Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
See the article on Book of Mormon Central. Cover image via LDS.org.
Readers unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon are sometimes surprised to find how much, from the beginning to the end, the book is about Jesus Christ.1 It is an ancient record whose stated purpose is to convince all people “that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title Page). Moreover, its prophetic writings were commissioned by Jesus Christ Himself to teach His true doctrine and to testify of His reality, divinity, and saving messianic mission.
Jesus commanded: “Write these sayings” (3 Nephi 16:4); “give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you” (3 Nephi 23:4); “write the things which ye have seen and heard” (3 Nephi 27:23). The Book of Mormon is intently focused on Christ so that it can fulfill these specific commandments and this stated underlying purpose. It accomplishes all of this on several different levels. Consider the following three:
The Book of Mormon is a collection of ancient records created, compiled, and abridged by holy prophets.2 Rather than simply telling about the past experiences of their people, these inspired prophets always carefully selected and presented historical material in a way that would build faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For instance, concerning the general purpose of his record, the prophet Nephi explained: “I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred” (1 Nephi 19:6). On another occasion, Nephi declared, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).
Mormon, the book’s primary editor and compiler, similarly chose certain records because they contained “the prophecies of the coming of Christ” (Words of Mormon 1:4). Whether reporting on wars, famines, migrations, political turmoil, eras of peace, dissensions, religious conflicts, or any other topic, Mormon always helped readers to learn lessons from this information relevant to Christ’s true gospel.3
While the Book of Mormon is primarily a historical record, it is not just a collection of dry historical facts. Instead, along with its presentation of history, it tells stories about prophets and their ministries among the people. Much like the Bible, the events and details of these stories are filled with spiritual symbolism.4 For example, the story of Alma the Younger’s conversion typifies the spiritual process of being born again through the power of Christ’s Atonement.5
Other stories, such as the accounts of anti-Christs like Nehor and Korihor, demonstrate the terrible consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ.6
By the end of the book, readers are able to clearly see the contrast between those who follow Christ’s teachings and those who don’t. Individuals, families, and societies who forsake Christ, distort His teachings, or outright rebel against God repeatedly reap the rewards of spiritual confusion, sorrow, and destruction. On the other hand, those who follow Christ find peace and happiness, even in the most difficult of circumstances.7
Sermons And Teachings
Doctrinal discourses from various prophets are frequently interspersed throughout the Book of Mormon’s historical narratives. These teachings also often center on Jesus Christ and His Atonement. In many cases, it is clear that the inspired selection of historical content was meant to add context and meaning to these Christ-centered sermons.8 These discourses provide the intricacies that explain who Jesus Christ really is and what it means to have authentic faith in Him. They also establish the nuances of Christ’s true doctrine and clarify the nature and purpose of His commandments.
The Book of Mormon speaks volumes about Jesus Christ for many reasons. First and foremost, its early writers experienced dreams, visions, and revelations that taught them about the identity, character, and importance of Jesus Christ. They understood plain and precious things that were obscured or lost in the surviving biblical texts. These prophets knew the Lord by over seventy names and titles: Messiah, Redeemer, Holy One of Israel, Jehovah, Savior, Shepherd, Son, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord God Omnipotent, and many more.9 This power ultimately comes from Jesus Christ Himself, for Mormon taught that “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ” (Moroni 7:16).
With all these considerations in mind, it is little wonder that the Book of Mormon is all about Christ. It is only through Christ that we can be saved and exalted. It is only through Christ that we can be resurrected. It is only through Christ that we can have true peace and happiness in this world and in the world to come. His life and mission are central to God’s purposes for each and every one of His children. As we “drink deeply and often” from the pages of the Book of Mormon, we will more fully recognize and appreciate Christ’s central role in God’s plan.11 We will understand what we must do to follow Him. And we will find greater spiritual strength to do so.
Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, November 1999, online at lds.org.
Robert J. Matthews, “What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Jesus Christ” in The Keystone Scripture, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Volume 1, ed. Paul R. Cheesman (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988), 21–43.
Gilbert W. Scharffs, “Unique Insights on Christ from the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, 1988, 8–12, online at lds.org.