Sacred scripture is the one source of continual power

"In troubled times like we have right now, the one source of continual power - the source of great answers - is the Book of Mormon, which was written for every era, but particularly applies to us now," said Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy and Sunday School general president.

Concurring with Elder Pinnock are his counselors in the Sunday School presidency, Elders Hartman Rector Jr. and Clinton L. Cutler, also of the Seventy. The three General Authorities told the Church News that the 1992 Gospel Doctrine course of study, the Book of Mormon, is a blessing for individuals and families."We couldn't have better timing for studying the Book of Mormon than 1992," Elder Pinnock declared. "It seems the world is changing so fast that great confusions exist. We look at situations throughout the world and see all kinds of struggles, some very painful and uncomfortable.

"Right now is the time for people to find peace, joy and happiness, all of which can be found in the Book of Mormon. This certainly should be the time for everyone to return to the teachings found within the Book of Mormon. We, as members of the Church, can use the Gospel Doctrine course as the jumping off place to regulate our lives."

Elder Pinnock said this year's course of study promises to make it "a great year." He explained that the Gospel Doctrine class, for members 18 years of age and older, uses as its text the standard works of scripture in a four-year cycle. Two years are spent studying from the Bible, a year each on the Old Testament and the New Testament. A year is spent on the Book of Mormon, and another year is devoted to the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

"It's been four years since we studied the Book of Mormon," Elder Pinnock continued. "So much has happened in these past four years that it is a completely different world. We are grateful that once every four years we can return to the Book of Mormon as a course of study, which tells us so much, not only about what has happened, but also about what is happening and how we can best cope with these changes.

"The Book of Mormon talks about wars, it discusses people in confusion, it communicates about everything that we see happening today, but it also gives us answers, which governments or other institutions or philosophies often can't do. I think the fact we're studying the Book of Mormon this year is marvelous."

Elder Rector said the Book of Mormon is great because the plain and precious truths that were lost in the Bible are restored in it. "The pure doctrines of Christ are in the Book of Mormon," he said.

As one reference, Elder Rector cited 1 Ne. 13:40, in which Nephi recounts a vision: "And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records [Book of MormonT, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first [the BibleT, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved."

Elder Rector explained: "It also says in Doctrine and Covenants that the Book of Mormon came forth ` . . . proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true.' (D&C 20:11.) The Book of Mormon proves that the Bible is true.

"You cannot understand the Bible without reading the Book of Mormon. I don't think it's possible. I've talked to many, many ministers who have joined the Church. They all said the same thing: they never understood the Bible until they read the Book of Mormon.

"The Book of Mormon not only proves that the Bible is true, but also that God does call men in this age and generation. It proves that prophets are a reality, thereby proving that He is the same God yesterday, today and forever.

"The title page of the Book of Mormon states that it came forth to the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile - that doesn't leave anybody out; you're either Jew or Gentile, no matter who you are - that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself unto all nations.

"Joseph Smith said: `I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding its precepts than any other book.' The reason for that statement is because you learn more about Christ in the Book of Mormon than any other book that has ever been written."

Elder Pinnock affirmed: "The Book of Mormon is the most Christ-centered book ever written. The Master's name is mentioned in some form or another more than once for every two verses. He is referred to by 101 different names in the Book of Mormon, such as the Son of God, the Savior, the Son of Man, Redeemer, etc."

That is one of the reasons, explained Elder Pinnock, that the subtitle of the Book of Mormon is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

Elder Cutler added: "The Book of Mormon is saturated with the Spirit of Christ. If you read it with real intent and pray about it, then you will know. There is no other way to gain a testimony that will sustain you but through the Book of Mormon.

"I was a mission president at the time President Ezra Taft Benson issued his statements on the Book of Mormon. We incorporated his counsel, particularly to make the reading of the Book of Mormon a daily practice and to come to a knowledge it is true. We had supplemental discussions in between the six discussions. Those discussions were simply this: We went to the family we were teaching, had a word of prayer and read from the Book of Mormon. We shared feelings and discussed what we had read. We found that was so powerful.

"Not only were the investigators converted, but the missionaries also became converted. It's surprising how many missionaries are not yet converted to the Book of Mormon.

"I went with a missionary one night to visit Fred, a former Marine. Fred had served all through the Vietnam War, and he'd just gone through a divorce. He was living in an apartment with his brothers. I asked the missionary what discussion he would be teaching that evening. He said, `I'm not giving a discussion; we're going to read from the Book of Mormon.'

"That's what we did with Fred. I read a few verses, the missionary read some, and then Fred. We went through 2 Ne. 32. By the time we finished, that hardened Marine had tears in his eyes, as well as we all did.

"There was no formal discussion. Just reading the Book of Mormon. I talked to the missionaries and said we have to understand that the Book of Mormon isn't an auxiliary to the discussions. It's reversed. The discussions supplement the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is the Lord's text."

Elder Cutler said he received a note from a Sunday School president in Greenville, S.C., who said: "The Sunday School is to see that the saints more fully understand the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the effect that the gospel principles are applied in their lives."

Elder Cutler added, "That's an important thing - applying the gospel principles in our lives. This year we can more fully learn how to do that as we study the Book of Mormon. There is no other scripture in which you can get so immersed in the Spirit."

(Additional information)

`Place of spiritual replenishing

"No meetings are to be scheduled during Sunday School. This includes bishopric, executive, and ward council meetings; quorum and presidency meetings; choir practices; and any other meetings." (Sunday School Handbook, p. iv.)

Recognizing that Sunday School can be a place of spiritual replenishing as well as doctrinal learning, the Sunday School general presidency encourages members to attend their classes.

"Sunday School is as much of a gift to our bishops and other Church leaders as it is to the rest of the Church. It is a time when our priesthood and auxiliary leaders can sit back and be nourished by the Spirit," Elder Pinnock said. "Sunday School is as valuable to the seasoned member with years of leadership experience as it is for the most recent convert.

"We are grateful to bishops who understand the importance of attending Sunday School with other members of the ward. There is no doubt in my mind that a bishop becomes a better bishop the moment he sets the proper example by attending the Gospel Doctrine class or other Sunday School class."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed