“Lay Hold upon the Word of God” – Helaman 3:29

In the opening session of the October 2020 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson extended an invitation, based on a passage from the Book of Mormon:

As we gather to hear the words the Lord has inspired His servants to deliver, I invite you to ponder a promise the Lord made. He declared that “whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the [disciple] of Christ in a strait and narrow course.” I pray that you will choose to lay hold upon the word of God as it is declared during this general conference.

Opening Remarks, General Conference, April 2020

The passage he quoted (with a little variation) is Helaman 3:29. It speaks of a time of great prosperity in the church. Tens of thousands of people joined the church, and the blessings received by church members were so great “that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure” (Helaman 3:25). Mormon offers this story as evidence that God is welcoming and inclusive. He is merciful to all who pray to Him sincerely. “The gate of heaven is open to unto all” who believe in Jesus Christ. And whoever desires to receive God’s word will receive it.

The subtle change President Nelson made as he quoted the passage underscores its central message of inclusivity. In the original text, Mormon said that the word of God would lead “the man of Christ.” As President Nelson quoted it, he changed the word “man” to “disciple,” emphasizing the fact that this promise applies to all followers of the Savior.

The writer of Proverbs emphasized the importance of “laying hold” upon the truth. Wisdom “is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:18). In other translations of the Bible, the verb “lay hold” in this passage is translated “obtain,” “embrace,” “take firm hold,” or “hold her fast.” (See Proverbs 3:18 on biblehub.com.)

Today, as I participate in the second day of general conference, I will accept President Nelson’s invitation. I will make an intentional effort to lay hold upon the word of God.

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