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

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Moroni’s Influence on the Church and on America, including Columbus and George Washington

The Angel Moroni

Elder Glen L. Rudd

Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional

March 11, 2003

“…Now let me tell you a little something, an interesting story, that some of you may not have heard. In the early days of the Church, Orson Hyde was called to be one of the original Twelve Apostles by the Prophet Joseph. He served under three presidents of the Church–the Prophet Joseph, Brigham Young, and John Taylor. He was one of the great Apostles of this dispensation of time. He gave a talk in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on July 4, 1854. That’s only seven years after they came into the valley. (Now, it’s not the Tabernacle we know now, but the one they originally built.) That talk was a patriotic talk about America. He called Moroni the “guardian angel of America.” He said, “That same angel of God that appeared to Joseph Smith presides over the destiny of the United States of America.” Elder Hyde said that he [Moroni] was in the camp with George Washington. He [Moroni] helped George Washington when he had trouble. He said that same angel was with Christopher Columbus and gave him deep impressions and dreams and visions respecting the new world. He said that same angel was with Columbus on the stormy deep. He guided his frail vessel to the desired haven, and he calmed the troubled elements.

Most people never think much about him; but Moroni is still active and busy and doing all those necessary things to help bring about the full restoration of the gospel. We honor Moroni. There are 14 Latter-day Saint hymns that we sing like, “The Morning Breaks,” that’s about Moroni; and “What Was Witnessed in the Heavens?”; “An Angel from on High”; “I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly”; and ten others. These beautiful hymns that we sing in the Church are all because of the angel Moroni.

Moroni had the great privilege, as he walked across this American Continent, of finding a place and designating the place where the St. George temple was to be built. He also designated where the Manti Temple was to be. And it’s been written that he designated Kirtland and Nauvoo and probably others. Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith 22 different times during the life of the Prophet Joseph that we know of.

Now, I want to tell you the names of some of the people that saw Moroni. We all know he talked to Joseph Smith who saw him. We know that Oliver Cowdery saw him as did David Whitmer and Martin Harris.

Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated from the Church and was out of the Church for ten years, and then he was rebaptized and brought back into the Church and had a strong testimony of the great vision, the great experience that he had with the angel Moroni where he had seen those plates. Oliver Cowdery incidentally died in the Church. He was hoping to come across the country out to the valley, but he got sick and died. He was only 43 years of age and one of the greatest men in the history of our Church.

David Whitmer, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, was also excommunicated. He lived until he was past 80 years of age. He never came back into the Church, but he never denied that he had seen the angel Moroni and had seen the plates.

Martin Harris was excommunicated, and was out of harmony with the Church but finally came out West. He was invited to speak in the Tabernacle. He was re-baptized into the Church and lived out his life in the northern part of the state of Utah.

Now, those four men saw him. But so did Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet Joseph, and Mary Whitmer. Mary Whitmer was the mother of David Whitmer and the four other Whitmers who were all witnesses of the Book of Mormon. It was in her home that the Brethren organized the Church; and while they were there holding the meetings of organization, she was doing the cooking and all the hard work for the men. She went out into the barn to milk a cow; and while she was out in that barn, Moroni appeared to her and showed her the plates and gave to her a testimony that she never forgot.

Moroni appeared to a man by the name of Luke Johnson. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a warm feeling toward Luke. I guess I like the name Johnson. I guess I like the name Luke. Anyway, he saw the angel Moroni. He handled the plates. He was one of the original Apostles, but he was excommunicated from the Church. However, he saw the error of his ways and came back and was rebaptized into the Church. Luke came out West with Brigham Young and the others and went down into the west part of Utah out south of Tooele, Utah. There he was ordained a bishop and served as a bishop in the Church. He had been one of the original Apostles and was a humble wonderful man and one who had seen Moroni.

Lucy Harris, the wife of Martin Harris, was a problem. If my wife wasn’t here, I’d say she was a pain in the rear end as far as the Brethren all went because she was constantly causing trouble to Joseph Smith. She wanted to see those plates so bad. She went out digging out in the field. And one day she was digging out there trying to find where the plates had been hidden and a big snake came up and scared her half to death, and she quit digging. For some reason I don’t know, she had some kind of a dream where Moroni bore his testimony to her.

