Should I Rely on “Feelings” Rather Than Evidence to Know if the Book of Mormon is True?
Sooner or later everyone wonders how to know if something is true. In school, we learn about the scientific method. In this method a person tests an idea to see if it works every time. If it does, then he can conclude that his idea was right. When it comes to mathematics, physics, chemistry, and other sciences, we can test the evidence to understand the truth. However, it is more difficult to test the idea that there is a God or that the scriptures really contain His words. How can we therefore know the truth?
In John 14:26 Jesus told His disciples that after his departure into heaven, God the Father would send the Holy Ghost which “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” It is important to understand that the Holy Ghost, also called the Holy Spirit, will teach us all things. This means that through the Holy Ghost we can know if there is a God. How will the Holy Ghost tell us whether God lives or whether the Book of Mormon is true? To understand that we must first understand God’s pattern for revealing truth. Both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon teach us that God will reveal things to His prophets through visions and angels.
Mormon, one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon, and after whom it is named, taught that, “God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Jesus Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing. And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come” (Moroni 7:22-23). God teaches his truths to prophets, and these are recorded in the Scriptures. This is what Peter taught in the New Testament:
” For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).”
In Acts 10:34-44, Peter teaches that God chose certain men as witnesses and commanded them to teach others, that they might believe in God also. When Peter finished his teaching, the Holy Ghost came upon those present, and they believed his words and were baptized immediately. The Holy Ghost, then, confirms to us the truthfulness of the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. How, then, can we know when the Spirit is teaching us? Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:26). Paul describes the fruits of the Spirit that we feel when the Spirit enters our hearts and minds. He says,
” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).”
When we feel love, peace, and a greater desire to do good, then we can know that the Holy Spirit is present and telling us that what we are reading or hearing is true. The Book of Mormon gives us a very clear description of how to know we can gain faith. Alma, a prophet in the ancient Americas, taught that faith is like a seed and it grows through our prayers and our righteousness. Like the scientific method mentioned above, he asks people to experiment on the teachings and words of Jesus Christ found in the Book of Mormon:
“If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves–It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge (Alma 32:27-29).”
To experiment on the word means to ponder the words written and to imagine what they would mean if true. It also means to test the teachings by trying to follow the commandments of God such as prayer, scriptures study, attending church services, and serving others. As you begin to do these things, the Holy Ghost will enter into your heart and mind, and you will know that the teachings, and ultimately that the Book of Mormon as well, are true.