The Bible and the Book of Mormon

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If you have taken a look to "Atonement" or great checkmate you are sure thinking that was the best move.
But that wasn't the only brilliant move on God's part. The second move where He out maneuvered Satan was in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. To fully appreciate this, we must again go back to the beginning.

In the beginning, the earth had only one land mass and one sea. It wasn't until the time of Peleg that the land was divided (see Genesis 10:25). This caused the American continent to be separated and kept apart from the people who lived in and around the Middle East. Do you think this was just by chance? I don't think it was. For me this one was another one of the great moves in God's game against the Devil, and as we study the allegory of the olive tree as found in book of Jacob we come to understand better why He did this.

As an aside, I feel certain that the apostle Paul knew about this prophetic allegory which was written by the prophet Zenos, otherwise it would have been impossible for him to quote the same principle. See for yourself: "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 0 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee. Behold
therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural  [branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?" (Romans 11:17-24)

There is no doubt in my mind he was quoting Zenos. There are those who claim that Joseph Smith merely copied Paul's word's into the book of Jacob when he made up the Book of Mormon, but anyone who seriously studies both sets of scriptures will easily see that Paul's writing is only a summation of what Zenos wrote, and not the other way around. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is the more complete record of the prophecy, while it is the Biblical account which is the copy of the original, which once more demonstrates that Joseph Smith didn't make up the Book of Mormon but that he was truly a prophet of God.

Having said that, let's get back to our main subject. What was God's purpose for keeping the two continents apart?

Going back to our analogy of chess, what makes someone a great player is their ability to foresee the moves of the other player. Of course God knows the end from the beginning, which makes Him one of the greatest players of the game. But if He knows the outcome before the game is even started, what kind of a problem can there be? The answer is: the apostasy!

Through the prophets, the Lord warned us many times there would be a great apostasy. In fact, in every dispensation there has always been an apostasy, but it was prophesied there would be a GREAT apostasy that would occur after the fullness of the gospel had been preached to every
nation. This was because of the roaring lion which Peter warned of. Remember we discussed that even though Satan, as a player in this deadly game, was defeated, still he stubbornly refused to give up and tried to kill as many people of God as he could.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the keystone of salvation, but it is based on accepting Christ as our personal Savior through baptism and the ordinances of the gospel. It's true that everyone will be resurrected because of the Atonement, and therefore, everyone will receive some form of
salvation whether they believe in Jesus or not. But to be exalted, which is the grand purpose of God's plan, means that we not only have to believe in Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, but we also have to follow Him and obey His commandments.

But how was Satan going to bring about this great apostasy? In 1 Nephi 13:24-29 we're told, "And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. 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. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things
were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest--because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God--because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them."

This is how the Devil was able to orchestrate the great apostasy or falling away from God's plan of exaltation. And, in hindsight, we can see that it was a brilliant move on Satan's part. Then what could God do to counter this move? Like any good chess player, God already had a plan to correct this situation long before the Devil carried out his plan. We read in 1 Nephi 13:32-34: "Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment. And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel--and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father--wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb--I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb."

It's clear that God knew what Satan would do long before Satan knew what he would do. Here is what the book of Mormon says about this topic in 1 Nephi 13:39-41: "And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophetsand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. 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. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth."

This prophecy is interesting because it states that those records which will come forth lastly SHALL ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF THE FIRST. Of  course, there is no doubt that the Bible is the first record. But why should there be a need to establish the truth of the Bible in the first place, unless it has lost something during the centuries?

Now we have two records. The first is the Bible, which was corrupted during the apostasy by false teachers and priests, and the second is the Book of Mormon that came forth uncorrupted in the last days, the purpose of "which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever-- And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations."

There are those who feel that the Bible itself has the same purpose, so they question the need for a second witness. That would be true IF the Bible wasn't corrupted. But there are those who cannot accept the idea that it was corrupted or that there has been an apostasy, or falling away from the truth. If that is true, then what about the words of Paul about the purpose of the church as recorded in Ephesians 4:12-13: "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

According to the Bible, the purpose of the Christ's church is to bring the saints into a unity of the faith. But look at the state of the Christian world today. There is no unity among them. Even among just the Protestant churches there are hundreds of different denominations. Granted, they all start from the same basic belief in the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of salvation by faith, but after this they are divided on hundreds of other issues.

