Let us condemn ourselves to suffering

The scriptures - a blessing

On October 6, 1536, in Vilvoorde, north of Brussels, a pathetic figure was led out of a dungeon. For almost a year and a half the man had suffered lonely in a dark, damp cell. Now the prisoner was tied to a stake outside the prison walls. He had time to say his last prayer aloud: "Lord, open the eyes of the King of England." Then he was strangled. His body was then cremated on the stake. Who was this man, and for what crime had political and spiritual rulers condemned him? His name was William Tyndale and his crime was that he translated the Bible into the English language and then published it.

Tyndale, who was born in England around the time Columbus sailed to the New World, studied at Oxford and Cambridge and then became a Catholic clergyman. He was fluent in eight languages ​​including Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Tyndale studied the Bible diligently and was concerned about the widespread ignorance of the scriptures, which he noticed among priests and lay people alike. During a heated exchange with a clergyman who opposed putting scriptures into the hands of ordinary people, Tyndale vowed: “If God will keep my life, I will see that not many years will pass before a boy can do the Plow steers, you understand more of the Holy Scriptures than you do! "

He tried to get the church authorities to agree to a translation of the Bible into English so that all could read and use the word of God. He was denied this - the prevailing opinion was that making the scriptures available to everyone and not just clergy would undermine the authority of the Church and "throw the pearls to the pigs" (see Matthew 7: 6 ).

Still, Tyndale tackled the difficult translation work. In 1524 he traveled to Germany under an alias, where he had to hide most of the time because he always ran the risk of being arrested. With the help of loyal friends, Tyndale was able to publish English translations of the New Testament and later of the Old Testament. The Bibles were smuggled into England, where they were in great demand and valued by those who came into their possession. Secretly, they became widespread. The government burned all of his books that could be found. Then, however, within three years of Tyndale's death, God truly opened King Henry VIII's eyes. With the publication of the so-called "Great Bible", the Holy Scriptures were available to everyone in English for the first time. Tyndale's work became the basis for almost all future English translations of the Bible, especially the King James Version.1

William Tyndale was neither the first nor the last of those who, in many countries and languages, sacrificed themselves to the death to bring the word of God to light. We are deeply indebted to all of them. We owe even more thanks, perhaps, to those who wrote and preserved the Word through all time, often with labor and sacrifice - Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, John, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, Joseph Smith, and many others. What did they know about the meaning of the scriptures that we also need to know? What did the people of sixteenth-century England understand who bought a Bible for huge sums and at great risk that we too must understand?

Not long before his death, the prophet Alma entrusted the sacred records of the people to his son Helaman. He reminded Helaman that the scriptures "enlarged the memory of this people, yes, and convinced many that their ways are wrong, and led them to the knowledge of their God, to the salvation of their souls" (Alma 37: 8th). He commanded Helaman to keep the records so that God could "show his power to future generations" through them (Alma 37:14).

In fact, through the scriptures, God "shows" "his power" to save and exalt his children. Through his word, Alma says, he expands our memory and sheds light on falsehood and error, he leads us to repentance and to rejoice in Jesus Christ our Savior.

The scriptures expand our memory

The scriptures enlarge our memories by helping us remember the Lord and our relationship with Him and the Father at all times. They remind us of what we knew in premortal life. And they expand our memory in other ways, because from them we learn something about ages, people and events that we have not experienced ourselves. None of us saw how the Red Sea parted and how Moses crossed it between the walls of water. We weren't there and didn't hear the Sermon on the Mount or see Lazarus being raised from the dead. We did not see the Lord suffer in Gethsemane and on the cross, and we did not hear the two angels testify with Mary at the empty tomb that Jesus was risen from the dead. In the land of plenty, you and I did not walk the crowd one by one, following the Savior's call, feeling his nail marks and wetting his feet with our tears. We did not kneel beside Joseph Smith in the sacred grove and see the Father and Son there in amazement. Yet we know all of this and more because we have the scriptures record that enhances our memory and teaches us what we did not know. When all of this permeates our hearts and minds, our faith in God and in His Beloved Son will be strengthened.

The scriptures also enhance our memories by helping us remember what we and previous generations have learned. Those who do not have or heed the written Word of God eventually cease to believe in God and forget the purpose of their existence. You probably remember how important it was for Lehi's family to take the brass plates with them when they left Jerusalem. These scriptures were the key to their knowledge of God and the coming salvation through Christ. The other group, who “came from Jerusalem” shortly after Lehi, had no scriptures, and it is reported that “their language ... became corrupted; and they… [denied] the existence of their Creator ”when they were discovered by Lehi's descendants about three to four centuries later (Omni 1: 15–17).

At the time of Tyndale, the Scriptures were largely unknown because people had no access to the Bible, especially not in a language they could understand. Today the Bible and other scriptures are readily available, but people become less and less familiar with them because they do not open the books. That's why they forgot what their grandparents still knew.

