We have been commanded by the Saviour to “search the scriptures for in them….ye have eternal life….and they testify of me” (John 5:39). To learn of Him, know Him, and hear Him, we must diligently study the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, as it is “the most correct book on earth and the keystone of our religion” (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 4:461).
I vividly recall the day I diligently read the Book of Mormon in the year 2005. By accepting an invitation from President Gordon B Hinckley, I was filled with great joy, my faith and testimony in Jesus Christ was strengthened, and my perspective of just reading scriptures changed to searching the scriptures. Since my baptism I have read the Book of Mormon many times, but I wish to sincerely acknowledge that for a long time my approach was casual, mostly skimming to accomplish my scripture study, seldom understanding the doctrine. But an invitation from the prophet of the Lord helped me to search the scriptures diligently for the plain and precious things, remembering that Nephi taught, “I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious” (1 Nephi 13:34).
Initially I focused on history and my favourite characters, which changed from time to time, starting with Nephi to Enos, Abinadi to Alma, Alma the Younger to Ammon, Helaman to Moroni. Eventually I understood that the central figure of the Book of Mormon is Jesus Christ. From the beginning prophets have prophesised of the coming of Christ, His suffering, and His death and resurrection. My testimony strengthened as I learned from objects and characters that pointed to Christ, such as the Tree of Life, the Liahona, the Olive Tree, and the Prophet Abinadi. Each one is a shadow of Christ, confirming this statement from the title page of the Book of Mormon, that it is for “the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ the Eternal God.”
President Ezra Taft Benson affirmed that
“Every Latter-day saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit”President Ezra Taft Benson
I urge the rising generation to feast upon the Book of Mormon, for each time we read it we draw ourselves nearer to God, and we learn that salvation comes only through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It brings clarity to truths such as the Plan of Happiness and Christ’s divine mission, and his unconditional love. Members of the church should spend time reading the Book of Mormon. It has power to teach simple doctrines and principles such as faith, obedience, repentance, and a mighty change of heart. It has the power to transform natural men into saints.
The Book of Mormon teaches the lesson of obedience, which is the first law of heaven. Lehi, a faithful servant obeyed the Lord’s command. With courage he left all his wealth and his birthplace and wandered in the wilderness with his family going through hunger, fatigue, and struggles, but he was later blessed. As recorded in the Book of Mormon, “And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him” (1 Nephi 2:3).
The Book of Mormon also tells many stories of men who experienced a mighty change of heart, those who sincerely repented and became instruments in the Lord’s hand. One such powerful transformation occurred to Alma the Younger who once sought to destroy the church of God. After being visited by an angel he sincerely repented, becoming a powerful missionary and mouthpiece of the Lord. Later in life he also exhibited great qualities of fatherhood by teaching his sons when they had walked in the perverted ways of the world. His counsel wrought a change of heart in them, they repented and became valiant soldiers in the Lord’s kingdom. Each one of us are given similar opportunities in life for spiritual rebirth.
The people of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies are great examples of forgiveness. Once a ferocious people, they accepted Christ, converted to the Lord, and then demonstrated great courage by forgiving their enemies. When the Lamanites waged war against them, they chose not to fight, but buried their weapons so deep that even with provocation they could not take them up, but rather chose to die in Christ.
The Book of Mormon was preserved and written for our day. “Whosoever drinketh of the water …shall never thirst” (John 4:14). The Book of Mormon is true, it is another testament and new covenant of Christ. I urge all to study the Book of Mormon with real intent; it will bring you closer to God and help you feel his love and power.