This sunday’s quorum instruction need to be focused on missionary work and the long term effort required to do it well.
- Key to that effort is a conversion to daily scripture study.
- Clearly, the Lord has counseled us that if do not make scripture study a part of our lives, we cannot do his work.
- We cannot be counted as faithful disciples of the Christ if we are not daily and regularly feasting upon his words.
- My sheep know my voice.
From “A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Elder Henry B. Eyering, July 2005 Ensign:
How has scripture study benefited you personally?
Elder Eyring: Throughout my life, the scriptures have been a way for God to reveal things to me that are personal and helpful. When I was a little boy, I was given a small Bible. If I remember correctly, it was only the New Testament. For some reason, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 13 [1 Cor. 13], which is about charity. Somehow, even in my childhood, I knew that for me that chapter was about the family I would have someday. Years later, before I was married, I received a patriarchal blessing. In that blessing, the patriarch described the feeling that would be in the home I would someday have. He described exactly what I had felt years before when I read 1 Corinthians 13 [1 Cor. 13].
The scriptures were one of the ways God spoke to me—even when I was a child—about my needs, my situation, and my life. They still are. Since our needs change over a lifetime, God has different things to tell us at different times.
Sometimes I go to the scriptures for doctrine. Sometimes I go to the scriptures for instruction. I go with a question, and the question usually is “What would God have me do?” or “What would He have me feel?” Invariably I find new ideas, thoughts I have never had before, and I receive inspiration and instruction and answers to my questions.
Why should we read the Book of Mormon on an ongoing basis?
Elder Eyring: The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, and we learn about Him in its pages. We know that it has great power. It has the power to change lives. It has the power to convert. If you read it with an open heart, you will know that it is the word of God and that it is true.
Through the Book of Mormon the Lord can also teach us about being with and serving people. This book reveals the will of the Lord for family life in a way that the other scriptures don’t even approach. I believe that is largely because of its interesting structure. It’s about families; it’s about people’s relationships. It starts with families, it ends with families, and we come to love these families.
Another reason to study it regularly, for me at least, is that I can pick up the Book of Mormon, open to any page, read, and the Holy Ghost bears personal witness to me that it is the word of God. I know the Lord is speaking. I know the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be.
What have you done to make your own scripture study meaningful?
Elder Eyring: When I came into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested I buy an inexpensive set of scriptures and mark the insights and revelations I would gain in my new calling. So I did. But I went a little further.
I asked Heavenly Father what He would have me do as an Apostle. I wrote down what I felt His answers were. I typed, color coded, and pasted those answers in the front of my scriptures. For example, the first one was “I am to be a witness that Christ is the Son of God.” Then I read my scriptures looking for ideas that taught me how to witness that Christ is the Son of God. Every time I came to something, I marked it in blue. Soon I developed my own topical guide around what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I have learned much through this process.
Going to the scriptures to learn what to do makes all the difference. The Lord can teach us. When we come to a crisis in our life, such as losing a child or spouse, we should go looking in the scriptures for specific help. We will find answers in the scriptures. The Lord seemed to anticipate all of our problems and all of our needs, and He put help in the scriptures for us—if only we seek it.
How can Latter-day Saints make scripture study a priority?
Elder Eyring: The only way you can be sure that a busy schedule doesn’t crowd out scripture study is to establish a regular time to study the scriptures. I have found that the beginning of the day and the end of the day are mine. Those are times I can usually control. So my pattern since I was a boy has been to read my scriptures at the beginning and end of the day. I read the Book of Mormon many times before I was 18 because of that pattern.
When I am in situations where I break out of the pattern, it’s hard on me. Once you get used to regular scripture study, you miss it if you don’t have it. It’s like food—you have to have it. I know that I need the scriptures like I need food. I don’t miss a regular meal, and I don’t miss regular scripture study.
From “The Blessing of Scripture,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, April 2010 General Conference :
The Scriptures Are the Standard for Distinguishing Truth and Error
God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that “every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime” and “that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (Alma 30:17–18). Alma, who had dealt with Korihor, did not leave his own son Corianton in doubt about the reality and substance of a divine moral code. Corianton had been guilty of sexual sin, and his father spoke to him in love but plainly: “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5).
In a complete reversal from a century ago, many today would dispute with Alma about the seriousness of immorality. Others would argue that it’s all relative or that God’s love is permissive. If there is a God, they say, He excuses all sins and misdeeds because of His love for us—there is no need for repentance. Or at most, a simple confession will do. They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior. 2 But a God of love does not leave us to learn by sad experience that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10; see also Helaman 13:38). His commandments are the voice of reality and our protection against self-inflicted pain. The scriptures are the touchstone for measuring correctness and truth, and they are clear that real happiness lies not in denying the justice of God or trying to circumvent the consequences of sin but in repentance and forgiveness through the atoning grace of the Son of God (see Alma 42).
Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.
The Scriptures Bring Us to Christ, Our Redeemer
In the end, the central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ—faith that They exist; faith in the Father’s plan for our immortality and eternal life; faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which animates this plan of happiness; faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life; and faith to come to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent” (John 17:3).
The word of God, as Alma said, is like a seed planted in our hearts that produces faith as it begins to grow within us (see Alma 32:27–43; see also Romans 10:13–17). Faith will not come from the study of ancient texts as a purely academic pursuit. It will not come from archaeological digs and discoveries. It will not come from scientific experiments. It will not even come from witnessing miracles. These things may serve to confirm faith, or at times to challenge it, but they do not create faith. Faith comes by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our souls, Spirit to spirit, as we hear or read the word of God. And faith matures as we continue to feast upon the word.
Scriptural accounts of the faith of others serve to strengthen our own. We recall the faith of a centurion that enabled Christ to heal his servant without so much as seeing him (see Matthew 8:5–13) and the healing of a Gentile woman’s daughter because that humble mother would accept, as it were, even the crumbs from the Master’s table (see Matthew 15:22–28; Mark 7:25–30). We hear the cry of suffering Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15)—and professing, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: … [and] yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25–26). We hear and take courage from the determination of a tender boy prophet, hated and bitterly persecuted by so many adults: “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).
Because they expound the doctrine of Christ, the scriptures are accompanied by the Holy Spirit, whose role it is to bear witness of the Father and the Son (see 3 Nephi 11:32). Therefore, being in the scriptures is one way we receive the Holy Ghost. Of course, scripture is given through the Holy Ghost in the first place (see 2 Peter 1:21; D&C 20:26–27; 68:4), and that same Spirit can attest its truth to you and me. Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them. Scriptures are revelation, and they will bring added revelation.
From “The Tradition of Light and Testimony”:
We must be bold in our declarations and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. We want others to know that we believe He is the central figure in all human history. His life and teachings are the heart of the Bible and the other books we consider to be holy scriptures. The Old Testament sets the stage for Christ’s mortal ministry. The New Testament describes His mortal ministry. The Book of Mormon gives us a second witness of His mortal ministry. He came to earth to declare His gospel as a foundation for all mankind so that all of God’s children could learn about Him and His teachings. He then gave His life in order to be our Savior and Redeemer. Only through Jesus Christ is salvation possible. This is why we believe He is the central figure in all human history. Our eternal destiny is always in His hands. It is a glorious thing to believe in Him and accept Him as our Savior, our Lord, and our Master.
-Elder L. Tom Perry, January 2012, BYU-I
Build on this thought. Make a special invitation to be in Elder’s Quorum this Sunday.