As Latter-day Saints join with others throughout the nation in observing National Bible Week, Nov. 19-26, it is appropriate to remember the profound influence of the Bible in our lives.
We are blessed to have four sacred works of scripture, but the Bible is the first-named book among the standard works and plays a significant role in offering us moral and spiritual guidance.The Old Testament witnesses of a living God and of His creative powers in forming the earth and placing mankind on it. The Ten Commandments given through the Prophet Moses form the basis of law and order in all the civilized world. In the Old Testament we learn of the Abrahamic Covenant that holds such great promises for our eventual celestial life. The accounts of some of God's children and their obedience and resultant blessings, or their disobedience and inevitable punishments serve to give us wisdom and insights that can help us live our own lives better. And, of course, the major and minor prophets bear witness of the Promised Messiah.
The New Testament is a witness of the birth, life and ministry of Jesus Christ and the organization of His true Church in the meridian of time. The works of the early apostles are chronicled and bring to us the witness that the truths they taught are the same yesterday, today and forever.
Some minimize the Bible because it is not totally correct. It is true that some errors of translation or transcription crept into the early texts. The Prophet Joseph Smith recognized this, but he believed in the Bible and read and taught from it constantly.
President Brigham Young said of this matter: "The Bible is true. It may not all have been translated alright, and many precious things may have been rejected in the compilation and translation of the Bible; but we understand, from the writings of one of the Apostles, that if all the sayings and doings of the Savior had been written the world could not contain them. I will say that the world could not understand them. They do not understand what we have on record, nor the character of the Savior, as delineated in the scriptures; and yet it is one of the simplest things in the world, and the Bible, when it is understood, is one of the simplest books in the world, for, as far as it is translated correctly, it is nothing but truth, and in truth there is no mystery save to the ignorant. The revelations of the Lord to his creatures are adapted to the lowest capacity, and they bring life and salvation to all who are willing to receive them." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 124.)
The Bible is a companion book to all our standard works, especially the Book of Mormon. This unique relationship was understood centuries ago by the Prophet Nephi who was privileged in vision to see our day and beheld the use of both the Bible and the Book of Mormon as companion volumes. He wrote: "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.
"And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book?
"And I said unto him: I know not.
"And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the House of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles." (1 Ne. 13:20-23.)
Nephi then saw that his writings and the words of those who would come after him would also be preserved in a book, and said of this record: "And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, 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.
"And . . . the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth." (1 Ne. 13:40-41.)
During this National Bible Week we should rejoice in the truths of the Bible and cherish our companion volume, the Book of Mormon, for they truly testify of Jesus Christ, the Lord.