Book of Mormon Helps Harvest Souls
By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
The mandate to missionaries today is the same as what the Lord revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 31:4: “You shall declare the things which have been revealed to my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun.,” Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis of the Seventy said January 16 to departing missionary couples attending the 2013 Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors’ Center Directors.
“And what was revealed to Joseph Smith Jr.?” Elder Aidukaitis asked. “The Book of Mormon.”
He said the Book of Mormon is the tool for fulfilling the scriptural direction to harvest souls. “And we have to thrust in that tool with all our souls,” he added.
Drawing an analogy, Elder Aidukaitis asked, “Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a dull knife? It’s a mess! The tools need to be sharpened so that they work properly.”
Elder Aidukaitis noted that the introduction to chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel gives six direct statements:
1. “The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the divinity of Christ.”
Elder Aidukaitis observed, “We ought to teach our missionaries that they should become familiar with the Book of Mormon and the many passages in the book that talk about these things so that they can know how to expound on them, and they can be fortified by that as well.”
2. “The Book of Mormon is proof of the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
“Without the Book of Mormon, we would have the Bible, but so have other churches,” Elder Aidukaitis noted. “Without the Book of Mormon, this Church would be just the same as any other [Christian] church in the world. The Book of Mormon is tangible evidence. It has weight. It has pages. It has words. It has volume. One can hold it with his own hands. One can read it with his own eyes. And with his own understanding he can ponder and think about the words it says, the promises it contains.”
3. “An essential part of conversion is receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.”
Some join the Church for reasons other than having received a powerful testimony of its truthfulness, Elder Aidukaitis observed. “If we want an enduring conversion … we want to help them to receive a personal witness that the Book of Mormon is true.”
4. “As a missionary you must first have a personal testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. This testimony can lead to a deep and abiding faith in the power of the Book of Mormon during the conversion process.”
A key word in the above statement, Elder Aidukaitis said, is first. “How can you testify to someone of something you do not know for yourself?” he asked.
5. “Have confidence that the Holy Ghost will testify to anyone who reads and ponders the Book of Mormon and asks God if it is true with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ.”
Elder Aidukaitis asked how a missionary can have such confidence. Because the missionary has followed the exhortation in Moroni 10 himself, he said.
“That comes with practice, with doing it yourself,” he said. “You cannot get it vicariously.”
6. “This witness of the Holy Ghost should be a central focus of your teaching.”
A missionary can obtain a testimony in a very short period of time, Elder Aidukaitis said, but he added that in order to do so, the missionary must follow the exhortation in Moroni 10:3–5. Quoting that exhortation, he said the reader ought to do what it says and ponder God’s mercies, have a sincere heart, have real intent, and manifest faith in Christ, as Joseph Smith did.