The ninth man to see Moroni was a man named Zera Pulsipher. He was a minister of another church. He had a vision in his barn. While he was out in the barn one day, a light descended upon him in the middle of this barn, and he looked up and saw Moroni. And Moroni blessed his life and showed him the plates. He became a Seventy in the Church. He became a high priest and became a patriarch. He’s the man who converted and baptized Wilford Woodruff into the Church in 1833.

I tell you W. W. Phelps saw Moroni. He was cut off from the Church twice; but he kept coming back. He died in full fellowship. He wrote “Praise to the Man” and some of the other wonderful hymns that we sing.

John P. Green saw Moroni. He was a brother-in-law of Brigham Young, and he gave the book to Brigham Young. Rhoda Young, his wife, who was the sister of Brigham Young, also had the privilege of seeing Moroni.

John Taylor, who became one of the Apostles and later the President of the Church, as a young man had a vision. Long before he joined the church, he had a vision and he saw an angel of heaven holding a trumpet in his mouth sending a message out to the nations of the world. He didn’t understand what it was until he joined the Church, and then he understood the great mission of this man Moroni.

Oliver Granger was met by Moroni. Moroni actually knelt down and prayed with him and put his arm on the back of this man so the man could feel him as he talked with him.

Just before Heber C. Kimball died (Heber C. Kimball was one of the original Apostles who became a counselor to Brigham Young for many, many years), 21 years after they entered into the Salt Lake Valley, Heber C. Kimball had a visit from Moroni. Moroni explained to him that his work on earth was concluded and that he would soon die. I think if I remember right, it was just the night before he passed away.

Now, I have given you the names of sixteen people who had the privilege of seeing the angel Moroni. There’s one other; I can’t find the truth on this one, but I am positive in my own mind that Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother, also had a chance to see Moroni….”

* Most of the material used in preparing this talk has come from a book by H. Donl Peterson, Moroni – Ancient Prophet Modern Messenger. Some material is from the talks and writings of Elder Stirling W. Sill.

© 2003 Intellectual Reserve, Inc.  All rights reserved.

 

Children are Heirs to Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom

The following excerpts from an article written for The Ensign by Elder Bruce R. McConkie is the clearest statement on the salvation of little children that I have found.

Bruce R. McConkie, “The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign, Apr 1977, 3

Nowhere does the Easter message of resurrection ring so triumphant.

Among all the glorious gospel verities given of God to his people there is scarcely a doctrine so sweet, so soul satisfying, and so soul sanctifying, as the one which proclaims—Little children shall be saved. They are alive in Christ and shall have eternal life. For them the family unit will continue, and the fulness of exaltation is theirs. No blessing shall be withheld. They shall rise in immortal glory, grow to full maturity, and live forever in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom.

What is a child and who are children?

A child is an adult spirit in a newly born body, a body capable of growing and maturing according to the providences of Him whose spirit children we all are. Children are the sons and daughters of God. They lived and dwelt with him for ages and eons before their mortal birth. They are adults before birth; they are adults at death.

Are children tainted with original sin?

Absolutely not. There is no such thing as original sin as such is defined in the creeds of Christendom. Such a concept denies the efficacy of the atonement. Our revelation says: “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning”

Are all little children saved automatically in the celestial kingdom?

To this question the answer is a thunderous yes, which echoes and re-echoes from one end of heaven to the other. Jesus taught it to his disciples. Mormon said it over and over again. Many of the prophets have spoken about it, and it is implicit in the whole plan of salvation. If it were not so the redemption would not be infinite in its application. And so, as we would expect, Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Celestial Kingdom contains this statement: “And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (D&C 137:10)

Will they have eternal life?

Eternal life is life in the highest heaven of the celestial world; it is exaltation; it is the name of the kind of life God lives. It consists of a continuation of the family unit in eternity. Joseph Smith taught, “Children will be enthroned in the presence of God and the Lamb; … they will there enjoy the fulness of that light, glory, and intelligence, which is prepared in the celestial kingdom.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 200.).

Will children be married and live in the family unit?

Certainly. There can be no question about this. If they gain salvation, which is eternal life, which is exaltation, it means that they are married and live in the family unit.

Why do some children die and others live? Are those who die better off than those who remain in mortality?

President Joseph Fielding Smith once told me that we must assume that the Lord knows and arranges beforehand who shall be taken in infancy and who shall remain on earth to undergo whatever tests are needed in their cases. This accords with Joseph Smith’s statement: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings, pp. 196–97.)

Will children ever be tested?

