For those of you who weren't able to make it!
Good morning, afternoonish! My name is Colton Schroeder for those of you don’t know me and I have been called to serve in the Argentina Bahia Blanca mission. I will be reporting this Wednesday to the Provo MTC. Which is just about 73 hours, but who’s counting? Thank you to all of you who have come to support me! It really means so much to know that I have family and friends who stand by me as I have chosen to serve the Lord. I am giving my farewell talk on “… the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion…” the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. This was the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement. He testified that “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). A keystone is the central stone in an arch. It holds all the other stones in place, and if removed, the arch crumbles.
President Ezra Taft Benson has stated, “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. “(1)The Book of Mormon is the keystone in our witness of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyists, translators, and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. (2) The Book of Mormon is also the keystone of the doctrine of the Resurrection. As mentioned before, the Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the “fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fullness of those doctrines required for our salvation. (3) Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church. But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true—and millions have now testified that they have the witness of the Spirit that it is indeed true—then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.”
I would like share you one of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon of Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah.
The church of God was undergoing persecutions and among those who were persecuting and leading astray the believers were Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah. As they were secretly out seeking to destroy the church, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them and spoke with a voice of thunder, calling these wayward young men to repentance, and explaining that he did so because of the prayers of the people and of Alma's father. The angel of the Lord so frightened Alma the younger that he fell into shock for three days and three nights, Alma lay in a physically comatose state, during which time he spiritually confronted all his sins, "for which," he later said, "I was tormented with the pains of hell" (Alma 36:12-14).
In the depth of his anguish of soul, Alma remembered his father's words concerning the coming of Jesus Christ to atone for the sins of the world. As Alma cried out in his heart to Christ, pleading for mercy and deliverance from "the gall of bitterness" and "the everlasting chains of death," he stated: "I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more" (Alma 36:17-19). Truly this caused a change of heart for Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah. It’s interesting to think that the people accepted them after all the trouble they caused, once they had a change of heart they just wanted to do good and to help others experience the joy that they felt. After their conversion, Alma and the sons of Mosiah devoted their lives to preaching repentance and the joyous gospel.
In a way I kind of see my life drawing parallels to the story of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah. I know I wasn’t the vilest of sinners and I wasn’t leading people astray but I sometimes had a rebellious soul. And for a few years I was trying to be the best that I could be but I was realizing that I couldn’t overcome my challenges on my own. When I was finally realizing this, it was part way through my junior year of high school, I may not have had an angel of the Lord visit me, but during that time, I know I experienced the still small voice of my Heavenly Father and received direction even though I did not recognize his influence at the time. As I look back I can see the hand of the Lord leading and guiding me along the way. I know that the Lord has never turned his sight from me but gently and faithfully stood by me. I feel a great love and appreciation of the Lord for this and sense an obligation like Alma and the four sons of Mosiah to share the message of the gospel and allow with others to feel the joy and love I have felt. One of my favorite scriptures we can find in Alma 29 verse 9 and 10:
Yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
During my junior year of high school, we were studying the Book of Mormon in seminary. This year in my life was life changing and before this year I never took seminary seriously, but one day I really started to listen and open my heart to what was being taught. I was feeling the Spirit and my feeling toward seminary and the Book of Mormon began to change. At the start of class every day, we were asked if we had a scripture we would like to share that we read from the night before. Nobody really ever had a scripture to share and so it would end up being the most awkward 10 to 20 seconds of class. I don’t really know what came over me but one day while I was in class I decided right there and then that I would really start reading my scriptures and not only that, but look for a scripture that I could share in class every day that I found I could relate to or that I found insightful. So every day in seminary from then on I shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon. Remembering the times that I revealed to others what I learned, I really was experiencing a true conversion. The scriptures I shared became my own personal testimony.
Two weekends ago, I was in Provo visiting my good friends. I had gone with one of them to the MTC to act as investigators for the missionaries. As we were waiting in the room for the elders to come, I was so nervous and so clueless of what I was getting myself into. I was acting as an investigator who was an atheist, who wanted to learn more about the forming of the Church. It was a spiritual experience and that helped me feel more at peace about going to the MTC. At the end of the lesson, the elders challenged me to start reading and praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true. But before they challenged me to read the Book of Mormon they had me read two paragraphs at the end of the introduction of the Book of Mormon, which states:
We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the
message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is his revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah.
As I read these inspired words, I was reminded of how true these simple instructions were and how great the blessings are that are promised.
I am also supposed to tie my talk together with missionary work, and what better way to share the Book of Mormon with others than by bearing my own testimony? I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart! I know it’s the word of God and that it helps to keep us on the strait and narrow path that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven. I know that this sacred book was not written for the people at the time it was written but it was preserved for us in these latter-days. When accompanied by the Spirit, I know this precious book has helped save my life and bring me comfort in times of need. I have found that the Book of Mormon answers questions of the soul. Like the cover reads the Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ, I know that it draws us near to God and will help us do so more than any other book. I know there is a power in the Book of Mormon and I have discovered for myself the power to resist temptation is greater when I prayerfully make it a part of my life. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of my testimony of my Savior, my Redeemer, my advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the Son of God and His Atonement. The keystone of my testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Christ, the First Vision, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the restoration of Priesthood keys.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have to go to Argentina and to serve Lord and God’s children and bring them back into Lord’s fold and share with them the message of the fullness gospel of Jesus Christ that has been restored to the earth. For over two years, I have been working up and preparing to serve an honorable full-time mission. Over this time, I have come to know how to use the Christ’s Atonement in my life having confidence and a hope that I can live with my Heavenly Father once again. I want to see others experience the same kind of change of heart that I had. And during this time I became serious and determined that I am going to one day go and do as the Lord expects of me. I know better now that I am a son of God and I can make a difference as a missionary.
A year ago from this next coming Wednesday, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer called Burkitt’s lymphoma. I was working on getting my mission papers done and sent out about this time but it wasn’t my time to go, I needed to be here with my family, with my mom. So I decided to put it off for a time. These were definitely trying times; it was emotionally, mentally, and physically draining for my mom, my dad, my family, and me. My mom is one of my best friends and to see her laying there helpless in a hospital room was really hard to watch. My mom is a strong, beautiful woman and I just think she is amazing. Every day I would go and visit her and when I opened that door she always had a smile on her face. My mom and I had plenty of time to talk and to play card games. But I remember my mom having me sit on the edge of her bedside and so she could talk to me about serving a mission. She wanted to make sure that I was still wanting to go no matter the outcome was, whether she was going to make it or not. And I told my mom that I am going no matter what. Then she told me, “If I pass away while you’re gone, I want you to stay out there.” And I then I asked her, “Mom, if you don’t make it, will you be with me while I’m on my mission?” And she told me, “Of course.” I wanted to bring this up because I need to let you know that I know my mom, as well as the rest of my family are going to be cared for. I know that as I am out serving the Lord, blessings will be sent home. I also brought this up because I want to thank the entire ward for looking out for me and my family. We really couldn’t be in a better ward.
I am thankful for my family for the love and support they have provided me through the years. I am grateful for my friends and helping me to keep my standards high and for the examples they have been. I am grateful for a brother who has raised the bar for me and served a mission or else I probably wouldn’t be standing here today. I am grateful for temples and the opportunities I have had to go. I am grateful to have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. I know that families can be together forever. I know God has a plan and a path for me and I know with his help I can walk that path. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom here upon the earth. I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God and that President Thomas S. Monson is the God’s Prophet today. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He has atoned for all of our sins. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God that has been given to us in these latter-days. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.