A veritable treasure

The very heart of humanity has been deeply touched for centuries by the teachings of the Bible.

What power, what beauty, what majesty flows from the pages of that holy record, which has influenced the ideals, wisdom and philosophy of western civilization more than any other book."This great book," Abraham Lincoln once said, "is the best gift God has given to man." (Improvement Era, December 1964, p. 1074.)

Latter-day Saints love the Bible. It was a passage of scripture in the Bible that had such power on Joseph Smith as a boy to inspire him to inquire of the Lord in prayer. What followed was a glorious vision of the Father and the Son that began the unfolding of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How thankful we should be for the influence of the Bible on the boy prophet. How thankful we should be for its teachings that have made the world, in spite of all the evils, a better place in which to live.

Surely, the Bible should have a revered spot in all of our hearts. Rightfully so, it does have a prominent place in our curriculum. In Sunday School, for instance, the Old Testament has been the focus of our study this year in the gospel doctrine class. Next year the focus will be on the New Testament.

The Bible opens a door to spiritual understanding and wisdom that has lifted mankind for generations.

Through its pages, which span some 4,000 years of history, we are able to walk with the prophets and patriarchs of old in an ancient land and to know of God's loving relationship with His children. We are able to vicariously witness the sacred ministry of the Savior from the shores of Galilee to the hills of Judea and to learn His profound and holy teachings. We are able to travel in our minds with the apostles on their journeys near and far to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to add our testimonies to theirs. In effect, through the Bible, we are able to hear the voice of God as He reveals His mind and will to His children.

Indeed, the Bible is a veritable treasure.

To a certain extent, of course with some exceptions, the power and majesty of the Bible lies in its simplicity.

Its words may be forceful and direct:

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Gen. 1:1.)

The words may be descriptive and even poetic:

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4.

Or the words may be loving and inviting as the Prophet Joseph Smith discovered:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. . . ." (James 1:5.)

Truly, the words of the chroniclers of much of the Bible are beautiful and powerful in their freedom from complexity. But even more so, the words of the Savior ring out in majestic simplicity:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - Matt 11:28.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." - Luke 11:9.

"A new commandment I give you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." - John 13:34.

"In great simplicity," President Howard W. Hunter said in the October 1970 general conference, "the Master taught the principles of life eternal and lessons that bring happiness to those with the faith to believe."

But yet, with all its majesty and simplicity, the Bible is often misunderstood and frequently misinterpreted, perhaps stemming from the fact that "many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled." (See introduction, D&C 76.)

Because of this, we, as Latter-day Saints, are blessed to have additional volumes of scripture. The Bible does not stand alone. It is supported and supplemented by another witness of Christ, the Book of Mormon; as well as by the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. These four holy books make up the scriptural foundation of the restored gospel.

In our quest for truth and knowledge, we should diligently search each of these scriptures, for in them are sacred teachings, revealed from God and preserved for our day - teachings that are so essential to follow in order for us to return to our heavenly home with our Heavenly Father.

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