Absolutely not!  “Satan cannot tempt little children in this life, nor in the spirit world, nor after their resurrection. Little children who die before reaching the years of accountability will not be tempted.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:56–57.) Such is the emphatic language of President Joseph Fielding Smith.

What is the age of accountability?

In our revelation the Lord says, “They cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” (D&C 29:47.) There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism. (D&C 68:27.)

What about the mentally deficient?

It is with them as it is with little children. They never arrive at the years of accountability and are considered as though they were little children.

When and with what stature will children be resurrected?

Because they will receive a celestial inheritance, they will come forth in the first resurrection, President Joseph F. Smith said: “Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: ‘You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.’

What, then, of this glorious doctrine concerning the salvation of children?

Truly it is one of the sweetest and most soul-satisfying doctrines of the gospel!

Mary Whitmer, the Twelfth Witness of the Book of Mormon

While the translation progressed, the gospel was being taught in Seneca County, and Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., were baptized in June for the remission of sins. Peter Whitmer’s three sons, David, John, and Peter, Jr., became devoted assistants in the work. Eager to learn of the Whitmers’ duties, Joseph sought the Lord, and a revelation was granted to each of them. Each was told to help in building the kingdom of God by declaring repentance (see D&C 14–16 ). All these activities were not easy on Peter and Mary Whitmer, who were hosting the Smiths and Oliver Cowdery in their home. Their son, David, said that this added burden greatly increased the anxiety of his mother. She did not complain, but she felt overwhelmed. David later related what happened one day as his mother went to the barn to milk the cows: “She was met out near the yard by the same old man [seen earlier by David] (judging by her description of him) who said to her: ‘You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil; it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.’ Thereupon he showed her the plates.” 15. “Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith,” pp. 772–73;

Moroni Helps Safeguard the Plates

…the first meeting between Joseph Smith and David Whitmer. As had happened with Oliver Cowdery, David and Joseph quickly became friends. Soon they were on their way to Fayette, some one hundred miles away. On this occasion Moroni took the plates to avoid danger while transporting them. Another unusual event occurred en route. It happened while they were riding along in the wagon. David Whitmer described the event:

“A very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, ‘good morning, it is very warm,’ at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, ‘No, I am going to Cumorah.’ This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around enquiringly of Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared. . . .

“. . . It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony.” 14[Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, 772]

The Three Nephites help David Whitmer

Shortly after beginning to assist Joseph Smith with the work of translation, Oliver wrote to David Whitmer in Fayette township. He enthusiastically testified that Joseph Smith had the ancient records and that the work was divine. Soon he sent a few lines of the translation and bore witness that he knew the plates contained a record of the people who once inhabited this continent. David Whitmer, then twenty-four years of age, eagerly showed these letters to his parents and brothers and sisters. Persecution began to intensify in the Harmony area, so late in May, Oliver communicated with David about the possibility of Joseph and Oliver going to stay with the Whitmers in Fayette. In response Peter Whitmer, Sr., David’s father, invited Joseph to stay at his farm home as long as was needed to finish the work of translation. David’s brother John offered to help as Joseph’s scribe. Many people in the Fayette area were anxious to hear more about the work. 10

David Whitmer
David Whitmer (1805–88) was one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. He died in Richmond, Missouri, at the age of eighty-four.

A late May planting was essential for successful fall crops; therefore, David Whitmer had to plow and prepare the soil before he could take his two-horse wagon to pick up Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. At the end of a day of plowing he found he had accomplished in one day what normally would have taken two days to do. David’s father was likewise impressed by this apparent miracle. Peter Whitmer, Sr., said, “There must be an overruling hand in this, and I think you would better go down to Pennsylvania as soon as your plaster of paris is sown.” 11 (Plaster of paris was used to reduce the acidity of the soil.) The next day David went to the fields to sow the plaster, but to his surprise he found the work had been done. His sister, who lived near the field, said that her children had called her to watch three strangers the day before spread the plaster with remarkable skill. She assumed they were men David had hired. 12[History of Joseph Smith 148-149]

Joseph Smith Sr.’s Vision of the Tree of Life

Joseph Smith’s father had a vision similar in many ways to Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life:

Later in 1811, Joseph, Sr., experienced a second profound dream that related to his family. It was much like Lehi’s dream of the tree of life. He found himself following a path to a beautiful fruit tree. As he began to eat the delicious fruit, he realized that he must bring his wife and family to the tree so they could enjoy it together. He went and brought them, and they began to eat. He reported that “We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.” 21