Can we say with certainty that the church of Christ has achieved its goal? Not even the skeptics of Mormonism will agree to that. Therefore, it is clear to me that there needs to be something restored so that the true teachings of Christ can be taught in a way that achieves the unity of the faith spoken of by Paul. And, in fact, this restoration was prophesied by Peter in Acts 3:20-21: "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."

For me the most interesting part of this prophecy is where Peter states "SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN." This clearly means that from the beginning, when the world first began, it was foreseen by God and foretold by each and every prophet of God since then, that there would be a restitution of all things. But if someone doesn't believe that anything was lost, then how can there be a  restoration? So they are then left in a quandary. If they are right, then all the prophets of God are wrong, in which case, how can they claim to believe in the words of the Bible? They can't have it both ways.

But how could God counter the Devil's move to corrupt the scriptures? We're told in 2 Nephi 1:8 "And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance."
More than that, the scriptures which these people had would also be subjected to corruption by the same church that corrupted the Bible.

Therefore, God deliberately kept this land apart from the others for the sake of preserving an accurate record of His words which could be brought forth at a later time to restore that which was lost. This was explained in Jacob in 5:13-14: "And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure."

If Joseph Smith made up the Book of Mormon from his own imagination, and still was able to connect all these scriptures together, he would have to have been the most amazing man in all of history. I have spent all my life trying to understand everything in the Bible and Book of Mormon, sacrificing much in the way of time, effort, meditation, and prayer, and at my age I still couldn't do one tenth of what Joseph Smith accomplished with the Book of Mormon. More than that, I have the support of a computer and a large library of books on all the related topics while Joseph Smith had nothing! But if he translated the Book of Mormon through revelation from God, as he declared, then he is not an remarkable genius. Rather he is merely an inspired prophet of God.

In addition to the Book of Mormon, there is also the Doctrine and Covenants which restores the true understanding of the keys of the authority  necessary to perform all the ordinances related to our salvation and exaltation. In this way the Lord has deny to the Devil the power to further rob not only us but our kindred dead as well of the opportunity for exaltation.

Yet, even with all of this, Satan does not give up the fight. He places in the hearts of men the idea that "A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible" (2 Nephi 29:3), and he sows suspicion and doubt about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. But then God made another move.

No doubt you've heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are a collection of ancient scriptures discovered about 50 years ago and have become a matter of great debate among Biblical scholars. These books were hidden in the ground for thousands of years, just like the Book of Mormon. And, just like the Book of Mormon, I believe they were brought forth by the will of God to help dispel the great apostasy.

This discovery has been very unfortunate for the critics of the book of Mormon because now we have proof that the Bible had lost something. For  example, it has been the unanimous opinion of Biblical scholars that the book of Isaiah, as we have it, is complete and accurate. (They say pretty
much the same for most of the others books in the Bible.) However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls the scholars have found the book of Isaiah to be thirty percent longer than what is contained in our present-day Bible. In addition to the familiar books of the Bible, scholars have also found additional scriptures contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not in our Bible. If the Jews at that time considered these other writings sacred, why are they not in our Bible today?

As I wrote earlier, the game between God and Satan was over at the time of the atonement. Now we are playing to save ourselves, and God has given us the means to be protected. Our safety lies in following His commandments. I don't know why this is so hard for people to understand. If you go to a doctor for help with a medical problem and he prescribe medicine to help you fight off infection and disease, wouldn't it make sense to follow his instructions? And if you don't want to take his advice, then why did you go to the doctor in the first place?

The same is true of Christ. If you accept Him and don't follow His ways, then what's the sense in claiming to believe in Him? It was Jesus who said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46).

May each one of us be humble like a child, reaching out to take hold of our Father's hand to be lead by Him.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:47  

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