19264

Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson Lesson 9: The Book of Mormon

19264

Image from LDS.org.

The qualities of the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants are discussed in this lesson. Just as the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone, or crowning achievement of our religion. The Lord has given his blessing on both books.

President Benson, and Doctrine and Covenants 84:56 – 57 says the whole Church is under condemnation from the Lord, and will remain under condemnation, until we start reading, studying, and using the Book of Mormon for what it was intended. President Benson said that we don’t read it enough, teach it enough, nor do as it teaches enough. For this reason the whole Church is still under condemnation from the Lord.

Now, lest you think that he is being unduly harsh, here is one of his statements. It explains how we are supposed to be using the Book of Mormon, and shows why it is so important.

We have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should. Our homes are not as strong unless we are using it to bring our children to Christ. Our families may be corrupted by worldly trends and teachings unless we know how to use the book to expose and combat falsehoods. … Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are [teaching] with it. Social, ethical, cultural, or educational converts will not survive under the heat of the day unless their taproots go down to the fulness of the gospel which the Book of Mormon contains. Our Church classes are not as Spirit-filled unless we hold it up as a standard.

Book of Mormon as a Taproot

The taproot of a tree is the main root that grows deep into the earth searching for water. It is the taproot that provides much of the staying strength for the tree when the winds come along and try to blow it over. It is the taproot that allows a tree to continue to live even when there is drought.

The Book of Mormon is our spiritual taproot. Like a keystone in an arch, if you remove the Book of Mormon, our whole religion crumbles, wastes away, and cannot stand scrutiny. Everything we are depends on its truthfulness.

Fortunately, we have the Lord’s opinion of the Book of Mormon to back up President Benson’s claims of its importance. Here is the list of the references given in the lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants.

By His own mouth He has borne witness (1) that it is true (D&C 17:6), (2) that it contains the truth and His words (D&C 19:26), (3) that it was translated by power from on high (D&C 20:8), (4) that it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:9; 42:12), (5) that it was given by inspiration and confirmed by the ministering of angels (D&C 20:10), (6) that it gives evidence that the holy scriptures are true (D&C 20:11), and (7) that those who receive it in faith shall receive eternal life (D&C 20:14).

The New Covenant

We have an Old Testament (covenant) and a New Testament. The Book of Mormon is referred to by the Lord as his new covenant with his people. Now we have three testaments or covenants that have come from God. This is why the Church added the subheading to the title, making it read, The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ.

Unlike the first two testaments, which underwent multiple translations, centuries of tampering, and many copyings, the Book of Mormon was translated only once, and that was by a prophet. This gives us a purity and wealth of doctrine that is unequaled in either of the first two testaments.

Much of the basic doctrine or teachings of the Church about the atonement, justice and mercy, and the resurrection are explained in great detail in the Book of Mormon, but barely mentioned in the Bible. Elder Marion G. Romney, extols the virtues of turning to the Book of Mormon in our families. There are real and tangible benefits available to us if we will but study the Book of Mormon daily in our homes as a family.

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

The Purpose

Because of its doctrinal purity and breadth, the Book of Mormon teaches us how to discern between truth and error. One of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon is to clarify the murkier teachings of the Bible, put an end to contentions about the doctrine, and establish peace among Christians.

When we come to understand the doctrine and stories in the Book of Mormon, we will gain the power of discernment, and the ability to tell truth from error in the teachings we encounter in the world today. This is another great purpose for this book. President Benson was very clear in expressing his observation that those who delve into the Book of Mormon and learn it well are noticeably more spiritual, and have greater endowments of spirituality than those who do not.

I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not. That book is a great sifter.

The Bridge

The Book of Mormon is the binding link, the bridge between the two older covenants God made with his people and the modern revelations to his people. Both books are modern books of scriptures, and both are meant to prepare the Lord’s covenant people for life in the last days. The Book of Mormon is unique in that it is an ancient book of scripture that was written specifically to be used by the Saints of God in the last dispensation of time. The Doctrine and Covenants testifies of the truths in the Book of Mormon, and gives us directions that are meant solely for preparing us for the Lord’s return.

Joseph Smith refers to the Book of Mormon as the keystone to our religion. The Doctrine and Covenants is referred to as the capstone, or crowning achievement of our religion. “In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn of temple work, eternal families, the degrees of glory, Church organization, and many other great truths of the Restoration.”

Conclusion

The purpose of these scriptures is to teach us how to resist the temptations of Satan, discern truth from error, increase our spirituality, and explain the core doctrines of the Savior’s gospel. It should be easy to see why He would tell the Church that if they treat these revelations lightly they will be under condemnation. That condemnation will be lifted, and great blessings poured out upon our heads, and our homes, when we begin to focus our lives around the study of the Book of Mormon.

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.

Comments and feedback can be sent to feedback@ldsliving.com