By Rachael C. McKinnon
I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I believe in Jesus Christ. There are so many wonderful passages from the Bible that teach us about His life and His teachings. But I am especially grateful for the Christ-centered focus of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Book of Mormon is filled with illuminating details that further illustrate and enhance the account of the Savior’s mission set forth in the Bible. In fact, the principle writer himself, the ancient prophet Mormon, details in the introduction that the purpose of the book is to “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations” (Title page, emphasis added).
The word nations is key, because the Book of Mormon teaches that after Christ’s life and sacrifice in Jerusalem, He appeared to several other groups of people and taught them the same principles He had instructed to his followers in the Holy Land. The Book of Mormon is the story of one of them.
Even in the earliest pages of the book, there is an active devotion to and anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. It begins with a small family, living at the time of King Zedekiah, who are told by revelation to flee Jerusalem before the infamous Babylonian siege. As they travel into the desert and eventually to the Americas, their writings are full of prophesy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nephi, the younger son, writes, “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).
The Book of Mormon goes on to detail the account of the descendants of this family. Nearly six hundred years are accounted for in the first three quarters of the book, culminating with the Savior’s appearance. Throughout the book, there is a constant cyclical theme of faithful worship, peace and prosperity blessed through Jesus Christ, followed by downfalls into pride, war, and misery because of unbelief.
Those who read the pages of the Book of Mormon realize that nearly every verse and recorded account speaks about Jesus Christ. The overall message within the text is drawing closer to the Lord. “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 32:20). The words are optimistic, full of hope and personal resolve to change for the better.
As a mother of young children, I have often opened my scriptures for inspiration to deal with questions and troubles. Jesus Christ’s plan and teachings apply to all of us, even parents like me. “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God” (Alma 37:37). Indeed, the various writers and prophets that speak through the Book of Mormon knew the power of Christ’s words. They exhort all to “feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
When I was sixteen, I was attending a party with my high school swim team. The movie that was agreed upon was one I knew my parents would not approve of, nor one that would be in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Trying to make the right decision, I quickly left the party and went home. The following day in school, I received several snide comments about how my leaving was rude and unfeeling. Several peers thought I was being overly sensitive and even ridiculous. Needless to say, I came home from school in tears. My father listened patiently on the couch as I poured out my frustrations. I was tired of my faith. I was tired of being ‘different’. I was sick of the restrictions and the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. When I had finished my tirade, my father was silent. He gathered me at his side and opened the Book of Mormon. In a soft voice he read, “And now, my sons,” at this point he looked pointedly at me and said it was equally meant for a daughter,
“…remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
Everything suddenly felt better and did get better after that talk with my dad.
The conclusion of the Book of Mormon is tragic. Nearly a thousand years had passed since the original family left Jerusalem and four hundred years had passed since Jesus Christ appeared to the people. Now nearly all of them have rejected the Savior’s teachings and fallen away from their religion. There have been tremendous wars and bloodshed between the two main opposing nations and Mormon’s own death is near at hand. He is preparing to deliver his records into the hands of his son, Moroni – the last surviving follower of Christ.
Mormon’s conclusion is surprisingly optimistic for a situation that is dire. He pleads with the loving compassion of a tender parent to all who would read his words to follow the Savior. He concludes, “Hearken unto the words of the Lord and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart and work out your own salvation…” (Mormon 9:27).
Rachael Carver McKinnon holds a BA in Humanities and an MBA from Brigham Young University. She currently lives in Draper, Utah with her husband, Greg. When she isn’t keeping up with one of her four children, she loves road biking and lap swimming.