Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, delivered the Education Week Devotional address about the history of education week, Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon and the ongoing restoration of the gospel.
Elder Stevenson began by sharing pieces of the 97-year history of Education Week. Once called “Leadership Conference,” the few classes offered centered on farming, homemaking and parenting. Today, over 1,000 classes exist, offering a variety of topics taught by experts in various fields. In the early years, the Devotional was given to the nearly 2,000 members in attendance. Last year, the Devotional reached the 19,000 attendees in the Marriott Center, as well as 52 million households through BYUtv.
Elder Stevenson connected the relatively rapid evolution of Education Week to the even more expedited Restoration of the gospel. He shared his gratitude for President Russell M. Nelson, who testifies of the further Restoration of the Church.
“We are blessed to have a prophet in our day who continues the Lord’s work that began almost 200 years ago in upstate New York,” Elder Stevenson said.
In the course of nine years, Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision, was visited by Moroni and began translating The Book of Mormon until he had a manuscript of 116 pages. After Martin Harris lost those pages, the Restoration of the gospel seemed at a standstill.
But when Oliver Cowdery arrived on the scene in April 1829, the following 85 days were filled with significant progress.
“It is clear that the heavens were opened, and a waterfall of revelation and manifestation commenced in a special and unusual way,” Elder Stevenson said.
By June 30, 1829, Smith and Cowdery had completed the 491-page translation of The Book of Mormon. In these 85 days, John the Baptist restored the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John restored the Melchizedek Priesthood; Joseph received and recorded the 13 Articles of Faith; the Book of Mormon was copyrighted, printed and financed; and two different groups of witnesses saw the gold plates.
“Imagine accomplishing the complete translation of The Book of Mormon, and all the additional events just described, in about two weeks less time than a typical semester at BYU,” Elder Stevenson said. “My conclusion, as a result of my deep dive in the events surrounding the coming forth of The Book of Mormon, is that it is truly a heavenly directed miracle. Its origins are irrefutable.”
The miracles surrounding The Book of Mormon do not end with the translation and publication of the book. Miracles happen each and every day through individuals reading and studying the book.
“The power of The Book of Mormon comes in the mighty change that comes into the lives of those who read it with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” Elder Stevenson said. “The Book of Mormon is the engine that powers conversion and a change of heart, leading us closer to Jesus Christ.”
Elder Stevenson extended an invitation to make The Book of Mormon the keystone in a testimony. He suggested taking more time to become familiar with the book, thinking about the sacrifice that was made for it, or resolving to take more time reading it.
Elder Stevenson closed with his testimony of the Restoration of the gospel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It fills me with unspeakable joy to know that Jesus Christ stands at the head of this Church; that The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and is the word of God; and that Joseph Smith was the prophet of this, the final dispensation; and that President Nelson is the Lord’s living prophet and mouthpiece on the Earth today.”
Next Devotional: President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen
President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen will deliver the first Devotional address of the Fall Semester on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
Their remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYUradio.