Mormon 9

Mormon 9:1 And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ

"Moroni at first evidently intended this chapter to be the last one in the entire Book of Mormon. Thus he addresses himself to 'those who do not believe in Christ.' (Mormon 9:1.) Then in a powerful, logical, and forceful manner he outlines the major teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and indicates why all men must understand and apply these principles if they are to find the peace and happiness they desire. He says the gospel is not restricted to a chosen few, but is available 'unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.' (Mormon 9:21.)" (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 307)

Mormon 9:4 ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God...than ye would with the damned souls in hell

Moroni brilliantly explains how even God's punitive justice is merciful. To the wicked, heaven would be an even greater hell, for they don't belong. In heaven, they would feel as those who attend a black tie affair in their underwear, for they will be brought to see their nakedness before God (v. 5).

God's great mercy sends them to the only place where they will feel comfortable, among their own kind. This is according to the law of retribution, he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory...for intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth (DC 88:22,40). Conversely, wickedness cleaveth unto wickedness, misery loves misery, and filthiness prefers filthiness.

Boyd K. Packer

"More than 50 years ago during World War II, I had an experience. Our bomber crew had been trained at Langley Field, Virginia, to use the latest invention-radar. We were ordered to the West Coast and then on to the Pacific.

"We were transported on a freight train with boxcars...The baggage car got sidetracked, so we had no change of clothing during the six-day trip. It was very hot crossing Texas and Arizona. Smoke and cinders from the engine made it very uncomfortable. There was no way to bathe or wash our uniforms. We rolled into Los Angeles one morning-a grubby-looking outfit-and were told to return to the train that evening. We thought first of food. The 10 of us in our crew pooled our money and headed for the best restaurant we could find.

"It was crowded, and so we joined a long line waiting to be seated. I was first, just behind some well-dressed women. Even without turning around, the stately woman in front of me soon became aware that we were there. She turned and looked at us. Then she turned and looked me over from head to toe. There I stood in that sweaty, dirty, sooty, wrinkled uniform. She said in a tone of disgust, 'My, what untidy men!' All eyes turned to us.

"No doubt she wished we were not there; I shared her wish. I felt as dirty as I was, uncomfortable, and ashamed.

"Later, when I began a serious study of the scriptures, I noticed references to being spiritually clean. One verse says, 'Ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.'

"I could understand that. I remembered how I felt that day in Los Angeles. I reasoned that to be spiritually unclean would bring shame and humiliation immeasurably more intense than I felt then. I found references-there are at least eight of them-which say that no unclean thing can enter the presence of God.  While I realized those references had little to do with dirty clothes or soiled hands, I decided I wanted to stay spiritually clean." (Conference Report, May 1997, "Washed Clean")

Mormon 9:5 it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you

Through the teachings of Joseph Smith, we know that scriptures which speak of the fires of hell speak figuratively. Disembodied spirits don't burn in hell, their suffering is worse than that. The flame of unquenchable fire doesn't burn from without; it burns from within. Thus, those who have become 'past feeling' will feel again. Their sufferings will 'be sore-how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.' Having rejected the offering of Gesthemane, they will be given their own Gesthemane (DC 19:15-19). Indeed, no pain is as great as the mental, emotional, and spiritual torture of a guilty conscience.

Joseph Smith

"A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man." (Teachings, p. 357)

Mormon 9:7 I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say...there are no revelations nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing

Moroni not only saw our day, he provided us with the needed ammunition for our doctrinal battles. He knew that there would be those who would deny any new revelation, prophecy, or gifts of the Spirit. He provided us with the arguments we need to combat this falsehood. What is that argument? It is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (v. 9). The implication is that if God loved his children enough to give them revelation in Moses' day, he should do the same in our day. If the ancients had faith enough to perform miracles, then sufficient faith should produce the same results today, wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because we of unbelief and all is vain (Moroni 7:37).

We should appreciate the efforts of the Book of Mormon prophets. Beginning with Nephi, they have been concerned with how we should face the doctrinal errors of the last days. Accordingly, Nephi spoke of those who would cry, 'A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible' (2 Ne 29:3). Jacob and Alma taught us how to respond to doctrines of an anti-Christ (Jacob 7, Alma 30). Christ taught us what the name of the church should be (3 Ne 27:3-8). Moroni taught us how to respond to those who would deny any new revelations, prophecy, or miracles (v. 7-10). Mormon taught us about the practice of infant baptism (Moroni 8:5). Thus, the Book of Mormon prophets were concerned enough with the false doctrines of the last days that they taught us how we should respond to them.

Mormon 9:11-20 I will show unto you a God of miracles

Interestingly, Moroni declares that he is going to show us that God is a God of miracles, then he discusses the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Final Judgment. Why does he do this? Because the first miracle Christ performed was not the turning of the water to wine at the marriage feast at Cana but the Creation of the earth (v. 17). The Fall was not a miracle, but the Plan of Salvation whereby man could overcome the Fall is nothing but miraculous. Furthermore, the greatest miracle ever performed was the Atonement itself. Moroni is teaching us that these are the greatest of God's miracles. The miracles of healing the sick and raising the dead pale in comparison, for which is greater, the raising of Lazarus to mortality or the raising of the entire human race to immortality? Spencer W. Kimball said, "the Son of God is the greatest miracle of all. He is, indeed, the miracle of miracles, and every day of his life he gave evidence of it." (quoted by Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, May 1989, "The God That Doest Wonders")

Even the Final Judgment is miraculous, for all will be compelled to admit that the judgments of the Lord are just (Alma 12:15). Prior to that day, we have no reason to conclude that God has ceased to be a God of miracles. Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles (v. 15).

Howard W. Hunter

"I welcome this [Easter] season...which reminds us that God is a God of miracles, that his Only Begotten Son is 'the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in [him], though he were dead, yet shall he live.' (John 11:25.)

"Among the signs of the true church, and included in the evidences of God's work in the world, are the manifestations of his power which we are helpless to explain or to fully understand...Not surprisingly, these signs and marvels were most evident in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God himself. But startling and wonder-filled as they were, Christ's many miracles were only reflections of those greater marvels which his Father had performed before him and continues to perform all around us. Indeed, the Savior's humble performance of such obviously divine acts may be just one very special application of the declarations he made:

   'The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise' (John 5:19) and 'I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me' (John 8:28).

"For example, the first miracle by Jesus recorded in the New Testament was the turning of water into wine at the marriage at Cana. (See John 2:1-11.) But poor, indeed, was the making of the wine in the pots of stone, compared with its original making in the beauty of the vine and the abundance of the swelling grapes. No one could explain the onetime miracle at the wedding feast, but then neither could they explain the everyday miracle of the splendor of the vineyard itself.

"It is most remarkable to witness one who is deaf made to hear again. But surely that great blessing is no more startling than the wondrous combination of bones and skin and nerves that lets our ears receive the beautiful world of sound. Should we not stand in awe of the blessing of hearing and give glory to God for that miracle, even as we do when hearing is restored after it has been lost?

"Is it not the same for the return of one's sight or the utterance of our speech, or even that greatest miracle of all-the restoration of life? The original creations of the Father constitute a truly wonder-filled world. Are not the greatest miracles the fact that we have life and limb and sight and speech in the first place? Yes, there will always be plenty of miracles if we have eyes to see and ears to hear." (Conference Report, May 1989 Ensign, "The God That Doest Wonders")

Mormon 9:12 by Adam came the fall of man

Ezra Taft Benson

"The Book of Mormon Saints knew that the plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam. In the words of Moroni, 'By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, . . . and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man.' (Mormon 9:12.)

"Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

"No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon." (A Witness and a Warning, p. 33)

Mormon 9:21 whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him

There are a few promises in the Book of Mormon that are repeated over and over again. Apparently, we don't learn without repetition. This promise is a marvelous promise with grand and eternal implications too often taken for granted. It is taken for granted because the reader does not really believe what the Lord has promised. This is the famous tendency to believe in Christ but not to believe Christ, "The real question is 'Do we believe Christ?' It is one thing to believe in him and quite another to believe him (Robinson 8-12)." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 178).

