By Their Fruits...
by Kathy Penrod
Earlier this month, I posted about Christ’s “Other Sheep.” I would like to expound on that topic a little bit in this post.
When Jesus Christ came to earth as an infant, He fulfilled the prophesies of numerous prophets that had come before Him. His ministry and life was exactly what it needed to be. He lived in the ancient world, Jerusalem, where He taught those who would listen. Thousands came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and believed that He truly was the Messiah. However, many of the things Jesus taught were not understood or overlooked.
One of these sometimes-overlooked truths is found in the New Testament where Jesus tells his disciples “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Jesus, often referred to as the Good Shepherd, was speaking of His followers. His sheep. Because He was speaking in Jerusalem, and telling his disciples there that there were other sheep to teach, we know that the sheep, or followers, must be in a different location.
Shortly after His resurrection, Christ visited the American continent. The people here had descended from a family who escaped from Jerusalem a few years before its destruction (about 600 BC). They kept a careful record of all their religious dealings and passed this record down through the generations. This record was added to and safeguarded by prophets on this continent. And, when the Savior of the world visited them, they also recorded this… This record they kept is called the Book of Mormon.
This sacred scripture came forth in a time when recent changes in mass publication made it easier to publish books. It was published and, in the approximately 185 years since its first publication, millions and millions of copies have been published. Multiple countries and languages now have access to this record, once kept by the ancient prophets on the American continent. This book contains the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is a conduit for change in His followers. When people understand the sacredness of this book, they become gathered to Christ.
The Book of Mormon is not without controversy. About this, one of our Apostles, Jeffrey R. Holland, stated, “For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands.“
And when these controversies fail to bury the truth that reaches us from the pages of history, more is said, more is done and even musicals are written in an effort to sacrilege the very book that has the power to bring peace to mankind.
One friend I had was worried that the book was evil. Her intentions were not to cause me distress – her heart was sincere. She was concerned for my welfare. But Jesus taught us, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20) If something is bad, it cannot yield good results. And, if something is good, it cannot yield bad. That is not to say good isn’t ever confronted by opposition, just that bad cannot come from good. Sometimes, Satan does all he can to stop anything good. We know that the bible had extreme opposition when its translation into English took place.
It is important to note that we, by embracing the Book of Mormon, are not replacing or discounting the Holy Bible. They are to be used together. We, as Latter-day Saints, recognize the Bible as Holy Scripture and learn great lessons from its pages. Through it’s correct translation, we can come to know God. Elder M. Russel Ballard gives a beautiful talk about this here.
In the Book of Mormon, we are taught to believe in God, to worship Christ, to be kind to our neighbors, to have hope in the atonement, to be grateful for our blessings, to love those who hurt us, and the list goes on and on. A true believer of the words of the Book of Mormon can only yield goodness. Not necessarily perfection, but goodness.
As we read, study, believe and act, our hearts are drawn towards our Father in Heaven. Our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, deepens and grows. We find more goodness in the world. And, we come closer to our loving Heavenly Father.
With all my heart I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I know of the blessings it has brought into my life. I have come to know the people storied about in its pages and they have become my friends. Learning from their trials, gives me strength to endure my own. There have been times when the spirit of peace has settled on my heart. I know, personally, that we can come closer to God by reading this sacred scripture.
But, as much as I know it, I can’t make you know it. That is something you have to find out on your own. In my next post, I will talk about how you can find out for yourself if the Book of Mormon is true.