'We are beneficiaries of great sacrifice'

At the October 1982 general conference, Elder J. Richard Clarke, then second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and now a member of the Seventy, spoke of the high cost at which all the sacred records have come.

"When we consider the fiery furnace of conquest and persecution through which the Bible has passed, the great wonder is not whether it is complete or translated correctly, but a miracle that it has survived at all! Surely the Lord has preserved it for the salvation of His children," Elder Clarke said."Laban's life was taken by divine command that the Nephite nation not `dwindle . . . in unbelief.' (See 1 Ne. 4:13.) Think of the travail of the Nephite prophets who kept the records of their people so future generations might profit from their experiences. Think of the millions of people who have lived at a time when there was no printing or translating capability or who, because of political oppression or illiteracy, have been denied access to the scriptures. Think about the blessings of living in this dispensation, when the holy scriptures are available to us."

Elder Clarke declared: "We are the beneficiaries of great sacrifice. What excuse do we have for not taking advantage of this? Brothers and sisters, you don't have to be a natural student to read the scriptures; you just need to love the Lord.

"The value of sacred records was indelibly taught by the Savior as He ministered among the Nephites. He declared: `A commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently;

" `Give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you;

" `Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.

" `And now . . . after [Jesus] had expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received, he said unto them: Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not. . . .

" `How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?

" `And . . . Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.

" `And . . . Jesus commanded that it should be written;

Now . . . when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them. " (3 Ne. 23:1, 4-6, 11-14.)

Elder Clarke added: "I concur with the strong counsel of President Romney, given to a group of seminary and institute coordinators in 1973. He told them: `I don't know much about the gospel other than what I've learned from the standard works. When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it. . . . I appreciate other people's interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says. . . . You ought to read the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants; and . . . all the scriptures with the idea of finding out what's in them and what the meaning is and not to prove some idea of your own. Just read them and plead with the Lord to let you understand what He had in mind when He wrote them.' "

Further, Elder Clarke said: "I fear there are far too many Latter-day Saints who do not have a testimony of the gospel from their own diligent efforts. Is it possible that you are living on the reflected light of others who have prayed and pondered the revelations of God? A testimony comes from personal endeavor. The Lord has provided us the means of salvation, but our success is dependent upon individual effort."

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