The Book of Mormon is subtitled “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” as a way of giving people a glimpse of the purpose of the Book of Mormon. It does not replace the Bible. Throughout the book, in fact, you’ll find the Bible referred to and testified of. Portions of the Old Testament are quoted in the Book of Mormon, and the people of the Book of Mormon were instructed by their own leaders to read what we now call the Bible, or at least, the parts that had been written up to the time they left Jerusalem (600 B.C.).
The book, as a story, is the story of a family. There is far more to it than that, of course, but let’s start there. The story begins with Lehi, a prophet in Jerusalem. He was preaching around 600 BC, the same time as the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. You might recall this was when God wanted the people warned that if they didn’t repent, their city would be destroyed, and they would be carried away captive. They didn’t want to repent, however, and they decided to kill Lehi. As we know, other prophets of the time faced similar persecution.
Lehi, following God’s instructions, left his comfortable life of wealth, taking with him only his family and those items essential for survival in the wilderness. Eventually, Lehi would send his sons back just long enough to invite another family to join them, and to provide spouses for Lehi’s grown children. They would also bring with them a man who would become a friend of their son, Nephi. They departed and began a journey of many years which would eventually lead them to the American continent.
Lehi and his wife Sariah had six sons, four when the story begins, and two more born in the wilderness. The first two turned away from the teachings of their parents and God, and became progressively more wicked and violent. The family grew rapidly. After the death of their parents, it became too dangerous for the righteous arm of the family to remain with the others. Nephi, the fourth son and now the prophet of these people, took his family and others who were righteous, and moved away from the two oldest brothers and their followers. Throughout the book, we see conflict between the two groups, and desperate efforts to bring the wicked portion of the family back to the gospel.
The prophets of the Book of Mormon knew of Christ. They had brought the scriptures with them across the ocean, probably a portion that was similar to what today constitutes the Torah, with some additional scriptures we no longer have. Their prophets saw the Savior in visions and taught the people to love Him and to look forward to His coming.
The most important part of the Book of Mormon concerns the Savior. The people of the Book of Mormon knew of his birth and they knew of his death, through their prophets and signs given to them from God. In John, chapter 10, we read:
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
The resurrected Savior visited the Book of Mormon peoples to bring them His word. He spoke to them three days after His death, and then He appeared to them a year after His ascension, teaching them, loving them, and helping them to establish their church in His name.
There are wonderful stories in the Book of Mormon. It can be read for pleasure just from this point of view. However, if this is the only way it’s ever read, the reader will lose so much. After exploring the wonders of the stories of courage, faith, and sacrifice, read it again to find out its true message for you from God.
To learn more, read The Book of Mormon. On this page, you can learn more about its teachings and request a free book of your own.