I am so thankful for my wife and children. To enjoy their love, confidence, and support is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I express my heartfelt gratitude to parents who loved and lived the gospel and also to my brothers and sisters from whom I have learned so much. I thank my Brethren of the General Authorities for their kind and gentle tutoring. I express my gratitude to all with whom I have worked over the years and to those who expressed their love and support for me in this new calling. I go forward with faith in the Lord and His leaders, relying on the promises of the Lord that we do not receive callings such as these but what we have been foreordained to the same.
I love the scriptures. I testify that they are the word of God. I have likened a verse from Alma to my life: the scriptures have had a great tendency to lead me to do that which is just; yea, they have had a more powerful effect upon my mind than the sword or anything else which has happened unto me; therefore I have tried the virtue of the word of God. (See Alma 31:5.)
President Benson counseled: “Immerse yourselves in [the scriptures] daily so you will have the power of the Spirit.” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 82.)
President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)
While presiding over a South American mission, I traveled to a distant city to interview missionaries, hold a zone conference, and conduct a district conference. I discovered among the missionaries some problems. In the district conference, other serious problems dealing with members and leaders surfaced. In my mind the negative outweighed the positive with both missionaries and members, leaving me frustrated and disappointed. After four days of interviews and meetings, I boarded the airplane with a heavy heart to return home.
I often read scriptures while traveling, and I turned to them for comfort and direction. I read a few of my favorite passages. While turning the pages, I stopped at the third section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I was deeply touched by the first five verses as they applied to my concerns.
When I read a verse, I often insert my name in it. I did so with verse 5 and found the help I needed to remove my gloomy feelings: “Behold, you, Jay Jensen, have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, Jay Jensen …”
The words “remember also the promises” struck me with unusual power. I identified with the Prophet Joseph Smith when he read James 1:5. The words “remember also the promises” seemed to “enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on [them] again and again.” (JS—H 1:12.) During those four days I had focused on nothing but problems. I had not stopped to consider one single promise.
I had with me on the airplane that day a copy of my patriarchal blessing. I read it, noting several marvelous promises. I reviewed in my mind the promises given to me when I was set apart as a mission president. I turned to additional scriptures and pondered the promises in each one. I learned then and have had reinforced to me again and again that when we search the scriptures, we will come to know that “they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” (D&C 1:37.)
The Lord has promised us specific blessings for reading and studying the scriptures. To identify these promises, a helpful exercise for me has been to make two columns on a sheet of paper and at the top of one column write the words “Promises for This Life” and in the other column the words “Promises for the Next Life.” When I find a promise, I note the reference and the promise under one of the two columns.
I have found repeated in different places in the scriptures two major promises for reading and studying the scriptures that pertain to the next life: one is exaltation, and the other is eternal life. For example, Nephi said: “Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, … Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Ne. 31:20.)
The surprising discovery was that most promises that come to us for reading and studying the scriptures pertain to mortality. Three categories of promises to consider are promises of power, promises of increase, and “other promises.” Time will permit me to cite but a few of these.
Consider the following five promises of power:
Power to overcome evil—Nephi taught: “Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, … the fiery darts of the adversary [could not] overpower them unto blindness.” (1 Ne. 15:24; see also Ps. 17:4; Ps. 119:98–101, 104; Hel. 3:29–30.)
Power to live righteously—Alma “did … preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty.” (Alma 4:19.) The Psalmist said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Hel. 15:7–8.)
Power to teach convincingly—Alma and the sons of Mosiah “had searched the scriptures diligently … and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (Alma 17:2–3; see also 2 Tim. 3:16.) To Hyrum Smith the Lord said: “First seek to obtain my word … ; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” (D&C 11:21; see also 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 4:19; Alma 31:5; D&C 84:85.)
Power to call down the powers of heaven—Jacob said that “we search the prophets … and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.” (Jacob 4:6; Hel. 10:4–5.)
Power to change the heart and disposition—Samuel taught the Nephites that the Lamanites were “led to believe the holy scriptures, … which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them.” (Hel. 15:7; see also 1 Ne. 15:20.) Three marvelous promises.
Consider now the following promises of increase:
Increase in hope and joy—The Apostle Paul taught that “we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4; see also 1 Ne. 11:25; Jacob 2:8; Jacob 4:6; Alma 44:5; D&C 19:23.)
Increase in spirituality—“The preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just.” (Alma 31:5; see also 2 Ne. 4:15–16; Moro. 6:4.)
Increase in knowledge and understanding—Nephi taught that “the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Ne. 32:3.) To Joseph Smith the Lord said: “The holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction.” (D&C 33:16; see also Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:98–101; 2 Tim. 3:15–17; Alma 12:10; Alma 17:2–3; D&C 18:34–36.)
Increase in the power of discernment—“The word of God … is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil.” (Hel. 3:29.) “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37; see also Heb. 4:12.)
Increase in testimony—From the Doctrine and Covenants: “You can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.” (D&C 18:36; see also Ps. 19:7.)
In addition to these general categories of promises of power and increase, there are other promises, such as “for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8) and as Joseph Smith said, “faith comes by hearing the word of God” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:379).
President Howard W. Hunter has said: “When we … read and study the scriptures, benefits and blessings of many kinds come to us. This is the most profitable of all study in which we could engage.” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 64.)
May we “remember also the promises.” I testify that the scriptures are the word of God. I love them. I testify that God lives. He is our Father. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith just as he said they did. President Ezra Taft Benson is God’s prophet today. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.