“Do You Really Want the Rest of the Book of Mormon?”
By W. Cleon Skousen
Published by Ensign Publishing Co., © 2000 W. Cleon Skousen
Have you ever wondered what was in the part of the Book of Mormon which Moroni was not allowed to include in the gold plates? Does it bother you that the Church was invited to become worthy to receive the rest of the Book of Mormon 168 years ago but it still hasn’t happened?
Is this because we haven’t asked?
We know that many parts of the Lord’s most precious scriptures are among those we have not yet received. For example, as Moroni came toward the end of his writings, he was just about to include a whole treasure of teachings which Jesus gave to his disciples at the end of his ministry to the Nephites.
But it never happened. Moroni says:
Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi [the large plates], but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will [first] try the faith of my people. (3 Nephi 26:11)
As a result of this restriction we only have the “lesser part” of the Book of Mormon. The prophet Mormon does not hesitate telling us how many “greater things” we are missing. He says:
But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he [Jesus] taught the people.
And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people; and I have written them to the intent that they may be brought again unto this people [the future Lamanites], from the Gentiles [the modern members of the Church], according to the words which Jesus hath spoken.
And when they shall have received this [the lesser part], which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things [the lesser part] then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. (3 Nephi 26:7-9)
We have reason to believe that an important part of the “greater things” includes a complete manual of instruction on the procedure for setting up an ideal Zion Society.
We conclude this from the fact that immediately after Jesus completed his ministry among the Nephites, the twelve disciples organized the whole population into a gigantic Zion Society. Nowhere in scripture is there a revelation telling us exactly how to do this. But what Jesus gave the Nephites was so perfect and complete that their Zion Society lasted nearly 300 years.
We will need that manual of instruction in the near future because we must have it before we set up the New Jerusalem.
A Zion Society consists of a perfect order in which both crime and poverty are virtually eliminated. Unfortunately, we know just enough about a Zion Society to make us anxious for the scripture that will tell us how to set it up so that it will thrive in all its glory.
Why Our Present Book of Mormon is the “Lesser Part” of what Moroni Wanted to Give Us
One of the greatest gifts the Church has received since the restoration of the Gospel has been the Book of Mormon. However the greater part of the Book of Mormon has been withheld until we become worthy to receive the rest. Moroni says:
And if it so be that they [the modern gentile members of the Church] will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. (3 Nephi 26:10)
Two years after the Church had received the Book of Mormon they found themselves in trouble with the Lord.
A group of missionaries discovered this when they returned from their labors and went to Joseph Smith to hear how the Lord felt about their missionary endeavors. They received a rather shocking revelation. Here is what the Lord said:
And your minds in times past [since the Book of Mormon was published] have been darkened because of unbelief, and becauseyou have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom;otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:54-58)
What are Some of the Things We have Taken Lightly?
One of the most notable things we have taken lightly is the real meaning of the Atonement as explained by Amulek in Alma, chapter 34. We have discussed this extensively in tape #20 of our audio commentaries on the Book of Mormon.
Another things we have taken lightly is the brilliant promise that we can have the many magnificent scriptures the Lord has so far withheld. In a moment we will discuss some of these scriptures which we have NOT received—even a scrap. And the Lord makes it painfully clear that we will not receive these scriptural treasures until we plead for them and make ourselves sufficiently righteous to be worthy to receive them.
In our commentaries on the Book of Mormon we have mentioned scores of gospel truths we have taken lightly, which means we have neglected or ignored them. For example:
- What is the source of God’s power?
- Could he lose his power?
- If that happened, would he “cease to be God?”
- What steps has the Father taken to make certain this will never happen?
- What are the two scenarios of prophecy concerning the judgments of God in our day as set forth in 3 Nephi, chapter 21?
- Which one does the Church seem to be leaning toward at the present time?
- Why does the Lord say the prophecy of Micah does not have to be fulfilled?
- How can this be prevented?
The list includes upwards of a hundred important, identifiable things we have taken lightly, maybe even more.
In Spite of This, Many Feel All is Well in Zion
The modern members of the Church have accomplished some fantastic things during the 170 years since it was organized. Crossing the plains and establishing a commonwealth in the valleys of the mountains at a cost of burying around 6,000 loved ones in wilderness graves would be one of the foremost achievements. And it has become one of the fastest growing religions in the world. In my lifetime the Church has grown from 431,000 members worldwide to nearly eleven million.
