Early prophets' teachings are pertinent for today

The Book of Mormon is the message and the method of salvation for the day, according to John L. Fowles, director of the LDS institute adjacent to the University of Missouri at Columbia.

"As the Book of Mormon unfolds sequentially, its overall structure or organization reveals a fascinating pattern," he commented, speaking on "The Decline of the Nephites: Rejection of the Covenant and Word of God."The Book of Alma could be viewed as Mormon's attempt to lay the foundation for the importance of keeping gospel covenants in order to be preserved, he said.

Then Mormon shows in the Book of Helaman that the Nephites broke the covenant and gradually declined spiritually and temporally.

"Further, 3 Nephi could be seen as a time of covenantal renewal when Christ came to the Nephites and reestablished the gospel."

The Book of Helaman recounts the story of the spiritual and temporal decline of the Nephite nation. "Helaman's record of events . . . becomes a warning to us of similar spiritual problems preceding the coming of the Lord in the future," Brother Fowles continued.

"The Nephites were impenitent and grossly wicked after rejection of the gospel offered them through prophetic leadership and the preaching of the word.

"The only way their prophetic leaders saw to recover them was through preaching the word of God with power and authority. It also becomes a type and model for reclaiming modern-day Latter-day Saints before the Lord comes to this generation."

Brother Fowles added: "A careful study of President Ezra Taft Benson's addresses reveals a continual appeal to read the Book of Mormon, along with testifying that its teachings parallel our day.

"Church members and priesthood leaders need to be obedient to President Benson's counsel to study the scriptures for themselves . . . in order to have the power of the Spirit to accomplish the great latter-day work of bringing souls to Christ like the leaders in the Book of Mormon."

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