Come Follow Me: D&C 3-5
In section 3, Joseph Smith is again chastised for not having his "eye single to the glory of God" and "fearing man more than God."
The Lost 116 Pages of manuscript were probably as much as 300 pages, according to Don Bradley in his book, "The Lost 116 Pages." It contained the writings of Lehi and everything that Mormon had abridged of the large plates of Nephi from Lehi through the ministry of King Benjamin. Our current Book of Mormon has just over 500 pages. Imagine losing half of that amount, due to not listening to the Lord!
No wonder the Lord called Martin Harris a "wicked man." Yet, how often have we done something similar? Many of us have given in to the temptations of the world at least once in a while. One of the major lessons here is we can repent. Martin Harris would repent and become one of the Three Witnesses. He would bear a solid testimony of the gold plates and the angelic visit for the rest of his life.
Background for Section 5, Lucy Harris took Joseph to court, claiming him to be a fraud, swindling money from her husband Martin. Martin wanted proof to bring to the court. As with the 116 lost pages of manuscript, he sought to have something in his hand that he could show the court. However, the Lord was not giving anything to Martin this time, he would have to provide his own evidence: a solid and unwavering testimony. This would occurred prior to his becoming one of the Three Witnesses, but certainly became a solid step for him in becoming such a witness. His faith and belief were the witness to be provided in court. His wife, Lucy, lost her case.
The Book of Mormon is the "keystone" to our religion. I'm not sure if we fully understand all that means, as it is a revelatory book with layers of understanding.
Out of all the revelations given in the last days, the Book of Mormon is
the most important. Many see the Book of Mormon as simply a rip off of
Isaiah, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and Solomon Spaulding. However,
there are so many intricate things within the book that continually
reveals itself in new and important ways to us.
First, it witnesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. From the very first chapter, we find Lehi in vision, seeing God on his throne and learning about the coming Messiah. In the final chapter, Moroni invites us to "come unto Christ and be perfected in him." In a world that grows ever more disbelieving, materialistic, and contentious, the Book of Mormon can recenter us on the Savior.
Second, the Book of Mormon teaches us that God still speaks to mankind.
The heavens are open! Revelation still occurs. This is a big part of
the "new covenant" of the Book of Mormon - God speaking to man in all
times and places. In Alma 29:8, we read that God gives to all nations and
peoples the amount of truth they are ready to receive. But if people
do not believe God can speak with them or send new prophets, then they
severely limit the truth God wishes to give them.
Third, the Book of Mormon teaches us the "doctrine of Christ". In 2 Ne 31 and 3 Ne 11. The doctrine of Christ is that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are "one God" or one in all things, and we are to learn to be one with them and each other. It is a process. We begin to develop faith in Christ. We recognize our sins and repent. We receive baptism or other ordinance, as it is through the ordinances that the "mysteries of godliness" are revealed (D"&C 84:19-21). Finally, we receive the Holy Ghost, which sanctifies us to a higher level of righteousness. Then we repeat the process, growing in faith and righteousness, until we become one with the Godhead.
Fourth, it warns us of secret combinations and the enemies of God. God's primary enemy is Satan, the father of contention. Those groups or organizations or people who seek to get gain by any means are the enemies of God. They can include secret signs and oaths, and involve getting gain by using violence or other criminal means. When such combinations take control of government, the righteous become the enemies of the state, or are punished for their testimony of Christ; while the wicked are viewed as popular and good by society. We learn that eventually, these combinations lead to the destruction of society, often to genocide or mutual annihilation.
Fifth, the Book of Mormon defines and shows the pathway to a personal theophany, or visitation of God to the individual. From Lehi's seeing God on his throne in 1 Nephi 1, to the Vision of the Tree of Life, to Alma's suffering in hell and then being redeemed into the presence of God's throne, to the Brother of Jared seeing the finger of God, we see the purpose of the Book of Mormon: to show us how to become like Christ, so we can return into the presence of God. Today, Latter-day Saints practice the theophany in the temple endowment, as the temple and Book of Mormon are closely linked by this new covenant and purpose.
There are other truths in the Book of Mormon, but these are definitely among the most important concepts. Without the Book of Mormon, there would be no second witness of Christ and his divinity. There would be no understanding of modern revelation. We would not understand fully the process to become one with the Godhead, and we would not understand the importance of entering into the presence of the Lord.
Don Bradley, The Lost 116 Pages: https://gregkofford.com/products/the-lost-116-pages
My Book Review on Don Bradley's "The Lost 116 Pages" https://www.millennialstar.org/book-review-the-lost-116-pages/