The following talk was given Sunday morning, March 10, 2013, in the Rockledge Ward of the Cocoa Florida Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The complete talk, posted below, includes hyperlinks to sources, references, and videos quoted.
Do not take this talk at face value. Take the time to click the links in the talk and see for yourself what the prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ have said regarding how the Book of Mormon helps us follow Christ, and what that means for Americans and others who love and cherish individual freedom and liberty.
The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ
How the Book of Mormon helps us follow Christ
Ilyan Kei Lavanway
The Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ. As such, everything in it, and everything spoken about it by prophets, ancient and modern, helps us follow Jesus Christ.
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.
12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause — that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.
18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.
The opportunity and the duty to speak today were delivered into my hands, like Laban was delivered into the hands of Nephi, meaning the task of delivering this message was given me by the hand of God through his duly appointed servants, and not through my own workings.
The Book of Mormon is our survival manual. We face the world’s attempts to redefine marriage to suit foul and perverse forms of lasciviousness. An utter disregard for the sanctity of life, particularly the lives of those in the womb, prevails upon this land and elsewhere. We live in a global Sodom and Gomorrah. Individual agency is under attack.
A great lie has spread among us. That is the notion that government-mandated welfare helps poor people. It does no such thing. It strips from all people dignity, prosperity, and agency. It breeds idleness, apathy, and greed.
The Lord has lifted up his ensign to the nations and has taught us the correct way to care for his poor, and it is not through government mandates that take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” Howard W. Hunter spoke of this during a BYU Devotional regarding The Law of The Harvest, March 8, 1966.
The Book of Mormon teaches us how to identify and overcome the evils of our day. It gives us courage and comfort as we endure to the end.
Excerpts from Ezra Taft Benson, Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints, April 1972 General Conference:
Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the “keystone of our religion” and the “most correct” book on earth. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.) This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. “And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,” says Moroni, “and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.” (Ether 8:21.)
Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon — it is a conspiracy fact.
Then Moroni speaks to us in this day and says, “Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (Ether 8:24.)
The Book of Mormon further warns that “whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed…” (Ether 8:22.)
This scripture should alert us to what is ahead unless we repent, because there is no question but that as people of the free world, we are increasingly upholding many of the evils of the adversary today. By court edict godless conspirators can run for government office, teach in our schools, hold office in labor unions, work in our defense plants, serve in our merchant marines, etc. As a nation, we are helping to underwrite many evil revolutionaries in our country.
Now we are assured that the Church will remain on the earth until the Lord comes again — but at what price? The Saints in the early days were assured that Zion would be established in Jackson County, but look at what their unfaithfulness cost them in bloodshed and delay.
President [J. Reuben] Clark warned us that “we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known…” (CR, April 1944, p. 116.)
And he stated that if the conspiracy “comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.”
(CR, April 1952, p. 80.)
We honor our founding fathers of this republic… God raised up these patriotic partners to perform their mission, and he called them “wise men.”
(See D&C 101:80.)
The First Presidency acknowledged that wisdom when they gave us the guideline a few years ago of supporting political candidates “who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our Founding Fathers.” (Deseret News, November 2, 1964, pg. 1.) That tradition has been summarized in the book The American Tradition  by Clarence Carson.
These wise founders, our patriotic partners, seemed to appreciate more than most of us the blessings of the boundaries that the Lord set within the Constitution, for he said, “And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” (D&C 98:7.)
In God the founders trusted, and in his Constitution — not in the arm of flesh. “O Lord,” said Nephi, “I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; …cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” (2 Nephi 4:34.)
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., put it well when he said:
“God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they may be. Under His plan our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up. So runs the oath of office of those who participate in government. A certain loyalty we do owe to the office which a man holds, but even here we owe just by reason of our citizenship, no loyalty to the man himself. In other countries it is to the individual that allegiance runs. This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. It is one of the great principles that distinguishes this ‘land of liberty’ from other countries.”
(Improvement Era, July 1940, p. 444.)
“Patriotism,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country…”
And the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “…let the people of the whole Union, like the inflexible Romans, whenever they find a promise made by a candidate that is not practiced as an officer, hurl the miserable sycophant from his exaltation…” (DHC, vol. 6, p. 207.)
