Friday, August 4, 2017

President Ezra Taft Benson on the power of the Book of Mormon

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1943, and served as the 13th President of the Church from 1985 until his death in 1994 at age 94.
"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and his gospel. It testifies of his divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.
"Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time....
"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 the falsehoods in socialism, organic evolution, rationalism, humanism, 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. And our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding the secret combinations which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of both previous American civilizations."
- Ezra Taft Benson, "The Book of Mormon is the Word of God," General Conference April 1975; see Ensign, May 1975, p. 64
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a powerful message from President Benson, who was then serving as the President of the Quorum of Twelve. This would become one of the major themes of the remainder of his ministry: the power available to us in of the Book of Mormon, and how we could more effectively draw on that power.

One of the stated purposes of the Book of Mormon is to "bring men to Christ." President Benson pointed out that the goal is accomplished both by teaching and testifying of the Redeemer, and by helping to expose the efforts of the adversary in our time. As we read and ponder the messages of the Book, we should be noticing aspects of both of those influences in our lives, and President Benson gave us examples of the kinds of things to watch for.

He went on to summarize our opportunity and obligation as stewards of the Book with this challenge:

President Benson sensed in 1975 that members of the Church, individually and collectively, were not receiving the benefits they could from the Boom of Mormon. His prophetic call was to "rise up" and improve, and to be blessed in our lives as we draw power and strength from our reading and pondering, and application, or the Book of Mormon messages. It's a very timeless message—one we should consider today, and regularly!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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