The Prophet Joseph Smith said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (see the Introduction to the Book of Mormon).
When I read this statement, I resolved to read the whole Book of Mormon and try to discover its precepts and then try to abide them.
It took me three years to reach this goal. It was a very valuable, spiritual journey discovering a very large number of precepts and new spiritual insights, which I had not recognized in previous readings of the Book of Mormon.
As I read, I kept a precept journal, which contains the scriptural citation such as 1 Nephi 1:1 and my written commentary on that particular verse. I discovered a phrase that had a great impact on me. As I pondered it, I received a strong impression that I must act upon it. The phrase is: "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all of the learning of my father."
Nephi's parents were good because his father taught him.
Nephi's nephew, Enos, also described the impact of his father in the following phrases: "he was a just man for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (see Enos 1:1); and "the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints sunk deep into my heart" (see Enos 1:3).
My wife and I acted upon these precepts. We were impressed to compile a record of the many "tender mercies" or "divine signatures" we had received during 50-plus years of marriage. These were very significant events for us and we wanted our descendants to know in detail how the Lord blessed and taught us.
I now realize that the "abiding by" statement is a lifetime process of improving my behaviors and thereby becoming "nearer to God." I feel that I have received line upon line and precept upon precept based on my individual challenges and circumstances and my readiness.
I know that this search for precepts has and will continue to bring me nearer to God and reinforce and expand my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
Douglas C. Carpenter Jr. lives in Helena, Montana.