Indeed, we should remember the words of Enos, that God could not lie (Enos 1:6). When the Lord promises to give us whatever we want, which is right (3 Ne 18:20), as long as we ask in faith believing in his name, he means what he says. We have no reason to doubt, no reason to waver-else we become like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6).

Mormon 9:24 these signs shall follow them that believe

As soon as the dispensation of the fullness of times was opened, the saints have been privileged to witness these signs. After the many miracles which attended the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, a public miracle was performed by Joseph Smith in April of 1830. Newel Knight had been overcome by an evil spirit. Joseph was called to help:

"I went and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner; his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment, and tossed about most fearfully.

"His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested me to cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew that I could cast him out.

"I replied, 'If you know that I can, it shall be done;' and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle which was done in the Church, or by any member of it; and it was done not by man, nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness; therefore, let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory, be ascribed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

"This scene was now entirely changed, for as soon as the devil had departed from our friend, his countenance became natural, his distortions  of body ceased, and almost immediately the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and the visions of eternity were opened to his view...All this was witnessed by many, to their great astonishment and satisfaction, when they saw the devil thus cast out, and the power of God, and His Holy Spirit thus made manifest." (History of the Church, vol. 1, pp. 82-3)

Joseph explained that this was the first miracle performed since the Church was organized. Since then, the miracles have continued, almost daily. Some have been more dramatic than others, but they have continued to the present and will continue as long as the saints shall exercise sufficient faith.

Bruce R. McConkie

"In this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we worship a God of miracles who has given us the same gifts enjoyed by the ancients. We do not boast, yet it is no secret that among the faithful the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the dead are raised." (Conference Report, Nov. 1979 Ensign, "The Mystery of Mormonism")

Harold B. Lee

"President McKay, I have been a personal witness in these last six months that, as the apostles of old found, we are finding today that the servants of the Living God are going forth, the Lord is working with them confirming the work, with the same signs following.

"I bear personal witness that the gift of tongues to a whole congregation, which I witnessed, as in the day of Pentecost, was observed down in one of the Latin American Missions, by which this congregation understood what was said, although what was being spoken to them was in a strange tongue. I have witnessed the healing of an impotent and crippled child from birth in the Brazilian Mission. I have witnessed the healing of a blind child in the Central American Mission.

"And so, enumerating all of these, more important than any of these signs, I have witnessed the reformation in the personal lives of individuals who accept the gospel and are true to its principles, which results from a true conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I bear you my solemn witness to the onrolling of the work of the Lord. The work is awakening everywhere." (Conference Report, Apr. 1960, p. 109)

Rudger Clawson

"I have a son now in the mission field, a boy about twenty years of age, who went forth with a limited knowledge of the Gospel, with fear and trembling, not knowing what he would say, not knowing what he would do, but, nevertheless, trusting in the Lord. Within a few days, I received a letter from him, and he relates to me a very remarkable healing--I say it was remarkable, and yet it was such an incident as often occurs in the mission field. He said that he and his companions were visiting with a friend, when a little girl came rushing into the house and asked the elders to go immediately to her home and bless a little child that was afflicted--a child of non-Mormon parents. The elders responded. When they reached the place they found the little one stricken down with bronchial pneumonia. There was the mark of terrible fever in its eyes, and it was at the point of death; in fact, the death-rattle was in its throat, and the mother was bending over the child expecting every moment to see its spirit depart for the spirit world. The two elders took the child in their arms and anointed it with oil, and blessed it, and rebuked the disease. Relief came instantly; the child rested and was comfortable through the night; and when the elders came to inquire the next day they found the little one seated at the table, eating an orange, and fully recovered. My son goes on to say--and this is the point I desire to emphasize-'Father, I laid my hands, with my companion, upon that child, and I saw it healed I know that this could have been done only by the power of God. My faith has been strengthened; and this is a testimony to me of the truth of the Gospel;' and he adds, 'I would not give it for millions of money.'" (Conference Report, Apr. 1909, p. 94)

Mormon 9:27 work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him

David O. McKay

"Applicable today is Paul's admonition to the Philippians, given over nineteen hundred years ago:

'Wherefore, my out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.' (Phil. 2:12-15.)