Joseph and Hyrum’s trust did not run to the arm of flesh, but to God and correct eternal principles. “I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth,” said the Prophet Joseph Smith. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.)
The warning of President Joseph Fielding Smith is most timely: “Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don’t save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change of government.”
(Conference Report, April 1950, p. 159.)
Another guideline given by the First Presidency was “to support good and conscientious candidates, of either party, who are aware of the great dangers” facing the free world. (Deseret News, November 2, 1964, pg. 1.)
I interject here to point out that it is important to watch, not just read, but watch and listen to Ezra Taft Benson speaking as an Apostle of Jesus Christ during the April, 1972 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This next minute or so is transcribed directly from the video record of his address.
Regarding this transcript and all else that is expressed in this message today, I urge you with all the energy of my soul, praying for the power of God unto the convincing of men, that you ponder these things and realign your views and your allegiances accordingly.
Wherever there may be offense, let there be instead an opening of the understanding, and a clear vision of what is at stake and how the Book of Mormon helps us follow Christ.
Transcript from a portion of the video of Ezra Taft Benson, Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints, April 1972 General Conference:
[Video time counter 10:25]
“The position of this Church on the subject of communism has never changed. We consider it the greatest Satanical threat to the peace, prosperity, and spread of God’s work among man, that exists on the face of the earth.
Fortunately, we have materials to help us face this threat, such as:
Some other fine books by LDS authors attempting to awaken and inform us of our duty are such as:
[Video time counter 11:22]
[Video time counter 12:31]
There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon. It is a conspiracy fact. And along this line, I would highly recommend to you a new book entitled None Dare Call It Conspiracy, by Gary Allen, .”
[Video time counter 12:46]
Suppose a leader of the Church were to tell you that you were supporting the wrong side of a particular issue. Some might immediately resist this leader and his counsel or ignore it, but I would suggest that you first apply the fourth great civic standard for the faithful Saints. That standard is to live for, to get, and then to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. …Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)
A number of years ago, because of a statement that appeared to represent the policy of the Church, a faithful member feared he was supporting the wrong candidate for public office. Humbly he took the matter up with the Lord. Through the Spirit of the Lord he gained the conviction of the course he should follow, and he dropped his support of this particular candidate.
This good brother, by fervent prayer, got the answer that in time proved to be the right course.
We urge all men to read the Book of Mormon and then ask God if it is true. And the promise is sure that they may know of its truthfulness through the Holy Ghost, “and by the power of the Holy Ghost [men] may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5.)
We need the constant guidance of that Spirit. We live in an age of deceit. “O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” (2 Nephi 13:12.)
Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1949, p. 163.)
The Lord holds us accountable if we are not wise and are deceived. “For they that are wise,” he said, “and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived — verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:57.)
Excerpt from Ezra Taft Benson, The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner, BYU Devotional, 16 September 1986:
“I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church — men and women who will subscribe to and abide by the principles of the Constitution.
The Constitution Requires our Loyalty and Support
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed his stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of his choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and he has sent other choice spirits — even you who hear my words this day — to preserve it.
We, the blessed beneficiaries, face difficult days in this beloved land, ‘a land which is choice above all other lands’ (Ether 2:10). It may also cost us blood before we are through. It is my conviction, however, that when the Lord comes, the Stars and Stripes will be floating on the breeze over this people. May it be so, and may God give us the faith and the courage exhibited by those patriots who pledged their lives and fortunes that we might be free, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
I testify that the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and that everything within it, and everything spoken about it by prophets ancient and modern, helps us follow Jesus Christ.
Joseph Smith is a true prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates upon which ancient prophets of this land wrote.
I know that if we abide its precepts, we will not perish as did the Nephites and the Jaredites who inhabited this land many centuries before us.
We have the great privilege and the daunting challenge of being born into our mortal probation during the twilight of this last dispensation. We have the blessings of the fullness of Christ’s gospel at our disposal like no other generation preceding us. We are left without excuse.
I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The following video was not referenced but is relevant for eternal context:
Click, read, and share. It’s free and it’s true!