The Gospel Library in Our Hands…
“Throughout human history, even back to the days of our first parents, the word of God has been received, recorded and repeated for the benefit of all. As the family of man grew, so the expanse between God’s word and men’s hearts and minds did also, like darkened glass clouding the light of truth to straining eyes. With time, dedication and sacrifice, light has burst forth anew to brighten every willing eye, a gospel library, true enlightenment like never before, for all the children of God.”Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 9 September 2023
When I was about 13 years old I read the King James version of the New Testament in its entirety for the first time. It opened my mind and heart to new worlds, filled with light and peace as I learned through words and Spirit the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I took meticulous notes for the purpose of being able to reference later the things which I had learned. I used scriptural aids from private authors, where available, to increase my understandings. Nevertheless, cross-referencing in those days was minimal, limiting my growth in scriptural knowledge. This made it very difficult to study the scriptures in the way that we are accustomed today. I am so grateful for all of those who came before us to preserve and bring us the word of God, and for the technology that has come since, allowing God’s children a virtual gospel library of eternal truth in palms of our hands.
Is it not wonderful that prophets and scribes in ancient times made the effort to inscribe on parchment, stone or metal, the good news that Christ would come, came, save and come again? Indeed, we are blessed to this day for the inspired recordkeeping and preservation efforts of so many who have come before us. I am so grateful to those ancient scribes, monks, and men and women from generations that followed who would be called heretic, risking standing and even their lives to provide the gospel of Jesus Christ in English and other languages.
That we might know that the son of God would save mankind, Moses prophesied of Him and recorded the first five books of the Old Testament. That we might witness with them the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Lord, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John preserved His history, teachings, miracles and atoning sacrifice. That we might comprehend the reality of Christ’s atonement and resurrection, and all that means for us, the Apostle Paul wrote his epistles, and the scribes of later days preserved them to our benefit, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Since those days of Paul, prophets, priests, poets, publishers, and proselytizers have shared the word of God to the ends of the earth that we too may know these truths, make and keep covenants, and be redeemed by He who lived and died and lived again for our salvation.
When I ponder the painstaking efforts invested to preserve in writing the words of God, I am awestruck with gratitude, as I am for all that has followed in the modern age with an explosion of gospel knowledge and availability of the word of God.
In 1979, the year I turned 16, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published its first edition of the Bible in English. While it was still, in terms of its scriptural word for word content, the Authorized King James Version of the Old and New Testaments, it now contained new headings for each chapter briefly explaining the content. It also contained meticulous footnotes on the bottom of every page from Greek, Hebrew and Joseph Smith translations, cross-referencing to all of the standard works, an extensive topical guide and a Bible Dictionary. This truly put the word of God in the hand of man in a way that was never before accessible to mankind in any earthly era.
With these new easier to study scriptures and the words of our living prophets a new era of clarity was born. With these bountiful resources at my fingertips the eyes of my understanding were opened and I could see that it is the simple truths that matter. The scriptures, modern revelation and the Still Small Voice of the Holy Ghost in unity point back to those things most important. We need to follow Christ, live righteously, possess and share kind charity, and make and keep sacred covenants that will lead us back to the presence of our Heavenly Father with our loved ones.
Reflecting on those early days, when I was looking to private sources for greater understanding of the scriptures, I see clearly now that I was often lured by fringe ideas, or pseudodoctrines on the fringe of social and religious thought. Promoted by people that seemed to be bored with the simple yet vital truths that Jesus is the Christ and is the only source of our redemption, many of these musings contained truth, but I could also see shadows and shades of mischief and distraction. Yes, they enticed my mind and lead me away at times from the pure doctrines of Christ that lead to salvation and peace. Fortunately, the coming of greater access to the understanding of what it is to follow Christ, lead me back to the true source of doctrine, to hold to the iron rod once again, while still in my youth, and to never more stray from it.
A scripture I learned early on and marked with red pencil in my New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 14:33. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” This was a verse that I used often as a teenager in sharing the gospel with my friends. While there are conflicting opinions on gospel truths, the truth is the truth and is clearly seen as the light of day. No fringe or marginal idea will lead us to the real understanding we have if we keep our hand firmly gripped on the iron rod, the word of God. Heavenly Father does not lead us through dark passages with hushed whispers to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, but lights the way with His light, which is the brightest light of all, and is easy for our seeing and understanding. Indeed, God is not the author of confusion, but of truth and order.
With all those pivotal moments in our history, from the fall of Adam, to the coming of our Lord, and all of the great leaps forward in gospel resource and priesthood power which led to periods of unprecedented growth in godly understanding and teaching, perhaps the most profound advance since the restoration of the gospel is witnessed in our day.
Today, with the advent of technology capable of delivering to the hand and mind of man more information and computable capability than all of the computers and libraries on earth prior to 1980, we have access to gospel libraries on the tablets in our hands. With the guidance of the Spirit, there is access to greater understanding than has ever existed in the history of man. We truly have at our fingertips a compendium of doctrinal resource and guides to joyful Christian living previously unimagined and unrivaled. We also have living prophets, seers, and revelators to keep our fingers firmly wrapped around the iron rod, the very word and will of God, for our day, and always. We have no need to seek elsewhere for we have His will and His word, and it stands firm in the light with the affirming witness of the Holy Ghost.
There is so much that could be done or seen using these devices which we hold in our hands and rely upon in business and for sociality. There is so much good, as evil that can be had, fringes, shadows and shades of mischief and distraction. But if we think on our tablets as gospel libraries, containing millions upon millions of entries and witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and His grace, and cherish it in our hands, as should be the word of God, good will overcome evil, light will vanquish darkness.
I reaffirm to you and I the plea of Paul to his beloved brethren, “Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Let us hold to these simple truths, so freely shared, with the same dedication that was given by so many in days before, that we might be blessed with this light here, now and forever. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.