"An outstanding doctrine of the Church is that each individual carries the responsibility to work out his own salvation, and salvation is a process of gradual development. The Church does not accept the doctrine that a mere murmured belief in Jesus Christ is all that is necessary. A man may say he believes, but if he does nothing to make that belief or faith a moving power to do, to accomplish, to produce soul growth, his professing will avail him nothing. 'Work out your own salvation' is an exhortation to demonstrate by activity, by thoughtful, obedient effort the reality of faith. But this must be done with a consciousness that absolute dependence upon self may produce pride and weakness that will bring failure. With 'fear and trembling' we should seek the strength and grace of God for inspiration to obtain the final victory.

"To work out one's salvation is not to sit idly by dreaming and yearning for God miraculously to thrust bounteous blessings into our laps. It is to perform daily, hourly, momentarily, if necessary, the immediate task or duty at hand, and to continue happily in such performance as the years come and go, leaving the fruits of such labors either for self or for others to be bestowed as a just and beneficent Father may determine.

"I am not unmindful of the scripture that declares: 'by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.' (Ephesians 2:8.) That is absolutely true, for man in his taking upon himself mortality was impotent to save himself. When left to grope in a natural state, he would have become, and did become, so we are told in modern scripture, 'carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature.' (Alma 42:10.) But the Lord, through his grace, appeared to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spiritual perfection. But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith." (Conference Report, Apr. 1957, p. 7)

Mormon 9:29 see that ye are not baptized unworthily

James E. Faust

"Should we not baptize all those who want to or are willing to be baptized? The answer is not that simple. It is a great responsibility to bring someone into this Church who has not been adequately taught and who has not received of the Spirit so that through baptism they may become a new person through repentance. Moroni gave a solemn warning about this in Mormon 9:29: 'See that you are not baptized unworthily.' "

"Some of our young missionaries are so hungry for baptisms they may urge people to be baptized before their investigators understand what they are baptized for. Peter said, 'Repent and be baptized.' (Acts 2:38.) We must be certain the repentance process is at work." (Church News, 06/29/96)

Mormon 9:31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection

See commentary for Mormon 8:12.

Neal A. Maxwell

"There is no more simple yet profound statement on the posture the generations who are separated in many ways by time and experience should adopt toward each other than the one found in the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:31):

   'Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.'

"What more sublime statement could be made?-the 'outgoing' generations asking the 'incoming' generation not to be harsh or too quick to judge-to profit from the mistakes of the past, but to be grateful to God for the opportunity to 'learn to be more wise' than predecessors have been. Each of us leaves a 'record' of memories for our friends and children to 'read.' Would that the 'reading' could occur in the spirit of Moroni's counsel.

"The young should be slower to condemn those who have preceded them, for they have not yet worn the 'moccasins' of power and decision making. The old are urged to hope genuinely that their successors will be 'more wise' than they have been. Obviously, the scripture relates to the major spiritual lessons about the failure and success of the societies described in the Book of Mormon stream of history; but the pithy verse, as scriptures often are, is replete with insight at several levels simultaneously." (For the Power is in Them, p.16-17)

Neal A. Maxwell

"We are responsible for our reactions when we see imperfections in others. Moroni said of the labors of the recording prophets some things that are very relevant with regard to how we should respond to imperfections in others: 'Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.' (Mormon 9:31. Italics added.)

