"The Keystone of Our Religion"
Lesson 1
Introduction
Picture in your mind a stone arch. When an arch is constructed correctly, it can remain standing even without any mortar between the stones. What holds the arch together? A keystone. The keystone of an arch holds the other stones in place. This lesson discusses the keystone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion.

Turn to the introduction to the Book of Mormon, and read the sixth paragraph.
Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion. President Ezra Taft Benson explained, “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” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).
The Church “stand[s] or fall[s] with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon” as President Benson explains: “There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 5).
Turn to the title page of the Book of Mormon. This page was written by the prophet Moroni. According to the second paragraph, there are three purposes of the Book of Mormon: 1) To show the remnant of the house of Israel the great things the Lord has done for their fathers; 2) to teach the covenants required by the Lord; and 3) to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ, manifesting Himself to all nations.
In 1982 the subtitle Another Testament of Jesus Christ was added to the title of the Book of Mormon.
1 Nephi 13:38-41 and 2 Nephi 29:6-9 help us understand why it is important to have this additional testament of the Savior. It is important to declare to the world that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. Think about what you have learned from the Book of Mormon about Jesus Christ and how the Book of Mormon has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ.
D&C 10:45-46 and D&C 20:8-12 show us some ways the Book of Mormon is the “keystone of our doctrine”. President Benson stated: “The Lord Himself has stated that the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness 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 fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6). Think about how the Book of Mormon has increased your understanding of important gospel doctrines.
Moroni 10:3-5 The Book of Mormon is fundamental to a testimony of the restored gospel. Blessings come to those who receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon and follow its teachings. This scripture teaches us what we must do to gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

Many witnesses have testified of the Book of Mormon.

Think about the events recorded in the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After Joseph Smith had finished translating the Book of Mormon, other people were privileged to see the plates, so we have the Testimony of the Three Witnesses and the Testimony of the Eight Witnesses.
Ether 5:2-4 It was important to have additional witnesses of the gold plates. Having additional witnesses helped the Prophet Joseph Smith establish the truth of his testimony concerning the ancient records. Other witnesses, including the current prophet, testify that the Book of Mormon is true as do many who have followed the previously-reviewed counsel in Moroni 10:3-5.

The Book of Mormon was written for our day.

2 Nephi 25:21-22; 2 Nephi 27:22; Mormon 8:34-35; Moroni 1:4 Although the Book of Mormon is an ancient document, it was written and preserved for our day.
Mormon 8:26-41 These verses contain a prophecy about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Moroni foresaw the condictions that would exist in the world when the Book of Mormon was again brought forth. Think about how these conditions are evident in the world today:
        “The power of God shall be denied” (verse 28).
        “There shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth” (verse 31).
         People will “lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts” (verse 36).
         People will “love money … more than [they] love the poor and the needy” (verse 37).
         People will be “ashamed to take upon [themselves] the name of Christ” (verse 38).
1 Nephi 19:23 Think about ways in which the teachings of ancient prophets can be a source of help to us. Knowing that the Book of Mormon was written for our day should influence the way we study it.
President Benson taught: “The Book of Mormon … was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. … Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations. … If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, ‘Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?’ ” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).

The Book of Mormon can bring us nearer to God.
Again, please read the sixth paragraph of the introduction to the Book of Mormon.
Precepts are commandments or principles. Think about how the precepts of the Book of Mormon can bring us nearer to God.
D&C 84:54-58 teaches us the consequences to us, individually and as a church, if we do not study the Book of Mormon.
Think about the changes and blessings that have come into your life when you have studied and pondered the Book of Mormon regularly.

Conclusion

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “The moment you begin a serious study of [the Book of Mormon, you] will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. … When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7).
Experience the fulfillment of these promises for yourself by studying the Book of Mormon this year.

An Additional Teaching: The importance of the Book of Mormon in the Restoration of the gospel

Note the order in which these events occurred
1. Joseph Smith receives the First Vision.
2. The Book of Mormon comes forth.
3. The Melchizedek Priesthood is restored.
4. The Church is organized.
5. Apostles are called.
6. Temple work for the dead begins
President Ezra Taft Benson: “A … powerful testimony to the importance of the Book of Mormon is to note where the Lord placed its coming forth in the timetable of the unfolding Restoration. The only thing that preceded it was the First Vision. …“Think of that in terms of what it implies. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon preceded the restoration of the priesthood. It was published just a few days before the Church was organized. The Saints were given the Book of Mormon to read before they were given the revelations outlining such great doctrines as the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, or work for the dead. It came before priesthood quorums and Church organization. Doesn’t this tell us something about how the Lord views this sacred work?” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 4).