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Larry Barkdull, long-time Meridian writer unexpectedly died this week. This was his last article, delivered to us just days before his death.
My daughter-in-law manufactures kidney stones. Recently, she was trying to pass a huge stone that became lodged and would not move for a week. She was in misery. The doctors offered her a final option: place a painful stint and ride out the pain for a couple of weeks. In all likelihood, she would not be able to function very well.
The solution was problematic on a number of fronts. Her husband had a business convention that he could not miss and my wife and I were going to be out of town during the same time. Without family support, our daughter-in-law would have little help to take care of her four children.
On the night before we all were to depart, I was called to help give her a priesthood blessing. My son devotes himself to being a worthy priesthood holder. We discussed the inherent power in the Book of Mormon and the recent talk by President Russell M. Nelson called “The Price of Priesthood Power.” After we offered a prayer of faith, I anointed my daughter-in-law and my son laid his hands upon her head and commanded the stone to immediately split and pass. And it did!
Is priesthood power something that you strive to achieve? According to two presidents of the Quorum of the Twelve, the only thing that will bless and protect your family in the future is your priesthood power.
In April 2010, President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk to priesthood holders.
We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood.… But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be…. Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power.[i]
In April 2016, President Russell M. Nelson gave a similar talk to priesthood holders.
I urgently plead with each one of us to live up to our privileges as bearers of the priesthood. In a coming day, only those men who have taken their priesthood seriously, by diligently seeking to be taught by the Lord Himself, will be able to bless, guide, protect, strengthen, and heal others. Only a man who has paid the price for priesthood power will be able to bring miracles to those he loves and keep his marriage and family safe, now and throughout eternity.[ii]
How do we develop more power in the priesthood?
President Nelson listed “faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity, diligence, humility. The more those attributes are developed, the greater will be our priesthood power.”
Then he asked pointed questions.
- “Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power?”
- “Are you willing to worship in the temple regularly?”
- “Are you willing to follow President Thomas S. Monson’s example of serving others?”
- “Are you willing to search the scriptures and feast on the words of Christ—to study earnestly in order to have more power?”
It is this last question that I would like to explore.
When Alma was handing to his son, Helaman, the sacred record that would become the Book of Mormon, he compared it to other revelatory instruments, including the Liahona.[iii] Then, as if to emphasize a unique usage of the record, he testified three times in six verses that the very power of God was infused therein.
The Lord had kept sacred and preserved the Book of Mormon record “for a wise purpose, that [God] may show forth his power unto future generations…. He will still show forth his power in them [the Book of Mormon record]…. he hath shown forth his power in them [the Book of Mormon record], and he will also still show forth his power in them unto future generations; therefore they shall be preserved.”[iv]
Are we willing to believe Alma? President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the power of God being resident in the Book of Mormon: “There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book.”[v]
What are the risks of complacency to our treatment of the Book of Mormon?
Heber C. Kimball prophesied:
A test, a TEST, a TEST is coming!…. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand…. The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If you do not have it, how can you stand?[vi]
Is apathy worth your family’s safety? Consider the words of these prophets:
- President Boyd K. Packer – “No one of us survive in the world today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration.”[vii]
- President Ezra Taft Benson – “If we ignore what the Lord has given us, we may lose the very power and blessing which we seek.”[viii]
- President Ezra Taft Benson Benson – “Could the lack of teaching the scriptures in our homes be a source of our suffering in ignorance today?”[ix]
What have we done wrong?
We have treated lightly the Book of Mormon, latter-day revelations and the words of the prophets. In 1832, the Lord condemned the Saints for treating the Book of Mormon and the words of Christ as a “light thing.”
“And your minds in times past have been darkened by unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received. Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.”[x]
Darkened – Absence of light; stifled in our progression. Remember that one hundred percent of the people, who labored in the mists of darkness and neglected the iron rod, fell away and were lost.[xi]
Vanity – Apathy. We don’t believe that daily feasting upon the Book of Mormon is necessary.
Unbelief – We don’t believe the Book of Mormon can do what the Lord says it can do.
The Lord prophesied that scourges and judgments would follow such behavior.[xii] We continue to suffer the scourges and judgments that result from the condemnation. In fact, we have no idea what life would be like without the condemnation. To date, no prophet has declared the condemnation lifted.
In 1986, President Ezra Taft Benson said:
Now, in our day, the Lord revealed the need to reemphasize the Book of Mormon to get the Church and all the children of Zion out from under condemnation – the scourge and judgment (See D&C 84:54-58.) This message must be carried to the members of the Church throughout the world…. I promise you that from this moment forward, if we will daily sup from its pages and abide its principles, God will pour out upon each child of Zion and the Church a blessing hitherto unknown – and we will plead to the Lord that he will begin to lift the condemnation – the scourge and judgment.[xiii]
Imagine! The prophet of God offered to pray with the other General Authorities that the Lord would lift the condemnation if we members would simply reemphasize the Book of Mormon in our lives. What would happen? “God will pour out upon each child of Zion and the Church a blessing hitherto unknown.” We would cease to suffer the scourges and judgments of the world.
