“I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost”
(Moro. 10:4; often referred to as “Moroni’s Promise).
The Book of Mormon offers a remarkable promise to those seeking a testimony or knowledge of the truth. Many members and missionaries refer to this passage as “Moroni’s Promise” and use the verses written by the prophet Moroni as a formula for as to how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. A closer look at the context of these verses surrounding Moroni 10:3-5 reveals a meaning far more profound than many of us might have thought: Moroni teaches us much, much more than how to get a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He taught us how to gain a testimony of Jesus Christ, which will lead to a testimony of the Book of Mormon as well.
Since it was first published in English in 1830, the Book of Mormon has brought millions to a knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, it is described as the “keystone” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just as Jesus Christ is described as the “chief cornerstone” of our faith (see Ephesians 2:20). To help clarify and emphasize the purpose of the Book of Mormon and its mission to lead people to Jesus, a subtitle was added in 1982. The full title now reads, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
In the his final message, Moroni wrote in Moroni 10:1, “Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites; and I would that they should know that more than four hundred and twenty years have passed away since the sign was given of the coming of Christ.” Note Moroni’s emphasis on the coming of Jesus Christ. The first thing he wants the Lamanites to know is that it has been 420 years since the sign of the coming of Jesus Christ.
Next, in Moroni 10:3, he wrote, “I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember 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…” Again, note the focus on our Savior and his coming into the world, the ultimate manifestation of the mercy of God.
Moroni then invites readers to, “ponder it in your hearts.” What is the ‘it’ he refers to in this verse upon which readers are to ponder? In context, the antecedent of ‘it’ might indeed refer to “the coming of Christ” and “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.” That is, Moroni invites us to ponder on and remember the record of the Book of Mormon and how it accounts the love shown to us by our Heavenly Father in sending his Son Jesus Christ.
Next, in Moroni 10:4, Moroni goes on to tell us what we are to do after we’ve pondered on God’s mercy in sending His Son: “When ye shall receive these things (the record of the mercy of God in sending His Son, Jesus Christ), I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;” Moroni is asking readers to ask if the mercy of God in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, it not true. He continues, “If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” There is that pronoun ‘it’ once again. What truth will God manifest to us? Based on Moroni 10:1-3, he seems to be asking readers to ponder on how merciful God was in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, and to then ask God if that event was not true (note that Moroni does not necessarily say we are to ask whether the Book of Mormon is true or not, but that we are to ask if the mercy of God regarding sending His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, is true or not, which can lead to a testimony of the record of that event, even the Book of Mormon).
Look at the emphasis on Jesus Christ in the next two verses that follow in Moroni 10:6-7: “Whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. And ye may know that he is by the power of the Holy Ghost…” Again, he is directing the reader’s minds back to the mercy of Gog and a testimony of Jesus Christ.
Now to the term “Moroni’s Promise.” The word promise is from per “forward” and mittere “to send.” Promise has the same root as mission (‘meith’) which means “to exchange or change.” Could it be that Moroni’s promise is just that? An invitation that he ‘sent forward’ so that we, the readers who ask God about the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, will know that Christ is the Son of our merciful God and that His ‘mission’ was ‘to change us’ through his amazing Atonement?
The next time you read or hear about Moroni’s promise, think beyond gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and look to Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2).