Millions of people have been converted by the Book of Mormon, but few people have been converted to the Book of Mormon. My friend and former stake president, Vern Sommerfeldt, taught me that.
Once we know what the Book of Mormon really is and apply its principles, power flows into our lives and we are changed forever. We cease to “live far beneath our privileges,”[i] as Brigham Young and other prophets have mourned. No other book can do that.
Take, for example, the Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, who identifies weakness as the engine that drives power. Bear with me as I attempt to unearth Jacob’s logic.
In the beginning of his record, Jacob makes this statement:
Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.[ii]
This could be the mission statement for every prophet and should be the mission statement for every Church leader and parent. When a person faces a weakness or challenge, to persuade him/her to come unto us would be a mistake of monumental proportions. This would be akin to shining a light on ourselves, which approaches priestcraft. Only Christ can heal; only Christ can save. Our job is to diligently “persuade them to come unto Christ.”
For what reasons?
To “partake of the goodness of God,” so that they can “enter into his rest,” meaning the “fullness of his glory.”[iii] We introduce people to Jesus so they can have a healing experience with him that will lead them to eternal life!
Who are these people whom we should convey to Christ? We note that Jacob turned his attention to people who were pure in heart and yet had “daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.” These good people were suffering and had need of healing.[iv] Jacob knew Whom to get them to.
BUT behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.[v]
These are instructions with prophetic promises. Let me help you get to Christ and to stay focused on him. Have confidence in him. Don’t divide your loyalties. Pray to him; talk to him with exceeding faith, confidence, trust and reliance. I promise that he will hear you and respond. Doors will begin to open. He will plead your cause to the Father, who will grant Jesus permission and power to help you and deliver you. You will receive the pleasing word of God, his verification that he is aware of you and that he loves you.
The overriding motivation for God’s taking action is love. Love keeps you on God’s mind; love motivated him to foresee both opportunities and danger in your future then to prepare you for those eventualities. Love urges God to summon all his resources and power in earth and heaven to enfold you in safety and bless you. If you will not resist his efforts to show you love, you are invited to feast upon his love forever. According to Nephi, nothing is more delicious or desirable than experiencing the love of God.[vi]
Like Jacob, our responsibility is to wrap our arms around those who are suffering to get them to Christ and help them exercise greater faith in him. Jacob had dedicated his life to testifying and writing of Christ: “For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.”[vii]
Then Jacob reveals the great lesson about faith’s origin and the engine that drives it:
Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.[viii]
Faith begins by hearing the word of God.[ix] We search the prophets, and in the process, we feel the motions of revelation. Combined, the witnesses of the words of the prophets and the revelations of the Spirit generate within us hope, which becomes faith when we add action. Eventually, our faith, confidence, and trust in Jesus Christ and in his name become unshaken. We discover that our relationship with Jesus Christ and our ability to invoke the name of Jesus Christ have power to move the mountains in our lives. Nature obeys. Oceans become crossable. Waves convey us but do not crush us.
Astonishingly, it is weakness that starts the entire process in motion. We stare at the mountain and realize that we are less than who we need to be to move it. But because we have searched the words of the prophets and have developed a relationship with Jesus Christ, we harbor hope than an appeal to him will be heard an answered. Our hope motivates us to action, and thus with faith, we get ourselves to Christ. We seek him diligently and ask for his intervention and grace in order that we can become more than we are.
He responds with a miracle. This intervention further solidifies our faith in the Lord so that the next time we face a mountain or a crushing wave, our confidence in him is stronger. Progressively, facing weakness after weakness, the engine of faith propels us forward challenge by challenge until our confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and the name of Jesus Christ becomes unshaken, and we discover that nothing is impossible in Christ.
Understanding and embracing weakness is the engine of faith. Hiding within every weakness is the key to opportunity and eternal life.
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.[x]
God be praised for the incomparable gift of the Book of Mormon. May we be converted to it and not merely by it.
[i] Journal of Discourses, 9:3-34.
[ii] Jacob 1:7.
[iii] D&C 84.24.
[iv] Jacob 2:9.
[v] Jacob 3:1-3.
[vi] 1 Nephi 11:22.
[vii] Jacob 4:4.
[viii] Jacob 4:6-7.
[ix] Romans 10:17.
[x] Ether 12:27.