In 1986, just two years after being ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Russell M. Nelson met an African tribal king who asked, “What can you teach me about Jesus Christ?”
President Nelson responded, “May I ask what you already know about Him?”
The king’s response revealed “he was a serious student of the Bible and one who loved the Lord,” President Nelson recalled.
After President Nelson explained to the king that the Savior came to the people of ancient America and a record of His ministry is found in the Book of Mormon, the king said, “You could have given me diamonds or rubies, but nothing is more precious to me than this additional knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In relating this experience in October 2017 general conference, President Nelson, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, asked Latter-day Saints, “My brothers and sisters, how precious is the Book of Mormon to you? If you were offered diamonds or rubies or the Book of Mormon, which would you choose? Honestly, which is of greater worth to you?”
He then affirmed, “The truths of the Book of Mormon have the power to heal, comfort, restore, succor, strengthen, console and cheer our souls.”
This year, Latter-day Saints across the globe have the opportunity to study the Book for Mormon as individuals and families and in Primary and Sunday School classes for “Come, Follow Me.” Below are invitations, promises and testimonies from Church leaders about this “precious” book of scripture.
Immunized against evil
“My dear brothers and sisters, I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions — every day. I promise that as you ponder what you study, the windows of heaven will open, and you will receive answers to your own questions and direction for your own life. I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.”
— President Russell M. Nelson, October 2017 general conference, “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?”
The Book of Mormon brings us to Christ
“The Book of Mormon is Christ-centered. That is its essential feature, and that is the reason we are commanded to study it continually. We must use the Book of Mormon to bring us to Christ.”
Driving out fear and doubt
After hearing President Thomas S. Monson’s invitation to study, ponder and apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon in April 2017 general conference, “I decided to obey those words. … The happy result for me, and for many of you, has been what the prophet promised. Those of us who took his inspired counsel to heart have heard the Spirit more distinctly. We have found a greater power to resist temptation and have felt greater faith in a resurrected Jesus Christ, in His gospel, and in His living Church.
“In a season of increasing tumult in the world, those increases in testimony have driven out doubt and fear and have brought us feelings of peace.”
Recorded ‘by men on earth and angels in heaven’
“I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my ‘last days,’ but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.”
Core elements of the gospel message
“The core elements of the gospel message are found in all the holy scriptures but are most clearly given to us in the Book of Mormon and in the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Here Jesus Himself plainly declares His doctrine and His gospel, with which God’s children must comply to ‘have eternal life’” (3 Nephi 11:31–39).
An inspired record
“The Book of Mormon is not a book of history. The Book of Mormon is a book about the future. It describes episodes in the lives of people thousands of years ago, but the writers of the record and especially the compilers of the record were inspired by the Lord to include the things that we would need for the world in which we live today.”
Testimony comes by faith
The Book of Mormon has a significant role to play in receiving personal revelation. While some might disparage or underestimate this sacred book, “a testimony of the restored gospel must be based on faith rather than external or scientific proof.”
Ultimately, Moroni’s counsel to read and ponder and then ask God to confirm scriptural truths is the answer. “Clearly, a dividing line, between those who hear the music of faith and those who are tone deaf or off-key, is the active study of the scriptures and following the counsel of the Lord’s prophet.”
Teaching with power
“Use the Book of Mormon to help people have spiritual experiences, especially a witness from the Holy Ghost that the book itself is the word of God. When you teach the gospel using the Book of Mormon, your teaching will resonate with power and clarity in the heart and mind.”
A ‘heavenly banquet’
The Book of Mormon is “like an exquisite banquet table, one thousand feet long, covered with the most desirable food, fruit and flowers from across the world. It will take me a lifetime and more to enjoy the gift of this heavenly banquet. Some of the fruit I have not yet tasted. There are delicacies that I savored long ago, and I long to find again. There are flowers full of color and fragrance that bid me to come closer. There are combinations I am only now beginning to discover.”
Flood the earth with the Book of Mormon
“My dear friends, as an Apostle of the Lord, I invite you to follow our beloved prophet, President Nelson, in flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon. The need is so great; we need to act now. I promise that you will be participating in ‘the greatest work on earth,’ the gathering of Israel, as you are inspired to reach out to those who have been ‘kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12). They need your testimony and witness of how this book has changed your life and drawn you closer to God, His peace, and His ‘tidings of great joy’” (1 Nephi 13:37).
Replacing screen time
“In order to help the Book of Mormon become the keystone of your testimony, I offer you a challenge. I recently learned that many young people spend an average of seven hours a day looking at TV, computer, and smartphone screens (American Academy of Pediatrics, ‘Media and Children,’ aap.org). With this in mind, would you make a small change? Will you replace some of that daily screen time — particularly that devoted to social media, the internet, gaming, or television — with reading the Book of Mormon? …”
The truths in the Book of Mormon “will strengthen your faith, fill your soul with light, and prepare you for a future you scarcely have the ability to comprehend.”
Transformed by reading the Book of Mormon
After Elder Renlund first read the Book of Mormon at 11 years old, a counselor in the mission presidency encouraged the youth who were reading the Book of Mormon to ask God about its truthfulness. “I decided I would do just that. … I climbed out of bed, knelt on the cold floor, and I began to pray. I soon felt as if I were being told, ‘I have been telling you all along that it is true.’ And with that, an indescribable peace came over me. I knew for myself by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.
“Just as promised in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon, I also ‘[came] to know by the [power of the Holy Ghost] that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His … Prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.’ That knowledge, combined with subsequent witnesses, transformed me.”
“We learn in the scriptures that the Lord gives people on the earth physical objects to help guide us through life’s challenges. The liahona is an example of a physical item that Lehi and his family used in ancient days to navigate through the wilderness.
“In our day, we have two physical items given to us that accomplish the same purpose of helping us navigate our path through life — our patriarchal blessings and the Book of Mormon. I encourage you to study the Book of Mormon and your patriarchal blessings. Hold them, study them, love them. If you do so, they will provide you with the guidance you need to navigate life’s thorny paths.”
A ‘powerful, unparalleled message’
“The historical facts and the special witnesses of the Book of Mormon testify that its coming forth was indeed miraculous. Nevertheless, the power of this book is not based only in its magnificent history but on its powerful, unparalleled message that has changed countless lives — including mine! … The Book of Mormon indeed became the keystone that sustains my faith in Jesus Christ and my testimony of the doctrine of His gospel. It became one of the pillars that testifies to me of Christ’s divine atoning sacrifice. It became a shield throughout my life against the adversary’s attempts to weaken my faith and instill disbelief in my mind and gives me courage to boldly declare my testimony of the Savior to the world.”
The scripture ‘rang in my ears’
While investigating the Church, Elder Patrick Kearon came upon a scripture in the Book of Mormon that read, “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). “That scripture rang in my ears. In those I had met, I saw how our lives can be enormously enriched by following the Savior’s counsel to be of good cheer.” He joined the Church on Christmas Eve of 1987.