The coming Christmas season is a wonderful time to pick up the Bible and read of the incomparable life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his Atonement on behalf of all mankind. Chapter 2 of Luke may be a great place to start, with its account of the birth of the Christ Child — the Christmas story.
Mormons study the scriptures for spiritual nourishment, usually on a daily basis, and mostly in a personal, private, way.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus referred to the Old Testament scriptures with which his listeners were familiar and said, “Search the scriptures, for ... they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
That is what scriptures do — they testify of Christ.
During a 2004 BYU women’s conference, Jan Godfrey, a retired fifth-grade teacher and a Mormon, spoke to women about her love of the scriptures, developed over the years from busy young motherhood to her senior years in retirement.
May I share some of her expressions of love and respect for what God has revealed?
“Reading the scriptures stirs my soul,” Godfrey said. “I love the inspiration, the insights, the cautions, the instruction. I have been nurtured and admonished by prophets. I have been advised by kings.”
In listing the many ways she loves the scriptures, Godfrey said: “I love the history of the composition, compilation and preservation of the scriptures. I love all those ancient prophets and kings, scribes and translators, reformers, martyrs and priests that had a hand in that tremendous task. I love to read about their efforts and remember that angels were participants, too.”
Godfrey’s expressions strike a chord in my heart. I believe one of God’s purposes in calling prophets and inspiring them to write His revealed truths is so we might know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hath sent,” to quote Jesus’ prayer in John 17:3.
I am not surprised to learn that, according to a Pew survey, 98 percent of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because their volumes of scriptures, including the Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon, are inspired testaments of Jesus Christ.
There is an urban myth that has sprung up among certain Christians, perhaps because of their love of the Bible, that claims that God will not, or cannot, call prophets and bring forth more scripture after the Bible. Of course, that myth is not found in the Bible itself.
A prayerful reading of the Book of Mormon reveals its divine origin and that it is a volume of sacred scripture like the Bible, with which it is in complete concordance.
Another testament of Jesus Christ, it creates an even greater love for the Holy Bible as the word of God.
Of course, salvation is not in any physical book of scripture itself but is in Jesus Christ and his redeeming Atonement, revealed and set forth in scriptures.
We are wise to accept the Savior’s invitation to search the scriptures. Godfrey referred to them as “a compact portable library,” and then she spoke of intellectual growth, the stimulation of curiosity and the element of discovery found in her daily scripture study.
“My soul delighteth in the scriptures and my heart pondereth them,” she said. “I have profited by knowing the truth and following the still small voice with its whispered advice.”
Another woman, Marianne Johnson Fisher, blind since birth, sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for many years. She found comfort, hope and faith from the scriptures as expressed in hymns. She authored the words of a hymn entitled “As I Search the Holy Scriptures” and said her favorite verse was the third, which reads: “As I search the holy scriptures, May thy mercy be revealed, Soothe my troubled heart and spirit; May my unseen wounds be healed.” (Hymns, 277)
Faith grows, testimonies are strengthened, lives are changed and enriched, through scripture study. I testify that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the revealed word of God and suitable for our study during all seasons of the year.On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.mormon.org