The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rotates their adult Sunday school curriculum. This past year was a study of the New Testament. In 2016 it is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
As I consider the upcoming year, I recall a story from the life of Joseph Fielding McConkie, a son of the late apostle Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985).
Prior to his mission, Joseph said his father called upon him to “read the Book of Mormon and report.” Which he did with an honest effort. After reporting his father said, “Now, son, what I want you to do is to read the Book of Mormon and report.” Without hesitation young Joseph McConkie followed his father’s counsel and a few weeks later reported. Upon which his father said, “Now, son, what I want you to do is read the Book of Mormon and report.”
By the time he finished it for the third time, Joseph was serving as a young missionary for the Church. He wrote a letter to his father and reported. A reply was sent back. “Now we’ve laid the foundation. You are ready to begin your study of the Book of Mormon” (see The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son, 248-249).
Each member of the Church has their own path of reading and studying the Book of Mormon—the Bible as well. My father was in his late forties when a divine nudge in 1987 gave him the fire to study the Book of Mormon. He has read it every year since.
I was an ignorant 19 year-old-boy when I gave the Book of Mormon and the Bible a chance. Reading them sequentially, cover to cover introduced me to a spiritual kind of flowing water. Elder David A. Bednar said this sequential order of reading “initiates the flow of living water into our lives by introducing us to important stories, gospel doctrines, and timeless principles. This approach also enables us to learn about major characters in the scriptures and the sequence, timing, and context of events and teachings. Reading the written work in this way exposes us to the breadth of a volume of scripture. This the first and most fundamental way of obtaining living water.”
With a foundation laid in the scriptures each of us are better prepared to look for and understand connections, patterns, and themes. This will broaden our perspective and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A selective reading of the scriptures leads to misunderstandings and often a one or two topic gospel (i.e. faith-works or grace-accountability, or simply love your neighbor, while no mention of the greater commandment).
What would you rather drink from?
I would like to invite all, both members of the Church and those not of the faith, to read the Book of Mormon and report. To who and how you choose to report is open-ended. The main point is to overcome stale, rusty, or indifferent attitudes and practices of reading the scriptures. The Savior told the woman at the well, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Read the Book of Mormon and the Bible and discover how scripture, collectively read, brings us to further knowledge concerning the true nature of God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ as distinct resurrected beings still working institutionally through the modern day prophets and apostles, and intimately with individuals through Their messenger the Holy Ghost. A deeper reading and pondering of the connections and patterns in the scriptures helps us see the “origin of man, the reality of Satan, the purpose of mortality, the necessity for obedience, the need for repentance, the workings of the Holy Spirit, the ordinances and performances that pertain to salvation, the destiny of the earth, the future conditions of man after the Resurrection and the Judgment, the eternity of the marriage relationship, and the eternal nature of the family.
The Savior has given us the water. He has provided a deep well of living water that will sustain us in this life and prepare us for life eternal. We just have to choose to go to the right well and then choose to drink earnestly.
The Book of Mormon will help us taste and enjoy the living water the Savior has provided.