Good morning, brothers and sisters, friends, and family. I am so grateful to be speaking to you today about the Book of Mormon and its influence in my life and in my decision to serve a mission.
The Book of Mormon is an ancient record of scripture, similar in nature to the Bible. It contains the writings of prophets and followers of God. Just as Moses and others in the Old Testament prophesied of Jesus Christ's birth, life and ministry, and Atonement, the Book of Mormon prophets testified of Christ's coming to the Earth. In the Introduction of the Book of Mormon, it explains that the Book of Mormon “is a record of God's dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” Jesus Christ made himself known to His people in the Americas, as well as in Jerusalem. In John 10:16, Jesus says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” The crowning event in the Book of Mormon is when Jesus Christ fulfills this duty by visiting the people of the Americas, some of His “other sheep,” after His resurrection. He taught them His gospel and about the Plan of Salvation.
I have grown up reading the Book of Mormon and learning about it. I think I have always sort of known in my heart that it is true, but I didn't understand how or why. Especially in the past year, as I have more intensely and individually studied the Book of Mormon and prayed about it, I have found truth in its simple message. The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of mercy, of grace, and of hope. Basically, we are to use our God-given free will in order to choose to follow Jesus Christ. Our life is a refining process in which we learn, grow, repent, improve, and make sacred promises. As we turn our lives towards Christ, He will make us better and provide the way for our salvation. The Bible and the Book of Mormon work together to testify of Jesus Christ. They show how straying from Christ leads to pain, suffering, and confusion, while striving to be more like Him will bring happiness, hope, and clarity to our lives. In the Book of Mormon, it explains that the Book of Mormon was written that we may believe in the Bible, and if we believe in the Bible, we will believe in the Book of Mormon as well because they both testify of Jesus Christ, of the power of God, and the miracles which He has done for us.
As a full-time missionary, I will be working with a companion to teach the people of Brazil in our area about Jesus Christ and His gospel. I want to share the truth that I have found in the Book of Mormon and in Jesus Christ's gospel and plan of salvation. Our humble invitation is for others to come unto Jesus Christ and obtain salvation and happiness through His gospel. In the Book of Mark, chapter 1 verse 4 it explains how John the Baptist preached “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”. The gospel that Jesus Christ taught while on the Earth was just this. To obtain salvation, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This faith leads us to want to become better people, and to repent of our sins. As we repent, we turn our lives towards Jesus Christ and follow His commandments. This change in our lives is manifested by being baptized by immersion for the remission of our sins. When we are baptized, we make covenants with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that we will serve them, keep the commandments, be witnesses of Jesus Christ, and always remember Him. Baptism solidifies our commitment to Christ and shows that we are His disciple. It also allows us to be spiritually born again, and cleansed from all our previous sins. We are given a clean slate! Heavenly Father's promise to us is that we can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a spirit who guides, directs, comforts, and inspires us for good. After baptism, we can receive the gift of constant companionship with the Holy Ghost if we live up to our promises. This makes it easier for us to live righteous lives and make good decisions, as we endure the trials and troubles of mortal life to the end. As long as we remain faithful to our covenants, or promises with God, we will live with Him again, alongside our families, in eternal happiness. God's “work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
Everyone who came to the Earth knew about this plan before they were born, and it is my purpose as a missionary to invite God's children to come back to it and live their Heavenly Father's plan. The Book of Mormon outlines the purpose of life, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father's plan for us to come back to Him. Not only does this plan outline our means for eternal happiness after death, but living the gospel in our lives now brings blessings of happiness, peace, and strength. As a missionary, I will do as the Book of Mormon prophet Alma taught, and “stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places”.
There are three major things taught in the Book of Mormon that testify to me that it is true. They are the principles of purpose, progress, and potential. I want people to know what I know about why we are here, what we can become, and how we can do it. God is a loving Heavenly Father, who has sent us all to Earth so that we may learn, grow, and become better people. In the Book of Mormon it says, “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). Our purpose on Earth is to become worthy enough to live in the presence of God. Luckily, He has given us the means to do this. We know of the Plan of Salvation, in which we must live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through faith, repentance, baptism, and living the commandments, we become refined and improved. We grow a closer relationship to our Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus Christ. Our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and we will be better equipped to deal with the inevitable challenges of life. Though we will not become perfect in this life, or be happy at all times, living the gospel of Jesus Christ with diligence will give us an anchor to hold to. It is a foundation that if we build upon it, we cannot fall. The Book of Mormon helps us to know know of the divine and amazing potential that we have, simply by being children of a Heavenly Father. Just as children often grow up to become like their parents, we have the potential to become like God. Through His grace, forgiveness, and mercy, we can turn our lives around and become whole.
As part of our divine potential, I also am excited to teach others about the eternal potential of our families. God designed the family to be the fundamental unit of society. If mothers and fathers raise children in righteousness, teaching them to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ, and receiving the blessings of the temple, families can be together forever. A loving family is the most important support in our lives, and it is so exciting that we can have these loving ties for all eternity. Elder Robert D. Hales said: “The family is not an accident of mortality. It existed as an organizational unit in the heavens before the world was formed; historically, it started on earth with Adam and Eve, as recorded in Genesis. Adam and Eve were married and sealed for time and all eternity by the Lord, and as a result their family will exist eternally.”
Lastly, I would like to invite everyone to read the Book of Mormon. Whether you have read it several times, or have never even seen one, please read the Book of Mormon. It is a true book given to us from God and it's message is one of peace, hope, happiness, and salvation. Whenever I feel lost, confused, or upset, reading the Book of Mormon brings me peace, understanding, and joy. But, don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself if it is true. At the end of the Book of Mormon, in the book of Moroni chapter 10 verses 4-5 it says:
- And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
- And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.
Heavenly Father is anxious for us to know the truth. But He cannot answer our questions unless we ask them. I testify that this gospel is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.