HOW DO WE GET NEARER TO GOD BY ABIDING BY ITS PRECEPTS?
As children of our Heavenly Father we long to come to know Him, to be close to Him. Memories shrouded by the veil of mortality beckon us homeward. In our earthly travail we need the hope that is only available through a relationship with Jesus Christ. President David O. McKay quoted James E. Gordon about how dismal life would be without hope in Christ. “A cathedral without windows, a face without eyes, a field without flowers, an alphabet without vowels, a continent without rivers, a night without stars, and a sky without a sun—these would not be so sad as a . . . soul without Christ.” Oh, how we need Jesus Christ in our everyday life!
A daily study of the Book of Mormon can help us have that relationship with Jesus Christ that we so desire. President Benson said: “Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God, to be more like Him in our daily walk, to feel His presence with us constantly? If so, then the Book of Mormon will help us do so more than any other book.” 13 Keystone of Religion
What are some of the precepts taught in the Book of Mormon that if understood and lived help us draw nearer to God? What are the great truths which distill upon our souls and become imbedded in our hearts as we study the Book of Mormon? Although this list is not inclusive here are some of the precepts taught in the Book of Mormon that help us draw near to God:
- The Book of Mormon contains the testimonies of ancient prophets that Jesus is the Christ (use quote from Joseph)
- The Book of Mormon invites us to come unto Christ.
- The Book of Mormon contains many specific prophecies of the coming of Christ.
- The Book of Mormon teaches that here is other way for salvation, only in and through Jesus Christ.
- The Book of Mormon teaches how to come unto Christ.
- The Book of Mormon teaches the fundamental principles of the gospel.
- The Book of Mormon teaches the Plan of Salvation.
- The Book of Mormon teaches of the role of and ministry of angels.
- The Book of Mormon exposes anti-Christ philosophies that will be in our day.
- The Book of Mormon warns of some of the spiritual dangers of our day.
Any book that would accomplish the above list is indeed a “Pearl of Great Price!” Indeed, the whole focus of the Book of Mormon is to bring us to Christ.
A DAILY STUDY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON FOCUSES OUR MINDS ON CHRIST
A daily study of the Book of Mormon focuses our minds on eternal truths. Focusing our minds on eternal truths draws us closer to God. There is great power in our thoughts, intents and desires. The exercise of our mind is through our free will. We make the choice of the focus of our minds. As night follows day the focus of our thoughts determine our actions. Paul encourages us “bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”(2 Cor 10:5) Alma, in the Book of Mormon encourages us with these words: “Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. (Alma 37:36 ) This idea of focusing on and directing our minds towards Jesus Christ daily, instead of simply on Sunday when we’re at church, is of paramount importance. Indeed the focus of our thoughts throughout the day is the genesis of our faith, the motivator of our actions. Jesus needs to be in our thoughts and awareness constantly. The more we focus on him the more we become like him. Alma teaches “how knowest a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”
THE GREATEST NEED IN ALL THE WORLD
In a conference address Elder James E. Faust taught about establishing a personal relationship with the Savior. He recounted the following incident: “Recently in South America, a seasoned group of outstanding missionaries was asked, “What is the greatest need in the world?” One wisely responded: “Is not the greatest need in all the world for every person to have a personal, ongoing, daily, continuing relationship with the Savior?” Having such a relationship can unchain the divinity within us, and nothing can make a greater difference in our lives as we come to know and understand our divine relationship with God.”15 (Oct 76 Conference).
It is through our daily “feasting” upon the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon and abiding by its teachings that we have a personal, ongoing, daily, continuing relationship with the Savior. Nephi eloquently explains the necessity of feasting upon the words of Christ. “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”16
Latter-day prophets have testified of the blessings that can come into our lives through a daily study of the Book of Mormon. Marion G. Romney said the following:
“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” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).
These promises—increased love and harmony in the home, greater respect between parent and child, increased spirituality and righteousness—are not idle promises, but exactly what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said the Book of Mormon will help us draw nearer to God. ” (The Keystone of our Religion, President Ezra Taft Benson, October Conference, 1986)