NOTE TO THE READER: The following article is adapted from the 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Manual: Lay Hold Upon the Word of God – Study Guide #1, 1988. Updated with new information and instruction from leaders and ministers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
~ 2 Timothy 3:16 – CJB~
All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living;
Consider the following questions: Have you ever wished that you had defended the standards of the Church when they were mocked or ignored? Have you ever wished that you had helped a friend or family member who was struggling with a problem? Have you ever wished that you had given more generously of yourself to the people around you? Have you ever wished that you had expressed greater love and appreciation to your family? Have you ever wished for the power to patiently endure a difficult situation?
Often, the most important powers a person can have are the power to overcome obstacles and temptations, the power to overcome unseen forces, the power to influence others righteously, and the power to endure difficult situations. Studying the scriptures can help you obtain these powers.
the power of scripture study becomes a personal journey and spiritual discipline we must undertake.Tweet
And often, the most request one receives from our fellow Evangelical and Protestant Christians is the challenge to take the time to study the Bible. This is given in the context that if a member of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ were to study the Bible, they may find the teachings of the Church in error. While it is a good challenge to devote time in studying scripture – it, hopefully,, leads to an honest, prayerful, and thoughtful commitment to studying God’s word and applying it into our lives. A challenge that ends up substantiating many of the teachings and principle truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Studying the Scriptures Brings Power
Elder Boyd K. Packer described how the scriptures can guide us:
There is no question – personal or social or political or occupational – that need go unanswered. Therein [ in the scriptures] is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every dilemma that will face the human family or any individual in itTeach the Scriptures: Excerpt from an address to religious educators, 14 October 1977
In his General Conference Address, Richard G. Scott shares this sentiment:
Our Father in Heaven understood that for us to make desired progress during our mortal probation, we would need to face difficult challenges. Some of these would be almost overpowering. He provided tools to help us be successful in our mortal probation. One set of those tools is the scriptures.The Power of Scripture – October 2011 General Conference
He further observes:
Throughout the ages, Father in Heaven has inspired select men and women to find, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, solutions to life’s most perplexing problems. He has inspired those authorized servants to record those solutions as a type of handbook for those of His children who have faith in His plan of happiness and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We have ready access to this guidance through the treasure we call the standard works—that is, the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Richard G. Scott continues to share his thoughts and observes:
- Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration
- Key to open the channel of communion with our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ
- Provide strength and authority to our declarations when cited correctly
- Scriptures become our stalwart friends and available when needed
- Using scriptures help provide a foundation of truth that is awakened by the Holy Spirit
He then states this:
Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.
It is one of the treasures we hid up unto ourselves. Gems of truth to be called upon when in times of need. When we are seeking answers, scriptures may be illuminated for us as personal revelation. Guiding us into all truth and understanding. If our faith is challenged, we stand firm and convicted on the truth of God’s word.
Despite what our gainsayers say, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints love reading, studying, and applying the principles of scripture to their lives. The reason for this is because of their love and testimony of the scriptures. How they speak to their hearts and minds. Bring sweet comfort in times of struggle and adversity. Provide guidance when there are difficult situations arising in their lives. And to help them prepare to give a confident and assured response to any deception the enemy attempts to bring unto us.
The scriptures are filled with gripping stories and challenging exhortations. People read and study from them because they are central to their lives and faith. Scriptures provide answers to the big issues in life – Who God is, Christ’s infinite atonement and the plan of salvation, Life, death, love, sin, moral guidance, resilient and bold faith, overcoming and enduring persecution and times of despondence.
Members of the Church read the scriptures because they believe God continues to speak and reveal Himself to each one of us. The power of scripture study brings encouragement, lifts our spirits, comforts us, guides us, chides us, builds us up, provides hope, and brings us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
The idea that God continues to speak unto us through those servants who are called is based on our understanding that:
we believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of GodArticle of Faith #9
Along with this, we know the power and authority scripture has in our lives:
Yea, we see that whosoever will lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked – And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the Kingdom of Heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers … .Heleman 3:29-30
Another passage of scripture teaches us this:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12, KJV
Another way of translating this is:
See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12, CJB
Thus, the power of scripture study becomes a personal journey and spiritual discipline we must undertake. Yet, while many of us desire to dig deeper into the treasure trove the Scriptures have to offer us – wanting to come to a full knowledge and understanding of what they teach.
