President Russell M. Nelson told new mission presidents and their wives that the Book of Mormon “will be your most effective instrument in bringing souls unto Jesus Christ.”
President Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke June 23 at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on Thursday at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
To deliver a message of “real worth” to the couples soon to be departing for the mission field, President Nelson said he chose to speak on the “miraculous miracle” of the Book of Mormon.
President Nelson said the Book of Mormon is part of a prophecy recorded in Isaiah 29:14, which reads, “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder.”
The words “marvellous” and “wonder” are translated from Hebrew terms meaning “extraordinary,” “difficult to understand,” or “miraculous,” President Nelson explained. “Thus, the phrase ‘a marvellous work and a wonder’ could also be translated as ‘a miraculous miracle.’ The Book of Mormon is indeed ‘a miraculous miracle.’ ”
President Nelson said part of the miracle of the Book of Mormon is its translation. He quoted several eyewitnesses to the book’s translation, including David Whitmer, who testified that it was “translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”
President Nelson also quoted Emma Smith, who acted as an early scribe to her husband, Joseph Smith, during the translation process: “Joseph Smith … could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. … I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired … it is marvelous to me, ‘a marvel and a wonder.’ ”
Although the translation of the Book of Mormon was truly “a wonder,” the “great worth of the Book of Mormon is that it is another testament of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson declared.
The Book of Mormon serves as a clarifier of doctrine. “It refutes many myths. At the same time, it affirms truths previously obscured and reveals many glorious facts of the doctrine of Christ lost or previously unknown,” he said.
President Nelson then listed many of the myths refuted by the Book of Mormon, including the concept of predestination, the notion of original sin, the adequacy of goodness alone without exalting ordinances, the practice of infant baptism, methods of baptism without immersion by one bearing proper authority, and the notion that revelation from God ended with the Bible.
“There are some things the Book of Mormon is not,” President Nelson said. “It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”
The Book of Mormon, he continued, affirms the existence of a living and loving Father in Heaven. “It affirms the nature of our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, happiness and mercy. It declares, as another testament, the generation and divinity of Jesus the Christ. It teaches of His ministry and of His Atonement. The Book of Mormon stands as a global beacon of eternal truth.”
The Book of Mormon affirms, among other things, the status of man’s moral agency while setting standards of accountability and responsibility for each individual’s choices. It also affirms the reality and inevitability of man’s impending judgment — “which will be done with a perfect blending of justice and mercy of God” — as well as the reality of the premortal life and the necessity for the sacrament.
The Book of Mormon reveals the endless nature of the priesthood and the preparation of choice spirits for leadership in the latter days. President Nelson told the gathered leaders, “From the Book of Mormon we know that each of you has been reserved, foreordained, and fore-determined to come forth at this particular time to accomplish the mighty work you have been called to do.”
The Book of Mormon also reveals the interrelationships between the Creation, the Fall and the Atonement. “One cannot fully comprehend the Atonement without first understanding the Fall; and the Fall of Adam cannot be fully understood without first understanding the Creation. These three great doctrinal pillars sustain each other in God’s eternal plan,” he explained.
President Nelson said no book of scripture bears more solemnly the weighty burden of the testimony that Jesus, born of Mary, is the literal Son of God. Within its pages are some 4,000 references to Christ, with more than 100 different titles for Him. “The Book of Mormon teaches of the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The power of the Book of Mormon is most evident in the mighty change that occurs in the lives of those who read it “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ” (Moroni 10:4).
“Many converts forsake much that they once held dear in order to abide by the precepts of that book,” he said and promised the mission leaders that their testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon would sustain them throughout their “precious and difficult days as missionaries of the Lord.”
President Nelson said he knows of no other book for which the Lord has testified to be true. “In the form of an oath, the Lord said — referring to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s work — ‘He has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true’ ” (Doctrine and Covenants 17:6).
President Nelson continued, “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is a treasured testament of truth. It is the prophesied sign that ‘the Lord has commenced to gather Israel and fulfill His covenants.’ It is the instrument by which the promised gathering of Israel will be accomplished.”
In addition to offering his love and blessing to the gathered Church leaders, President Nelson concluded with his witness, “The Book of Mormon is true. It is irrefutable.”