Lesson 2

Studying the Scriptures

“Lesson 2: Studying the Scriptures,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

This lesson will help students deepen their understanding of the importance of studying the scriptures daily. Students will also learn about the blessings of studying the Book of Mormon and become familiar with effective scripture study skills.

Suggestions for Teaching

Studying the scriptures daily

Ask students to think about times when they or someone they know have worked to develop a skill or ability. (Consider inviting one or two students to demonstrate a musical or athletic ability that they have developed.)

  • When trying to develop a skill or ability, how might the results of practicing once per week compare to the results of practicing daily? Why might daily practice make an important difference?

  • If you developed a particular skill or ability to a high degree through daily practice but then stopped practicing, what could eventually happen?

  • How might you relate this to daily scripture study?

Explain that according to Mosiah 1, King Benjamin taught his sons the importance of studying the scriptures. Ask a student to read Mosiah 1:3, 5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that indicate what would have happened to the Nephites if they had not studied the scriptures.

  • What would have happened to the Nephites if they had not studied the scriptures? (You might consider reading Omni 1:17 with students to compare what happened to the people of Zarahemla, whose ancestors did not bring the scriptures with them when they left Jerusalem.)

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson. Invite the class to listen for the blessings that can come from daily scripture study.

President Thomas S. Monson

“Spending time each day in scripture study will, without doubt, strengthen our foundations of faith and our testimonies of truth” (Thomas S. Monson, “How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 68).

  • What principle can we learn based on this teaching by President Monson? (Using students’ words, write on the board a principle similar to the following: If we study the scriptures daily, we can strengthen our faith and testimonies.)

Point out that even though we may fully intend to study the scriptures, sometimes we may allow other priorities to distract us from studying the scriptures daily.

  • What advice would you give to help someone develop a habit of daily scripture study?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Given the hectic pace of our lives, good intentions and simply ‘hoping’ to find the time for meaningful scripture study are not sufficient. My experience suggests that a specific and scheduled time set aside each day and, as much as possible, a particular place for study greatly increase the effectiveness of our searching in and study of the scriptures” (David A. Bednar, “Because We Have Them before Our Eyes,” New Era, Apr. 2006, 6).

Ask students to think of a time when they have studied the scriptures regularly. Invite them to consider how their faith and testimonies were strengthened as a result. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.

Invite students to set a goal to study the scriptures daily. You might suggest that they write this goal in their class notebooks or study journals, along with a plan including when and where they will study.

Reading the text for the course

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994). Invite the class to listen for blessings President Benson promised to those who begin a serious study of the Book of Mormon.

President Ezra Taft Benson

“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign or Liahona, Oct. 2011, 56–57).

  • According to President Benson, what blessings can we experience from studying the Book of Mormon? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we study the Book of Mormon, we will have greater power to resist temptation, avoid deception, and stay on the strait and narrow path.)

  • In what ways can studying the Book of Mormon give us greater power to resist temptation, avoid deception, and stay on the strait and narrow path?

  • When have you experienced these or other blessings from studying the Book of Mormon?

Share your testimony that the Book of Mormon gives us greater power to resist temptation, avoid deception, and stay on the strait and narrow path.

Explain that one of the expectations for this seminary course of study is that students read the entire Book of Mormon. This is a requirement to receive a seminary diploma. Invite students to set a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon before the end of this seminary course. You might suggest that students calculate the number of pages they would need to read each day in order to finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the course.

Developing scripture study skills

Remind the class of the skills and abilities that students mentioned or demonstrated at the beginning of this lesson.

  • What might be the result if you practiced daily to develop a skill or ability, but you practiced with little focus or effort?

  • How might you relate this to daily scripture study?

Explain that in seminary, students will learn an effective pattern for studying the scriptures that they can also follow at home. This pattern begins with seeking to understand the context and content of the scriptures, which includes understanding the background and setting of the accounts as well as the meaning of words, phrases, and teachings.

  • What can we do to gain a better understanding of the background and setting of scripture passages? (Students may mention looking up the meaning of difficult or unfamiliar words, examining the surrounding text, reading chapter summaries at the beginnings of chapters, or searching the footnotes for explanations and cross-references. Be sure to mention these practices if students do not mention them.)

