter days. We’ve been told that part of the Church’s mission is to help prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It’s a tall task, but the Book of Mormon offers us some help.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “In the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming.” He said we could see this pattern if we study the “portion of the book [that] centers on the few decades just prior to Christ’s coming to America.”4
This portion of the Book of Mormon (Helaman through 3 Nephi 8), contains, for instance, a record of people rejecting prophets, leaving the faith, persecuting the faithful, and explaining away the fulfillment of signs and prophecies. It shows societal disruption, materialism, pride, and war. But it also contains a record of prophets’ warnings; prophecies and signs fulfilled; and people humbling themselves, repenting, following the prophets, and being blessed and protected.
As you study the Book of Mormon and compare it to your own life, you’ll doubtless find other evidence that it was written for our day. As the Spirit helps you see this truth more clearly, you’ll appreciate the book more and your testimony of it will grow. And who knows? You may want to go back and read it again.