Through the scriptures the gospel of Jesus Christ is revealed, said Elder L. Tom Perry Nov. 2 to college-age young adults gathered worldwide.
"Our love of the scriptures should be paramount if our faith is to be firmly anchored," said Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve. "We should not look upon reading and studying the scriptures as an inconvenience or something we must endure. In the word of God is power and nourishment and life."
More than 18,000 young adults gathered in the BYU Marriott Center for the Church Educational System fireside, which was broadcast live via satellite to an estimated 150,000 others in 77 countries. The fireside, translated into 29 languages, will also be made available on videotape to institute students around the world.
During his address, Elder Perry said that from the beginning of time, the Lord has instructed His servants to make a record of His dealings with them. And throughout almost all periods of time, there has been a longing of people to know the scriptures.
"Even so, the Savior's Church had not been organized for very long before apostasy began to enter in among the organized body of the Church," he said.
Early Christians suffered much persecution, he said, adding that there was also a change in the general attitude toward Christianity. Instead of humbly following the Savior, who established the Church, people began seeking church offices for the social honor and wealth that accompanied them. An age of darkness was upon the earth, he said. Elder Perry said he is intrigued with the Lords' timing in bringing forth His gospel again.
"It shows that He understands His children. The simplicity of life in the early 1800s was a good seedbed for the Restoration. . . . A half a century later may have been too late to find the humble, hard-working, rugged pioneers necessary to establish His Church."
Since the time of Joseph Smith's birth, the world has seen a population explosion and advancements in technology, he said. "It seems as if the Lord has been opening the minds of men to prepare them for the age when the gospel would be preached in its fulness. This Restoration has come in a time when a large number of God's children can have ready access to His word, as revealed through His chosen prophets."
Elder Perry said the Lord needed someone teachable to be the instrument through which He would restore the gospel. "Few prophets have come from more humble beginnings than the Prophet Joseph did. He had little opportunity for education. He was not quite 15 years of age when the Lord touched him and brought forth a marvelous vision, through which mankind would again know the true nature of God, His relationship to His Son, and Their relationship to the Holy Ghost."
Elder Perry said there were probably two reasons the Lord revealed Himself to such a very young man. "One, Joseph had not been educated in the ways of the world and, therefore, he could more easily be taught the pure doctrine by visitations and establish his understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Two, Joseph would teach what he learned to others in simplified words that could be understood by all mankind. Through Joseph, the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth."
An essential part of this Restoration was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, Elder Perry said. "The Book of Mormon clears up the misconceptions about the gospel as presented in the Bible. It stands as tangible evidence of the reality of the First Vision and of Joseph Smith's divine calling. It teaches about faith in God. It strongly urges obedience to His will and testifies of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, that He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. It declares the truth and divine origin of the Bible and corroborates its truth.
"It teaches of purity of thought, word, deed and sets heaven as the highest goal of life. As in previous dispensations, the doctrinal base provided in the scriptures in this case the Bible and the Book of Mormon made possible the establishment of the Savior's Church again upon the earth."
Elder Perry said his interest in the words of the prophets came at a very impressionable time in his life. As a 12-year-old boy, he said, he visited the Clarkston Cemetery and heard the testimony of Martin Harris one of the Three Witnesses from William Pilkington, a man who knew Martin Harris.
Elder Perry then turned the time over to Lael Woodbury, who portrayed William Pilkington in recounting hearing Martin Harris' testimony of the Book of Mormon. "He never tired of telling me of the beauties of the gospel, and especially about the early rise of the Church, and of the tribulations that beset the Prophet Joseph Smith and himself," said Brother Woodbury of Martin Harris.
There is real power in the scriptures, Elder Perry then told the congregation. "I am amazed at how much is given to us in them that is sound and beneficial in every age and in every time. As I study, review, and comprehend the scriptures, I find a fundamental, basic plan that is of value to each generation from the very beginning of time."
Elder Perry said his greatest fear is that in this information age members will have a difficult time keeping their lives in balance. "I believe the scriptures provide insight into the patterns which will help us prepare for the future," he said.
Church members, he said, must increase their understanding of Church doctrine and religiously apply that doctrine in their lives.
"May the Lord bless each of us with the desire to study and know and grow in a knowledge of the scriptures," concluded Elder Perry. "May you find them to be a guide and a source of power to you. May they direct you to the eternal good that we are all seeking here in mortality and in the worlds to come."
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