My witness of the Book of Mormon
I can personally witness that the Book of Mormon is true. I know the Mormon church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – really is the restored church on the earth, established by divine authority. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God.
I will also bear you an incredible personal witness of an adversary whose very intent and purpose is to pull you down with him. He is the father of deceit, false witness, and lies. He fights to take away all that he can from his Father. He fights to take you, and he has no qualms in using any means necessary.
My witness of the Book of Mormon did not come easy. It wasn't until I started to look for real evidence, and started to look for real answers, that I received it. But when I did, it was unlike anything that I had ever imagined it would be. There was no doubt that it was an external force. The words that I have cannot express it. It was a feeling of peace and an assurance unlike anything I had ever experienced previously.
My witness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came separately and much more slowly. I gained my testimony of it through the teachings of Christ and comparing them to the teachings of the LDS church, and through diligent prayer.
My testimony of Joseph Smith followed. Never in modern times has a man been so falsely accused, smeared, and mocked as he has. Yet this is exactly what I would expect an adversary to do to one whose work he opposed.
My testimony started when I was young. I first had to learn for myself if there was a God. I then began a very long quest that peered into many beliefs and practices and theories in order to try and find what might be true. Out of all of those that I studied, I had never encountered a religion like the LDS church. I found more answers here than I found anywhere else. That didn't convince me that it was true, but it caused me to look further.
Is there a God?
When I look back on my life, I realize that my witness of a God came incredibly early on. However, having a great talent for rationalizing, I was not really convinced of it until much later.
It wasn't until recently that a friend of mine gave me an example that had happened to him that I realized how easily we could rationalize all sorts of miracles. His example, however, didn't have that luxury. He has given me permission to share it here.
He had packed up his family and was moving across the country. At one point they stopped for the night at a hotel. During the night, he had a dream that he was driving his family in their car. As they approached an overpass the car blew a tire and veered toward a support column. This woke him. He fell back to sleep, and again had the exact same dream. Again he awoke, and fell back to sleep. And again he had the dream.
After having the same dream three times that night, he was worried about continuing his journey. The first thing that he did in the morning was to check all four tires of his car, but didn't find anything wrong. So the decision was made to continue on, but every time that he drove under an overpass he held his steering wheel with a death grip. Sure enough, later in the day, as he approached an overpass, his front tire blew out and his car swerved toward one of the columns. He tells me that if he did not have that steering wheel in a death grip, he wouldn't have been able to maintain control of his car when the wheel blew and he probably would have hit that column at high speed, which would have resulted in severe injuries or worse.
He is not the only person to experience such an event. The magazine publication of the LDS church has many other stories similar to this one. These things can not happen without some type of intelligence that is aware of the details of our lives.
The nature of God
As I started to acknowledge the possibility of an intelligent creator, I started to wonder about the nature of this creator. I assumed that if He cared enough for us to give us such insight, than He must be a loving God. What would be the nature of a loving God?
We have all been taught different things from when we were children. All of our parents and leaders have different beliefs and different interpretations of scripture that they have, in turn, given to us. They received their beliefs from their elders, and so on. Instead of just relying on this, I wanted to understand for myself what the nature of God was. Being such a logical individual, I decided that I need to make a list of characteristics that a loving God should have. Now, I realize that I did not have the perspective that a God would have, and I did not have an understanding of God, but I felt it important to at least make some common sense ideals, even if they weren't going to be exactly right. Here are some of the things that made sense to me at the time:
- A loving God would provide a way for all His children to be saved, not just the ones who were in the right place and the right time and right religion.
- A loving God would not condemn innocent children who had died.
- A loving God would not separate me from my spouse or children that I loved after this life.
- A loving God would provide miracles and answer prayers for His children.
- A loving God would be present throughout the entire story of mankind in some way.
All of these things listed above are the things that I can remember from my teenage years that made logical sense to me when I was searching. I remember them now because all of these things also happen to be part of the core principles of the LDS faith. Strangely enough, I have found that many critics of the Mormon faith, for one reason or another, seem to want to tell people otherwise.