The scriptures are a yardstick by which one can distinguish truth from error

God uses the scriptures to expose erroneous beliefs, false traditions, and sin and its devastating effects. God is a loving Father who wants to spare us unnecessary suffering and grief while helping us to realize our divine potential. For example, the scriptures invalidate an old belief that has become fashionable again in our day - Korihor's stance that there are no absolute moral principles, that "every person [prosper] as he is gifted, and every person gains, as it corresponds to his strength; and whatever anyone does ... do not be a crime, ”and“ if the man is dead, let this be the end ”(Alma 30: 17–18). Alma, who had dealt with Korihor, left his son Corianton in no doubt about the existence of a divine moral law and what it means. Corianton was guilty of sexual sin, and his father spoke lovingly but clearly to him: “Do you not know, my son, that this is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, yes, the most abominable of all sins, except when innocent blood is shed or is the Holy Ghost denied? ”(Alma 39: 5.)

Unlike a hundred years ago, many today would argue with Alma about the gravity of immorality. Others would argue that everything is relative or that God's love is generous. If there is a God, they say, because of his love for us he forgives all sins and wrongdoings - we do not need repentance, at most a simple admission is enough. You imagine a Jesus who wants people to stand up for social justice, but who makes no demands regarding their own life and behavior.2 A God of love does not let us learn through sad experience that “being bad… has never made us happy” (Alma 41:10; see also Helaman 13:38). His commandments are the voice of reality. They protect us from causing pain to ourselves. The scriptures are the touchstone by which one measures whether something is right and true, and leave no doubt that true happiness cannot be found in denial of God's righteousness or in trying to circumvent the consequences of sin, but rather in repentance and forgiveness through the atoning grace of the Son of God (see Alma 42).

From the scriptures we learn principles and moral values ​​that are essential to sustaining a civilized society, such as honesty, responsibility, selflessness, loyalty, and charity. In them we find vivid accounts of the blessings of following true principles and the calamities that ensue when individual people or civilizations reject them. Where the truths of the scriptures are disregarded or abandoned, the vital moral core of society crumbles and deterioration follows quickly. In time there is nothing left that supports the institutions that support society.

The scriptures bring us to Christ our Savior

Ultimately, the ultimate purpose of all scriptures is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ - faith that they exist, faith in the Father's plan for our immortality and eternal life, faith in the Atonement and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, through which the plan of happiness first becomes possible, faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ to be our way of life, and faith, "to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom [he] sent" (John 17: 3).

As Alma said, the word of God is like a seed planted in our hearts that will give rise to faith as it begins to grow in us (see Alma 32: 27-43; see also Romans 10: 13-17). Faith does not arise from studying ancient texts as a purely scientific activity. It is not created by archaeological excavations and finds. It does not come about through scientific experimentation. It doesn't even come from experiencing a miracle. All of this is to strengthen faith, and sometimes to test it, but it does not produce faith. Faith enters our souls through the testimony of the Holy Spirit, spirit to spirit as we hear or read the Word of God. And faith develops as we continue to feast on the Word.

Accounts of the faith of others that we read about in the scriptures will strengthen our faith. We remember the faith of a centurion who enabled Christ to heal his servant without even seeing him (see Matthew 8: 5-13) and the healing of a pagan daughter because of the humble mother contented himself with the scraps of bread from the Lord's table (see Matthew 15: 22-28; Mark 7: 25-30). We hear the cry of the suffering Job: “He may kill me, I wait for him” (Job 13:15), and how he asserts: “I know: my Redeemer lives, he is the last to rise above the dust ... and ... I will see God ”(Job 19: 25–26.) We take heart when we hear of the determination of a young prophet who was hated and bitterly persecuted by so many adults:“ I had seen a vision that I knew; and I knew that God knew; and I could not deny it, nor did I dare ”(Joseph Smith - History 1:25).

Because the scriptures teach the doctrine of Christ, they bring with them the Holy Ghost, whose role it is to bear testimony of the Father and the Son (see 3 Nephi 11:32). Therefore, if we study the scriptures, we can receive the Holy Ghost. Of course, scriptures are first given by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:21; D&C 20: 26–27; 68: 4), and that Spirit can testify to you and me of their truth. Study the scriptures carefully and consciously. Ponder and pray about it. Scriptures are revelation, and they bring more revelation with them.

Remember how blessed we are to have the Bible and about nine hundred other pages of scripture — the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Then consider that the words spoken by prophets moved by the Holy Spirit in a setting like this, which the Lord calls scriptures (see D&C 68: 2-4), are being spoken to us almost continuously on television, radio, and the Internet , Satellite, CD, DVD and in print. I believe that never in history have any people been blessed with such an abundance of scriptures, and not only that, but every man, woman, and child can own and read their own copy of these sacred texts, mostly in their own language . How incredible such a thing must have appeared to the people of William Tyndale and the Saints of earlier dispensations. Certainly, through this blessing, the Lord is telling us that it is more important for us than in any previous time to have constant reference to the scriptures. May we continually feast on the words of Christ teaching us all that we should do (see 2 Nephi 32: 3). I have studied and pondered the scriptures, and this Easter season I bear my testimony of the Father and the Son as revealed to us in the scriptures. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.