The Book of Mormon Restores Precious Truths
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Elder Merrill J. Bateman taught truths that were restored by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
- One of the most important doctrines the Book of Mormon makes clear is that the Lord has a plan of salvation.
“With the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, … essential truths were again available and clear.” —Elder Merrill J. Bateman, emeritus General Authority
“The coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the latter-days ... restores many plain and precious things that were taken from the gospel of the Lamb,” Elder Merrill J. Bateman, emeritus General Authority, said during the 44th annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium at Brigham Young University on October 23.
Experts and historians from the BYU Religious Education Department and Religious Studies Center, the Church History Department, and LDS Seminaries and Institutes of Religion shared insights during various sessions to this year’s theme, “The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.”
The symposium honors Brother Sperry, who dedicated much of his life to studying and teaching the gospel, including nearly four decades on the religious education staff at BYU.
“My favorite story about Brother Sperry occurred in about 1933,” said Elder Bateman. “It was in the middle of the Depression and the Church was hurting for money. … The First Presidency decided to … go back to New York and meet with some bankers to see if they could get some loans to cover some debts until they could get back on their feet again.”
As they met with the bankers, a review of assets revealed many institutions of learning owned by the Church. It seemed as if the only option Church leaders had was to get rid of some of the Church’s institutions of learning. At that time, Brother Sperry had only recently finished his schooling and had been with BYU a year or so. Although he could have chosen to go just about anywhere, Elder Bateman said, he wanted to be at BYU.
That night after hearing the news, Brother Sperry had a dream in which he saw a temple in Provo. To him, that was a sign that BYU would not leave the Church’s hands.
“So he came to the university the next day as the only one who was happy,” Elder Bateman said. “He did mention it to a few people, but basically didn’t say very much.”
More than three decades later, Brother Sperry was still teaching at BYU when the Church announced plans for a temple in Provo.
Elder Bateman continued his keynote address speaking about the Book of Mormon’s role in restoring plain and precious truths of the gospel that had been lost down through the generations.
“Without key doctrines, people failed to understand the Lord’s plan for His children on this earth, their spiritual heritage, their purpose of life, and their eternal potential,” Elder Bateman said.
Changes in doctrine by many sects and councils after the time of Christ and His Apostles—in addition to translations and retranslations of the Bible from the time of Christ—resulted in parts of the gospel being lost. With the lost covenants, doctrines, and principles, people found themselves stumbling and losing their way.
Recognizing two of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon—to bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and to bring forth “plain and precious truths”—Elder Bateman spoke of the important role the coming forth of the Book of Mormon had in the Restoration of the gospel.
“With the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, these essential truths were again available and clear,” he said.
One of the most important doctrines the Book of Mormon makes clear is that the Lord has a plan of salvation, that the plan has a framework and helps people understand why they are on earth and where they will go beyond the grave.
“The plan tells us how to live on this earth so that we will experience joy and happiness both here and hereafter,” he said. “It discusses the environment in which we live, the environment of opposites, and the actions we must take in order to achieve God’s purposes for us. The plan is outlined in the Book of Mormon and gives us direction and order to our lives and increases our understanding of life and the steps required to achieve eternal life.”
Although the Bible contains elements of the plan, it is missing important parts of the framework, resulting in confusion regarding necessary doctrines. The plan of salvation—known by many names in the Book of Mormon—is mentioned approximately 30 times in the Book of Mormon.
“The word ‘plan’ as it relates to the plan of salvation does not appear in the King James Bible,” Elder Bateman said. “There is no mention of a plan, and no phrase resembling the plan of salvation appears in any biblical translation.”
Important elements such as premortal beings with agency and an infinite and eternal Atonement are some of the doctrines described in the Book of Mormon.
Other important truths such as the nature of spirits made in the image of God, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the infinite and eternal Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of Christ—defining Christ’s role and man’s role in salvation and exaltation—have all been explained through the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
“The Bible talks about faith as a belief, but then it really doesn’t tie it to repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, which the Book of Mormon does,” he said. “In fact, the Book of Mormon then goes that extra step, and in Alma 32, Alma teaches us that it's not just a moment in time that one gains faith—even though Paul gained great faith with a vision on the road to Damascus—but that he knew faith is over a lifetime. …
“The Book of Mormon is like a box of jewels, with plain and precious truths for the fulness of times. Those truths that have been omitted from or are not clear in the Bible have been restored for these the last days to teach us how to worship and who we worship.”