If you’re like me, you have recently finished reading the Book of Mormon in response to the Prophet’s invitation. I was sad as I finished. The experience was so enriching.
I know I can start reading the book over again. And I can move to another great book of scripture. But there was something special about this pass through the Book of Mormon. Maybe God is reminding me — and all of us — that there are special blessings in store for those who take the counsel of living prophets seriously. Maybe God is reminding all of us that he is offering “wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).
It was surprisingly easy to find clear messages to the latter-days to help us steer clear of worldly reefs. The columns I have written since September include the following:
#1: Revelation (Revelation is commonplace in the Book of Mormon!)
#2: Mighty change (We will never get it right until our hearts are changed.)
#3: Laws of Survival by Barbara Keil (God’s rules are very different from the world’s.)
#4: The R’s of Repentance (The ability to repent is a blessed gift.)
#5: Are We Not All Beggars? (We are all dependent upon God and should be gracious as He is.)
#6: A Better Kind of Esteem (Esteeming God rather than ourselves is the key to our progress.)
#7: How Easy is the Way? (God shows us a clear path.)
#8: Sizing Up the Enemy (We should turn from Satan to the Savior.)
#9: Learning and Unlearning Hatred (Hatred is Satan’s way, not God’s.)
#10: Our Records Are Vital for Our Well-Being (The Book teaches us to keep a faithful record.)
#11: Two Views of Conversion (We can learn about spiritual processes by Alma’s change.)
#12: Portrait of Evil (Satan is a liar and a cheat. We should recognize his deceptions.)
#13: His Image in Our Countenances (Compassion is the key to being a disciple.)
What would you include if you were listing the messages of the Book of Mormon that can help us steer a safe course through latter-day storms and barriers? One perceptive reader wrote me about the dangers of secret combinations. Others have pointed to other lessons. There are many more vital lessons and correctives in the Book of Mormon than any of us have discovered.
Some of the themes I listed but did not find time to write about include the following:
- We should trust God to manage and direct our lives.
- We must overcome the natural man so we can become friends with God.
- God makes an invitation to consecration.
- We must teach our families to embrace light and truth.
- The doctrine of the atonement (taught so clearly and powerfully in the Book of Mormon!) is central to understanding mortality.
- Rationalization endangers our relationship with God.
- Learning is dangerous in the absence of faith.
- We can use our minds to carry ourselves to appointments with the divine.
- Faith in God often entails surrendering control in our lives.
- God gives guidance (and scripture) more gladly than we suspect.
- The love and condescension of God are the energizing power in the atonement.
- What some make into a mystery can be plain and precious when we have the key of knowledge.
- Afflictions are blessings when seen through eyes of faith.
- Agency is a divine gift and blessing.
- God is focused on blessing us — unlike the mainline religious assumption that we exist solely to praise God.
- Our attitude toward the poor and struggling is the measure of our conversion.
- Wealth is dangerous without faith, love, and humility.
- Truth is to be found in light.
- From the beginning those who have been taught from on High have known of Jesus.
- Jesus is the central figure in all of human history.
As I wrote in the first article in this series, “We commonly cherry-pick a verse here or there from the Book of Mormon to fill in the gaps in our talks and lessons. How often do we go to that great book to be taught new ways of thinking? Do we use the Book of Mormon to make our points or to make His? Are we willing to be re-educated by God? Since this great book was written and compiled with us in mind, it has special claim on our interest. It has special power to reform us.”
I feel sure that we as a church and people have only scratched the surface of truth that is available to us as we seek the mind and will of God. We have seen the first fulfillment of President Hinckley’s promise. We look forward to discovering more great truths as we continue our study of the words of God.
“Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Testimony Vibrant and True,” Ensign, August 2005, p. 6).