We have bilt over 100 temples, set up over 2,300 stakes with more than 23,000 wards and branches. The Church has established over 325 missions which are serviced by around 60,000 volunteer missionaries. They have spread the influence of the Church across every continent of the planet. We have the largest building for conferences and religious worship in the United States. We have the largest private university in the nation with a vast network of seminaries and institutes supporting the educational standards of the members. We also have the largest resources for genealogical research in the entire world.
No doubt our Heavenly Father considers all of this tremendously commendable, and consequently marvelous blessings are being poured out on the members of the Church.
But we are still under condemnation.
In 2 Nephi, chapter 28, Nephi itemizes the perils which can be expected even when the Church is at the height of its success. In summary, he says:
And others will he [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
Perhaps one of our greatest delinquencies is that we are being lulled to sleep with what scriptures we have, and are being cheated out of a vast legacy of sacred writings which the Lord promised the Church from its very beginning.
An Urgent Message from One of God’s Prophets
At a General Conference of the Church in October 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson devoted his entire talk to the specific task of getting the Church out from under the Lord’s cloud of condemnation. He quoted the revelation which defined the dimensions of our condemnation and then said:
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. (Ensign, November 1986, p. 6)
In this same discourse, President Benson said:
Every Latter-Day Saint should make the study of this book alifetime pursuit. Otherwise he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who is not.
What Are Some of the Scriptures Awaiting the Modern Saints?
The Book of Mormon makes specific reference to voluminous scriptures which Moroni spent twenty-five to thirty years carefully and precisely inscribing on the gold plates. It is almost unbelievable to contemplate the lonely vigil of Moroni as he tried to scrounge around for a little food while fearfully evading the predatory bands of Lamanites who wanted to find him and kill him. Yet during all those grim and terrifying circumstances, Moroni still managed to translate and record what turned out to be about two-thirds of the gold plates with the majority of his writings being included in the sealed portion.
We learn from the size of the sealed part of the Book of Mormon from a sermon given by Orson Pratt just eight years after the death of Joseph Smith and while many of the details were well known to the early members of the Church. Orson Pratt said:
You recollect that when the Book of Mormon was translated from the plates, about two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal; that part of the record was hid up. The plates which were sealed contained an account of those great things shown unto the brother of Jared; and we are told that all those things are preserved to come forth in the due time of the Lord. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 347)
From all of this we learn that when Joseph Smith received the gold plates, about one-third of these plates were written by Mormon and two-thirds were written by Moroni.
The Lord Wanted the Prophetic History of the World to Come Forth in Modern Times
We now know that the diamond core of scriptures in the gold plates—other than the one-third devoted to the Book of Mormon itself—was the complete prophetic history of the world from Adam to the end of the Millenium. The Brother of Jared received this fantastic vision on the shores of the great sea [around 2,000 B.C.] as he and his brother prepared to bring their families and friends across the wild waste of water enroute to the promised land.
Here is the way the Book of ether describes this marvelous revelation to the brother of Jared which covers everything from Adam to the end of the world.
And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth. (Ether 3:25)
The Lord then warned Ether that this vision must be hidden up until after the time when Jesus would come in the flesh. Nevertheless after his resurrection he commanded that this marvelous revelation should be translated from the Adamic tongue to the Hebrew and circulated among the Nephites. The scriptures says:
And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people [in America] he commanded that they [the writings of the brother of Jared] should be made manifest. (Ether 4:2)
Of course, later on when both the Nephites and Lamanites had apostatized, Moroni was instructed to write this entire voluminous prophetic history on the gold plates in its Hebrew translation and this became the sealed portion of the gold plates. He says:
Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord. (Ether 4:5)
Then the Lord revealed to Moroni the conditions which must be satisfied before the Gentile members of the Church could have this precious record translated and published in the latter days. He says:
For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. (Ether 4:6)
In other words, genuinely appreciating the Book of Mormon and studying it profoundly, is the key to receiving these scriptures which the Lord has withheld.
