“Whose Words Were They?” New Era, May 1996, 11
I’ll start with a small confession. I had never read the entire Book of Mormon until I was in the Missionary Training Center. Oh, I had made valiant efforts before—even using the seminary student manual to guide me. But I always lost interest or got bogged down by mid-Alma.
But in the MTC, I caught on fire when it came to the Book of Mormon. I used every free moment I had to read—sometimes 20 pages a day. For me it was all new and exciting. My patriarchal blessing had promised me that I would be “surprised at the satisfaction” I could gain from reading the scriptures, and I was beginning to see the fulfillment of that promise.
Several weeks later, I was in Penns Grove, New Jersey, with my first companion, Elder Rumsey. We had been teaching an older, single woman who always had the most unusual concerns, worries they don’t teach you about in the MTC. For instance, she wondered that if men changed and corrupted the Bible as they translated it, couldn’t Joseph Smith have done the same thing with the Book of Mormon? Her questions always kept us on our toes.
One day, she had been reading toward the end of 2 Nephi when she became disturbed by some of Nephi’s statements. In 2 Nephi 30:18 and 31:1 [2 Ne. 30:18; 2 Ne. 31:1], she had noticed Nephi had used phrases like “my sayings” and “my prophesying.” To our investigator, it sounded like Nephi was taking the credit for the marvelous things he had written instead of acknowledging that the Lord had inspired him. She declared that Nephi, therefore, must not be a true prophet.
“Let’s look at the end of 2 Nephi,” I said.
If you had asked me right then what was at the end of 2 Nephi, I couldn’t have told you. I had read 2 Nephi 33, of course, but not in several weeks, and I certainly hadn’t memorized any verses from it. I stepped out on a limb, but with amazing confidence. I wasn’t the least bit afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find an answer to our investigator’s problem. I know it was the Spirit that caused me to suggest looking there because I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it on my own.
As soon as we turned to chapter 33, a verse I had previously marked caught my attention. I read aloud the second half of verse 10. [2 Ne. 33:10]
“And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me.”
There! Pow! Nephi gave credit to the Lord exactly as our investigator thought he should.
Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 [D&C 84:85] sayss to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”
I know that through my study of the scriptures the Lord was able to bless me with the perfect answer to our investigator’s question. That day I was able to say, with Nephi, that my words were “the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me.”