Context and General Information
- Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life and learning its interpretation.
- Nephi sees that the Bible came forth to the seed of his brethren through the Gentiles.
- Nephi then beholds other books that also helped to convince the Gentiles, the remnants of the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and the Jews that were scattered all over the face of the earth – that the Bible is true.
- The last records that Nephi saw (the Book of Mormon) will help to bring understanding and will establish truth to the first (the Bible). The Book of Mormon does not compete with the Bible, but it compliments it.
- There is one God and one Shepherd over the earth.
- The Lord will manifest Himself to the Jews and then the Gentiles. And then again He will manifest Himself first to the Gentiles and then the Jews. The first will be last and the last will be first.
Establishing truth. Its an interesting concept. Earlier in 1 Nephi 13, we read that the Gentiles have a “book” – the Bible – that they are carrying with them. Even though this book is good, and it originally contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we read that many of the plain and precious parts of this book were taken away. We read why in 1 Nephi:
“And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.” – 1 Nephi 13:27
The Lord always honors our agency – even when that means we do not so good things. He even honored the agency of those who would change His word. Of course, there will be a consequence of this action, but He did allow it to happen. That is because the Lord allows us to make our choices – good our bad.
Why is that? I’m not sure, and that’s not really the point of the post, but we can take some consolation in the following scripture:
“…thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” – 2 Nephi 2:2
Yes, the Lord allows us to experience trials. He allows evil people to hurt good people. He allowed evil people to change His word – the Bible. Of course He didn’t want that – but He honors our agency and allows us to make our decisions.
And sometimes, it could feel a little bit unfair to those who are hurt by the people who are exercising their agency in an evil way. Even though Heavenly Father honors agency – and allows bad things to happen to good people, we don’t need to fear. We can trust Him. He has offered a “fix.” He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain.
The Lord knew that there would be people who would exercise their agency in a way that was destructive to humankind for centuries. He knew that some power hungry people would choose to change His word, and that these changes would cause many to stumble. Though the Lord allowed this to happen, all hope isn’t lost.
The Lord inspired others, Nephi and his posterity, to keep records. Their record – the Book of Mormon – would establish truth. It doesn’t compete with the Bible, but helps to fill in some of the gaps that were deleted centuries before.
“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” – 1 Nephi 13:40
We are so blessed to live now, in these latter days! Even though there are plain and precious truths missing from the Bible, the Lord prepared a way for us to still have access to those truths. He prepared the Book of Mormon for us.
I’m not sure if you can tell by reading this, but I’m actually reticent to write a blog post about the way that the Bible has been changed over time. I don’t want to be misunderstood. I love the Bible. Some of my favorite scriptures are in the Bible. I know that it is the word of God, as long as it is translated correctly. And that’s the thing, though. There are so many translations and interpretations. There are so many disagreements. What are we supposed to think of all of this? Where is the truth?
Elder Callister in a conference talk stated:
“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.” – Tad R. Callister
The Lord, when He brought forth the Book of Mormon, established His truth. It is another witness, or the “second point” that can give us clarity on what is stated in the Bible.
The scripture in 1 Nephi says – the Book of Mormon will establish the truth of the first record (which is the Bible). So, if you love the Bible, then you will love the Book of Mormon – it testifies of the Bible. It stands next to the Bible as another witness of Christ and His gospel. It supports the Bible. I understand why, if I didn’t have the Book of Mormon, it would be easy to think that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of “stories.” But I have the Book of Mormon, it has helped to enlighten my mind about the doctrines laid out in the Bible. The Book of Mormon has strengthened my faith in Christ, and it has helped me to better understand the Bible and that it is truly the Word of God.
One final quote from Elder Callister:
“Would you like to have emblazoned on your soul an undeniable witness that the Savior descended beneath your sins and that there is no sin, no mortal plight outside the merciful reach of His Atonement—that for each of your struggles He has a remedy of superior healing power? Then read the Book of Mormon. …
Together with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is an indispensable witness of the doctrines of Christ and His divinity. Together with the Bible, it “teach[es] all men that they should do good” (2 Nephi 33:10). And together with the Bible, it brings us to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” That is why the Book of Mormon is so crucial in our lives.” – Tad R. Callister
I like to consider myself a truth-seeker. I’m always looking for knowledge. In fact, I probably listen to too many podcasts, read too many books, do too much online research. I’m just overwhelmed (in a good way) by the potential that we humans, children of God, have on this earth. There is so much to learn! And every time I find more truth in my life, I feel richer.
The blessing of seeking and finding truth has blessed me abundantly.
While there are many great ways to improve your life – there really are great podcasts, self-help books, etc that will help you to make your life better – these podcasts and self-help books cannot do what the Book of Mormon does.
The Book of Mormon testifies purely, simply, elegantly of the Savior. I have read the Book of Mormon. In fact, I have read it more times than I can even count. I share this because I want to say that I know it is true. I know that it is the word of God. There are a lot of things that I don’t know. There are a lot of things that the Lord is patiently teaching me.
But He doesn’t have to convince me about the Book of Mormon because I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it was written by Nephi, Jacob, and others – and that it was abridged by the hands of Mormon. I know that this book contains truths, principles, and illustrations that will bring us guidance and peace. The Book of Mormon testifies of Christ – His deliverance, His mercy, and His Atonement. It has brought me peace, enlightenment, guidance, and hope.
I know that the Lord will bless us with truth if we seek truth. In fact, the Lord implores us to come unto Him and receive truth. He created a way for each of us to have truth in our lives. Long before wicked and prideful people changed the Bible – deleting many of its plain and precious truths, the Lord prepared a way for us to have truth. We don’t have to stumble. We don’t need to be confused. The Book of Mormon offers a perspective that will give clarity to the Bible and establish its truth.