The Lord also Wants Us to Have the Complete Writings of John the Revelator
It will be recalled that Nephi was allowed to see about 2,600 years of future history. This vision included a panorama of what will happen to the saints in modern times. However, the reader of the Book of Mormon is disappointed because just as Nephi was about to tell us what is going to happen in modern times, the angel said:
But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.
And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. (1 Nephi 14:25, 27)
Of course, the only book of prophecy by John is the Book of Revelation, but that is one of the most difficult and confusing books in the entire Bible. Certainly it contains no clear unfolding of what will happen to the wicked gentiles in the latter days of how the Lord will save the righteous.
Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed ina modern revelation that “the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.” (D&C 93:6)
When we receive the fulness of John’s record we will know what Nephi saw.
In our audio commentary on 3 Nephi, chapters 30 and 31, we described the two latter-day scenarios which the resurrected Jesus outlined for the Nephites during his ministry. But it doesn’t say which of the two scenarios will come to pass. Nephi knew exactly which one will be fulfilled, but he wasn’t allowed to tell us.
Nevertheless, we are promised that the writings of John will be forthcoming when the modern saints are prepared to receive them. This suggests that we will get a more complete and much clearer revelation of the writings of John in the due time of the Lord. As Moroni wrote:
And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. (Ether 4:16)
The Lord Wants the World to Have the Brass Plates
When Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, was sold into Egypt, he was raised up by the Lord to become the prime minister of Egypt. It is believed that it was under these prosperous circumstances that he undertook to write a scriptural history of God’s dealings with mankind from the days of Adam and Eve down to his own day. His descendants then kept the record up to date from Joseph down to the prophet Jeremiah in 600 B.C. (1 Nephi 5:10-13)
It will be recalled that this record fell into the hands of a wicked descendant of Joseph, named Laban, and it was necessary for the Lord to tell Nephi to decapitate Laban in order to get the Brass Plates and take them to the new promised land.
We have a description of the contents of the Plates of Brass (or Book of Joseph) and we learn that they were very similar to the Jewish Old Testament exact that the Jewish writings were “not so many” as the Plates of Brass. (1 Nephi 13:28)
One of the reasons why the contents of the Jewish Old Testament were “not so many” was because some of the most precious parts had been taken out. (1 Nephi 13:28)
The Plates of Brass Seen Along with the Gold Plates of Mormon
To gain a deeper appreciation of the tremendous significance of the Plates of Brass or Book of Joseph, we have the following statement by David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon:
We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but also theplates of brass. (Preston Nibley, Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, p. 68)
This clearly signifies the supreme importance of the Plates of Brass in the eyes of the Lord. They were shown to the three witnesses right along with the Gold Plates of Mormon.
The Brass Plates Converted Thousands of Lamanites
The Brass Plates turned out to be a marvelous scriptural converter, particularly among the hostile Lamanites. Here is what Alma says in this connection:
Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates [the Plates of Brass of the Book of Joseph], Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer. (Alma 37:9)
When Father Lehi first examined the Book of Joseph of the Brass Plates, he received a revelation that they must go to all the world in modern times. Here is how Nephi describes it:
And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed—
That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.
Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed. (1 Nephi 5:17-19; see also Alma 37:3-4)
If this important record is to go forth to all nations, it would seem to be the direct responsibility of the members of the Church to qualify themselves so that these scriptures can become available in our day and fulfill their divine destiny.
The Lord Wants Us to Have the “Greater Part” of the Book of Mormon Restored
As we pointed out in the beginning, the key to removing the condemnation of the Church by the Lord is in the comprehensive and in-depth appreciation of the Book of Mormon. Only then will the floodgates be opened to allow the treasure of hidden scripture to come forth—the scripture the Lord has been anxiously waiting to restore to the modern saints. As the Lord has said:
And they [the children of Zion] shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them. . . otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion. (D&C 84:57-58)
As we mentioned earlier, it is thought that this “greater part” of the Book of Mormon includes the detailed description of how to set up a Zion Society, and this is knowledge the modern saints must have before they can build the New Jerusalem.
The Church has experimented with a variety of plans called the “United Order” and other ventures which attempted to practice what little is known about a Zion Society, but the brethren have acknowledged that we cannot set up all the ramifications of a Zion Society until we have the Lord’s complete revelation on the subject.