The nature of the devil
This led me to further reflection. If there was a God, was there also a devil? Although at the time I did not have a firm conclusion that there was one, I decided to make a list of the attributes one could find in the enemy of God.
If there was a devil that was fighting against God, it means that he would do everything in his power to try and sway people away from whatever truth may come from God.
- He would deceive people.
- If he couldn't spread flat out lies about God, he would distort whatever truth that he could.
- He would find ways to spread false information.
- He would falsely accuse those who helped build up the things of God.
- He would run smear campaigns and sling mud to undermine his opponent.
If there was a devil, you could expect the most dust being raised in the most deceptive ways around the things of God.
Ever since its inception, the beliefs and practices of the LDS church have been distorted, replaced and mocked. It never fails to surprise me what people believe about the LDS church. The same thing happened in the primitive Christian church to the point that the apostles were persecuted and killed, until Galerius, Constantine, and Licinius issued the edict of toleration and Constantine convened the council that would start to define the Nicene Creed.
Many antagonists intentionally spread false information about the Mormon faith. I have seen people masquerading as former Mormon Bishops and websites trying to pose as LDS sites, all attempting to spread false information about the Mormon church. Yet you would never know this unless you knew their actual beliefs. Just recently I watched a newscaster on TV do it in front of the whole world. This doesn't happen nearly as much with the Catholic faith, or the Jewish faith, but it is incredibly intense with the Mormon faith. Why is that?
I believe in logic
My belief in the LDS church started in a different manner than most. I value logic and am a natural born skeptic. I have a hard time believing someone when they tell me that it is raining unless I can see it for myself.
This means that if I was going to believe that there was a God, and He had some sort of plan, then that plan would have to make sense from start to finish. I started to look at Mormon beliefs in great detail. Mind you, I started to look at Mormon beliefs as taught by the Mormons, not the non-Mormons. It turns out that there is a big difference. I found that the doctrines and beliefs of the Mormons are incredibly complex and complimentary. There is a cohesion and symmetry in their belief system that is not found anywhere else.
When I examined different religions, I always asked, "If what they believe is true, would it all work well the way that they say it would from start to finish? Would the concepts mesh well together?" Every religion has questions that must be answered as, "We just don't have enough information right now," but the LDS doctrine has less of these answers than I have found in any other religion. Take for example the question, "Where did angels come from?" There are two predominant theories in most religions: They were either created separate from man, or they are what we become. Many religions do not have a definitive answer. However Mormonism does. They will tell you, "Here is what an angel is and why."
Mormon doctrine answers questions like: Where did God come from? What came before that? Where did we come from? Where are we going? Where do we go after that? Is faith and science compatible? How did the devil get angels too? What is the purpose of life? If life is a test, what are we being tested for? Why do we get baptized if God already knows our hearts? Why doesn't God do big miracles to prove his existence? Why does God let bad things happen? They had more answers for more questions than any other faith I examined. I also found that all of theses answers mesh well with one another in unison as if they were part of a larger tapestry.
I also believe in greater things
However, this was not enough to convince me to believe that it was true.
I started to look into historical evidences, similarities in ancient religions, and verifiable data as claimed in the Book of Mormon. I started to look into the history of the church, weighing matters according to the disposition of the author.
Then I started to hope. If what Mormonism taught about the afterlife was true, then that means there are great things in store for all of us. I get to be with my family forever. We get to continue to learn new things and progress. With one minor exception, even the worst of us would get to end up some place better than here when all is said and done. This makes complete sense if God loves all His children like the Bible claims.
When I started to hope that the LDS church was true was when I got my answer. The claim made by the Mormons, that you can know the truth for yourself, is true. It's the same claim found in the Bible. I know that it is true with every fiber of my being now, and I cannot go back.
I bear you a knowledge and witness that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of Christ on the earth, that the Book of Mormon is a real work of God and another testament of Jesus Christ, and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet who communed with God, just as prophets did in times of old.
I do not expect you to take my word for it. If you really want to know if it's true, then you can know. If you do not, then you will not. What you do with my witness is your responsibility.
This witness that I bear to you I do so in the name of Him who is most holy, even in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.