Written by Timothy Berman, member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to by the media as “The Mormon Church”). Timothy is a columnist for the Marysville LDS Church Examiner, Marysville Parenting Examiner, and the Seattle Multi-Faith examiner. He also maintains a blog at www.mormonapologeticstudies.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Of course, in the historical context, the Apostle was referring to the Old Testament that Timothy had access, however, we have additional scriptures that help guide us as we meditate [upon them] day and night (Psalm 1:2). Thus, in the broader sense, we also come to understand and know that our Heavenly Father has provided additional revelation through these sacred records that provide each one of us an understanding of how we ought to live our lives and base our faith and testimony. Because of this, we have an opportunity in this coming year to read, study, ponder and meditate on the Book of Mormon. Whether one has devoted daily reading and studying, or this is the first time one has read the Book of Mormon, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have an opportunity of strengthening our testimony.
President Ezra Taft Benson (a late prophet from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by friends of other faiths) published a book in 1998 titled A Witness and a Warning: A Modern-day Prophet Testifies of the Book of Mormon. Benson, Mormon prophet, writes:
The Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ in addition to The Bible) brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for 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.
Reflecting upon this, a personal perusal of the Book of Mormon led to Mosiah 3:5-8where King Benjamin, a prophet in ancient America, is continuing his address to the multitude of people that had gathered to hear him speak. Prophetically, King Benjamin proclaims the coming of the Messiah, his mission and ministry, and the ultimate sacrifice the Messiah would make. This substantiates all of the ancient prophecies of the coming of a Messiah that we read throughout the Old Testament, and the fulfillment of those prophecies as we read and study in the New Testament.
Speaking on the subject of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Joseph Smith taught that it is: (1) the keystone of our religion, (2) contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, (3) most correct of any book on earth, and that (4) a person would be able to draw closer to our Heavenly Father (Benson, 1986 – The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion; see also History of the Church,4:461).
President Benson continues with the second reason on how the Book of Mormon brings a person unto Jesus Christ:
Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention (See 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.
Today, we are living in trying times. General Authorities (leaders of the LDS Church) have spoken out on having faith, enduring and strengthening our testimonies. President Thomas S. Monson (Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) spoke at the April 2009 general conference with his message of Be of Good Cheer
….[There] have been continuing signs that circumstances in the world aren’t necessarily as we would wish. The global economy, which six months ago appeared to be sagging, seems to have taken a nosedive, and for many weeks now, the financial outlook has been somewhat grim. In addition, moral footings of society continue to slip, while those who attempt to safeguard those footings are often ridiculed and, at times, picketed and persecuted. Wars, natural disasters, and personal misfortunes continue to occur.
Speaking at the April 2011 general conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson (a Latter-day Saint apostle) spoke on how we ought to face the future with faith:
We live in a time of turmoil. Earthquakes and tsunamis wreak devastation, governments collapse, economic stresses are severe, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising. We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.
Along with these admonishments and counsel from Prophets and Apostles, the Book of Mormon, along with the other standard works of the Church, provide insight as to how we ought to conduct ourselves, live out our faith, and encourage us to face whatever obstacle or challenge we may face in our lives. God is a God of love and provides help and hope through divine messages and messengers. As indicated in the Book of Mormon, those who are faithful in holding onto the iron rod–not perfect but faithful– (See 1 Nephi 15:23-24) are making their way to the Tree of Life. That tree represents the love of the Savior and His presence! In partaking of His life and love, we are filled with gifts and abilities to follow Him, to have joy, to make decisions that will optimize outcomes in our lives.
As we progress through the New Year, and the course of study within the Book of Mormon, let us contemplate the reality that the Book of Mormon truly is written for us today. Its message is more important for the world and for Latter-day Saints today than ever before. We should not neglect the reading and studying of the Book of Mormon. This is because as the days grow darker, the storm clouds forming and slowly moving in, the sifting of God’s followers will begin, and if we do not have a firm grasp and testimony, many of us will fall prey to false doctrines, ideologies, or our hearts will begin to fail us as we look at the condition of the world today.
As stated, the Apostle Paul revealed the purpose of scripture, and the Psalmist provides the blessings attributed to reading from, meditating and pondering upon the scriptures [law], and how we have been counseled on the importance of daily scripture study. This includes our own personal and family scripture study through the Book of Mormon. Finally, we ought to take solace in knowing that as we continue on our mortal journey, holding fast to the iron rod, and pressing forward with great faith and endurance, we will ultimately be blessed in partaking of the Tree of Life that is our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. Let us become that man of God who is perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works.
Learn more about the Book of Mormon at the official site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”).
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