Return to About Mormons home

The Lord's Way of Proving the Gospel

by W. John Walsh

"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8)

People are often curious about why the Lord does not provide more physical, tangible evidences of the restoration of the gospel.  For example, it has been suggested that many more people would join the Church if we could provide the original gold plates of the Book of Mormon and allow them to be authenticated by scientists. (See Why Don't You Have the Plates?)  Also, it has been suggested that the testimonies of the Book of Mormon Witnesses would be more convincing if they were not closely affiliated with one another. (See Were the Book of Mormon Witnesses Partial?)

Similar questions can be asked about Biblical experiences as well.   Remember that the resurrected Jesus appeared only to his disciples and not to the world. If the Lord were simply interested in conversion, then why did he not appear first to Pilate, the Roman governor, and say: "Here I am; examine the wounds in my hands and feet and side. Did I not tell you that I was the Son of God and that I would rise again?"  Why did he not go to the assembled Sanhedrin and there appear before the Jewish high priest and that august body and say to them: "You scourged me, spat upon me, and delivered me to be crucified because I told you I would live again. Now see that what I said is come true!"  The answer to these questions really get to the heart of one of the key purposes of life (See Purpose of Life). 

While the Lord truly desires us to be converted, how we are converted is crucial to the Plan of Salvation.   In the premortal life, we all walked by sight.  In other words, we all had physical, tangible evidences before us continually.  We knew that God lived because we lived with him.  We saw him and talked with him.  However, for our eternal progression, it was necessary for us to learn to walk by faith.  The Book of Abraham records:

"And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever." (Abraham 3:24-26)

To summarize, it is important for us to develop an affinity for things of the Spirit, especially the ability to receive communication from God through the Holy Ghost.  Our ability or inability to be spiritually receptive says a lot about our eternal character.   Therefore, the Lord arranged this mortal experience so that we might be able to develop this capacity.  Instead of providing physical, tangible evidence of the plan of salvation, the Lord provides spiritual evidence:

"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.  And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:3-5)

It is important to note that these spiritual manifestations are real occurrences.   They are not imaginary.  And these spiritual manifestations are more powerful than things that can be seen or heard.  President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"Christ is the second person in the Godhead. But Christ has himself declared that the manifestations we might have of the Spirit of Christ, or from a visitation of an angel, a tangible resurrected being, would not leave the impression and would not convince us and place within us that something which we cannot get away from which we receive through a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. 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, Vol.1, p.44)

Certainly, the Lord believes that the spiritual confirmations he provides are sufficient for men to choose the right way.  The Doctrine and Covenants notes:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.  Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?" (D&C 6:22-3)

It is also important to note that accepting these spiritual manifestations does not mean that we totally suspend our reasoning ability.  Reason and Revelation work together.  (See Reason and Revelation).  However, people often present things as facts that are not necessarily so.  While people of superior intelligence and advanced learning may successfully portray something as true when it is really not, we cannot be confused by a witness from God.

(See Response to Criticism home page; General Criticism home page)

All About Mormons