The Book of Mormon can help strengthen and refine one’s discipleship of the Lord Jesus Christ in five specific ways, taught Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a Thursday, June 10, worldwide missionary devotional broadcast.
“It will help you to know and better understand His teachings, better understand His Atonement and what redemption entails, better understand and recognize your accountability before the Lord, better love the Savior and to feel and be lifted by His love for you, and confirm in you the testimony of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Christofferson said.
He and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, spoke in the devotional that was streamed across the online missionary portal for elders and sisters serving across the globe. Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department, conducted the devotional and introduced the Christoffersons.
‘Unpacking your bags’
In her remarks, Sister Christofferson spoke about “unpacking your bags” in times of temporary settlement and service or uncertain transition.
She cited positive examples such as the Saints in 1831 who after prepping Leman Copley’s property near Kirtland were forced off the land and had to start over in resettling Independence, Missouri; President Boyd K. Packer’s experience as an army pilot being held in limbo in Okinawa while waiting to start his tour of duty in Japan and his several stops there; and Ammon in the Book of Mormon and his serving and dwelling with King Lamoni and his people in the land of Ishmael.
She also spoke of a son who served as a missionary in an eastern European country in the 1990s, discouraged by the language, culture, cuisine and constant rejection. His view of the people changed — literally — when lights inside a streetcar in which he was riding went out for several minutes, altering his view of the window from a reflection of himself to looking out and actually seeing the worn-down, oppressed-for-decades people walking outside.
“These people had lost hope. They were beaten down. His heart melted. It changed everything in his missionary service. He couldn’t love those people more,” she said. “You might say he unpacked his heart. In fact, when his two years were up and it was time to return home, he found it very difficult to leave.”
Sister Christofferson noted that many elders and sisters viewing the devotional broadcast are about to pack up and leave to their various fields of labor, joining those who live and serve in the realm of transfers and new companions.
“Wherever you are in the timeline of your service, I hope that you will find useful the idea of unpacking your bags both physically and emotionally. It is my prayer that you look to the Lord to guide you in your service and that you will find His aid and direction in all you do.”
Becoming a disciple of Christ
Missionaries should strive to become disciples of the Father and the Son — not of their parents or mission or Church leaders — and they should strive to help others come unto Christ and create connection with their Heavenly Father and Savior, Elder Christofferson said.
Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Living Water, and that symbolism explains “just how perfectly united with Him we need to become as His disciples,” he said, adding that “figuratively eating His flesh and drinking His blood also means to internalize the qualities and characteristics of the Savior.
“As we partake of the sacramental bread and water each week, we should consider how fully and completely we need to incorporate the pattern of His sinless life into our life. The ordinance of the sacrament is a weekly call to discipleship.”
He added: “I want to help you use the Book of Mormon to become Christ’s increasingly faithful and complete disciple.”
1. Use the Book of Mormon to better understand His life and teachings
While the New Testament provides the most comprehensive account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon’s record of the Savior’s ministry in the Western Hemisphere adds important insights, understanding and power, Elder Christofferson said.
He told his listeners to become thoroughly familiar with the Book of Mormon’s teachings of the Savior, His life, His teachings and His character. “There is no other book of scripture so intentionally focused on Jesus Christ. Your faith in Him and what He is willing and able to do in your life will grow miraculously over time.”
2. Through the Book of Mormon, understand Christ’s Atonement and what redemption entails
Elder Christofferson underscored how thoroughly the Atonement of Jesus Christ is taught in the Book of Mormon, which also helps provide a deeper appreciation and understanding of what the Bible teaches regarding the Father’s plan of redemption and the doctrine of repentance.
“Repentance is to confess and abandon sin and to change course to follow and obey God more perfectly — to make obedience to His law our priority instead of trying to make our own law and follow our own rules. With repentance and the atoning grace of Christ, we are healed from sin and freed from its misery.”
3. Recognize your accountability to Christ
The Book of Mormon teaches plainly that one is accountable to God, and to the Savior in particular, for his or her life, Elder Christofferson said. “One who feels gratitude and accountability to the giver of life will live much differently from those who feel no obligation to the One who paid for their sins with His blood and redeemed them from death.”
Book of Mormon prophets teach that while the wicked take the truth to be hard, the righteous feel supported by it, he added. Those who do not repent look forward to the day of judgment with fear and dread.
4. Love the Lord and receive His love
“Being accountable to the Savior is motivation to choose the right, but even more important as a motivation is our love for Him …,” Elder Christofferson said. ”The Book of Mormon inspires love of Jesus Christ in us as we feel the love its writers have for Him and as we see His love and blessing poured out upon those who are striving to be His disciples.”
The Book of Mormon will instill love of the Savior in one’s heart and following its precepts will get one nearer to Him, he said. “If it teaches nothing else, the Book of Mormon teaches us that His love really is within our reach. Each of us, even though still imperfect disciples, can experience the love of Christ consistently throughout our life.”
5. Through the Book of Mormon, receive a testimony of His Resurrection
The Book of Mormon is a testament of Jesus Christ — it bears witness that He is the Only Begotten Son of the Living God, the promised Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer and the resurrected Lord, Elder Christofferson taught.
“The literal Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the seal of authenticity on all that we teach regarding the great plan of happiness and the doctrine of Christ. With the Resurrection we have everything; without the Resurrection, we have nothing.”
Because of His Resurrection, one can know that all of God’s promises are sure, including all of those yet to be fulfilled, either in time or eternity, he said. “Your lifelong study of the Book of Mormon will bring you that witness.”
Elder Christofferson blessed the missionaries that they would make becoming true disciples of Christ their highest priority and use the Book of Mormon to lead them in the path of Christian discipleship.
“I declare my witness that you are called under apostolic authority to teach and testify in the name of Jesus Christ as His disciples and emissaries. Jesus is the divine Son of God, and He lives today, the resurrected Lord and head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”