In 1832, the Saints ignored the Lord’s condemnation, so in 1833, He warned them again: “And all they who receive the oracles [revelations] of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.”[xiv]
Shortly thereafter, they lost Zion. Could we redeem Zion by re-enthroning the Book of Mormon as the keystone of our lives?
We are in the season of the Lord’s hastening and we must prepare. President Benson said, “This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church. We must be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so we will not be deceived.”[xv] The Book of Mormon is the great revealer. Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote, “[In the Book of Mormon] more than any other volume, the Lord opens the windows of heaven, not only to pour out blessings, but to let us look in.”[xvi]
M. Catherine Thomas writes, “We will never meet all the challenges of this dispensation unaided. The forces about to be unleashed against the world will be sufficient to decimate the entire population (D&C 5:19). Only those who have learned how to receive the Holy Spirit for their guide will be able to read the signs and abide those days.”[xvii]
The Book of Mormon is the solution! Catherine Thomas continues:
What is that quintessential preparation from which all other preparations naturally follow? The Lord has provided the answer, and it lies in the inspired use of the Book of Mormon—in particular, the use of the Book of Mormon as an instrument of personal revelation. Nearly every description of the tests that the Saints will undergo makes it clear that only personal revelation will make faithful endurance possible. Inspired uses of the Book of Mormon lie at the very core of the Saints’ preparation….”[xviii]
Clearly, the Book of Mormon is more than a sacred work of American scripture and the “stick of Joseph.”[xix] The Book of Mormon is designated and designed by the Lord to be a revelatory “key” that can open the door to universal knowledge. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The way to achieve a high state of gospel scholarship is first to study and ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon and then follow the same course with reference to other scriptures.”[xx]
Thus, the Book of Mormon is the gateway to the other scriptures and words of the prophets. It is the “standard”[xxi] of the Standard Works. Elder David A. Bednar also distinguished the Book of Mormon from the other scriptures. While it is important to read, study, search and ponder the scriptures “in general,” he said, we should continually read, study, search and ponder “the Book of Mormon in particular.”[xxii]
The Book of Mormon not only is a primary connection to the power of God; it is a primary connection to the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon is infused with a special “spirit.” President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “This book carries with it that kind of spirit when it’s read prayerfully and thoughtfully….”[xxiii]
Elder D. Todd Christofferson concurred: “Indeed, studying the Book of Mormon invites the Spirit, and the Spirit is the medium of revelation.”[xxiv]
What is this marvelous book called the Book of Mormon?
Notice the descriptive language used by prophets.
- Joseph Smith: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”[xxv]
- Ezra Taft Benson: “It is the [keystone of our] of our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of our testimony.”[xxvi]
- Dallin H. Oaks: “That is the key: to use the Book of Mormon to become ‘built on the rock of Christ!’”[xxvii]
- James E. Faust: “It is the text for this dispensation.”[xxviii]
- Richard G. Scott: I bear witness that it can become a personal ‘Urim and Thummim’ in your life.”[xxix]
- Neil L. Andersen: “[The Book of Mormon] is a spiritual Liahona [that brings] daily power…into your lives.”[xxx]
The Lord’s has given us a solution to every life’s challenge, access to His power and the Holy Ghost, and a way to prepare for the challenges of the last days and the coming of Jesus Christ: Use the Book of Mormon as the Lord intends!
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Now, we have not been using the Book of Mormon as we should…. 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 our condemnation.”[xxxi]
We must re-enthrone the Book of Mormon and make it the keystone of our lives. Catherine Thomas writes:
The Lord has made it abundantly clear that the instrument of preparation for the Second Coming is the Book of Mormon…. Revelatory power, priesthood power, using the name of Jesus Christ with power – all these and more are connected to making the Book of Mormon the keystone of our daily lives and all things in the Church. Taking all these insights together, we may conclude that if we wish to guide our life by the Spirit, we cannot do it without also being a spiritual student of the living Book of Mormon.[xxxii]
What are some of the blessings we can expect from using the Book of Mormon as the Lord intends?
President Thomas S. Monson said, “[Along] with other latter-day prophets, I testify of the truthfulness of this ‘most correct of any book on earth.’ Its message spans the earth and brings its readers to a knowledge of the truth. It is my testimony that the Book of Mormon changes lives…. Prayerful study of the Book of Mormon will lead to a firm testimony that will carry us through difficult times….May I suggest that…you set aside time every day to find out for yourself that the Book of Mormon is a true book, for it will change your life.”[xxxiii]
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “The Book of Mormon will change your life. It will fortify you against the evils of our day. It will bring a spirituality into your life that no other book will. It will be the most important book you will read…for life. A [person] who knows and loves the Book of Mormon, who has read it several times, who has an abiding testimony of its truthfulness, and who applies its teachings will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil and will be a mighty tool in the hands of the Lord.”[xxxiv]
And at another time: “The Book of Mormon has greater power – power to reveal false doctrine, power to help us overcome temptations, power to help us get closer to God than any other book.”[xxxv]
President Marion G. Romney testified, “It will hold us as close to the Spirit of the Lord as anything I know.”[xxxvi]
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “The Book of Mormon holds answers for the problems we face every day…. If you have not drunk deeply from this fountain of pure truth, with all my soul I encourage you to do so now.”[xxxvii]
Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “The Book of Mormon, above all other books that I know of, is the greatest source we have for answers to real-life problems…. The examples of spiritual guidance that emanate from the book are without number.”[xxxviii]
Russell M. Nelson taught, “This book can help with personal problems in a very real way. Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon. It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power.”[xxxix]
When Alma delivered the sacred record to Helaman, he used words and phrases to describe it, such as “easy” and “easiness of the way”[xl] – so “easy” that we might overlook its simplicity. In fact, this unique revelatory instrument is so “small and simple” and “the easiness of the way” is so plain that it might appear like “foolishness”[xli] to the world.
