Lessons About Establishing the Church in the Book of Mormon

During November, I have focused on chapters which teach about the church of Christ: how it is organized, how it blesses us, and how we can help it be successful. I studied the following chapters to learn more about this topic:

  • Nephi’s people establish a new city – 2 Nephi 5
  • Jacob and Joseph magnify their office as priests and teachers – Jacob 1
  • Jacob’s people search the scriptures – Jacob 7
  • Enos teaches his people after his personal conversion – Enos 1
  • Church leaders “prick” people’s hearts – Jarom 1
  • The importance of written records – Omni 1
  • King Benjamin takes the names of people who have entered a covenant with God – Mosiah 5-6
  • Alma establishes a church at the waters of Mormon – Mosiah 18
  • Alma consecrates priests and teachers – Mosiah 23
  • Alma establishes churches in all the land of Zarahemla – Mosiah 25
  • Alma receives instructions on how to handle unrepentant church members – Mosiah 26
  • Alma the Younger leads the church after his father’s death – Alma 1
  • Alma resigns as chief judge in order to dedicate himself to his role as high priest – Alma 4
  • Alma organizes the church in Zarahemla – Alma 6
  • Alma teaches about the priesthood – Alma 13
  • The church prospers – Helaman 3
  • The church begins to fall apart – 3 Nephi 6
  • Jesus gives his disciples power to baptize – 3 Nephi 11
  • Jesus teaches church members about their responsibilities – 3 Nephi 18
  • Jesus teaches his disciples about the name of the church – 3 Nephi 27
  • Moroni tells us how the Savior gave priesthood authority to his disciples, and how they in turn ordained priests and teachers – Moroni 2-3
  • Moroni shares the sacrament prayers – Moroni 4-5
  • Moroni describes the operations of the church – Moroni 6

Here are some of the principles I have learned as I studied these chapters:

1. The church exists for the purpose of helping individuals and families to be saved.

We become members of the church by being baptized—making a sacred promise to obey God for the rest of our lives. The things we must do to qualify for baptism are the same things we must do to invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. The church helps us to stay true to that promise by recording our names, by providing the sacrament each week to help us remember, and by giving us leaders—priests and teachers—who prick our hearts and who stir us up in remembrance of our duty.

As Elder D. Todd Christofferson has reminded us, “We do not strive for conversion to the Church but to Christ and His gospel, a conversion that is facilitated by the Church. The Book of Mormon expresses it best when it says that the people ‘were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ'” (“Why the Church,” General Conference, October 2015).

2. The church belongs to the Savior and is therefore named after Him.

King Benjamin counseled his people that they should take upon themselves the name of Christ. Alma called the church which he organized “the church of God” or “the church of Christ.” The Savior taught His disciples that the church should be called in His name because its members have taken upon themselves His name.

In the words of President Russell M. Nelson, “What’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is ‘Everything!’ Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power” (“The Correct Name of the Church,” General Conference, October 2018).

3. Church leaders should strive to emulate the Savior.

Leaders in the church need to “magnify” their responsibilities: recognize the importance of those responsibilities and act accordingly. They should make sure the church is well-organized. They must be careful when choosing other leaders, recognizing that members of the church trust them to choose wisely. Church leaders should strive to understand and follow God’s will for His church. They should also remember that all church members are equal: the teacher is no better than the student.

4. The priesthood is God’s power, and we can only use it with His help.

We fulfill our assignments in the church according to the “gifts and callings” which God has given to each of us personally. Before we exercise priesthood authority, we must prepare ourselves spiritually, including calling upon God in mighty prayer, so that we can receive His power. When God gives us power, we can perform miracles on His behalf. It is God’s desire to give us His power and to make us “high priests forever.”

5. Every member of the church should contribute to its success.

We should be steadfast and immovable in keeping our covenants. We should care about the spiritual well-being of other people and pray for them. We should welcome visitors and new church members. We should avoid inequality and pride, which lead to contention. Even though we may belong to different congregations, we should remember that we are all one church.

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