Lesson One: Introduction to the Book of Mormon
• Items needed: pencils, a Book of Mormon, and a piece of paper for each child. You will also need the picture of “Mormon Abridging the Plates” from the Gospel Art Picture Kit, the Book of Mormon Stories video DVD, a television, and a DVD player. (Note: The picture and the video are available online, or they can be checked out from your meetinghouse library). Optional item needed: foil star stickers for the children’s reading charts
• Print one copy of the worksheet PDF or Word and the reading chart PDF or Word for each child. Print one copy of the Arch and one copy of the French words for Book of Mormon. Optional: Print scripture stickers - set one.
• If possible, obtain a children’s nonfiction book. Read its preface before class, and be prepared to explain its contents to the children.
Inform the children they will be learning about the Book of Mormon this year. Instruct them to bring their scriptures each week. Make sure each child has a copy of the Book of Mormon to use for today’s lesson.
• How did we get the Book of Mormon? In ancient America two groups of people, the Nephites and the Lamanites, lived on the continent. A great battle occurred between these two groups of people. The Nephites were destroyed in this battle. The last of the Nephites, a prophet named Moroni, was directed by the Lord to bury a record of these ancient American people. About 1,400 years later Moroni, as a resurrected being, visited a boy named Joseph Smith. Moroni told Joseph Smith about the buried record.
Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Direct the children to turn to the “Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith” found in the front of the Book of Mormon. Explain that the “Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith” tells about Moroni’s visit. Watch chapter one of the Book of Mormon Stories DVD which tells of this account. Start at the section where the angel Moroni appears.
• What does translate mean? Translate means to change from one language to another.
Show the paper with the words “Le Livre De Mormon” written on it. Tell the children that the words are French. The English version of these words is “The Book of Mormon”. Show this paper. Both sets of words mean the same thing, but they are different languages.
The gold plates were written in an ancient language that needed to be translated into a language others could read.
Instruct the children to turn to the title page found in the front of the Book of Mormon. Point out that underneath the title is a preface. Show the children the preface of the nonfiction book that you brought. Present a brief explanation of what the preface of that book contains.
• What do you think a preface is for? The preface explains the purpose and content of the book.
The preface in the Book of Mormon was written on the last leaf of a collection of books in the gold plates and is considered to have been written by Moroni. The preface tells us that the contents of the book are a record of the Nephites, Lamanites, and Jaredites. It also tells us that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ.
Much of the world today rejects the divinity of Christ. They think that he was a great teacher but could not have done the miracles we read about in the New Testament. The Book of Mormon is another testament that those things happened. Jesus Christ is the Son of God; he atoned for our sins, and he was resurrected.
Have the children turn the page in their scriptures to the “Introduction”. Tell them the “Introduction” provides more detailed information about the origin and the contents of the book.
Worksheet - Instruct the children to fill in the blanks in Section A on the worksheet, using paragraphs one and two of the “Introduction” for reference. After they are done, go over the answers together.
SECTION A: Worksheet Answers - The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the America’s and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, and was abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon.
• What does abridged mean? It means that Mormon studied records other prophets had written, and then he took important parts from each of their records and wrote them on the gold plates. The Book of Mormon is named after Mormon because he compiled the record. (Show the picture of “Mormon Abridging the Plates” to the children.)
Now have the children fill in the blanks in section B on the worksheet using paragraph six of the “Introduction” for reference. Go over the answers together after they are done.
SECTION B: Worksheet Answers- Joseph Smith told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on the earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.
• What did Joseph Smith mean when he said the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the earth? The Book of Mormon is of God. Books produced by men may contain errors in understanding, perception, and translation.
• What did Joseph Smith mean when he said the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion? Show the picture of the arch. Explain that the keystone is the central supporting stone at the top of the arch. The stones would fall without the keystone holding them in place. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion because it supports and explains doctrines and principles that are necessary for salvation. Another reason it is the keystone is that when we receive a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon we will know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the church of Jesus Christ is restored on the earth again, and that Jesus is the Christ.
• What did Joseph Smith mean when he said, “A man could get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book”? Abide means to submit to, and precepts are commandments or principles. So, if we submit to God’s will and obey the commandments and principles found in the Book of Mormon, we will grow nearer to God.
The Testimony of the Witnesses
Have the children turn the page to “The Testimony of the Witnesses”. Show the picture of “Mormon Abridging the Plates” to the children once again. Give them a few seconds to study it. Afterwards put the picture face down on a table. Give each child a paper and a pencil. Ask some of the following questions, and have them write down their answers:
• What was on the shelf and the table behind Mormon?
• What was covering the bench Mormon was sitting on?
• What items were on the table Mormon was working on?
• What was on Mormon’s lap, and was there anything on the floor?
• What colors were Mormon’s clothes, and what decorations did they have on them?
• What was Mormon wearing on his arm, on his head, and on his feet?
Go over the answers together. When several of the children’s answers are the same on any of the questions, ask the children if they think those answers are most likely to be true. Why?
• If a person witnessed an event, would only their testimony about the incident be sufficient in a court of law? No, because they might not remember everything accurately, or they might not be telling the truth.
• Would that person’s version be believed if other witnesses told the same account?
• In 2 Corinthians 13:1 it says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established”. Why do you think this law of witnesses is important? It helps establish truth.
Point out the witness’s page, and tell the children that God chose men to be witnesses of the Book of Mormon to fulfill the law of the witnesses and to testify of his work.
The three witnesses testified that an angel showed them the gold plates, and that they heard the voice of God declaring the divinity of the record.
The eight witnesses testified Joseph Smith showed them the gold plates and that they handled them.
• What are the three things we need to do to gain our own witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon? Direct the children to look in paragraph eight in the “Introduction” for the answer. Write the following answers on the board:
1) Read the Book of Mormon.
2) Ponder its message.
3) Ask God if it is true.
If we do these things, the Holy Ghost can testify to us that the Book of Mormon is true.
Though the Three Witnesses were privileged to see an angel and feel the plates, the real power of their witness came through the Holy Ghost. Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Personal visitations might become dim as time goes on, but this guidance of the Holy Ghost is renewed and continued, day after day, year after year, if we live to be worthy of it.” (Doctrines of Salvation 1:44) (D&C Student Manual pg 33)
Weekly Reading Assignment Hand out the reading chart, and remind the children that in order to gain a witness for themselves of the truthfulness and divinity of the Book of Mormon they need to read the Book of Mormon. To help them with this you will be giving them a reading assignment to do each week. The reading assignment will be on what was studied during the lesson. This week’s reading assignment is “The Testimony of Joseph Smith”, which is found in the front of the Book of Mormon.
Tell the children to hang their chart on a wall in their bedroom, in a location that is highly visible, so it will help remind them to read. After they complete each reading assignment, they can put a sticker or the date of completion in the square. (You may wish to provide some form of appropriate reward for when a child completes a reading chart, such as scripture stickers.)
Bear testimony that if the children will read the Book of Mormon they will grow closer to God and learn the things they must do to gain eternal salvation. And, if they follow the guidelines on how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, they will receive a witness of its truthfulness. Because of this witness they will also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth, and that Jesus is the Christ.