My Testimony of the Book of Mormon
To all who may find their way to this page, Greetings!
It is 21 January 2021, and I've just started to realize that I'm getting "up there" in age (I'll be 70 years old in October), and it seemed to me that I should write a bit about the Book of Mormon and record my testimony of it as the word of God.
In plain English, I will say that I know that it is true, to be of divine origin, and that it is what it says it is. I urge all to read it and pray about it. You can find it online here: The Book of Mormon Of course, it's also available in print and in other places in electronic format, from various sources.
I first became aware of the Book of Mormon around 1963ish, having received a copy in a box of books that my mom gave to me that she had collected from relatives. This came about because everyone knew that I loved to read, and I guess they were giving up their "cast offs". I was not particularly interested in the book at that time, but I took a moment to read the first page, which would have consisted of 1 Nephi 1:1-4. But I only first seriously read in it around 1965, after a young man, a classmate of mine, introduced it to me and told me about the stories in it, and invited me to visit with the missionaries at his house. When he first told me about the book on our first conversation, telling me the story of the Nephites and Lamanites, I immediately felt that what he was telling me was real. I took things slowly, however, and it wasn't until about a year later that I was baptized. This was in July 1966, and although I "believed" (there was something about the Book of Mormon that called out to me), I didn't acquire what I would call a "testimony" of the book until a few years later. I can't pinpoint "the" moment this happened. But I can identify the moment at which I discovered I already had a testimony of it, however.
This moment of discovery was during early 1972 when I was preparing to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It had occurred to me that it was important that I should finally read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, which I hadn't to that point ever done, oddly enough. I had probably read the vast majority of the book, in bits and pieces over time, but never first page to last. It was a matter of integrity: how could I, as a missionary, urge others to read the book, if I hadn't yet done so myself? So off I started. It was quickly done, and took about a week, reading for a few hours after dinner every evening. When I finished the last verse in the last book, the book of Moroni, I was ready, as the final step in my plan, to kneel down in prayer to ask God if the book was true. This was also according to my desire for integrity: how could I ask others to pray about it, when I hadn't done so myself? And so I knelt down over my bed.
And got nothing. I was a bit perplexed, but not too discouraged. Enos in the Book of Mormon had to pray all day before he got what he was seeking from the Lord. So a little persistence was in order! The next night before going to bed, I knelt again in prayer, and the night after that, too. But got no answer! I was now not only perplexed, but a bit annoyed. "Where's my revelation?" might have been the demand I had of God. And then it hit me: I already knew. In fact, I had known before I started reading the book that week. It struck me that my testimony had been delivered to me quietly years before, and had grown in me over time until there really wasn't any doubt about it. In asking God for a revelation of the book's truthfulness, I was asking for what I already had! No wonder the Lord was silent!
This came particularly to my attention when I recalled that while I was reading the book of Alma chapters 13 and 14, that Alma had preached a sermon in the city of Ammonihah about Christ's coming, and about repentance. And that while some of those who listened had believed, most did not. These unbelievers were incensed at Alma's teaching, and took him and his missionary companion, Amulek, prisoner. And later they sought out those who had believed Alma and Amulek's preaching, and burned many of them alive, forcing the two men to watch. And then there were these two verses, in Alma 14:10,11 --
10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
I recalled that when I had read Alma's words in verse 11, I broke down in tears over what had happened, both horrified at what was happening to those people, and amazed at the Lord in receiving them to Himself in glory. What happened to me at the moment I read this, although I didn't realize it until a few days later, was that I knew this and other events in the book had happened, for real, and that I had known it already for years. This knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon had been living in me for quite some time already. This may sound strange, but now I knew that I knew.
Yes, I had borne testimony of the Book of Mormon in Fast and Testimony meetings before this. And I did believe in it at those times. But now I knew that I knew, and I didn't just believe.
This testimony of the Book of Mormon has continued to grow in me to this day, and I witness this to all who should read this testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ.