The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems.
I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras.
No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death. The Book of Mormon is an affirmation of the Old Testament proverb: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
The God of heaven spoke to these people of the Americas through prophets, telling them where true security could be found: “Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12).
“For my part, Brothers and Sisters, I am glad the book will be with us ‘as long as the earth shall stand.’ I need and want additional time. For me, the Book of Mormon is like a vast mansion with gardens, towers, courtyards, and wings. My tour of it has never been completed. Some rooms I have yet to enter, and there are more felicitous fireplaces waiting to warm me. Even the rooms I have glimpsed contained further furnishings and rich detail yet to be savored. There are panels inlaid with incredible insights, and design and décor dating from eden. There are even sumptuous banquet tables painstakingly prepared by predecessors which await all of us. Yet we as church members sometimes behave like hurried tourists, scarcely venturing beyond the entry hall. May we come to feel as a whole people beckoned beyond the entry hall. May we go inside, far enough to hear clearly the whispered truths from those who have slumbered, which whisperings will awaken in us individually, a life of discipleship as never before.”
Enter a program of strict training. When training for a marathon, one has to have a strict training plan in order to be prepared to go the distance. This same concept applies to life. We are in the run of our life, and there must be a strict training plan. The success components of this plan include things we will do every single day, without fail, in order to invite the Spirit’s companionship into our life. They will be different for each of us but will always include daily prayer. Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and He will answer them. I testify that that is true. Our challenge is to be in a place where we can hear and recognize the answers.
Strict training will also include daily reading of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith said that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”16 The Book of Mormon will increase your faith in Jesus Christ, and it is through your faith that you will be able to withstand temptation. This record is for you and your generation. Reading just five minutes every single day will change your life. I know this is true because I have been doing it, and so have thousands of others. Think of the change in five years if every one of us would commit to do this even for just five minutes every single day.
"The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, through the instrumentality of a young man; not by a learned man, a man of letters, but by an unlettered, unsophisticated, innocent boy! And that unlettered, unsophisticated, innocent boy was no other than Joseph Smith. He had not the wisdom, the intelligence nor the skill of himself to translate into the English language the inscriptions upon the plates that were hid away by the ancient inhabitants of this continent. He never claimed that he did translate those ancient characters by his own wisdom. On the contrary, he maintained that he did it by the gift and power of God unto him." (Proceedings at the Dedication of the Joseph Smith Memorial Monument: At Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, December 23rd, 1905, 38-39.)
"We do not have to defend the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ will defend him for us. Those who reject Joseph Smith as a prophet and revelator are left to find some other explanation for the Book of Mormon.
"And for the second powerful defense: the Doctrine and Covenants, and a third: the Pearl of Great Price. Published in combination, these scriptures form an unshakable testament that Jesus is the Christ and a witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet."
"When you know that the Book of Mormon is true, you know that Joseph Smith was called by God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth. . . . You know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only name whereby you can receive salvation."
For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”
You do not expel evil from "the hearts of the children of men" by shooting them or blowing them up or torturing them—the Inquisition operated on that theory. Nor can "the powers of hell be shaken" by heavy artillery or nuclear warheads.
Not many years ago all of this Book of Mormon extravaganza belonged even for Latter-day Saints to the world of pure fantasy, of things that could never happen in the modern civilized world—total extermination of a nation was utterly unthinkable in those days. But suddenly even within the past few years a very ancient order of things has emerged at the forefront of world affairs; who would have thought it—the Holy War! the ultimate showdown of the Good Guys with God on their side versus the Godless Enemy. It is the creed of the Ayatollah, the Jihad, Dar-al-Islam versus Dar-al-Harb, the Roman ager pacatus versus the ager hosticus. On the one side Deus vult, on the Bi'smi-llah; it is a replay of the twelfth century, the only way the "good people" can be free, that is, safe, is to exterminate the "bad people" or, as Mr. Lee counsels, to lock them up before they do any mischief—that alone will preserve the freedom of "us good people."
I believe we need to speak of and believe in and bear testimony of the ministry of angels more than we sometimes do. They constitute one God's great methods of witnessing through the veil, and no document in all this world teaches that principle so clearly and so powerfully as does the Book of Mormon.