LOCAL PRIESTHOOD LEADER MESSAGE

    Increasing Faith through Studying the Book of Mormon

    SCRIPTURES

    'We need to know for ourselves that the Book of Mormon is true and develop a personal testimony.'

    We live in extremely trying and challenging moments in this, The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. We all yearn for hope, peace, love and the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is ever present to assist us over the hurdles we encounter on our earthly sojourn.  There are temptations of every kind—so many dissenting voices--which can test our faith and make us lose our way.

    On the introductory page of the Book of Mormon it is affirmed that the Book of Mormon tells us what to do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.[1]

    The Prophet Joseph Smith testified, “The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” [2]

    We, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are truly blessed to have the most correct book on earth—this prized possession--which can transform our lives and change the face of the earth. What more do we need? 

    President Ezra Taft Benson taught that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion in at least 3 ways:

    1. Witness of Christ – It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity.
    2. Fulness of Doctrine – In the Book of Mormon we find the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines required for our salvation and exaltation.
    3. Foundation of Testimony – One cannot gain a testimony of the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it without knowing that the Book of Mormon is true. [3]

    As witnesses of this profound book, we need to share it with our brothers and sisters—hence our task is to declare the gospel and to do it effectively. In the Doctrine and Covenants we are counselled: “Seek not to declare my word but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” [4]

    Handling Objections

    Our faith may be tried, and at times the faith of our fellow saints; and others who may not be of our faith will not believe everything in the Gospel. President Ezra Taft Benson taught how the Book of Mormon can be the central resource in responding to such situations:

    “We are to use the Book of Mormon in handling objections to the Church…. All objections, whether they be on abortion, plural marriage, seventh-day worship, etc., basically hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation.

    “…The only problem the objector has to resolve for himself is whether the Book of Mormon is true. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was his Prophet, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true and it is being led by a Prophet receiving revelation.” [5]

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon is central to our faith, beliefs, and testimony. “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion?” he asked. “We have none.”

    Developing a Personal Testimony 

    We need to know for ourselves that the Book of Mormon is true and develop a personal testimony. “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” [6]

    President Thomas S. Monson, during the April 2017 General Conference, implored each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, he promised that we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.

    I have enjoyed these blessings as I read and ponder the Book of Mormon religiously every day. I was privileged many years ago to have a meeting with one General Authority who, during our discussion, mentioned that he reads the Book of Mormon daily. It struck me as he spoke, and my thoughts raced, “If this man, about 70 years old who grew up in the Church reads this book every day, how much more do I need it as a novice and convert to the Church?” That meeting changed my life forever and I just love starting my day having the nourishment of the soothing words of the Book of Mormon. Much like Nephi, “my soul delighteth in the scriptures and my heart pondereth them”. [7]

    President Russell M. Nelson promised that the “truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console and cheer our souls.” [8]

    I witnessed first-hand how these blessings—as promised by our dear prophet—changed the life of Brother Joseph Tembo* from the Copperbelt in Zambia. We visited this brother when I was assigned to preside over a district conference a few years ago. Upon entering his home, I noticed in his room a small table on the left with a pile of scriptures. I just   marvelled as I was informed that he had been inactive for the past 7 years and had become somewhat disaffected. As we discussed with him, he said something profound, “I haven’t been going to Church for the past 7 years because of some offense.   I still know the gospel is true.  Reading the Book of Mormon daily has kept me going.” The Book of Mormon had surely comforted, strengthened and consoled him during his greatest time of need. It was therefore easy to help him find his way back to Church again. 

    This also strengthened my own testimony that scripture study should have a daily set time, not left-over time! And as President Harold B. Lee cautioned, “If we are not reading the scriptures daily, our testimonies are growing thinner.” [9]

    As we seek to increase our faith in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we need to “…press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end…” [10]  “The words of Christ will tell [us] all things what [we] should do.” [11] The Book of Mormon is for our profit and learning; it testifies of Jesus Christ and answers the questions of the soul.

    *Name has been changed

    [1] Book of Mormon introductory page

    [2] Book of Mormon introductory page

    [3] Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign Magazine, November 1986

    [4] Doctrine and Covenants 11:21

    [5] Preach My Gospel, 108–109

    [6] Moroni 10:4–5

    [7] 2 Nephi 4:15

    [8] Russell M Nelson, Ensign Magazine, November 2017

    [9] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2011), 59–68

    [10] 2 Nephi 31:20

    [11] 2 Nephi 32:3