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The Value and Purpose of the Scriptures

[Adapted from my sacrament talk given June 15, 2014. Read the second part here.]

The Lord told Lehi in a vision to take his family out of Jerusalem and into the wilderness. After they left, the Lord commanded that Lehi’s sons return to get the brass plates, which contained their genealogy, the Law of Moses and other commandments, prophecies, and Jewish history. They could not continue their journey into the wilderness until they had the scriptures of their times. When Nephi obtained the brass plates, he “searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise” (1 Nephi 5:21–22). Nephi read the scriptures to his family and “did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). 
We too can liken the scriptures for our profit and learning as we plan out our lives and face obstacles in our plans. President Monson said of planning our lives, 
The way to exaltation is not a freeway featuring unlimited vision, unrestricted speeds, and untested skills. Rather, it is known by many forks and turnings, sharp curves, and controlled speeds. Your driving skill will be put to the test. Are you ready? You are driving. You haven’t passed this way before. Fortunately, the Master Highway Builder, even our Heavenly Father, has provided a road map showing the route to follow. He has placed markers along the way to guide you to your destination.
That road map can be found in the scriptures. Everything we need to know to return to Heavenly Father has been given to us through the words of past and present prophets. 

There are 3 instances in the Book of Mormon in which Nephi assures us that everything written on those ancient records are sacred and of worth to us: 1 Nephi 6:5–6, 1 Nephi 19:6, and 2 Nephi 33:3. Furthermore, in abridging the plates, Mormon wrote many times that a hundredth part of the history could not be written, implying that what was written was specifically included for a reason. This gives us confidence that everything we need to plan our future and resolve any issue can be found in the scriptures.  

Therefore, we must learn how to apply what we read to our own situations. This may seem difficult because of time, cultural, and language differences. However, Elder Jay E. Jensen explained,
Story parallels begin with stories in the scriptures or from the events surrounding them. As you read and study these stories, you will see a word, a phrase, or a principle that seems as applicable today as it was in the past. As you continue your prayerful study, other principles will become apparent. As you put the principles together, you will begin to bridge the gap between the prophets and people who lived in the past—they-there-then—and us in our day—I-here-now. . . .
We can bridge the gap between scripture stories and our lives by recognizing the parallels between the two.
The key is to focus on the principles. For example, the story of Nephi killing Laban is an extreme scenario. It is a far chance any of us will be told to chop off someone’s head, impersonate them, steal their records, and then kidnap their servant. However, the principle of obeying a request from the Lord even when it doesn’t make sense is very applicable to each of us. This story is also a reminder that God is in control, that He not only knows the bigger picture, but also is the One who draws it. If He asks us to do something we don’t want to do, we can be assured it is for a good reason. Sometimes we are told the reason and sometimes we are able to discover it for ourselves, both of which apply to Nephi’s experience recorded in 1 Nephi 4:10–18. 

We can follow Nephi’s example when faced with a command that is challenging for us. Nephi was always obedient, whether or not he understood why. He wrote of one such time he did not know why: 1 Nephi 9:3–6. Mormon shared the same feelings about how he was commanded to combine the records: Words of Mormon 1:3–7. Both men acted on the faith they had that the Lord knows all things and uses us to accomplish His works.

(We know now that this wise purpose was to prepare for when Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages translated from the Book of Mormon, as explained in the heading to Doctrine and Covenants Section 10. Nephi and Mormon were able to plan for a future far beyond their lifetime, a future which affected us, by listening to the promptings of the Spirit. Who knows but the Lord how our present actions will affect the future of the world.)

Heavenly Father had the scriptures written for us. He knows we gain hope and strength from other people’s experiences. And like any good parent, He wants us to learn from other people’s mistakes instead of making our own. Remembering what Elder Jensen said about principles, there is no challenge we face today that has not been faced before.

Challenge: When you read the scriptures, look for principles that you can relate and apply to your life.


Anonymous said…
The scriptures can be a great source of strength.

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