As my husband and I counsel together about teaching our children the gospel, we often repeat the words of “Circle of Life,” a classic song from The Lion King: “There’s more to see than can ever be seen / More to do than can ever be done.”(Elton John and Tim Rice, “Circle of Life,” The Lion King, movie, lines 3-4, )
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed with so many wonderful resources to help us learn and live the gospel. Below is a short list of materials we can access anytime from our smartphones:
This doesn’t even include additional books, blogs, articles, podcasts, and videos by Church leaders and faithful Latter-day Saints. How grateful we are for the many excellent materials that help strengthen our faith and testimonies of Jesus Christ.
We have more to read than can ever be read, more to study than can ever be studied, more to learn than can ever be learned, more to share than can ever be shared. So, how do we as individuals, families, teachers, and leaders in the Church decide what to use in teaching the gospel?
The Power of the Word of God
When Alma wondered what might have the greatest effect to bring people back into the fold of God, Mormon’s abridgement explains: “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5).
Virtue is synonymous with power. For example, in the New Testament when a multitude of people with unclean spirits sought to touch Jesus, “there went virtue out of him, and healed them all,” which includes a note that the Greek translation of virtue is power (Luke 6:19 [see footnote a]). Modern revelation also helps us to learn that what individuals speak “when moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost shall be scripture … and the power of God unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:4). Therefore, Alma’s decision was that the power of God’s word—both in the scriptures and as prompted by the Holy Ghost—would have the most impact upon the people of his times.
This same principle applies today. As one of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the July 6-12 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families states, “God’s word has the power to lead people to righteousness.” I believe there are three main ways that the virtue of the word of God will bless us and our families:
The Word of God Will Change Behavior
Both Alma and Mormon knew that the doctrine of Jesus Christ is more powerful than the sword. Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. (“Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986).
The doctrines of the gospel found in the scriptures and taught by living prophets help us understand the plan of salvation and the great gift of repentance. Because of these doctrines, hearts soften and turn to the Savior Jesus Christ with a desire to change and repent.
The Word of God Will Provide Safety
Intentional and meaningful study of the scriptures will bring great blessings and protection to us and our families. Prophets throughout this dispensation have taught this principle powerfully. President Ezra Taft Benson spoke specifically about the protection and blessings that only come by studying the scriptures: “Success in righteousness, the power to avoid deception and resist temptation, guidance in our daily lives, healing of the soul—these are but a few of the promises the Lord has given to those who will come to His word … However diligent we may be in other areas, certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it as we make our way through the mists of darkness to the tree of life” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, Ensign, May 1986)
More recently President Russell M. Nelson prophetically taught: “I promise that as you daily immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon, you can be immunized against the evils of the day, even the gripping plague of pornography and other mind-numbing addictions” (“The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like Without It,” Ensign, Nov. 2017).
The Word of God Will Bring Us to Christ
All scriptures testify of Jesus Christ and His role as the Savior of the world. As such, the word of God brings us closer to Him through His doctrine and teachings. If we want to know Jesus Christ, He is to be found in the pages of scripture that ancient holy prophets recorded for us. He is found in the Old Testament as Jehovah and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The earthly ministry of Jesus comes alive in the New Testament as He calls fishermen to leave their nets and heals lepers and the blind. Christ is found in the Book of Mormon as He leads a family from Jerusalem to a promised land and appears as the resurrected Savior to righteous survivors at the temple in Bountiful. Our Redeemer’s voice is heard clearly and powerfully in the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as He spoke to latter-day prophets. Living prophets, general authorities, and local leaders—both men and women—continue to direct Christ’s work on the earth at Church meetings and through ministering contacts in our homes.
Truly, we are blessed to live in a day when the restored gospel of Jesus Christ offers us more knowledge of and access to gospel teachings and resources than at any other time in human history. Our challenge might be to determine which materials will be most effective in our own conversion. It is my testimony that studying God’s word in the scriptures and as revealed by the Holy Ghost truly does bring power into our lives to change, to be protected, and to come closer to our Savior. When it feels there are more resources than we can ever use, we will not go wrong starting with—and staying with—the virtue of the word of God.