“Chapter 10: Flooding the Earth and Our Lives with the Book of Mormon,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (2014), 136–45
“Chapter 10,” Teachings: Ezra Taft Benson, 136–45
In the April 1989 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson read a message from President Ezra Taft Benson to the children of the Church. In this message, President Benson said:
“I know you are reading the Book of Mormon, for I have received hundreds of personal letters from you telling me that you are reading this sacred book. It makes me weep for joy when I hear this. …
“How pleased I am to hear of your love for the Book of Mormon. I love it too, and Heavenly Father wants you to continue to learn from the Book of Mormon every day. It’s Heavenly Father’s special gift to you. By following its teachings, you will learn to do the will of our Father in Heaven.”1
Throughout the Church, Latter-day Saints heeded this counsel from their prophet. The following accounts provide examples of the blessings that came to those who answered President Benson’s call to “flood the earth and [their] lives with the Book of Mormon.”2
“‘He can’t be serious!’ thought Margo Merrill … when she first heard President Ezra Taft Benson’s request that parents read the Book of Mormon with their children. ‘My children are only six, five, and two years old. I’ll just be wasting my time and patience.’
“Brother and Sister Merrill decided to try reading the Book of Mormon with their children anyway. When they came to the story of Nephi and his broken bow, six-year-old Melissa became ill with pneumonia.
“‘Melissa pleaded with me to let her go back to school even though she was sick,’ [said] Margo. ‘She said that if she didn’t go back, her friend, Pamela—who is a member of another church—wouldn’t know what happened to Nephi. Then Melissa sobbed and slumped into my arms. I dried her tears and suggested she call Pamela on the telephone and tell her what had happened to Nephi.
“‘As I heard Melissa relate in detail the incident regarding Nephi’s broken bow, I remembered my earlier thoughts about wasting my time and patience reading the Book of Mormon to my young children. Oh, how I had underestimated their ability to learn the lessons of the Book of Mormon!’”3
Howard J. McOmber II pondered President Benson’s exhortation to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. He wondered, “How could I as an individual be a significant part of such a flood?
“Then one night,” Brother McOmber said, “as I was pondering this problem I realized that I could give every individual on my street the opportunity to receive a copy of the Book of Mormon.
“But there was a problem—they knew me. They knew about my dog that barked too often—and too early in the morning. They knew that my yard was not the garden spot of the neighborhood. They knew my shortcomings as a neighbor; they would probably turn me away.
“I determined to have faith and go ahead anyway. I would offer them the book—even if they might throw it away, or let it collect dust on their shelves for years. Yet I found myself thinking negatively; I had almost convinced myself that nothing could come of my efforts.
“Then I remembered that I knew my neighbors at least as well as they knew me. A few had told questionable jokes at the last community development meeting, and a few had drunk too much at the last neighborhood barbecue. Some seemed to have little purpose in their lives. I wondered what I would have been like if I weren’t a member of the Church, or if I’d never heard of the Book of Mormon. Clearly, this book could help those who would give it a chance.
“So I contacted everyone on my street and offered them a copy of the Book of Mormon—and they all thanked me! It went so well that I went to the next street, completed my subdivision, and then went on to the next subdivision. When I was through, I had visited 104 houses and placed forty books.
“It started to become easier to offer copies of the Book of Mormon to acquaintances.
“In time I had given all seventy-five employees at my work copies of the Book of Mormon. Twenty-three of them took the missionary discussions. Seven were later baptized, and four children belonging to my coworkers also joined the Church. One man took two discussions but then lost interest in investigating the Church. Seven months later, after he had moved on to a job at another company, he called to tell me that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and had realized that he was feeling the calm, peaceful touch of the Spirit, just as I had described it. He, too, soon finished the discussions and was baptized.
“I love the Book of Mormon. I think of it as the Lord’s calling card, and I have been amazed at how easy it is to start a spiritual flood with it on a personal scale. When we do the work of the Lord, we have his help.”4
Another member told of the transformation that occurred in his testimony as he followed President Benson’s counsel to read the Book of Mormon: “When President Benson challenged us to read the Book of Mormon, I was 15 years old. I was already a faithful scripture reader, focusing mostly on the New Testament. But at President Benson’s urging, I started to study the Book of Mormon every day. That was a major turning point for me. The New Testament had taught me about the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, and I will always be grateful for that. But I needed the depth that came from a study of the Book of Mormon. While the Bible helped me know about what Jesus did for people in the Holy Land, the Book of Mormon gave me a deeper understanding of what He has done for me. Through a study of the Book of Mormon, I gained a testimony of the infinite Atonement of my Savior. And later, when I faced crises that tested my faith, I turned to the Book of Mormon for comfort and strength. Now I never let a day go by without reading the Book of Mormon.”5
The Book of Mormon … was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.
Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations. … If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?”
And there is example after example of how that question will be answered. For example, in the Book of Mormon we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming. A major portion of the book centers on the few decades just prior to Christ’s coming to America. By careful study of that time period, we can determine why some were destroyed in the terrible judgments that preceded His coming and what brought others to stand at the temple in the land of Bountiful and thrust their hands into the wounds of His hands and feet.
From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war. From the Book of Mormon we see the evils of secret combinations portrayed in graphic and chilling reality. In the Book of Mormon we find lessons for dealing with persecution and apostasy. We learn much about how to do missionary work. And more than anywhere else, we see in the Book of Mormon the dangers of materialism and setting our hearts on the things of the world. Can anyone doubt that this book was meant for us and that in it we find great power, great comfort, and great protection?6
It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.7
Men may deceive each other, but God does not deceive men. Therefore, the Book of Mormon sets forth the best test for determining its truthfulness—namely, read it and then ask God if it is true [see Moroni 10:4]. …
This, then, is the supreme assurance for the honest in heart—to know by personal revelation from God that the Book of Mormon is true. Millions have put it to that test and know, and increasing millions will yet know.
Now the spirit, as well as the body, is in need of constant nourishment. Yesterday’s meal is not enough to sustain today’s needs. So also an infrequent reading of “the most correct of any book on earth,” as Joseph Smith called it, is not enough. (History of the Church, 4:461.)
Not all truths are of equal value, nor are all scriptures of the same worth. What better way to nourish the spirit than to frequently feast from the book which the Prophet Joseph Smith said would get a man “nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book”? (History of the Church, 4:461.)8
Do eternal consequences rest upon our response to this book? Yes, either to our blessing or our condemnation.
Every Latter-day Saint should make the study of this book a lifetime pursuit. Otherwise, he is placing his soul in jeopardy and neglecting that which could give spiritual and intellectual unity to his whole life. There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold on the iron rod, and one who [is] not.9
We have an increasing number who have been convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ. Now we need an increasing number who will use the Book of Mormon to become committed to Christ. We need to be convinced and committed.
… My beloved brethren and sisters, let us read the Book of Mormon and be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Let us continually reread the Book of Mormon so that we might more fully come to Christ, be committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him.
We are meeting the adversary every day. The challenges of this era will rival any of the past, and these challenges will increase both spiritually and temporally. We must be close to Christ, we must daily take His name upon us, always remember Him, and keep His commandments.10
We each need to get our own testimony of the Book of Mormon through the Holy Ghost. Then our testimony, coupled with the Book of Mormon, should be shared with others so that they, too, can know through the Holy Ghost of its truthfulness.11
Can you imagine what would happen with an increasing number of copies of the Book of Mormon in the hands of an increasing number of missionaries who know how to use it and who have been born of God? When this happens, we will get the bounteous harvest of souls that the Lord promised.12
I have a conviction: The more we teach and preach from the Book of Mormon, the more we shall please the Lord and the greater will be our power of speaking. By so doing, we shall greatly increase our converts, both within the Church and among those we proselyte. … Our commission then is to teach the principles of the gospel which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. “These shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit” (D&C 42:13).13
The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to “sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect.” (Moses 7:62.) This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work.
… In this age of the electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way.
We have the Book of Mormon, we have the members, we have the missionaries, we have the resources, and the world has the need. The time is now!
My beloved brothers and sisters, we hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved. …
I challenge all of us to prayerfully consider steps that we can personally take to bring this new witness for Christ more fully into our own lives and into a world that so desperately needs it.
I have a vision of homes alerted, of classes alive, and of pulpits aflame with the spirit of Book of Mormon messages.
I have a vision of home teachers and visiting teachers, ward and branch officers, and stake and mission leaders counseling our people out of the most correct of any book on earth—the Book of Mormon.
I have a vision of artists putting into film, drama, literature, music, and paintings great themes and great characters from the Book of Mormon.
I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.
I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.
Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.14
May I commend you faithful Saints who are striving to flood the earth and your lives with the Book of Mormon. Not only must we move forward in a monumental manner more copies of the Book of Mormon, but we must move boldly forward into our own lives and throughout the earth more of its marvelous messages.15
In section 1, review President Benson’s counsel about how to study the Book of Mormon. How can this counsel help us meet challenges? What are some passages in the Book of Mormon that relate to challenges we face?
In what ways have you seen the fulfillment of the promises listed in section 2? What are some things we can do to share the Book of Mormon with people who need these promises in their lives?
What do you think it means to “flood the earth and [our] lives with the Book of Mormon”? (For some examples, see section 3.)
As you read, “underline and mark words or phrases so that you distinguish between ideas in a single [passage]. … In the margins write scripture references that clarify the passages you are studying” (Preach My Gospel , 23).