Introduction to the Pearl of Great Price
“A merchant man, seeking goodly pearls … , when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45–46).
The Pearl of Great Price contains four books and the Articles of Faith; Selections from the Book of Moses, The Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith Translation of the Gospel of Matthew and the History of Joseph Smith. The Articles of Faith outline the basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All of the books are divine in nature, and were originally published in Church publications and were declared by Joseph Smith to be; “a source of much instruction and edification to many thousands of the Saints, who will by an acquaintance with its precious contents, be more abundantly qualified to set forth and defend the principles of our Holy Faith before all men” (Millennial Star, 15 July 1851, 217).
On 10 October 1880, by action of the First Presidency and the general conference, the Pearl of Great Price became part of the standard works of the Church. In the beginning of the Book it states;
“Several revisions have been made in the contents as the needs of the Church have required. In 1878 portions of the Book of Moses not contained in the first edition were added. In 1902 certain parts of the Pearl of Great Price that duplicated material also published in the Doctrine and Covenants were omitted. … [In 1976] two items of revelation were added. In 1979 these two items were removed from the Pearl of Great Price and placed in the Doctrine and Covenants, where they now appear as sections 137 and 138” (Pearl of Great Price, Introductory Note)
Selections of the Book of Moses:
The book of Moses is a small excerpt from Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of the Bible. It is a more complete record of Moses’s writings at the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. It contains many doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and gives additional information about the plan of salvation, the creation of the earth, and the Lord’s dealings with Adam and Enoch.
The Book of Abraham:
The book of Abraham is a translation of ancient records written on papyrus that came into the possession of the Church in 1835. The records were translated by Joseph Smith through revelation. This book contains truths about the premortal Council in Heaven, the creation of the earth, the nature of God, and the priesthood.
Joseph Smith – Matthew:
Joseph Smith—Matthew is an excerpt (Matthew 24) from Joseph Smith’s inspired revision of the Bible and adds to our knowledge of the Savior’s teachings about His Second Coming.
Joseph Smith – History:
Joseph Smith—History, which is an excerpt from the Prophet’s history of the Church. This book contains a narrative of the events leading to the restoration of the Church, including the First Vision, the visits of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph, the obtaining of the gold plates, and the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.
The Articles of Faith:
The Articles of Faith, were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith to help explain the basic teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are 13 of them and anyone who reads them can quickly understand what the LDS (aka Mormon) Church and its members believe.
Truths taught in the Pearl of Great Price
- Adam was taught the Plan of Salvation and made sacrifices in the similitude of Christ’s eternal sacrifice.
- All prophets, beginning with Adam, have known of and testified of Jesus the Christ and His atonement.
- Moses was shown many visions by the Lord and saw all the inhabitants of the earth. Moses was tempted by Satan, but withstood Satan’s influence Moses 1:12–23.
- “As far as men on this earth are concerned, evil had its beginning in pre-(mortal) existence. The Eternal Father begat spirit children, ordained laws to enable them to progress, and endowed them with free agency. Disobedience to those laws was in its nature evil, and consequently without the possibility of committing evil there could be no hope of progression toward exaltation. Lucifer and one-third of the spirit hosts of heaven chose evil rather than good, failed to exercise their free agency in righteousness, and finally coming out in open rebellion against the Lord, they were cast out onto the earth and denied (mortal) bodies. (Moses 4:1–4; Abr. 3:24–28; D&C 29:36–40; Rev. 12:7–13.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, [Bookcraft, 1966], p. 245.)
- “Secret combinations,” or evil oaths, began with Cain and have been in existence on the earth from the beginning. These combinations are revealed and encouraged by Satan himself (Moses 5:29–30; Moses 5:51–55).
- We lived with God before we were born onto the earth (Abraham 3:22).
- Enoch preached of Christ, established a city, and led a people so righteous, that they were “translated” and taken into heaven (Moses 7).
- Adam kept a book of remembrance that was passed down through the prophets to Abraham (Abraham 1:28, 31).
- Adam was baptized and came to understand the fall, the atonement, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as the doctrines of justification and sanctification. Adam’s spiritual rebirth was attested to and his possession of priesthood after the order of the Son of God was announced. (See Moses 6:15–68.)
- Abraham was taught principles of astronomy by God. Abraham traveled to Egypt and conveyed this knowledge in the high courts of the Egyptians.