Sunday, May 31, 2009

Receiving Enlightenment through the Study of the Book of Mormon

The following is a talk I gave in church today on the Book of Mormon. It really helped me gain a stronger testimony of it and realize the universal help it can provide, particularly in recognizing false political, educational, and philosophical ideals.

"One of the great families to join the Church in Canada was that of Archibald Gardner. From his journal, we learn of the family's experience in Canada during the year 1843. "Robert Gardner describes the day of their baptism: 'We went about a mile and a half into the woods to find a suitable stream. We cut a hole through ice eighteen inches thick. My brother William baptized me. . . . I was confirmed while sitting on a log beside the stream. . . .  

"'I cannot describe my feelings at the time and for a long time afterwards. I felt like a little child and was very careful of what I thought or said or did lest I might offend my Father in Heaven. Reading the Scriptures and secret prayer occupied my leisure time. I kept a pocket Testament constantly with me. When something on a page impressed me supporting Mormonism, I turned down a corner. Soon I could hardly find a desired passage. I had nearly all the pages turned down. I had no trouble believing the Book of Mormon. Every time I took the book to read I had a burning testimony in my bosom of its truthfulness.'" (Pres. Monson, Ensign, November 1990)

The Book of Mormon Brings Us Closer to Christ

Pres. Benson:

"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity of a redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.  

Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention (2 Nephi 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time." – (Pres. Benson, Witness and a Warning, p.3)

Pres. Hinckley: 

I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras. 

No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to His commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard Him and His word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death. The Book of Mormon is an affirmation of the Old Testament proverb: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). (Pres. Hinckley, Ensign, August 2005)

Keep the Commandments

How many times are we promised that if we keep the commandments of God, we will prosper in the land? And to further describe this prosperity, King Benjamin said, 

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:41)

D&C 84:49-51,54-57 

49 And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.

50 And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me. (Lee: and one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to bring us closer to Christ.) 

51 For whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin. 54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received— 

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. 

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. 

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written.

Not all Scripture is Equal 

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, and so forth. (W and W, p.6) 

Not all truths are of equal value, nor are all scriptures of the same worth. What better way to nourish the spirit than to frequently feast from the book which the Prophet Joseph said would get a man "nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book"? (W and W, p.10)

Teaching our Children 

Alma 23:6 – After Ammon and his brethren overcome the trials of bringing the gospel to the Lamanites, seven of the Lamanite cities were converted and it was said of them, 

“And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.” 

If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls - in all of our goings and comings. 

Some spiritually alert parents hold early-morning devotionals with their families in their homes. They have a hymn, prayer, and then read and discuss the Book of Mormon. (W and W, p.11)

Personal Thoughts 

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after his resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come” (Introduction). Just previous to His visit, the land was filled with evil, robbers, darkness, and all manner of wickedness. The only thing that could disperse this darkness was the Savior. So it is in our lives, no matter how dark or sinful or dismal our lives are, the Lord is the only one who can help us. So why not read and abide by the precepts of the book that will bring us closer to Him than any other book? 

Paraphrasing Elder Nelson, “[The Book of Mormon] can help with personal problems in a very real way. Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon!”

2 comments:

Coach Ann said...

An excellent talk. The book of Mormon is a beautiful book.

don&janet said...

Sure wish we could have been there to hear you give this. Powerful and true! How thankful I am for the Book of Mormon and the strength I gain personally from it. I sure do love you!!!!!!!