PROVO — The Book of Mormon is the most powerful written witness in existence that Jesus is the Christ.
Without it, “we will not accomplish the prophesied gathering of scattered Israel,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, the opening day of the 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar.
Yet too few of the Church’s missionaries, he noted, routinely teach from the scriptures. They often cite personal experiences, anecdotes or object lessons to explain gospel principles. Such techniques lack the “power of conviction” that comes from the scriptures.
“Nothing in teaching the gospel quite compares with calling upon the voice and words of the Lord and His servants. The words of scripture are accompanied with the witness of the Spirit that both edifies and testifies.”
Teaching from the scriptures means physically opening the scriptures with those being taught and reading scriptural verses together. Teaching from the scriptures includes bearing testimony of truths taught while utilizing verses to answer questions that arise in the course of teaching.
“Of course, I am not saying that missionaries cannot use their own words in teaching,” he said. “We expect them to do that. We even teach them to speak in adult language and present themselves as mature and thoughtful advocates of the gospel message.
“But their words should bring learners back to scriptural foundations where the Holy Spirit can most readily bear witness.”
The Book of Mormon is the most essential element of conversion, testified Elder Christofferson. It provides powerful evidence of the divinity of Christ and the Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith.
He utilized a video clip of President Russell M. Nelson declaring that the Book of Mormon provides the “fullest and most authoritative understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ” to be found anywhere:
“It teaches what it really means to be born again,” said President Nelson. “From the Book of Mormon we learn about the gathering of scattered Israel. We know why we are here on earth. These and other truths are more powerfully and persuasively taught in the Book of Mormon than in any other book. The full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in the Book of Mormon. Period.”
Elder Christofferson also played a video clip of President Gordon B. Hinckley testifying that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon lies not in archaeology or anthropology — but within the covers of the book itself:
“The test of its truth lies in reading it. It is a book of God. Reasonable men may sincerely question its origin; but those who have read it prayerfully have come to know by a power beyond their natural senses that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it came forth by the gift and power of God ‘to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ’.” (Book of Mormon title page.)
For missionaries worldwide, said Elder Christofferson, there is just one overarching thing they ask their investigators to do: read and pray about the Book of Mormon. If investigators do that one thing — with sincerity, faith and real intent — everything else follows.
“If people know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, missionaries can teach essentially all their lessons drawing from it: the reality of God, our Heavenly Father, and His plan for His children, the Fall, moral agency, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the doctrine of Christ — faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost — enduring to the end, Resurrection and Judgment, the laws and ordinances of the gospel, and so forth.”
All gospel truths and commandments are more easily understood and accepted when one knows that the Book of Mormon is true.
Elder Christofferson said members in wards and branches can be especially helpful to those that the missionaries are teaching who have difficulty reading for whatever reason. “Members can spend time reading with them or reading to them. This is a wonderful way to ‘minister to all’ including those who are preparing for baptism.”
And for the missionaries themselves — consistent study of the Book of Mormon will solidify their own conversion.
“We cannot let them complete their service with us having not had the fire of the Spirit burn into their souls the pure, incontrovertible witness of the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and of the reality of the Restoration itself,” he said. “This will come to them by the witness of the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon, its teachings and its testimony of the Savior are true.”
Elder Christofferson closed saying he wants his own name inscribed among the witnesses who testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of the Lord.
“God bless us all to know and love and use the Book of Mormon as God intended.”