The prophets of God call out to us to surround ourselves with the unequaled power of the words of the Book of Mormon. With the new electronic edition of the scriptures and gospel library, we can now easily access at any time the written and spoken words of the Book of Mormon to inspire and protect ourselves and our families. In a world overloaded with a cacophony of opposing voices, the wisdom from this book is designed to allow us to discern between truth and error in science, religion or philosophy.
Continually Holding Fast to the Rod of Iron
Nephi’s vision of the tree of life shows a constant “moment by moment” reliance on the power of the word of God. Hanging onto and pulling ourselves along the dangerous trail using the rod of iron is given to us as an essential key to success in our pathway toward eternal life.
“And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 15:23-24)
“Multitudes … came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:30)
It does not sound like to me that this “continually holding fast to the rod of iron” is to be just an occasional activity or that grabbing instead a weaker tree branch or rope will save us. Rather, it looks like the stability of this strong rod of iron held onto all the time at all hazards is essential to press forward and not fall into the river of filthy water and be lost.
The Book of Mormon: Not to be Treated Lightly
President Ezra Taft Benson proclaimed that the gift of the Book of Mormon was more important than all the inventions of the industrial and technological revolutions, and of greater value than all the advances in modern medicine, flight or space travel. He warned us that, in our day, as in 1833, the whole Church would be under condemnation if we treated this sacred book lightly. Like the early saints, we must also “repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon”(D&C 84:54-57)
The Study of the Book of Mormon: A Lifetime Pursuit
From President Benson:
“There are three great reasons why Latter-day Saints should make the study of the Book of Mormon a lifetime pursuit. The first is that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion…. A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles. …It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.”
“The second great reason why we must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study is that it was written for our day.”
Moroni declared: “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Morm. 8:34-35).
“The third reason for studying the book [is that] it helps us draw nearer to God. 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.”
A New Era of Access to the Book of Mormon
It has been exciting for me to see the easy access to the scriptures, conference sessions and gospel library with the new electronic edition that was recently published. Surrounded by all of these resources, let us not forget to make the powerful words of the Book of Mormon a daily spiritual feast.
In my youth before I became a Deacon in 1964, I gained a love of reading the Book of Mormon.
My Grandmother, Lillian Millett, gave me a gift of the “Book of Mormon in Living Sound” that Deseret Book published on long playing 33 rpm records.
I would listen to a record or two most nights and having the Book of Mormon words constantly round about me as it were affected everything in my life. My testimony increased. Temptations were lessened in their power. I enjoyed listening to the Book of Mormon at least ten times before going on my mission. Scriptures would easily come to mind for inspiration, insight or warning.
This picture was taken at age 89. Her testimony of the scriptures and the Prophet Joseph Smith was a powerful influence on our family. Just an idea of what this remarkable woman was doing at age 89: She was mobilizing the family to computerize her 50 books of remembrance containing genealogical records.
When President Ezra Taft Benson forcefully reminded us about the importance of not taking lightly the Book of Mormon, I renewed my efforts to daily read and listen to its words. I bought a set of cassette tapes of the Book of Mormon read by Rex Campbell. I kept the set in my car and listened while I was going to and from work or otherwise in my car. For many years, this simple habit enabled me to listen to the words of the Book of Mormon two or three times a year for many years.
Today, I listen to the Book of Mormon using the new electronic Gospel Library edition of the scriptures on my iPod or computer. Whatever great conference talks or other audio that is available and I want to listen to, I want to first include fifteen minutes of the most powerful words we have been given, the words of the Book of Mormon.
If you are listening to the Book of Mormon as you go to sleep, remember to use Nightstand or other similar app with a sleep timer feature to avoid an “endless” audio stream through the night. Downloaded chapters, each an mp3 file, put into iTunes or Windows Media Player playlists is another way to select what to listen to at night before going to sleep. Be on the lookout for future versions of the Gospel Library app that may add this popular sleep timer feature.
There is an Unequaled Power in this Book
President Benson was very explicit as to the powerful benefits of the serious study of 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. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”
President Marion G. Romney added: “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).
Discerning among Modern Opposing Voices
In our day, the Book of Mormon provides guidance to navigate through the difficult issues of our age. We need this “power to avoid deception” which President Benson emphasized. When science is proclaimed as something far more than theoretical frameworks that can never be “proven” true but can only be proven false, we can gain perspective from King Benjamin’s words regarding God’s wisdom verses that of men.
“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.” (Mosiah 4:9)
As we see the rise of so called “science-based atheism” and opposition to all religion and to God’s role as an active Creator, we are amazed at how similar their arguments are to the accounts of Korihor, Sherem and Nehor-the complete narration of which, including how the prophets responded to their arguments, is right in the text of the Book of Mormon.
