Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Book of Mormon

I bought a subscription to the Ensign magazine published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about a year ago, but I haven't been very good about actually reading it each month. This month, however, I heard about the issue before it even arrived in my mailbox. Once in a while they dedicate an entire issue to a single topic, and this one was all about the Book of Mormon. So yesterday I opened my copy and started reading. (Here's the link to the online version)

I'm only just past halfway through, but as I read, I'm filled with the Holy Spirit affirming to me that what I'm reading is true. Every single page has the witness of prophets and the personal experiences of Latter-Day Saints all over the world bearing their own witness that the Book of Mormon is inspired of God and that it leads them to greater faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The messages are conveyed so simply and so powerfully that it's impossible to NOT feel the Holy Spirit as you read with an open heart and desire to learn. 

The articles I've read so far relate the story of Joseph Smith (who translated the Book of Mormon into English by the power of God), how the Book of Mormon was written and compiled by ancient prophet-historians, and teach us how to study the Book of Mormon more effectively and apply it in our own lives. Article titles include: "What the Book of Mormon Teaches about the Love of God" (beautiful examples of the Savior's love, and how we can develop that love ourselves), "The Book of Mormon: A Witness with the Bible" (I loved reading that one), "How to Study the Book of Mormon" (3 reasons and 3 ways), "Lehi's Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod" (how we need to be consistently engaged in scripture study instead of taking casual, periodic dips into scripture) and "The Book of Mormon: Strengthening Our Faith in Jesus Christ" (shows how the entire Book of Mormon is all about Christ, and how we can apply it to our lives). These are just some of the articles I've read so far, so there's a lot more that I'm excited to discover! 

I do love the scriptures. I enjoy reading the Gospels and epistles in the New Testament, and the poetry and inspiring history in the Old Testament are cool too, but the Book of Mormon holds a special place for me. It feels like chatting with an old friend - a familiar voice - that surprises me anew with what I can continue to learn as I engage in deep conversation. Sometimes I am guilty of skimming the surface when I'm tired, distracted or lazy, but I know that as I become ever more intimately acquainted with the Book of Mormon, my faith in Jesus Christ glows brighter and brighter. As I read with the intent to learn, I see how other people have been put to the test, and the results that come from humility and disobedience, whether they turn to God and open their hearts or whether they become hardened and entrenched in selfishness and sin. I can't see the whole "big picture" in my life yet (and it's so hard sometimes to remember all the lessons I've learned, all the time), so the Book of Mormon shows me the pattern of the "big picture" for me to model my own life after. Time and time again, the history of the Book of Mormon proves that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all the world, and that it is only through Him that we may find peace, happiness, and strength to continue on. It is much more than history though - its pages are replete with warnings against sin, encouragement to always increase in righteousness, and more than anything else, it prophesies of Jesus Christ's ministry and mission, His life, death, and resurrection. The Book of Mormon testifies to me of the universality of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its efficacy in changing lives, the centrality of families in the Plan of Salvation, and of the love of God for all His children.

That is the experience that I've had with reading the Book of Mormon. Every year I get better at reading it consistently and meaningfully, and I know that as I do so, I will come to know God better, and as I apply the principles I learn of and rely on His grace, I will become more like Him. The world needs the Book of Mormon; it has been prepared for the time that we live in. I urge you to read it and promise you that as you do, you will feel God's love for you. If you allow Him to, He will change your heart for the better. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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