Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Book of Mormon - the Keystone of Our Religion

Every night before we go to bed, Larry and I read out loud to each other from the Book of Mormon.  We alternate reading five verses each for a chapter or two.   We also have the book on CD’s which we sometimes listen to in the car.  Between the two, we just finished it (again)  on Friday.   

Over the years we have read this book many, many times.  I’ve also taught both youth and adult Sunday school classes based on this book.  So I think it’s fair to say I know the basic plot and characters pretty well.  I am more than familiar with the stories.  However, every time I approach the book again, I find new things that seem to apply to whatever challenges I am experiencing at that particular time.  Every time I read it, I find so many passages that speak to me in powerful ways.   I love this book.

Sometimes I read it from beginning to end, going through each book  in order.  Other times I pick a particular topic  (such as joy,  forgiveness or faith) and search throughout the book to find passages pertaining to that subject.  (It’s great to use the online version  on my computer for that so I can type in any word I want and the search will bring up all the scriptures that include that word or phrase). Sometimes I read it on my phone, or on my tablet.  Other times I read it in the paper book. I may flip through to read the passages that I have underlined or where I have made margin notes.  Occasionally I will open the book at random, reading whatever verses I come to, then reflecting on what I can learn from those words.

 No matter how I approach my study of the Book of Mormon, I find answers to questions that I have, solutions to problems I am struggling with.   The lessons in this book have made me a better wife, a better mother, a better friend, and a better member of my community.  It has given me peace when I was struggling or overwhelmed.  It has given me comfort when I needed it sorely.

This book is truly a sacred record that was prepared and preserved by ancient prophets for this time in history.  It is my map for my life decisions and helps me find my way through this crazy, chaotic world.  I am very grateful for the Book of Mormon.
I will continue to read it again and again throughout my life, growing richer every time.

In 1986 Ezra Taft Benson gave an address about the importance of

the Book of Mormon, listing three reasons why it is considered the keystone of our religion:

1) "
The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity."

2)"The Book of Mormon is also the keystone of the doctrine of the Resurrection. As mentioned before, the Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation."

3) "Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon."

The Book of Mormon was specifically written for our day.

Again,from President Benson's talk:
Mormon himself said, “Yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel” (Morm. 7:1). And Moroni, the last of the inspired writers, actually saw our day and time. “Behold,” he said, “the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Morm. 8:34–35)."

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” (History of the Church, 4:461)

Marion G. Romney gave this sacred promise about the Book of Mormon:
“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).
As President Benson said:  "These promises—increased love and harmony in the home, greater respect between parent and child, increased spirituality and righteousness—are not idle promises, but exactly what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said the Book of Mormon will help us draw nearer to God."

I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of that promise.  When I pattern my life after the teachings of this book I truly do feel an increase of love.  The spirit of contention fades.  My life simply works better when I consistently make a practice of prayerfully pondering the teachings of this book.

I am so grateful for all the different ways I have to keep these words with me always.   It is my goal to read at least a few verses of this book every day for the rest of my life.  As I do so, I know I will be richly blessed.

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