To model one method for understanding the context of a scripture passage, invite a student to read 3 Nephi 17:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who is speaking and who is being spoken to.

  • In the account, who is speaking? Who is receiving the message?

  • What happened before the events in this account? (See the chapter summaries for 3 Nephi 8–16.)

  • How does your knowledge of this background influence your understanding of why the people wanted the Savior to stay a little longer?

Emphasize that when students understand the background and setting of a scripture account, they are better prepared to identify and understand the doctrines and principles it contains.

Explain that doctrines and principles are eternal, unchanging truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ that provide direction for our lives. They are the lessons that ancient prophets intended us to learn from the events, stories, and sermons they recorded in the scriptures. Point out that some writers in the scriptures used phrases such as thus we see (see Helaman 3:27–29) or words such as therefore (see Alma 32:16) to point directly to doctrines and principles. Many doctrines and principles, however, are not stated so directly in the scriptures. Instead, these truths are implied and are illustrated through the accounts, teachings, and parables recorded in the scriptures.

To help students learn to identify doctrines and principles that are not directly stated, suggest that as they read, they ask themselves questions such as the following: What did the writer intend for us to learn from this story? What truths are taught in this passage of scripture?

To help students practice identifying doctrines and principles, invite a student to read 3 Nephi 17:6–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for doctrines and principles that we can learn from these verses.

  • What doctrines and principles can we learn from 3 Nephi 17:6–9? (Students’ responses should reflect the following truths: The Savior feels great compassion for us. Jesus Christ can heal all kinds of afflictions. As we come unto Jesus Christ in faith, we can experience His healing power. Write these truths on the board.)

Explain that once we have identified a doctrine or principle, it is important that we seek to understand what it means and how we might apply it in our lives. As an example, invite students to ponder ways in which they or their family members may be in need of the Savior’s compassion and healing power.

Point out that as we seek to understand how to apply a doctrine or principle in our lives, the Holy Ghost can help us feel its truth and importance. This can also occur as we ponder, write about, or share experiences concerning how we obtained a testimony of a doctrine or principle. As an example, consider inviting students to respond to the following question in their class notebooks or study journals:

  • When have you or someone you know experienced the Savior’s compassion and healing power?

Invite one or more students to share what they wrote. You may also want to share an experience.

Explain that understanding and feeling the truth and importance of doctrines and principles increases our desire to apply them in our lives. Application takes place when we do something about the doctrines and principles we have learned.

  • How might we apply or act on the doctrines and principles we identified in 3 Nephi 17:6–9?

Emphasize that when we act on the principles we learn, we will have a greater opportunity to feel the Holy Spirit confirm the truth of those principles (see John 7:17; Moroni 10:5). This is the real value of the knowledge gained from scripture study. Help students see that whenever they study the scriptures, one of their main goals should be to improve their efforts to live the gospel and draw nearer to God.

Conclude by reviewing the truths students identified in this lesson. Invite students to apply these truths by choosing to develop a habit of daily scripture study and by choosing to read the entire Book of Mormon during this seminary course of study.

Commentary and Background Information

Studying the scriptures daily

President Thomas S. Monson admonished the youth of the Church to study the scriptures each day:

President Thomas S. Monson

“To the youth of the Church, I say, if you haven’t done so, develop now a habit of daily scripture study” (Thomas S. Monson, “Stand as a Light,” Ensign or Liahona, Aug. 2015, 4).

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance that daily scripture study should have in our lives:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!” (Richard G. Scott, “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 93).

Reading the text for the course

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about benefits of reading an entire book of scripture sequentially:

Elder David A. Bednar

“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. …

Reading a book of scripture from beginning to end initiates the flow of living water into our lives by introducing us to important stories, gospel doctrines, and timeless principles. This approach also enables us to learn about major characters in the scriptures and the sequence, timing, and context of events and teachings. Reading the written word in this way exposes us to the breadth of a volume of scripture” (David A. Bednar, “A Reservoir of Living Water” [Brigham Young University devotional, Feb. 4, 2007], 2, 3, speeches.byu.edu; see also LDS.org).