“Unit 1, Day 3: Studying the Scriptures,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 1, Day 3,” New Testament Study Guide
This lesson will help you understand the importance of studying the scriptures daily and reading the entire New Testament as part of this course of study. You can also learn ways to improve your study of the scriptures.
Consider the statements below, and mark your responses on the scale. You will not be asked to report your responses to your teacher.
As you study this lesson, ponder how you might improve your scripture study.
Read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The scriptures contain the words of Christ and are a reservoir of living water to which we have ready access and from which we can drink deeply and long. …
“Through normal activity each day, you and I lose a substantial amount of the water that constitutes so much of our physical bodies. Thirst is a demand by the cells of the body for water, and the water in our bodies must be replenished daily. It frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between. The same thing is true spiritually. Spiritual thirst is a need for living water. A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [Church Educational System fireside, Feb. 4, 2007], 2, 9, speeches.byu.edu).
Complete the following principle we can learn from Elder Bednar’s statement about what we receive from daily scripture study: As we study the scriptures daily, we receive the we need.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the sacrifice one man made to enable more people to read the Bible:
“On October 6, in the year 1536, a pitiful figure was led from a dungeon in Vilvorde Castle near Brussels, Belgium. For nearly a year and a half, the man had suffered isolation in a dark, damp cell. Now outside the castle wall, the prisoner was fastened to a post. He had time to utter aloud his final prayer, ‘Lord! open the king of England’s eyes,’ and then he was strangled. Immediately, his body was burned at the stake. Who was this man, and what was the offense … ? His name was William Tyndale, and his crime was to have translated and published the Bible in English.
“… In a heated exchange with a cleric who argued against putting scripture in the hands of the common man, Tyndale vowed, ‘If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough, shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost!’ …
“William Tyndale was not the first, nor the last, of those who in many countries and languages have sacrificed, even to the point of death, to bring the word of God out of obscurity. … What did they know about the importance of scriptures that we also need to know? What did people in 16th-century England, who paid enormous sums and ran grave personal risks for access to a Bible, understand that we should also understand?” (“The Blessing of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 32).
Why do you think people made such great sacrifices to have access to the scriptures?
Elder Christofferson continued: “In Tyndale’s day, scriptural ignorance abounded because people lacked access to the Bible, especially in a language they could understand. Today the Bible and other scripture are readily at hand, yet there is a growing scriptural illiteracy because people will not open the books. Consequently they have forgotten things their grandparents knew” (“The Blessing of Scripture,” 33).
Why do you think people in our day are not reading the scriptures as they should?
Elder Christofferson concluded: “Consider the magnitude of our blessing to have the Holy Bible and some 900 additional pages of scripture, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. … Surely with this blessing the Lord is telling us that our need for constant recourse to the scriptures is greater than in any previous time” (“The Blessing of Scripture,” 35).
One truth we can learn from Elder Christofferson’s statement is that our need for the scriptures is greater today than in any previous time.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think that our need for the scriptures is greater today than in any previous time?
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter in which he described some conditions of the world in the last days. Read 2 Timothy 3:1–5, 13, looking for some of the sins and attitudes that he said would be common in our day. (You may want to refer to the footnotes for help in understanding difficult words and phrases in these verses.)
What are some of the sins and attitudes listed in these verses that you have witnessed in our society today?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14–17, looking for how we can find safety during these perilous times. You may want to mark what you find.
From what you learned in 2 Timothy 3:15–17, what blessings are available to us as we study the scriptures and live their teachings? List your answers in the space provided to complete the following statement: As we study the scriptures, we can receive that will lead us to salvation.
This statement you have completed is an example of a gospel principle. Principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ are unchanging truths that provide guidance in our lives. One of the central purposes of the scriptures is to teach doctrines and principles of the gospel. We can make our personal scripture study more meaningful by searching for doctrines and principles, pondering their meaning, and applying them in our lives.
- Look at the principle you completed above. Then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt that you received wisdom, light, truth, correction, or instruction as a result of studying the scriptures?
One of the expectations for this seminary course of study is that you read the entire New Testament. This is a requirement to receive a seminary diploma. Reading the entire New Testament will take consistent effort.
Have you ever tried to drink water or soda with more than one straw? If you have straws available, try drinking a glass of water or soda with seven straws bundled together. It is difficult to drink all of the liquid in the glass. But if you drink slowly and steadily with one straw, you will find that you can easily drink all of the liquid (and the experience is more enjoyable!).
How would you relate this object lesson to reading the entire New Testament during this course of study?
Use the following equation to help you see how you can complete the goal of reading the entire New Testament by reading small portions daily:
- In your scripture study journal, write about some things that can help you establish a habit of daily scripture study so that you can receive wisdom, light, truth, correction, and instruction from the scriptures. Also write a goal to set aside time every day for personal scripture study and to read the entire New Testament.
- The following list of study methods and skills can enrich your study of the scriptures. Choose two of the following methods or skills, and try them using the associated scripture passages. In your scripture study journal, explain how these two skills can help you in your daily study of the scriptures.
Scripture-Study Methods and Skills
Name substitution: To help relate doctrines and principles from the scriptures to your life, substitute your name for a name in the scriptures. Try using this scripture-study skill with Simon Peter’s name in Matthew 16:15–17.
Cause and effect: To help you identify gospel principles in the scriptures, look for “if–then” and “because–therefore” relationships. Try using this skill with Matthew 6:14–15.
Scripture lists: The scriptures sometime contain lists of things, such as instructions or warnings. When you find lists, consider numbering each element. Try using this skill with Galatians 5:22–23.
Contrasts: The scriptures sometime contrast different ideas, events, and people. These contrasts emphasize gospel principles. Look for contrasts in single verses, in chapters, and across chapters and books. Try this skill with Matthew 5:14–16.
Visualization: Look for descriptive details that can help you create a mental picture as you read. Imagine being present at certain events. This can strengthen your testimony of the reality of what you read in the scriptures. Try this skill with Matthew 8:23–27.
Symbolism: Words such as like, as, or likened unto can help you identify symbols. Look beyond a symbol by exploring its nature and pondering its attributes. Scripture study aids such as footnotes, the Bible Dictionary, and the Topical Guide or Guide to the Scriptures can help you interpret some symbols. Try using this study skill with Matthew 13:24–30. (You can compare your interpretation of the parable with that given in Doctrine and Covenants 86:1–7.)
Cross-references: Often, one scripture passage can explain or clarify a phrase or concept found in a different passage. Link scripture passages to each other using the footnotes, the index, or the Topical Guide or Guide to the Scriptures to help unlock the meaning of a scripture passage. Practice this skill by reading John 10:16 and then following the cross-reference in footnote a to 3 Nephi 15:21. How does reading 3 Nephi 15:21 help you better understand the meaning of John 10:16?
Pondering: Pondering includes thinking, meditating, asking questions, and evaluating what you know and what you have learned. Pondering often helps us understand what we need to do to apply gospel principles. Ponder how you might apply the truths in Hebrews 12:9.
Applying: As you identify and understand doctrines and principles found in the scriptures, you can gain deeper knowledge by acting on the truths you discover. Jesus Christ said that “if any man will do [Heavenly Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Look for opportunities to apply or liken to your life what you learn as you study the scriptures on your own (see 1 Nephi 19:23).
Look for ways to practice each of these study skills in the coming weeks as you study the New Testament.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied the “Studying the Scriptures” lesson and completed it on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: