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Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Lesson 8: The Power of the Word

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This lesson is different from most lessons. Normally, a lesson is made up of a collection of quotes from a number of talks. They are arranged by subject matter to make up the completed lesson. This week’s lesson on the power of the word of God all comes from a single talk given by President Benson in a special priesthood leadership meeting. This was his first general conference as the President of the Church.

The Need to Hold Fast

This talk, given almost 30 years ago, reminds us that in the last days Satan will have power over his own dominion. The war he is waging against all things that are good and right is very real. It is intentional. In this struggle to pervert all things good, to hide the truth under layers of lies and partial truths, it becomes more and more necessary to have a standard of truth by which we can live our lives. That standard is found in the scriptures. With the scriptures we have the absolute standards by which all things may be judged either right or wrong, good or evil. The gift of the Holy Ghost we receive at baptism teaches us how to discern the difference.

When this talk was given in 1986, personal computers were just making their appearance. There was no Internet available like we have it today. Most people had never even heard of the Internet. Gay rights was just beginning to surface as a major political issue, and pornography had to be bought in a bookstore or newsstand in a private section. Oh how things have changed, and not for the better.

As information has become more readily accessible, and designing people have gotten cleverer with the subtlety of their arguments, they have lured many members of the Church into murky waters of doubt and unbelief. President Benson describes how today’s society matches so perfectly with what Lehi saw in his dream.

The prophet Lehi also saw our day in his great visionary dream of the tree of life. He saw that many people would wander blindly in the mists of darkness, which symbolized the temptations of the devil. (See 1 Ne. 12:17.) He saw some fall away “in forbidden paths,” others drown in rivers of filthiness, and still others wander in “strange roads.” (1 Ne. 8:28, 32.) When we read of the spreading curse of drugs, or read of the pernicious flood of pornography and immorality, do any of us doubt that these are the forbidden paths and rivers of filthiness Lehi described?

The only way to prevent ending up in these unpleasant destinations is to hold to the rod of iron. Iron is the symbol of strength and durability. It is those who cling to this rod who are able to navigate through the darkness to the tree that bares the fruit of the love of God. The rod is a representation of the word of God, the scriptures. Think how important that makes the scriptures. We are told that clinging to the teachings in the sacred word is the only way we will be able to reach our professed destination, to taste the love of God with our family at our side.

Scripture Study Changes Lives

The secret to protecting ourselves and our families from the dangers of the modern world, and from that which is to come, is to immerse ourselves in the scriptures. That protection has always been available, and has ever had the same effect on people. President Harold B. Lee once told the Regional Representatives in a meeting,

“We are convinced that our members are hungry for the gospel, undiluted, with its abundant truths and insights. … There are those who have seemed to forget that the most powerful weapons the Lord has given us against all that is evil are His own declarations, the plain simple doctrines of salvation as found in the scriptures.” (In Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 1 Oct. 1970, p. 6.)

The most powerful weapon the Lord wields are his own words. He is a God of truth, and that truth reveals all deception, gladdens the heart, brings joy to the soul, and lights the path of duty. God’s word shows Satan’s lies for what they are, and illuminates the path back to God for those who have lost their way in the darkness of worldly pursuits.

President Benson actually makes the promise to the leaders of the Church that if they want to increase attendance at Church, the number of missionaries serving, general activity of the members, etc., the key lies in scripture study. When the individual members of the Church begin to prize time spent within the confines of the scriptures, and their testimonies grow, all the other problems of the Church begin to right themselves. The key is in instilling a love for the word of God in the people of the Church.

Benefits of Scripture Study

Joseph Smith promised, in regards to the Book of Mormon, that “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” How does that happen? It happens because it is the most correct book on the face of the earth. The Book of Mormon has the fulness of the gospel. The Lord spent a thousand years putting that book together for us. It was written specifically to guide us through these troubled times. The more we study its pages, the closer to God we will come to be.

The scriptures don’t just teach the commandments of God. They offer healing to the soul. They give us directions to solve problems we face. They teach us what we should be doing to become like God. The scriptures offer solace in times of distress and sorrow. They give voice to our times of joy. This is but a small glimpse of the power of immersing ourselves in the scriptures.

Our Personal Responsibility

We have been told before that where much is given, much is required. When we study the scriptures and learn from them, the Lord then expects us to conform our lives to live as we have learned. Blessings don’t come from knowledge alone, but from knowledge that is applied in our lives. This is where the power of the scriptures is made manifest.

But we cannot be saved in ignorance. We have to seek out the Lord’s will, learn of his ways, then go and try to live in the same way, and obey his will. Then, with the gift of the Holy Ghost that is ours, we will be taught from on high. Our lives will change for the better. We will feel the love and support from God that will teach us how to act like the Savior. We will find joy.

I strongly encourage you to study, not just read, but study this lesson in the manual. It is very powerful, and holds so much more than what I can cover here. You will cheat your own soul if you do not avail yourself of what President Benson offers you in this particular lesson. The scriptures are the key to holding on to that iron rod. If we want to taste for ourselves the pure love of God, we must learn to cling to the power that is our scriptures.

Read President Benson's teachings at LDS.org.

Kelly likes to keep the gospel simple. For more of his articles and lesson helps go to his website, http://mormonbasics.com.

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