First Presidency Message

Feasting upon the Scriptures

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    Feasting upon the Scriptures

    I love our scriptures. I love these wonderful volumes, which set forth the word of the Lord—given personally or through prophets—for the guidance of our Father’s sons and daughters. I love to read the scriptures, and I try to do so consistently and repeatedly. I love to quote from them, for they give the voice of authority to that which I say. I do not claim distinction as a scholar of the scriptures. For me, the reading of the scriptures is not the pursuit of scholarship. Rather, it is a love affair with the word of the Lord and that of his prophets.

    I love the mercy of the Lord as I read of mercy and forgiveness, which run as a thread of gold through the fabric of all our scriptures. I begin with the invitation given in Isaiah: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18.) I find that same wonderful element in what I regard as the most beautiful and touching of stories ever told—the parable of the prodigal son as given in the fifteenth chapter of Luke [Luke 15]. This parable is a marvelous lesson on mercy for every parent, and an even greater lesson on the mercy of our Father toward his wayward sons and daughters.

    The same spirit of forgiveness and mercy is found repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon. For instance, Nephi declared that the Lord “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Ne. 26:33.)

    The same thread of love and forgiveness runs through modern revelation. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.) If only we, when we have forgiven, might forget forever the trespass committed against us!

    I love the mercy of the Lord as it is set forth in his declarations and in the declarations of his prophets. It is interesting and worthwhile to review the many references in any Bible concordance to the topics of forgiveness and mercy.

    I love the covenants of the Lord as he has spoken them to his people—the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—with whom he covenanted that he would be their God and they should be his people.

    The thread of that covenant runs through the Book of Mormon. The covenant was reaffirmed in this dispensation when the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the preface of what has become the book of Doctrine and Covenants. Setting forth the purposes of this restoration, the Lord named among them: “That mine everlasting covenant might be established.” (D&C 1:22.)

    We are a covenant people. We have entered into contract with God our Eternal Father. We have taken upon ourselves the name of his Beloved Son and agreed to keep his commandments. He has covenanted with us that we should be his sons and daughters, that he should be as a shepherd to us, and that we should have his Holy Spirit to abide with us. I love to read of those great everlasting promises as they are set forth in our scriptures.

    I love to read of the atonement of my Redeemer. It was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. It was promised by the prophets of the Book of Mormon. It was realized in the matchless life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God as set forth in the four Gospels of the Bible. It was testified to by the writers of the Epistles. It was witnessed on this continent and recorded in the Book of Mormon. It has been repeatedly reaffirmed through modern revelation as recorded in that which came through the Prophet Joseph Smith and those who have followed him.

    As I read these sacred volumes I marvel at the wonder and the majesty of the Almighty God and his Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the writers of these testaments sing the praises of God our Father and of our Redeemer. The scriptures testify of the Father and the Son—of their majesty and wonder. The scriptures invite all to come unto the Father and the Son and to find peace and strength in that union between God and man. This, to me, is the essence of these great books of light and truth—the consistency of which becomes more evident through the use of the tools available to us.

    I love the Bible. I love the lift of the language, the depth and the height of its words, and the strength and the grace of its expressions.

    I delight in the spirit and the language of the Book of Mormon. The words of Nephi find fulfillment in my soul as I read them. Long ago he wrote: “And upon these [plates] I write the things of my soul. … For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.” (2 Ne. 4:15.)

    I love the words of modern revelation: “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.

    “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

    “For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever.” (D&C 1:37–39.)

    I have read these great and singular volumes again and again. As I have pondered their words there has come, by the power of the Holy Ghost, a witness of their truth and divinity.

    I do not concern myself much with reading books of commentary designed to explain that which is found in the scriptures. Rather, I prefer to dwell with the source, tasting of the unadulterated waters of the fountain of truth—the word of God as he gave it and as it has been recorded in the books we accept as scripture. Through reading the scriptures, we can gain the assurance of the Spirit that that which we read has come of God for the enlightenment, blessing, and joy of his children.

    I urge our people everywhere to read the scriptures more—to study all of them together for a harmony of understanding in order to bring their precepts into our lives.

    May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon his holy word and to draw from it that strength, that peace, that knowledge “which passeth all understanding” (Philip. 4:7), as he has promised.

    Ideas for Home Teachers

    Some Points of Emphasis. You may wish to make some of these points in your home teaching discussion:

    1. The General Authorities are asking us to read and study the scriptures, The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    2. The spirit of love, mercy, and forgiveness runs as a golden thread through the scriptures, both ancient and modern.

    3. The scriptures testify of the Father and the Son, of their majesty and love, and of the blessing of the Savior’s atonement for each of us.

    4. The scriptures can give peace and strength to each of us.

    Discussion Helps

    1. Relate your personal feelings about the value of scripture study in our lives. Ask family members to share their feelings.

    2. Are there some scriptures or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?

    3. Would this discussion be better after talking with the head of the household before the visit? Is there a message from the quorum leader or bishop concerning scripture study?

    [illustration] “Behold my hands and feet,” painting by Harry Anderson

    [illustration] © Providence Lithograph Company