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Another witness

Twenty-five years ago last October, it was announced that the title of the Book of Mormon was being augmented with the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

In that quarter-century, many people have become acquainted with the book's power and purpose. And they have discovered for themselves the verity of the angel's words spoken in vision to the prophet Nephi:

"These last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles (meaning, in particular, the Book of Mormon) shall establish the truth of the first (meaning the books of the Bible), which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved" (1 Nephi 13:40).

With a yearlong study of the New Testament still fresh in their minds, and having recently embarked in gospel doctrine classes on a study of the Book of Mormon, Latter-day Saints are in a position right now to observe for themselves how the "last records" establish the truth of the "first." They can mark how the Book of Mormon underscores and illuminates Bible doctrines.

There is perhaps no better illustration of this than a comparison of Christ's intercessory prayer as recorded in John 17 with His very similar prayers uttered while He was among the Nephites, prayers recorded in 3 Nephi 19.

While in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Savior prayed on behalf of His disciples, those who, He said, the Father had given Him. He said, "And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them" (John 17:10).

Later in the chapter are these words:

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (verses 20-21).

Turning to the account in 3 Nephi, we read Christ's prayer regarding His followers among the Nephites: "Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father art in me, that we may be one" (3 Nephi 19:23).

In both scriptural accounts, alert readers learn something of the divine unity that should and does characterize the Father, the Son and the followers of Christ.

That unity is symbolically demonstrated in a subsequent occurrence with Christ and the Nephites:

In verse 29, the Savior prays with similar wording to John 17, "Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them."

Together, these passages in John 17 and 3 Nephi 19 demonstrate clearly that scriptural statements of the oneness of the Father and the Son pertain to their divinity, glory, purity and purpose.

And thus, the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other in teaching with clarity and precision the doctrine of Christ.

This year, in our study of the Book of Mormon, let's keep the Bible close at hand. For these books comprise two witnesses that truly are one in the hand of God (see Ezekiel 37:16-17).