LOGAN, UTAH — The power of the Book of Mormon comes with each reader's mighty change of heart, said Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Jan. 27.
“The Book of Mormon is filled with miracles for those who read it,” he said. “This is a book that brings faith, happiness and joy.”
Offering the Joseph Smith Memorial Devotional address, Elder Stevenson reflected on his youth in Logan, Utah, and on the history of the annual event, now in its 75th year. Every Church president since David O. McKay has spoken at the devotional.
More than 9,000 Latter-day Saints gathered in the Spectrum building on the Utah State University campus for the devotional.
Elder Stevenson, a graduate of USU, said he was grateful to be speaking in a location where he had “home court advantage.”
Sharing his sure testimony of the restoration of the gospel and founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Stevenson spoke to the congregation about the day 190 years ago on April 7, 1829, when Joseph Smith continued the translation of the Book of Mormon along with Oliver Cowdery now as his scribe, in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
At the time Joseph was just 23 years old and Oliver just 22; those assisting them were also young — Emma Smith, 24, David Whitmer, 24, and E.B. Grandin, 23 — “a small group of what we would call millennials today.”
With Oliver as the principal scribe, Joseph translated 491 pages (269,510 words) in an 85-day period.
Also during that period, the Aaronic priesthood and Melchizedek priesthood were restored. Joseph received 13 revelations which are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition, Joseph and Emma moved from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York.
Joseph also applied to copyright the Book of Mormon, interviewed printers and selected E.B. Grandin, and negotiated financing for the printing of the book.
“It seems during this time the heavens were opened and there was a waterfall of revelation,” said Elder Stevenson.
Quoting Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon’s gold plates, Elder Stevenson continued: “To say that a man of Joseph’s ability, who at the time did not know how to pronounce the name Nephi, could write a book of six hundred pages, as correct as the Book of Mormon, without supernatural power, … it would be treating the God of heaven with contempt, to deny these testimonies.”
Quoting the introduction of the Book of Mormon, Elder Stevenson called the book the “keystone of our religion.”
He asked the congregation, “What are you going to do to make the Book of Mormon the keystone of your testimony?”
Holding up his cell phone, Elder Stevenson told the congregation they carry the Book of Mormon with them every day. “My invitation to you: Find a little more screen time with the Book of Mormon.”
He closed by sharing the testimony of his 5th great-grandfather, Edward Stevenson, who heard Joseph Smith preach the gospel in Pontiac, Michigan. The Prophet spoke with such power “it was said every person in the room knew what he said was true,” Elder Stevenson said.
Edward Stevenson would later write his testimony: “I can very well remember many of the words of the boy Prophet as they were uttered in simplicity, but with a power which was irresistible to all present. … with uplifted hand he said: ‘I am a witness that there is a God, for I saw Him in open day, while praying in a silent grove, in the spring of 1820.’ ”
Elder Stevenson closed by sharing his own testimony. “As has been done for 75 years on this campus, I offer my witness of Joseph Smith.”
Sister Lesa Stevenson spoke about following President Russell M. Nelson’s direction in October 2018 general conference for the women of the Church to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. “We know our prophet will never ask us to do anything we are not able to do,” she said.
Through the Book of Mormon, Sister Stevenson said, she came to more fully understand the Savior’s love for all of God’s children.
She expressed deep gratitude for Joseph Smith. “I know Joseph Smith was a true and living prophet,” she said.
Sister Stevenson also offered her testimony that President Nelson is a “true and living prophet on the earth today.”
“I am very grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and for the Book of Mormon, which gives us great peace and direction.”
Elder Stevenson also shared his witness of the ‘miraculous miracle’ — as President Nelson fondly calls The Book of Mormon. Elder Stevenson said: “What we do know is what was done is an absolute miracle, even in today’s standard with modern tools of electronic dictionaries, word processing, machine learning in translation, the pace and subsequent work product are almost unthinkable.”