Scriptures: The Power of the Word

President Ezra Taft Benson stated:

“It is important that in our teaching we make use of the language of holy writ. Alma said, “I … do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me” (Alma 5:61).

“The words and the way they are used in the Book of Mormon by the Lord should become our source of understanding and should be used by us in teaching gospel principles.

“God uses the power of the word of the Book of Mormon as an instrument to change people’s lives: “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). . . .

Today the world is full of alluring and attractive ideas that can lead even the best of our members into error and deception. Students at universities are sometimes so filled with the doctrines of the world they begin to question the doctrines of the gospel. How do you as a priesthood leader help fortify your membership against such deceptive teachings? The Savior gave the answer in His great discourse on the Mount of Olives when He promised, “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (JS—M 1:37; italics added.)1

Elder Neal A. Maxwell remarked:

“The Lord has told us that “the sword of the Spirit . . . is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17); it can facilitate communication and penetrate as nothing else. Thus holy scripture and the words of living prophets occupy a privileged position; they are the key to teaching by the Spirit so that we communicate in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called “the language of inspiration” 2

Perhaps the special, evocative powers of scriptures are bound up with our flashes of memory from the premortal world or at least call forth our predispositions nurtured for so long there.

Inspired scriptures involve sanctified words.” 3

Also are the words of Harold B. Lee:

All that we teach in this Church ought to be couched in the scriptures. It ought to be found in the scriptures. We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures. If we want to measure truth, we should measure it by the four standard works, regardless of who writes it. If it is not in the standard works, we may well assume that it is speculation, man’s own personal opinion; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, it is not true. This is the standard by which we measure all truth.4

Brigham Young declared,

I do not want men to come to me or my brethren for testimony as to the truth of this work; but let them take the Scriptures of divine truth, and there the path is pointed out to them as plainly as ever a guideboard indicted the right path to the weary traveler. There they are directed to go, not to any Apostle or Elder in Israel, but to the Father in the name of Jesus, and ask for the information they need. Can they who take this course in honesty and sincerity receive information? Will the Lord turn away from the honest heart seeking the truth? No, he will not; he will prove it to them, by the revelations of his Spirit, the facts in the case. And when the mind is open to the revelations of the Lord it comprehends them quicker and keener than anything that is seen by the natural eye. It is not what we see with our eyes-they may be deceived-but what is revealed by the Lord from heaven that is sure and steadfast, and abides forever.5

Elder Bruce R. McConkie also made the following statements:

The light and truth they receive from the spoken word and from the written record will depend on their own spiritual status. Each pronouncement in the holy scriptures, for instance, is so written as to reveal little or much, depending on the spiritual capacity of the student. To a carnal person, a passage of scripture may mean nothing; to an honest though uninformed truth seeker, it may shed forth only a few rays of heavenly light; but to one who has the mind of Christ, the same passage may blaze forth an effulgence of celestial light. That which is mystery to one is plain and simple to another. The things of the Spirit can be understood only by the power of the Spirit.6

Many great doctrinal revelations come to those who preach from the scriptures. When they are in tune with the Infinite, the Lord lets them know, first, the full and complete meaning of the scriptures they are expounding, and then he ofttimes expands their views so that new truths flood in upon them, and they learn added things that those who do not follow such a course can never know.7

I think that people who study the scriptures get a dimension to their life that nobody else gets and that can’t be gained in any way except by studying the scriptures. There’s an increase in faith [revelation] and a desire to do what’s right and a feeling of inspiration and understanding that comes to people who study the gospel — meaning particularly the Standard Works — and who ponder the principles, that can’t come in any other way.8

Boyd K. Packer observed,

For His own reasons, the Lord provides answers to some questions, with pieces placed here and there throughout the scriptures. We are to find them; we are to earn them. In that way sacred things are hidden from the insincere.9

There are those who have made a casual, even an insincere effort to test the scriptures and have come away having received nothing, which is precisely what they have earned and what they deserve. If you think it will yield to a casual inquiry, to idle curiosity, or even to well intentioned but temporary searching, you are mistaken. It likewise will not yield to the overzealous or to the fanatic.10

Neal A. Maxwell said:

Prior to meeting Joseph Smith, Brigham Young said he would have crawled around the earth on his hands and knees to meet some- one like Moses who could tell him anything “about God and heaven.” (In Journal of Discourses, 8:228.) Through Joseph Smith we have additional pages from Moses about God and heaven. We have only to reach to the bookshelf or go to priesthood meeting. Perhaps the way is almost too easy and too simple; we might be more appreciative if on hands and knees. (See 1 Ne. 17:41.) Only by searching the scriptures, not using them occasionally as quote books, can we begin to understand the implications as well as the declarations of the gospel.

… These truths] are not just theological niceties and philosophical footnotes. We need to ponder their implications as well as believe in their declarations regarding daily and eternal life. One cannot have adequate faith in a Christ whom he does not adequately know [Jn 17:3; D&C 132:20-25] …

The initial labor we have to perform with regard to these doctrines is only to look (see 1 Ne 17:41), firmly averting our gaze from the comparative slums of the secular world, with its grabbiness and grubbiness.

… do not be surprised when non-doers scoff. Do not be surprised, either, if these doctrines unsettle some…. The only cure for doctrinal illiteracy of those who murmur will be to learn doctrines.11

Among these statements are these remarks by Ezra Taft Benson:

It is important that in our teaching we make use of the language of holy writ. Alma said, “I … do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me” (Alma 5:61).

The words and the way they are used in the Book of Mormon by the Lord should become our source of understanding and should be used by us in teaching gospel principles.

God uses the power of the word of the Book of Mormon as an instrument to change people’s lives…. [See Alma 31:5.]

I am deeply concerned about what we are doing to teach the Saints at all levels the gospel of Jesus Christ as completely and authoritatively as do the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. By this I mean teaching the “great plan of the Eternal God,” to use the words of Amulek (Alma 34:9).

Are we using the messages and the method of teaching found in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures of the Restoration to teach this great plan of the Eternal God?

(p. 85) Are we accepting and teaching what the revelations tell us about the Creation, Adam and the fall of man, and redemption from that fall through the atonement of Christ?…

Now, what should be the source for teaching the great plan of the Eternal God? The scriptures, of course­particularly the Book of Mormon. This should also include the other modern-day revelations. These should be coupled with the words of the Apostles and prophets and the promptings of the Spirit.12


  1. The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,
  2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], p. 56
  3. Teaching by the Spirit — “The Language of Inspiration”, 1991 Old Testament Symposium
  4. Harold B. Lee, “Using the Scriptures in Our Church Assignments,” Improvement Era, January 1969, p. 13. (Scripture Study Fundamentals: Instructor’s Guide. Religion 315. SLC: Church Educational System, 1992, page 2.)
  5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, pg. 429-430; Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (SLC: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1997, Melchizedek Pr’d book for 1998-1999), pg. 318.
  6. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pg. 71-72.
  7. Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, pg. 515-516. (Also quoted in Robert L. Millet, “Looking Beyond the Mark,” in The Joseph Smith Translation, Monte S. Nyman & Robert L. Millet, eds, p. 208.)
  8. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Church News, 24 Jan 1976, pg. 4.
  9. Boyd K. Packer, “The Mystery of Life,” Ensign 11/83, p. 17.
  10. Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1974, pg. 95.
  11. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Conference Report, Ensign, May 1986, pg. 34.
  12. President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon & the Doctrine & Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, pg. 83-85. (p. 84)
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