As a revelatory instrument and a source of God’s power, is the Book of Mormon really that easy to use? Yes, when we approach it submissively in faith. Heavenly Father is anxious to communicate with His children, so He has made the process simple. If we exercise faith and diligence, and if we are humble, we need only “look to God and live.”[xlii] Alma admonished Helaman to not become complacent in his treatment of this sacred record: “O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so it was with our fathers; for so it was prepared for them, that if they would look they might live…”[xliii]
Considering all that the Book of Mormon is – its inherent power, spirit, unique position among the scriptures and its being a Urim and Thummim and personal Liahona, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Few men on earth, either in or out of the church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about.”[xliv]
If we hope to harness power in the priesthood, we must pay the price to learn what the Book of Mormon is really all about.
[i] Boyd K. Packer, “The Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2010, emphasis added.
[ii] Russell M. Nelson, “The Price of Priesthood Power,” May 2016.
[iii] See Alma 37.
[iv] Alma 37:14,18,19.
[v] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion,” Conference Report, Oct. 1986.
[vi] Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 446-47.
[vii] Boyd K. Packer, “Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1991.
[viii] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986.
[ix] Ezra Taft Benson, “Worthy Fathers, Worthy Sons,” Ensign, Nov. 1985.
[x] D&C 84:54-55.
[xi] 1 Nephi 8:23.
[xii] D&C 84:54-58.
[xiii] Ezra Taft Benson, “A Sacred Responsibility,” Ensign, May 1986.
[xiv] D&C 90:5.
[xv] Ezra Taft Benson, “Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982.
[xvi] Neal A. Maxwell, “All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience,” 35.
[xvii] M. Catherine Thomas, “Using the Book of Mormon to Face the Tests Ahead,” Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Chapter 2.
[xviii] M. Catherine Thomas, “Using the Book of Mormon to Face the Tests Ahead,” Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Chapter 2.
[xix] Ezekiel 37:15-17.
[xx] Bruce R. McConkie, “An Honest Letter to ‘Honest Truth Seekers,’” July 1, 1980, 2.
[xxi] Ezra Taft Benson, “A New Witness for Christ,” Ensign, Nov .1984, 5; referencing 2 Nephi 29:2.
[xxii] David A. Bednar, “Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Iron Rod,” Ensign, Oct 2011.
[xxiii] Gordon B. Hinckley, speech given at Brigham Young University Students Regional Conference, Priesthood Leadership Meeting, Feb 10, 1996.
[xxiv] D. Todd Christofferson, “How to Study the Book of Mormon,” Conference Report, Oct. 2011.
[xxv] Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:461.
[xxvi] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon – The Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov 1986.
[xxvii] Dallin H. Oaks, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, March 1994.
[xxviii] James E. Faust, “Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jan. 1996.
[xxix] Richard G. Scott, “The Power of the Book of Mormon in My Life,” Ensign, Oct. 1984.
[xxx] Neil L. Andersen, “The Book of Mormon – The Keystone of your Faith,” address given January 31, 2016 to young adults at the Spectrum at Utah State University.
[xxxi] Ezra Taft Benson, The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, April 1975.
[xxxii] M. Catherine Thomas, “Using the Book of Mormon to Face the Tests Ahead,” Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord, Chapter 2.
[xxxiii] Thomas S. Monson, President Monson: You Can Know It Is True,” www.lds.org/prophets and apostles.
[xxxiv] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988.
[xxxv] Ezra Taft Benson, “The Gift of Modern Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1986,
[xxxvi] Marion G. Romney, “The Book of Mormon,” Conference Report, Apr. 1949.
[xxxvii] Richard G. Scott “The Power of the Book of Mormon in My Life,” Ensign, Oct. 1984.
[xxxviii] M. Russell Ballard, “Finding Answers in the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, Jan. 2012.
[xxxix] Russell M. Nelson, “A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” Conference Report, Oct. 1999.
[xl] Alma 37:41, 44, 46.
[xli] Alma 37:6.
[xlii] Alma 37:47.
[xliii] Alma 37:46. Of course, some work is involved. We recall that Oliver Cowdrey attempted to translate by means of the Urim and Thummim, but he failed because he simply asked without first studying out the question in his mind. (See D&C 9:7-8)
[xliv] Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, 159.