Studying the Scriptures is a Spiritual Discipline and Journey
One of the most problematic issues an individual may have with a devoted time of studying the scriptures is the uncertainty of properly interpreting the scriptures. Not only properly interpreting, to further apply the principles of truth into our own lives. Much of the time, Latter-day Saints (and even Evangelical and Protestant Christians) tend to interpret scripture from an intuitive or feels-right approach. This means that if the passage of scripture is easily applied to our own lives, we have no problem applying it. If there is some ambiguity or inability to directly apply certain passages – we tend to spiritualize the meaning of the passage.
Understanding that searching the scriptures takes time and effort – many fall short in their commitment to scripture study. However, there is a simple process that helps each of us to obtain the power of the word. A process that helps us resolve problems we are facing.
- Identify the problem/struggle
- Identify possible key words and select words that relate to the problem, concern, or need.
- Search through the Topical Guide, The Index, and the Bible Dictionary in the LDS Edition of the King James Version of the Bible.
- Use other study helps –
- Personal favorites: Commentaries, Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, Other Translations of the Bible, Footnotes contained in the Scriptures, General Conference Talks, et al.
- Select those passages that are useful and review the references to determine which would best apply to your given situation
- Always use prayer and meditation while seeking the Holy Spirit. Ask – how does this principle apply to my problem?
- As you come to understand the principle, prayerfully decide how to apply it. As you do so, the power of the word will become like a sword in your hand
Another helpful means to experience the spiritual discipline and journey in interpreting and applying the principle truths of Scripture is to understand this:
Keep in mind that our goal is to grasp the meaning of the text God has intended. We do not create meaning out of a text; rather, we seek to find the meaning that is already there.Journey into God’s word, The Interpretive Journey; p. 14; Duvall and Hayes, 2008
How does one approach the daunting task of their journey into studying and applying the scriptures? For me, the best approach I use is the Inductive Study Method. This specific method has proven to enlighten and enriching understanding of the principle truths of the scriptures. It also helps with understanding teachings and messages that come from our leaders. Such study method helps one find power within the scriptures to deal with any problems.
Power and Personal Revelation through Scripture Study to Deal with Any Problems
Take a moment and thoughtfully consider the following questions:
- How productive is your own personal study of the scriptures?
- What can you do to study the scriptures more effectively?
- How effective is your family scripture study time?
- How are you able to encourage family members to study the scriptures on their own?
Always review the available helps contained in the scriptures: Maps, Indexes, Topical Guide, Footnotes, and so forth.
As previously mentioned – the best scripture study method I’ve employed over the years is the Inductive Study Method. Not only does this work when we approach the Old and New Testament – it also works when we use it to study through the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
It is our privilege to store our memories with good and great thoughts and bring them out on the stage of our minds at will. When the Lord faced His three great temptations in the wilderness, He immediately rebutted the devil with appropriate scripture which He had stored in His memory.Think on Christ, Ensign – First Presidency Message, March 1989
From a more apologetic standpoint – studying the scriptures helps equip us to respond and answer our critic’s questions – specifically when they refer to the Bible and attempt to show passages that may contradict teachings of the Church. For instance, many attempt to use Galatians 1:6-9 as a means to discredit Joseph Smith’s visions of the Father and the Son, and the subsequent visitations of the Angel Moroni. In doing so, they attempt to say that Paul warned us that if an angel of light came and presented a different Gospel, that said person is to be considered false. Upon a more honest and thorough study, Paul utilized a literary technique known as hyperbole. One further understands that there were specific things Paul was addressing and challenging that came up within the Galatian Church. Namely, the challenge and antagonism against Paul’s calling; and, the idea that Gentiles converting to Christianity were to preform circumcision as part of being adopted into the Abrahamic covenant and lineage.
This is where some may have become deceived and fallen away unto fables and myths. It is also another reason that many of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters fall away from their faith because of their lack in understanding sound doctrine and teachings of the scriptures. When we are not deeply rooted into the word of God – we do not have the power and authority to stand and quench the fire darts of our adversary. Instead, we become lost, blinded, and ultimately are led toward destruction:
And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.1 Nephi 15:24
This is similar to Paul’s wise counsel to the Christians in Ephesus when he writes:
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.Ephesians 6:16, KJV
Thus, when we come to fully understand the power of God’s word – it is because we have taken up a spiritual discipline and obligation to study and apply the principle truths unto our own personal lives. Seeking divine revelation and answers to our questions. Searching to strengthen our testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Discover ways to walk in faith and obedience to our Heavenly Father’s will and strive to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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