The Fully Armed Warrior for Truth and Righteousness
On the cover of the “Book of Mormon in Living Sound” set I listened to in my youth was Arnold Friberg’s great painting of Captain Moroni, fully armed, waving the title of liberty.
The scriptural descriptions of the Book of Mormon’s “words of eternal life” seem to me like a powerful protective force field just waiting for us to access it as we prepare for the spiritual battles of our day. Whatever else we might read or listen to that can increase our faith and testimony, let us not forget to access each day the unequaled power of this “book of books,” the Book of Mormon.
 Neal Rappleye, Lesson 3: Lehi’s Dream – Ancient Symbols Relevant Today, Sunday School Apologetics: Enhancing Gospel Doctrine, January 14, 2012,
“One unique aspect of this dream is that of all the dreams or visions in the scriptures, none is given such a thoroughly detailed interpretation-by-revelation, which comes when Nephi asks to know the meaning of his father’s dream (see 1 Nephi 11, see figure 3.1). Since these dreams and their symbolic meaning are imbedded into the cultural background of the Book of Mormon, studying these symbols in that context can enhance and enrich the readers understanding and appreciation of the vision. Furthermore, since a dream would have to have the right symbols and the right meaning to fit that cultural context, Lehi’s dream (combined with Nephi’s vision) becomes the perfect test for the Book of Mormon’s authenticity, since no one in Joseph Smith’s time could fully have understood what these symbols meant to the ancient peoples who used them.”
 “Hiking with kids in Yosemite, Half Dome, 16-mile hike for 4 and 6 year old tough kids,” KidSuperHiker, October 27, 2009, .
“After hiking 16 miles and about 9000ft elevation change to the bottom of Grand Canyon and back to Bright Angel Trailhead on May 3, 2009 my 4 and 6 year old girls were ready for the iconic hike of Yosemite: Half Dome, the highest point of Yosemite Valley( Happy Isles trailhead elevation about 4035 ft) towering at 8836 ft or 2693 m.
“In 1870s this imposing rock structure had been considered “perfectly inaccessible”, until George Anderson climbed it by drilling and placing iron eyeballs in the granite in October 1875. The cables were installed on his route in 1919. Half Dome hike, which is 16 to 18 miles round-trip (depending on a trail) and 4800 feet of elevation gain, is the most popular strenuous hike of Yosemite, with up to 50000 hikers climbing the summit each year. . We entertained the idea that Yunona may climb Half Dome to the summit including climbing the cables, so we bought a pair of harnesses and rope for this purpose. This hike should be started ideally about 6.00 am to avoid a long line and hiker congestion at the cables after 1-2 pm, but we had to drive to Yosemite Valley only about 8.00 am. From Happy Isle the hike to the bridge over Merced River is paved and probably shorter than a mile.The Merced River with a distant view at the Vernal Falls is a powerful spectacle worthy of an effort of even a handicapped person that can probably get there. We saw several strollers parked near the restroom after the bridge and several families enjoying the view there. …
“For our family the Half Dome was probably the best hike of the year 2009. I sincerely consider this hike as doable for many kids and certainly one that is worth the effort. If 4 year 3 week young girl can hike Half Dome within 400 steps from the top in one day, certainly most older children and adults can do this. What one child can do another child can do. Just have courage to try it. Give your children a chance.”
 “NAVTEC Expeditions – Day Tours,” tripadvisor.com, .
 Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon-Keystone of our Religion,” General Conference, October 1986,
“My beloved brethren and sisters, today I would like to speak about one of the most significant gifts given to the world in modern times. The gift I am thinking of is more important than any of the inventions that have come out of the industrial and technological revolutions. This is a gift of greater value to mankind than even the many wonderful advances we have seen in modern medicine. It is of greater worth to mankind than the development of flight or space travel. I speak of the gift of the Book of Mormon, given to mankind 156 years ago.”
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HERE IS A BOOK THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER BOOKS
It was written anciently on metal plates, carefully transcribed by prophet-historians.
It lay in the earth, untouched and unread for fourteen centuries.
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 As we see the trials of faith where testimonies are being shaken, the imagery of “hanging on tightly” to the iron rod of the Book of Mormon is even more important for us to follow in real life. How can doubts arise as to the origins of polygamy, the translation of the Book of Abraham and the revelation on priesthood if one has a powerful, constantly renewing testimony of the Book of Mormon as a witness of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God? This unschooled farm boy could not have come up with this amazing book. And with that witness as a foundation of our testimony, we can have patience until we better understand issues that may still seem difficult to reconcile.
The prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon explains how we can literally trip ourselves up, which seems to me to be the case with the doubts related in the recent New York times article .
“Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.
“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:13-14)