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Friday, August 19, 2016

Book of Mormon Is the Keystone

                We can strengthen families, communities, and nations by learning how to be more effective missionaries.
President David O. McKay said, “Every member a missionary,” and President Thomas S. Monson called for better member missionaries. Are you following this counsel? Would you like to know how to be a better member missionary?

                This site has prepared some family home evening lessons to help us become better missionaries by using the missionary manual, Preach My Gospel. The “lessons cover everything from using the Book of Mormon to teach to understanding the Spirit better.” The site promises that “family home evenings will be filled with the spirit of missionary work” if you use the lessons. 

                The second lesson comes from Preach My Gospel, Chapter 5: “What Is the Role of the Book of Mormon?” The purpose of this lesson is to emphasize the importance of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ is sharing the gospel. The lesson emphasizes the value of knowing what the Book of Mormon teaches and why it is essential.

                The “Introduction” in the Book of Mormon discusses the “what,” “when,” “how,” etc. of the volume of history. This statement is found in the sixth paragraph:  “Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: `I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was 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.’”

                Approximately 30 years ago in the October 1986 General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke on the topic of “The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion.” President Benson (1899-1994) was the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As an Apostle of the Lord, he also served the United States as Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower Administration. “He is remembered for his firm testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon and his emphasis on its importance in daily scripture study, missionary work, and gospel teaching.”

                President Benson begins his talk by explaining that the Book of Mormon is “one of the most significant gifts given to the world in modern times” and “is a gift of greater value to mankind than even the many wonderful advances we have seen in modern medicine… [or] … the development of flight or space travel….” He reminds us that this “gift was prepared by the hand of the Lord over a period of more than a thousand years, then hidden … [and] … preserved” for us. He also reminds us that the Lord bore witness of the Book of Mormon: (1) It is true (Doctrine and Covenants 17:6), (2) It “contains the truth and His words” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:26), (3) It “was translated by power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:8), (4) It “contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:9; 42:12), (5) It “was given by inspiration and confirmed by the ministering of angels” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:10), (6) It “gives evidence that the holy scriptures are true” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:11), and (7) Those “who receive it in faith shall receive eternal life” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:14).

                Later in his talk, President Benson explains that there “are three great reasons why Latter-day Saints should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit.” The three reasons are: (1) The “Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.” (2) “It was written for our day.” (3) It “helps us draw closer to God.” I know that the entire talk is relevant and interesting, but I will share only what President Benson says about the first reason.

                “The first is that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. [He includes part of Joseph Smith’s statement quoted above.] A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.
                “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.”

                President Benson explains the three ways that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion and testifies that he has spoken the truth. This talk by President Benson is one of the classic talks given in General Conference and should be studied by all members of the Church over and over again. I would like to share all of the talk with you, but I will return to the “Introduction” in the Book of Mormon.

                The seventh paragraph explains that eleven other people saw the gold plates and left their written testimonies. These testimonies are included in the Book of Mormon under the headings of “The Testimony of the Three Witnesses” and “The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses.”

                The eighth and ninth paragraphs issue an invitation and a promise:  “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3-5.)  
                “Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.”

                I have read the Book of Mormon many times, usually two or even three times each year. I have pondered its message and taken my questions to Heavenly Father. When He knew that I sincerely wanted to know if it is true, I received a powerful message through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and brings me closer to God. I encourage you to read this sacred book and ask God for yourself. If you are sincere in your quest, you can know the truth and strengthen yourself, your family, your community, and your nation.

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