No doubt the revelation of the “greater part” of the Book of Mormon will contain the glorious revelation on the Zion Society and other scriptural treasures we should know.
The Age of Bread and Circuses
In the days of ancient Rome it was a common practice to prevent the people from revolting by providing them with bread and circuses. Satan uses the same combination to distract good people from participating in the dynamics of the second estate, such as the task of undertaking a profound study of the Book of Mormon.
We all know how this pattern works in our daily lives. The complex ferocity and lightning speed of modern living includes a heavy routine of bread and circuses. Far too often the neglect of intense gospel study and especially the Book of Mormon generates the breathless lamentation, “There just isn’t time!”
It is interesting that in the next life we are going to be judged in part by members of the Priesthood whom we respectfully refer to as the pioneers. To a remarkable extent these honored forebears not only knew the scriptures better than many of us today, but they milked cows night and morning and labored in the field from sunrise to sunset.
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88, verses 108-110, the Lord is going to provide a panoramic vision some day showing our individual lives except for the sins the Atonement has erased. As this great vision unfolds and our daily activities appear on the screen, how will any of us pretend that we didn’t have the time to remove the condemnation of the Lord by cherishing and studying the Book of Mormon? And what will we say when these venerable pioneers see us squandering whole weekends glued to a TV set or indulging ourselves in a continuous panorama of sports spectaculars?
Recreation is important, but in many cases we have allowed it to literally root out of our daily lives the study of the gospel and the scriptures. No doubt our challenge is not so much a lack of time as it is the perpetual rat race which smothers us under a virtual tidal wave of tantalizing trivia.
So what can we do to restructure our lifestyle and replace much of the circus trivia with the Lord’s lifestyle of happy living? Or, to say it another way, what can we contribute as individual members of the kingdom to help provide the precious time for a penetrating study of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures so as to remove the Lord’s condemnation of the Church?
Two Suggestions for Consideration
Two elements are required to make a breakthrough in Book of Mormon study. First of all, the text of the Book of Mormon must be perceived as highly interesting and inspiriting communications from God, so that it will command our attention.
Second, there needs to be a plan involving thousands of Church members who are consistently studying the Book of Mormon, digging out its hidden treasures and making it an integral part of our daily lives.
In order to help make the Book of Mormon both exciting and stimulating, we have just finished having the entire text professionally recorded by Wendell Noble who has an appealing and inspirational voice.
Then, to keep the listener focused on the message, we have interrupted every few verses to given an interesting commentary on the historical or doctrinal significance of what has just been heard.
By having this stimulating discussion of the Book of Mormon on tape, it can be enjoyed while working in the kitchen or while driving in the car.
Of course, we should mention that the Lord will probably not be satisfied to have the Church members merely know the story of the Book of Mormon because even the Primary children know that much. What the Lord wants us to know are the treasures of the gospel which are highlighted in the Book of Mormon but which we have “taken lightly” for over 168 years.
In our commentary on the Book of Mormon we have emphasized scores of these treasures. We think most people will immediately recognized why the Lord is deeply offended because we have neglected or ignored so many important parts of this great scriptures.
We therefore have a further suggestion in order to keep the continuity of our Book of Mormon study sufficiently vibrant so that it will demonstrate to the Lord that we are anxious to have the rest of the Book of Mormon soon. Of course, these sacred scriptures will come forth when the Lord sees fit to make them available, but we must do our part to facilitate the process.
We believe it would prove supremely significant if each of us made a personal commitment to listen to at ltest one or more tapes every week for the rest of our lives. Each tape requires only 90 minutes and even at the rate of one tape each week you will complete the entire Book of Mormon every 6 weeks.
This will do four things:
- It will keep the spirit of the Book of Mormon in our homes and make it a part of our daily lives.
- It will make us more intimately acquainted with every important detail of this inspired scripture.
- It will help us understand the more profound principles of the gospel as set forth in the Book of Mormon and help us acquire the ability to explain its deeper doctrines with greater facility.
- It will lay the foundation for the lifting of the Lord’s condemnation of the Church and bring about the restoration of the previous scriptures which, by the year 2000, had been withheld for 168 years.