As a missionary, I took pride in my familiarity with the scriptures. No matter the question, I could usually present an investigator with a scripturally backed answer. Being somewhat slow on the uptake, it probably took me a year or more to become conscious of the fact that most investigators didn’t ascribe the same level of authority to the scriptures that I did. I just took for granted that “proving a concept by the standard works” = “concern resolved!”
But that’s a topic for a different post. This post is about the one scripture that did make a difference. I was teaching a woman whose marriage was shaky (though I didn’t know that at the time). She had a cat that she loved. I suppose that her cat was the one source of stable affection in her life. As we were reaching the end of our lessons (the fifth discussion, I think. This was when there were six missionary discussions, following which a person was expected to be baptized), she asked about her cat. She wanted to know what would happen to him after he died.
So I turned to the only scripture I knew that had anything to do with cats, dying, and their post-mortal destiny:
Q. Are the four beasts limited to individual beasts, or do they represent classes or orders?
A. They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.
I didn’t know what the scripture meant then. I don’t know what it means now. Joseph’s description of beasts, likeness, figurative expressions, etc. in D&C 77 is wonderfully mystifying. But it was enough for me to let this sister know that her cat would enjoy “eternal felicity” (incidentally, one of my favorite phrases in all scripture). She cried, and told us that she was ready to join the church.
What role have the scriptures played in your attempts at sharing the gospel, either as a full-time missionary or otherwise? Have you referred to them to confirm your discussion points? And if so, how have people responded?