"A wise leader will be aware that his imperfections are noticed, but he will also humbly hope that when others see his imperfections, this will provide them with a chance to learn to be more wise than he has been. Good parents, as well as good prophets, always so hope, too." (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 112)

Mormon 9:32 characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian

When we think of the language of the ancient Egypt, we immediately think of their hieroglyphic style of writing. In this style, pictures are used to tell the story (see Facsimile No. 2 & 3). Was the language of the Book of Mormon a modification of a hieroglyphic language? Certainly not. There was another type of Egyptian writing which was used among the merchants of Lehi's day. This was called the demotic form. Sidney B. Sperry noted, "This was a very rapid or shortened form of hieratic used in the books and the documents written from about 700 B.C. to A. D. 470. During much of this period demotic was the ordinary writing of daily life, but is occasionally found chiseled even upon stone. From the dates given, it will be apparent that if Lehi and Nephi knew Egyptian they may have been familiar with this very shortened form of Egyptian." (Milton R. Hunter, Pearl of Great Price Commentary, p. 21) Hugh Nibley stated that this form of "Egyptian could be written in less space than Hebrew because in Lehi's day demotic was actually a shorthand, extremely cramped and abbreviated; and it was...peculiarly adapted to the sounds and thought processes of one language...Egyptian." (Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, p. 14,16) A modification of this "demotic" style is likely the language of the Book of Mormon.

Hugh Nibley

"The world has always cast a superior and mocking eye on the inordinate concern of the Book of Mormon for things Egyptian. With surprise and incredulity it is now learning that Egyptian culture counted for far more in Palestine in 600 B.C. than anyone had ever supposed. It is significant that the Book of Mormon concern with Egypt is strictly cultural-it never mentions Pharaoh or speaks of Egyptian government, but only of Egyptian culture and especially language. It makes it perfectly clear, however, that Egyptian was for Lehi a second language, 'for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children' (Mosiah 1:4). We have seen that Egyptian was taught to 'Ethiopians, Syrians, and all other foreigners' in Lehi's day. Moroni tells us (Mormon 9:32-33) that the language of Lehi's descendants was not Hebrew or Egyptian but a mixture of both, both being corrupted in the process, so that 'none other people knoweth our language,' which would certainly not have been the case had they spoken only Hebrew.

"...Did the wealthy Lehi...command his sons to learn Egyptian so they could save space when they kept records? Of course not: when they learned the language, neither Lehi nor his sons had any idea that some day it would be useful to keepers of records on metal plates. They had no other reason for learning Egyptian characters than to read and write Egyptian. It was only later when historians became cramped for space that they saw the advantage of continuing to write in Egyptian. And the Egyptian characters can only have been preserved for their use because the language was also preserved." (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, pp. 16-17)

Mormon 9:33 because that none other people knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof

Often we wish that we still had access to the gold plates. In our faithlessness, we wish the plates could be shown to the world-as if to prove that Joseph Smith really had them. Instead, the Lord provided an inspired interpretation and then had Moroni take the plates back into his prophetic custody. If we were smart, we would spend less time complaining that we can't show investigators the actual gold plates and spend more time in thankful praise to the Lord for giving us an inspired and indisputable interpretation. Consider the alternative.

Hugh Nibley

"If we had the original text, which we do not, and if we could read it, which we cannot, any translation we might make of it would still be inferior to that which was given, as we claim it was, by the gift and power of God. If we had the original text, scholars would be everlastingly squabbling about it and getting out endless new and revised translations, as in the case of the Bible. In fact, if our English text of the Book of Mormon came to us in any other way than by revelation it would be almost worthless! For members and investigators could ask of every verse: 'But how do we know it is translated correctly?' A revealed text in English is infinitely to be preferred to an original in a language that no one on earth could claim as his own. It frees the members and leaders of the Church as it frees the investigating world from the necessity of becoming philologists, or, worse still, of having to rely on the judgment of philologists, as a prerequisite to understanding this great book. At the same time, it puts upon the modern world an obligation to study and learn, from which that world could easily plead immunity were the book in an ancient language or couched in the labored and pretentious idiom that learned men adopt when they try to decipher ancient texts." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 96)