Five Chapters Per Day

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Just over a month ago I thought that I needed to start reading more of the Book of Mormon each day. Reading quickly (or in my case, listening and reading) isn’t studying the scriptures but I believe there is a benefit to such immersion. Going through quickly can lead to insights about major themes and characters that are not as obvious when going through as a slower pace.

As a full-time missionary I read the Book of Mormon 11.5 times (because of transfers timings I served for 23 months). I also read the other books of scripture and a number of gospel-related books and articles. Depending on what mission a missionary is in (i.e., learning a new language or what a particular expected schedule is), there is a minimum of one hour to study and read. I typically averaged 2-3 hours per day. This is shared only as an example of how much time full-time missionaries have to read and study the scriptures. Currently, I don’t have as much time available to read and study but I knew I could spend more time than I was spending.

So over a month ago I decided to get through five chapters of the Book of Mormon per day. Why five? It was arbitrary. It worked out, however, to be a good number of chapters to listen to during my commutes to work each weekday. I can get through five chapters listening at 1.5 speed within the span on my commute (sometimes including time while walking from the parking lot to my office). When there are shorter chapters (such as the first chapters of Moroni) I listen to or read more but I always try to get through at least five chapters (there were a couple days when I read fewer than five chapters but I made sure I caught up to the 15 chapters by the end of the third day).

How long does it take to read or listen to five chapters in the scriptures per day? Since I typically listen to the chapters at 1.5 speed, I usually get through five chapters in 20-35 minutes. At a slower pace five chapters would take 30-53 minutes of time per day (these are rough estimates based on my  recent experience with the Book of Mormon).

The Book of Mormon has 239 chapters. At five chapters per day, it take 48 days to finish the book (47.8 days to be precise). At this rate, one can go through the Book of Mormon seven times completely and be 63% through it for the 8th time.

What if someone wanted to read through all the LDS Standard Works? Based on the current English versions of the texts that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use, there are 929 chapters in the Old Testament, 260 chapters in the New Testament, 239 chapters in the Book of Mormon, 140 ‘chapters’ in the Doctrine and Covenants (including the two official declarations), and 19 chapters in the Pearl of Great Price. This is a total of 1587 chapters. At 5 chapters per day, one will finish the entire standard works in 318 (317.4) days.

Additionally, there have been an average of 36.75 talks given per General Conference over the past four General Conferences. We’ll round that up to 74 Conference talks per year (this includes the General Women’s Session and the General Priesthood Session). Reading or listening to two General Conference talks per day would allow someone to finish the standard works and all conference talks in just under one year.

The problem with reading and listening at this rate is that it does not count as in-depth study so other time could be spent reading topically or more slowly. I’ll certainly modify my reading pattern over time but five chapters of the Book of Mormon per day has been a wonderful experience.

Establishing the Word of the Lamb

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Last night I was really struck by the following verses in the Book of Mormon:

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records [the “other books” – likely the Doctrine and Covenants and other scriptures], which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first [the Bible], which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.

And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.” (1 Ne. 13:40-41).

I love these verses because they really establish the centrality of the Savior to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not that there is any doubt of Christ’s role but there are many who do not believe members of the LDS Church are Christian. That’s another discussion but what verse 40 states is that the additional scripture that we Mormons have clarify the Bible and serve the purpose of establishing that “the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men [and women] must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” We recognize and proclaim Jesus’ divinity. He was and is much more than a great teacher. Jesus is the Savior of the World.

The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price all serve to establish the veracity of the Bible. The contain the words of the Lamb of God. What we know is that it is not sufficient to believe just the Bible. “All men must come unto [Christ], or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed [the Book of Mormon], as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb [the Bible].” This means that we can only and truly come unto Christ by heeding His words as contained in the Book of Mormon; the Bible is necessary but not sufficient. Even the Book of Mormon is not sufficient – there are living prophets we must heed and ordinances we must receive and perform.

That might sound like a bold proclamation – that the fulness of the gospel and the only true path to salvation resides in the teachings and actions of Christ as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This does not negate any of the good in other teachings and religions but Christ established the way and that way is inseparable from the LDS Church. That is one reason why we do so much work for the dead in the mountains of the Lord’s houses – baptisms, confirmations, endowments, and sealings. God established the way home and that way can be understood from reading the scriptures – ancient and modern.