Moroni concluded his writings by discussing three important principles with his readers. The first focuses on the need to learn and have a witness of the truths found in this sacred record. The second is a charge to understand and acquire the spiritual gifts available to us. Finally, he pleads with each of us to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.
As you conclude this study of the Book of Mormon, look for these principles. Come to know for yourself the truthfulness of the book by following Moroni’s promise (see Moroni 10:3–5). Learn of the gifts of the Spirit and seek to develop those the Lord has given you. Finally, seek to show by your actions that you are striving daily to come unto Christ.
Remember what the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) declared: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (History of the Church, 4:461; Book of Mormon introduction).
Elder Gene R. Cook, while serving as a member of the Seventy, spoke of the importance of pondering God’s mercy as a means to achieving greater faith and humility:
“The last five words of [Moroni 10:3] offer an important admonition—‘ponder it in your hearts.’ What is the antecedent of ‘it’—the thing that we are to ponder? It is ‘how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.’ We are to remember how loving, how provident, how good, how forgiving our Heavenly Father has been toward us.
“What usually happens when we begin to ponder how merciful the Lord has been to mankind? To us personally? What happens when we count our blessings, or perhaps our sins for which we must ask his forgiveness, and recognize his hand in our individual lives? Is it not true that our hearts turn to the Lord in love and gratitude? Do our faith and humility increase? Yes, and that, in my judgment, is the impact of verse 3—following the counsel therein helps us to become more humble, more willing and ready to receive new information and knowledge with an open mind” (“Moroni’s Promise,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 12).
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared the process he went through to receive a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon:
“When I first read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover, I read the promise that if I ‘would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if [the things I had read were] true; and if [I would] ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he [would] manifest the truth of it unto [me], by the power of the Holy Ghost’ (Moroni 10:4). I tried to follow those instructions as I understood them.
“If I expected a glorious manifestation to come at once as an overpowering experience, it did not happen. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I began to believe. …
“I learned that anyone, anywhere, could read in the Book of Mormon and receive inspiration. …
“My experience has been that a testimony does not burst upon us suddenly. Rather, it grows. …
“Do not be disappointed if you have read and reread and yet have not received a powerful witness. You may be somewhat like the disciples spoken of in the Book of Mormon who were filled with the power of God in great glory ‘and they knew it not’ (3 Nephi 9:20).
“Do the best you can” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2005, 5–7; or Ensign, May 2005, 6–8).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered more insight into how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon by pondering a question while reading:
“There is another and simpler test that all who seek to know the truth might well take. It calls for us simply to read, ponder, and pray—all in the spirit of faith and with an open mind. To keep ourselves alert to the issues at hand—as we do read, ponder, and pray—we should ask ourselves a thousand times, ‘Could any man have written this book?’
“And it is absolutely guaranteed that sometime between the first and thousandth time this question is asked, every sincere and genuine truth seeker will come to know by the power of the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the mind and will and voice of the Lord to the whole world in our day” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 73–74).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) issued the following challenge and promise to readers of the Book of Mormon:
“I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon. …
“Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” (“A Testimony Vibrant and True,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on Moroni’s promise of having “real intent”: “Moroni did not promise a manifestation of the Holy Ghost to those who seek to know the truth of the Book of Mormon for hypothetical or academic reasons, even if they ‘ask with a sincere heart.’ The promise of Moroni is for those who are committed in their hearts to act upon the manifestation if it is received. Prayers based on any other reason have no promise because they are not made ‘with real intent’” (Pure in Heart , 19–20).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie described the purposes and reasons for obtaining spiritual gifts:
“[The purpose of spiritual gifts] is to enlighten, encourage, and edify the faithful so that they will inherit peace in this life and be guided toward eternal life in the world to come. Their presence is proof of the divinity of the Lord’s work; where they are not found, there the Church and kingdom of God is not. The promise is that they shall never be done away as long as the earth continues in its present state, except for unbelief (Moro. 10:19), but when the perfect day comes and the saints obtain exaltation, there will be no more need for them. As Paul expressed it, ‘When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ (1 Cor. 13.)
“Faithful persons are expected to seek the gifts of the Spirit with all their hearts. They are to ‘covet earnestly the best gifts’ (1 Cor. 12:31; D.&C. 46:8), to ‘desire spiritual gifts’ (1 Cor. 14:1), ‘to ask of God, who giveth liberally.’ (D.&C. 46:7; Matt. 7:7–8.) To some will be given one gift; to others, another; and ‘unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby.’ (D.&C. 46:29.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 314).
Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–94) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested additional gifts of the Spirit “that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.
“Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 23; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 20).
President Boyd K. Packer gave counsel concerning obtaining spiritual gifts:
“I must emphasize that the word ‘gift’ is of great significance, for a gift may not be demanded or it ceases to be a gift. It may only be accepted when proffered.
“Inasmuch as spiritual gifts are gifts, the conditions under which we may receive them are established by him who offers them to us. Spiritual gifts cannot be forced, for a gift is a gift. They cannot, I repeat, be forced, nor bought, nor ‘earned’ in the sense that we make some gesture in payment and expect them to automatically be delivered on our own terms.
“There are those who seek such gifts with such persistence that each act moves them further from them. And in that persistence and determination they place themselves in spiritual danger. Rather we are to live to be worthy of the gifts and they will come according to the will of the Lord.
“Brigham Young said something in his day that surely applies to ours:
“‘There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him His will, to guide his duties in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges.’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 32.)
“Spiritual gifts belong to the Church and their existence is one of the great and abiding testimonies of the truth of the gospel. They really are not optional with the Church. Moroni taught that if they were absent then ‘awful is the state of man.’ …
“We are to seek to be worthy to receive these gifts according to the way that the Lord has directed.
“Now, I say that again—we are to seek for spiritual gifts in the Lord’s way” (“Gifts of the Spirit” [unpublished remarks at a 16-stake fireside, Brigham Young University, Jan. 4, 1987], 5–6).
Elder Gene R. Cook discussed the strength of discovering and using the spiritual gifts given to each person: “One of the great processes you go through in life is to discover yourself, to find those gifts and capacities God has given you. He has given you great talents, the smallest part of which you have just begun to utilize. Trust the Lord to assist you in unlocking the door to those gifts. Some of us have created imaginary limits in our minds. There is literally a genius locked up inside each of us. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise” (“Trust in the Lord,” in Hope , 90–91).
Elder Parley P. Pratt (1807–57) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared several effects of having the gifts of the Spirit in our lives: “The gift of the Holy Spirit adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being” (Key to the Science of Theology , 61).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed the development of faith, hope, and charity as a step by step process:
“When we keep the Lord’s commandments, faith, hope, and charity abide with us. These virtues ‘distil upon [our] soul as the dews from heaven’ [D&C 121:45], and we prepare ourselves to stand with confidence before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ‘without blemish and without spot’ [1 Peter 1:19]. …
“These are the virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy characteristics we seek. We all are familiar with Paul’s teaching that ‘charity never faileth’ [1 Corinthians 13:8]. Certainly we need unfailing spiritual strength in our lives. Moroni recorded the revelation ‘that faith, hope and charity bringeth [us] unto [the Lord]—the fountain of all righteousness’ [Ether 12:28].
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restored Church of the Lord on the earth today, guides us to the Savior and helps us develop, nurture, and strengthen these divine attributes” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 32; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 26).
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) shared this insight regarding the need to do good to avoid despair: “In the Book of Mormon we read that ‘despair cometh because of iniquity.’ (Moro. 10:22.) ‘When I do good I feel good,’ said Abraham Lincoln, ‘and when I do bad I feel bad.’ Sin pulls a man down into despondency and despair. While a man may take some temporary pleasure in sin, the end result is unhappiness. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ (Alma 41:10.) Sin creates disharmony with God and is depressing to the spirit. Therefore, a man would do well to examine himself to see that he is in harmony with all of God’s laws. Every law kept brings a particular blessing. Every law broken brings a particular blight. Those who are heavy-laden with despair should come unto the Lord, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. (See Matt. 11:28–30.)” (“Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986, 2).
Several prophets felt impressed to testify to the readers of the Book of Mormon that they will see us on Judgment Day, when the Lord will witness to us of the truthfulness of their words. Others in the Book of Mormon who have made similar comments include Nephi (see 2 Nephi 33:10–14), Jacob (see Jacob 6:12–13), and Mormon (see Mormon 3:20–22).
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder William R. Bradford described why we should follow Moroni’s closing counsel:
“There is great joy and happiness in striving to live righteously. In simple terms, the plan of God for His children is that they come to this earth and do all that they can to learn and live in obedience to laws. Then, after all they can do, the redeeming work of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is sufficient to do all that they could not do for themselves. …
“Striving to live righteously is attempting to do all that we can in obedience. With this comes the inner peace and comfort that in doing all we can, the plan of God will be accomplished in our behalf. No other feeling in the soul of man can bring the joy and happiness than that of knowing you are doing all you can to become righteous” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 110; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 85–86).
At the conclusion of general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley referred to our need to come unto the Savior by living in such a way as to bless others: “I pray that what you have heard and seen may make a difference in your lives. I pray that each of us will be a little more kind, a little more thoughtful, a little more courteous. I pray that we will keep our tongues in check and not let anger prompt words which we would later regret. I pray that we may have the strength and the will to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile in lifting up the feeble knees of those in distress” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 109; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 103).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that good works must be accompanied by the grace of Christ: “It is only through the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ that people can overcome the consequences of bad choices. … No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it would not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. On our own we cannot earn the kingdom of God—no matter what we do. Unfortunately, there are some within the Church who have become so preoccupied with performing good works that they forget that those works—as good as they may be—are hollow unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Christ” (“Building Bridges of Understanding,” Ensign, June 1998, 65).
On the title page of the Book of Mormon it states that one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to convince “Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” As a concluding witness of this focus, consider the following fact: Of the 6,607 total verses found in the Book of Mormon, 3,925 reference Jesus Christ’s name. This means that some form of Christ’s name is mentioned approximately every 1.7 verses (see Susan Ward Easton, “Names of Christ in the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, July 1978, 60–61).
Which gifts of the Spirit do you feel you most need at this time in your life? What can you do to develop or receive these gifts promised by your Heavenly Father?
In what ways has reading the Book of Mormon brought you “nearer to God”? (Book of Mormon introduction). List some of the passages that have been most meaningful to you.
What is the relationship between the grace of Christ and our goal of perfection?
Set a time and a schedule to study the Book of Mormon each day either topically or sequentially.
Reread your patriarchal blessing. Then visit with those who know you best, such as your family, and identify the spiritual gifts they can see Heavenly Father has given you. Make plans on how to develop those and other gifts you desire. (Note: Your patriarchal blessing is personal and sacred and is typically not shared with friends.)