One amazing benefit of going to High School in the Southern United States is that most of my friends devoutly attended church and believed in Jesus Christ. They believed the Holy Bible to be scripture, or the word of God given to prophets who wrote it down. I enjoyed associating with friends with strong Christian based values.
Sometimes when I told new friends that I was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently called the Mormon Church), some asked me why we had more scriptures than just the Bible.
A common verse of scripture from the Bible that Christian friends often shared with me to refute the Book of Mormon’s scriptural status was Revelation 22:18. The Apostle John wrote his apocalyptic vision of the world’s history and emphasized Jesus Christ’s role as mankind’s Savior and Redeemer. At the end of his book, he closes with the following warning, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.”
I had read the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture recorded by prophets on the American continent, several times before going to High School and knew that it was truly the word of God. But, I didn’t really know how to answer my friends’ questions about it. Throughout my life I had heard Church leaders encourage members to study scriptures and sincerely pray to God the Father to receive answers to questions, so I started studying that question.
I learned a couple of interesting things. Initially I noticed that John warned that man should not add to his book. He did not say God would not add to his book. Another thing I learned was that the book of Revelation itself was actually written about AD 95 before John’s other epistles written AD 96! The compilers of the Bible chose the layout of the book: the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles , and then John’s visionary Revelation. I discovered that not all scriptural texts available were included in the actual Bible. That taught me that John’s warning related specifically to his book of Revelation.
Later, while reading the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 4:2 jumped off the page at me! It said almost the same thing as Revelation 22:18. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” If I used the same logic for Deuteronomy 4:2 as purported for the verse in Revelation, then I would ignore all but the first four books of the Bible.
But, most importantly, I continued to receive the calm assurance from the Holy Ghost, who testifies of truth, that the Book of Mormon was the word of God! I received the spiritual confirmation from the Holy Ghost and the historical understanding I sought which answered my prayers and I knew I could share my beliefs with my friends.
Why Are More Scriptures Necessary?
Simply stated, Mormons “believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (9th Article of Faith).
I believe that God followed a perfect pattern to share His Gospel with all of His children. He called a righteous prophet, or spokesman, to declare His commandments and counsel to the people in the prophet’s vicinity. The prophet generally wrote down the word received from God. As people spread across the globe, they still needed God’s commandments and direction, so He called a prophet there to share His word with those people, too.
The importance of having a “current” prophet is evidenced even in the Bible. While God’s commandments do not change from age to age, God’s instructions to Adam did not warn Noah of the flood or counsel Moses how to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. It also does not teach us how to navigate in our current world of modern technology and social media. God promises that He will guide and direct His people. Because we can read the scriptural history preserved by prophets, we can learn from the mistakes of past nations, follow examples of those who chose to follow God’s commandments and learn to trust in God and His word.
I’ve thought of this in relation to my parent’s family. I am the oldest of eight children. My youngest sister was born 18 years after me. If my parents had decided to give the house rules and guidance to only me, expecting me to pass on the information to my siblings, then Dionna would have been out of luck, because I left home before her birth. And while the household rules remained consistent, each child needed parental guidance specific to his or her personality, weaknesses or strengths.
For me, the fact that God continues communication to mankind is evidence of His deep love for us.
I appreciate the Lord’s own words found in the Book of Mormon on His ability to speak to us.
2 Nephi 29:8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another…
And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
Does God Continue to Speak Today?
God speaks through a prophet today!
The reestablishment of The Church of Jesus Christ in modern times began by an event known to Latter-day Saints as The First Vision. After studying the tenets of religion and wanting to obey God’s commandment to be baptized, Joseph Smith, then a teenager, read James 1:5. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not.” Emboldened by God’s promise to answer his sincere prayer, Joseph knelt alone in a grove of trees to ask God which church he should join.
I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him! (SeeJoseph Smith-History 1:16-17.)
God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith! They told Joseph not to join any church, that the Gospel in its fulness was not found on the earth and needed to be restored. God’s subsequent commandments and directions to Joseph Smith and other Church leaders, are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. Mormons consider this book to be scripture as well.
Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet of God on the earth. He continues to share God’s counsel to mankind and does so generally twice a year in a world wide conference of The Church of Jesus Christ, as well as at other times through devotionals, Church magazines, and personally visiting the nations of the world.
I am so grateful for the scriptures! The stories of faith, hope, strength, weakness, struggle and triumph have increased my faith in Jesus Christ and trust in God. I know that God continues to speak to the world today through President Thomas S. Monson.
I invite you to receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon, read it and pray to know if it is the word of God!