One of the most well known chapters in the Book of Mormon is 1 Nephi 11. In that chapter we read the vision of Nephi about the Tree of Life, and the symbolism behind much of it. We learn about the birth of Christ, and the future of Christ's church on earth. Though this is a particularly rich and symbolic chapter, I would like to focus elsewhere during this post. Those who are interested in learning more about the Tree of Life in Nephi's vision, and its symbolism are welcome to explore in this article by Wilfred Griggs from the June 1988 Ensign, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' monthly religious magazine.
The area I would like to focus on today is found in 1 Nephi 13:34-42. Here we are still reading the account of Nephi's prophetic dream. He meets the Spirit of the Lord, who has the form of a man, and the Spirit tells him of the future of his, and his brothers' seed. The Nephites, as Nephi's descendents, and all who follow them, are called, will be destroyed at some point in the future. The Lamanites, those who are against the Nephites, will survive, though they will become "a dark, and a loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations" (1 Nephi 12:23).
Eventually, though, the light of the Gospel will be restored to these descendants of Lehi, through the record that Nephi, and other later prophets, were commanded by God to keep, as well as through the record of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. "...The Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back..." We know, as Latter-day Saints, that the Bible is the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly (Articles of Faith 1:8). That being said, we know there are some inconsistencies in the Bible that, without the aid of the Book of Mormon, could cause us to "stumble".
The Spirit of the Lord says to Nephi "These last records...shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lam, 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....wherefore they both shall be established as one: for there is one God and one shepherd over all the earth" (1 Nephi 13:40-41).
The Book of Mormon, combined with the Bible, can confound any false doctrines that may arise. A past Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson, said "The Bible sits on the pulpit of hundreds of different religious sects.
The Book of Mormon, the record of Joseph, verifies and clarifies the
Bible. It removes stumbling blocks, it restores many plain and precious
things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of
Mormon confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, and establish
peace" (A New Witness for Christ, Oct 1984 General Conference).
Thus we see the symbolism in Nephi's vision- two books coming together to restore and correct false traditions that had sprung up over thousands of years without the fullness of the Gospel. Neither alone could do what together they would accomplish. Latter-day Saints believe this fully: The Bible, without the Book of Mormon cannot lead a man to the fullness of the truth, and neither can the Book of Mormon without the support of the Bible.