Modern Prophets Speak, Volume I, No. 41, Benson
Excerpt from President Ezra Taft Benson’s First Presidency Message, “The Book of Mormon is the Word of God,” January 1988
Now, 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 in socialism, rationalism, etc. Our missionaries are not as effective unless they are “hissing forth” 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. The situation in the world will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God and quit building up and upholding secret combinations, which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of ancient civilizations.
Some of the early missionaries, on returning home, were reproved by the Lord in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants because they had treated lightly the Book of Mormon. As a result, their minds had been darkened. The Lord said that this kind of treatment of the Book of Mormon brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all of the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon.” (See D&C 84:54–57.) Are we still under that condemnation?
Reading the Book of Mormon is one of the greatest persuaders to get men on missions. We need more missionaries. But we also need better-prepared missionaries coming out of wards and branches and homes where they know and love the Book of Mormon. A great challenge and day of preparation is at hand for missionaries to meet and teach with the Book of Mormon. We need missionaries to match our message.
And now grave consequences hang on our response to the Book of Mormon:
“Those who receive it in faith,” said the Lord, “and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;
“But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation—
“For the Lord God has spoken it.” (D&C 20:14–16.)
Is the Book of Mormon true? Yes.
Who is it for? Us.
What is its purpose? To bring men to Christ.
How does it do this? By testifying of Christ and revealing His enemies.
How are we to use it? We are to get a testimony of it, we are to teach from it, we are to hold it up as a standard and “hiss it forth.”
Have we been doing this? Not as we should, nor as we must.
Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or to our condemnation.
Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of that iron rod, and one who does not.
Ezra Taft Benson served as thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as Secretary of Agriculture for both terms of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.
Modern Prophets Speak is a project of the Center for Moral Liberalism.