Why Does Moroni Ask: “If These Things Are Not True”?

Moroni’s Promise – Ensign Apr. 1994 gene-r-cook-10

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy explains:

The Book of Mormon offers a remarkable promise to those seeking knowledge of the truth. Over the years, I have heard members and missionaries offer a variety of explanations about its meaning. A close examination of the three key verses—Moroni 10:3–5 [Moro. 10:3–5]—will show us that their meaning is far more profound than many of us might have thought.

Verse 4 [Moro. 10:4] identifies yet another important principle: if we want an answer from God, we will move ourselves out of a neutral position and let our desire to believe that God can help us begin to work in us.

One way to understand verse 4 [Moro. 10:4] is to note that the scripture does not say we are to ask whether these things are true or not, but that we are to ask “if these things are not true.” What is the difference?

The Lord does not ask us to prove that the teachings we have read are true, or that they are not true. That is the kind of objective approach one might take in the academic, scientific world. However, that is not the best way we learn truth from the Lord.

The Lord offers us the opportunity to let him confirm truth already in our hearts. But in order to confirm religious truth, one must at least have the idea, or the thought, or the belief (however small) that he has found something true, and then pray to receive the Lord’s confirmation.

Verse 4 [Moro. 10:4], then, is the Lord’s invitation, through Moroni, to thus confirm truth. To ask “if these things are not true” implies a degree of acceptance that comes as a result of our pondering the teachings of the Book of Mormon that we have received. Notice again the importance of that very first step—remembering the mercy of God to us since the Creation—and then the next step, which is to similarly ponder and receive the teachings of the Book of Mormon.  Surely such pondering of these teachings will bring to mind their truth, their power, their goodness. Thus, it is now tantamount to praying, “Father, I believe that I have received truth. Please tell me if this is not so.” This kind of humble petition is motivated by our faith in Christ, by our faith that he will let us know whether our feelings are correct concerning the Book of Mormon or whether we have been deceived. Thus, our prayer, in essence, is a request for a confirmation of our own conclusions from our pondering. The Lord may not respond exactly how and when we expect, but still our obedience to these conditions qualifies us to receive an answer; this is the scope of the process described in these verses.

Moroni’s Promise

Remission of Sins Comes By The Holy Ghost, Not By Baptism

The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Member Should Know


Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

From an address given on June 24, 2003, at a seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah.


Joseph Smith said: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499).

To prepare people for baptism without teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost is like a sacrament meeting where only the bread is blessed and passed. They would receive but half.

When parents are teaching their children and when missionaries are teaching investigators, preparing them for baptism by water, they must also think of the gift of the Holy Ghost—baptism by fire. Think of it as one sentence. First comes the baptism of water and then the baptism of fire.

Someone may ask the missionaries, “How are things going?” or “Are you teaching anyone?”

The missionaries automatically answer, “Yes, we have a family preparing for baptism and confirmation, for receiving the Holy Ghost.”

Or a father and mother might say to a child, “When you are eight years old, you will be ready to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost.”

I repeat, to be baptized and to receive the Holy Ghost—link those two together.

Joseph Smith said, “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected” (History of the Church, 6:316).

Nephi explains clearly what happens after baptism and confirmation and the reception of the Holy Ghost: “Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water [which is a symbolic witness of repentance]; and then cometh [the promise of cleansing for] a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17).

We sometimes speak of baptism for the remission of sins. The remission, if you will read the scriptures carefully, comes through the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

Missionaries sometimes think they are only to do half the work; they are to teach and then baptize by water, and that concludes their work. In many cases the other half, the teaching about the baptism of fire, never really gets done. Put the two together so that you almost forbid yourself to say “baptism” without saying “confirmation”—that is baptism of the water and confirmation and the conferring of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Get that idea in your mind with those two fixed together so tightly that, as one, it becomes part of you. Then we will not have the first half done, as is often the case at present, and the other half left undone.

Missionaries—and parents as well—are to teach both halves: “Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins [and the] Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Articles of Faith 1:4). Make it one sentence. Fix it in the front of your minds so that when you say one, you say the other, and when you think one, you think the other. Then you will begin to feeland understand, and the promptings will come.

The Difference between Ask, Seek, Knock

One of the most quoted scriptures relating to prayer and revelation is the injunction from the Saviour found in Luke 11.9-10:

9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10 For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
There are many related versions of this process mentioned throughout ancient and modern scripture, but how often do we consider that to ask, to seek, and to knock are not synonyms, and that the Saviour did not intend simply to say the same thing three different ways.  Although repetition is a powerful teaching tool, most often there are different meanings entrenched at different levels in His teachings.
There is a difference between ‘ask’, ‘seek’, and ‘knock’.
To ask means to give expression to our desires and intentions, to externalize our needs.  This is accomplished by praying vocally about our needs.  What we receive will be the enlightening power of the Holy Ghost.  We will receive guidance from the Spirit.
To seek means to begin taking the steps that are necessary to reach our desired goal.  We now have the Spirit to guide us and so we should move in the direction that the Spirit dictates.
When we have reached the point where the Spirit says – ‘this is the place’ – when we recognize that the Spirit has guided us to the people or place we ought to be to achieve what we originally asked for, we must indeed knock!  We cannot stand at the threshold of the door and not knock, not open the door, not step through!  We are now at the point where we must take action as the Spirit directs and as the Lord expects.  Our goals will be achieved through a combination of our own efforts, the mind and will of the Lord, and other people in our lives.
Simply put – we must ask for the guidance of the Spirit to obtain a blessing from God; we must seek after it diligently; and when the opportunity presents itself due to our diligence and obedience, follow through and obtain it.
A very common application of this is in the mission field:
  1. Ask for the Spirit of the Lord to guide you in your daily activities and you will receive His Spirit as you carry out your missionary activities.
  2. Go out and seek the pure in heart wherever they may be, continually using the Spirit to guide your steps throughout the day, and you will find the missionary opportunities you seek.
  3. When the Spirit whispers ‘this is the place’ or ‘this is the person you should contact’,  He requires that you knock on that door, that you open your mouth, that you testify and invite all to come unto Christ, and the Lord will reward you for your efforts by opening that door, opening the mind and heart of those you reach out to.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.


These three elements are embedded in the word ASK itself – Ask, Seek, Knock.

A Witness of the Holy Ghost

Another early Ohio convert, Philo Dibble, who lived about five miles east of Kirtland, was told of a “golden Bible.” Curious, he sought out the missionaries and, after hearing Oliver Cowdery speak, believed and presented himself for baptism. His description of the spiritual power attending his reception of the Holy Ghost may be a clue to why so many early Saints found joy in the Restoration:

“When I came out of the water, I knew that I had been born of water and of the spirit, for my mind was illuminated with the Holy Ghost.

“. . . While in bed that night I felt what appeared to be a hand upon my left shoulder and a sensation like fibers of fire immediately enveloped my body. . . . I was enveloped in a heavenly influence, and could not sleep for joy.” 6

6. Philo Dibble, “Philo Dibble’s Narrative,” Early Scenes in Church History (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882), pp. 75–76.

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