Witnesses vital to God’s plan, says Elder Oaks

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    By CARRIE REINFURT

    Witnesses and witnessing are vital in God’s plan for the salvation of his children, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve during Saturday afternoon’s session of General Conference.

    Elder Oaks said the most important ordinances of salvation — baptism, marriage, and other ordinances of the temple — are required to have witnesses.

    “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” he said, quoting 2 Cor. 13:1.

    The Bible and Book of Mormon testify of Jesus Christ through many witnesses — from the prophesying of his birth to the witnessing of his death, Elder Oaks said.

    The three men chosen as witnesses of the Book of Mormon were David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris. Their written testimony has been included in all of the almost 100 million copies of the Book of Mormon the LDS Church has published since 1830, Elder Oaks said.

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    Elder Oaks Sat. p.m.

    “These witnesses solemnly testify that they ‘have seen the plates which contain this record’ and ‘engravings which are upon the plates.’ They witness that these writings ‘have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us,'” Elder Oaks said, quoting from The Testimony of the Three Witnesses.

    Elder Oaks showed that even though the three witnesses left the LDS Church, they never renounced their testimonies as witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

    “Yet to the end of each of their lives — periods ranging from 12 to 50 years after their excommunications — not one of these witnesses deviated from his published testimony or said anything that cast any shadow on its truthfulness,” Elder Oaks said.

    Measured against all possible objections, the testimony of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon stands forth in great strength, he said.

    “Like the Book of Mormon itself, there is no better explanation than is given in the testimony itself — the solemn statement of good and honest men who told what they saw,” Elder Oaks said.

    Elder Oaks took particular interest in the life of Martin Harris. Harris mortgaged and sold part of his farm to publish the Book of Mormon, Elder Oaks said.

    Harris went on a mission in 1832 with his brother and baptized about 100 people. He served on the first high council of the church, Elder Oaks said.

    Harris was a stubborn individual who left the LDS Church and returned, yet he never denied the Book of Mormon, Elder Oaks said.

    “I tell you of these things that you may tell others that what I have said is true, and I dare not deny it; I heard the voice of God commanding me to testify to the same,” Elder Oaks said, quoting Martin Harris.

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