A couple years ago, the Church issued a new version of Gospel Principles, which had historically been used in classes for newly baptized members of the Church or for those who had not yet been baptized. This new version, though, has been used as the main course of study in Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood meetings throughout 2010 and 2011. It is just what the title says it is. It has forty-seven chapters on key subjects like faith, repentance, baptism, marriage, tithing, chastity, fasting, the Millennium, and the final judgement. If there is a basic tenet of the gospel — something you really need to know to be saved — it's in here. There are abundant references to the scriptures, explanations from modern-day prophets, and even pictures and illustrations that explain and teach things, too. It's a great resource for personal study as well as for a starting point when one has a lesson to teach or a talk to give. My experience with the older edition is somewhat limited (the Russian edition while I was on my mission), so I can't make comparisons, but there's really no need. The point of the manual is written on the front cover: "[to] come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved" (1 Nephi 15:14).
Historically, I have not always been as good as I should be about reading the lesson manuals. I made it a conscious goal to read all the way through this one, and I was not disappointed. When the Church first announced that this book would be used as the main course of study, I know that some members of the Church complained, saying it was too basic or whatever. I have had no complaints. As stated above, these basics are the things with which one builds a solid testimony of the all-encompassing nature of the gospel and the Church. It was awesome to be reminded again in plain and simple terms — and the gospel is plain and simple — the incredible blessings that await us if we but do our small part. There's not a chapter that doesn't point back to the Savior and all that He did for us. There's not a chapter that doesn't reference the plan of salvation with our Heavenly Father at its head. Reading through the manual is a great way to polish up your knowledge of the gospel. You will also feel that your testimony has been reinforced, probably because it has been replanted on a solid foundation that not only simply withstands the troubles that come our way, but allows us to fight back, if necessary, and move forward.
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