'Fifth gospel' offers myriad lessons

Students of gospel doctrine are beginning a portion of the Book of Mormon often described as the "fifth gospel," as explained by President N. Eldon Tanner, then-first counselor in the First Presidency, during the April 1975 general conference. In this book, readers can study the conditions of the people — righteous and unrighteous — just before the coming of the Lord and then learn the beautiful account of Christ's visit to the Americas.

In his address, President Tanner expounded on 3 Nephi, pointing out lessons that can be learned from this account. For example, he points out that when the new star appeared in the sky, signifying the birth of Christ in the old world, the unbelievers "fell to the earth and became as if they were dead." (3 Nephi 1:16.) "Here is one of the first lessons we learn. The words of God's prophets are always fulfilled."

President Tanner also referred to the mission of the prophet Nephi in this account. "This is the mission of the prophets of God: to preach repentance. And though it does not make for popularity, it must be done. We are told that the people were angry with Nephi but that he ministered with power and with great authority. We read: 'So great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.' "

There are myriad lessons and applications to one's life to be pondered in this "fifth gospel."

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