Sunday, January 4, 2009

Book of Mormon Challenge

At church, I teach the 14-15 year old boys, known as the "Teachers Quorum" (as they each hold the Aaronic Priesthood office of Teacher).

Today in the class, I taught about the importance of scripture study.

I'd like to share some of that lesson here.

What are the scriptures?
The scriptures we use today are:
  • The Bible
  • The Book of Mormon
  • The Doctrine & Covenants
  • The Pearl of Great Price
These four comprise the "Standard Works."

In addition, we have the following definition:

When the Lord’s ordained and appointed servants speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words become scripture.

So, when we get the General Conference edition of the Ensign magazine - we have just received new scripture in the mail!

Thus, we are provided with an ongoing canon of scripture, which I personally think is an absolutely wonderful blessing.

Why study the scriptures?
Studying the scriptures can greatly bless our lives. And it is a commandment to do so.

In September 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“I feel strongly that we must all . . . return to the scriptures . . . and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord. . . . We must study the scriptures according to the Lord’s commandment; and we must let them govern our lives and the lives of our children . . . So I ask all to begin now to study the scriptures in earnest, if you have not already done so.”

Further, the scriptures bless us with testimony. In 1949, President Marion G. Romney related this story:
“I remember reading the Book of Mormon with one of my lads when he was very young. On one occasion I lay in the lower bunk and he in the upper bunk. We were each reading aloud alternate paragraphs of those last three marvelous chapters of Second Nephi. I heard his voice breaking and thought he had a cold, but we went on to the end of the three chapters. As we finished he said to me, ‘Daddy, do you ever cry when you read the Book of Mormon?’ ‘Yes, Son,’ I answered. ‘Sometimes the Spirit of the Lord so witnesses to my soul that the Book of Mormon is true that I do cry.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that is what happened to me tonight.’”

The scriptures provide us with a witness of Jesus Christ. On the title page of the Book of Mormon, it says, in part, that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is:
" . . . to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever — And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations . . ."
The Book of Mormon bears powerful testimony of the Savior.

The scriptures can be a source of spiritual joy and happiness. For example, Nephi felt great joy in reading the scriptures.

The scriptures can help you find answers to your questions - about anything. They are a component of communication with God - we pray to Him, and receive answers either via a spiritual prompting or through the scriptures. It's amazing how well it works!

Of course, one of the most powerful examples of this is when Joseph Smith, at 14 years old, was reading the scriptures and pondering on James 1:5.

Here's an account of what happened, in the prophet's own words. (It was this very passage that gave me my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.)

You, too, can find answers in the scriptures, if you search, ponder, and pray.

The scriptures are essential in missionary work for teaching people about the true Gospel of Christ. I am reminded of how Alma explained that the Word of God was more effective than anything in helping people to make good choices.

In speaking to the young men of the Church in April 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson said:

" . . . the Book of Mormon will change your life. It will fortify you against the evils of our day . . . A young man who knows and loves the Book of Mormon . . . who has an abiding testimony of its truthfulness, and who applies its teachings will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and will be a mighty tool in the hands of the Lord."

We're all very busy, but it doesn't take much (besides self-discipline) to set aside 15 or 20 minutes each day to study the scriptures. Doing so daily will really strengthen you, uplift you, and bless you.

And if 15 minutes seems like a long time, think how Parley P. Pratt felt the first time he read the Book of Mormon. He couldn't put it down!

“I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.

As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true . . . My joy was now full . . . I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation.”

A scripture challenge

If you've read this far, I challenge you to spend at least as much time each day reading the scriptures as you have spent reading this blog post (including the links).

In fact, if you want a real challenge, I extend to you the challenge I gave my 14 and 15 year old boys today: to read the Book of Mormon in one month. (It works out to about 21 pages a day). I've done it before. You can too!

I testify that the scriptures will strengthen your love for Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the gospel as you spend time studying the important messages found in the scriptures. You will receive answers, inspiration, comfort and joy.

I love the scriptures - they are precious to me. We are so blessed to have them.

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