Today as I studied Moroni 6, I found a number of phrases which referenced earlier passages in the Book of Mormon. Obviously, Moroni knew the Book of Mormon well. Still, I thought these references were striking, and I thought I’d share the connections I made today as I studied this chapter. Most of these phrases do not appear in the Bible; they are unique to the Book of Mormon:
Verse 1: “And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.”
Alma told the people of Ammonihah that the Savior has power to save everyone who “bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance” and that, if we will do so, we can enter into His rest (Alma 12:15, Alma 13:13).
Verse 2: “Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.”
Lehi taught that the Savior will “answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (2 Nephi 2:7). After the death of Jesus Christ, He told a group of people on the American continent to replace their animal sacrifices with “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:19-20, 3 Nephi 12:19). Mormon and Moroni both emphasized that this mental and emotional state is an important preparation to receive God’s blessings (Mormon 2:14, Ether 4:15). The phrase comes originally from Psalm 34:18.
Verse 3: “And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.”
Nephi taught that we take upon ourselves the name of Christ when we are baptized, and that this qualifies us to receive the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:13). King Benjamin delivered a lengthy sermon at the end of his reign with the purpose of inviting his people to take upon themselves the name of Christ (Mosiah 1:11-12, Mosiah 5:8-14, Mosiah 6:1-2). And Jesus explained to His disciples that His church should be called after Him because its members have taken upon themselves His name (3 Nephi 27:5).
Verse 4: “And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”
Amulek exhorted the Zoramites to be “watchful unto prayer continually” in order to overcome temptation (Alma 34:39).
Lehi taught that we can only return to live in God’s presence “through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). And Nephi encouraged us to follow the path of discipleship, “relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). (See also Alma 24:10, Helaman 14:13.)
Verses 5 and 6: “And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.
“And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.”
After introducing the sacrament, the Savior instructed the people to “meet together oft” and to make their meetings open to anyone who wanted to join (3 Nephi 18:22).
Verse 7 and 8: “And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ.
“But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.”
When Alma prayed to know how to handle members of the church who were unwilling to follow its teachings, God explained that it’s always important to forgive others when they sin. However, if people no longer want to live according to the principles taught by the church, then they should not be members of the church: “Those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out” (Mosiah 26:36). (See also Alma 1:24, Alma 5:57, Alma 6:3.)
Verse 9: “And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.”
Nephi said, “I have workings in the spirit, which doth weary me even that all my joints are weak” (1 Nephi 19:20). Lehi and Jacob both prophesied by “the workings of the Spirit” (2 Nephi 1:6, Jacob 4:15). And Moroni’s father, Mormon, inserted the small plates of Nephi without understanding why, because of “the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me” (Words of Mormon 1:7).
As I indicated at the beginning of this post, it’s unsurprising that Moroni was intimately familiar with the text of his father’s book, given his important responsibility to complete it and preserve it. Nevertheless, I am fascinated by the numerous references to earlier Book of Mormon teachings as Moroni instructs us on the activities of the church. It’s as if he’s saying, “Here’s a summary of what the church did, and guess what? This is all grounded in scripture, specifically the scriptures contained in this book.”
Today, I will be grateful for Moroni’s internalization and synthesis of scriptural truths. I will particularly remember Moroni’s core message: that through “the merits of Christ,” we can be saved if we have “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” and if we “bring forth fruit meet” for repentance.