What do the scriptures mean to us? How do we gain a testimony of them? How can we better understand them?
Like many other Latter-day Saint teens throughout the world, the young women in the Dahlem Ward, Berlin Germany Stake, are finding answers to these questions by meeting each morning before school to study the scriptures in seminary. Their experiences with the scriptures have deeply affected their lives, and they are ready and willing to share their feelings.
Answers from the Scriptures
One of the important experiences these young women have had with the scriptures has been to find answers to their questions through scripture study.
Sometimes when Sariah Gruse, 16, is studying the scriptures, an answer will leap out from the page, she says. “But I usually don’t find that scripture again the way it stood out to me before, because it was the thoughts and the Spirit I received along with it that really helped me.”
Denise Reiner, 16, has had similar experiences. She remembers having a question, opening her scriptures, and then seeing the answer on the page she opened to. This experience impressed her, but most often, she says, “you notice that you’re guided a little more, that you really do find an answer to all your questions when you read in the scriptures regularly.”
Unity through the Scriptures
These young women believe that the scriptures help us to be unified as Saints in Christ’s Church. “The gospel is in the scriptures,” says Elizabeth Clark, 16. “We shouldn’t really debate and contend about it. The principles are in there. That can help us be unified.”
Sariah agrees: “The gospel is the same throughout the whole world because of the scriptures. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world. You can always feel at home at church because you’ll find the same teachings and the same beliefs.”
Sarah Clark, 17, believes that the Book of Mormon is especially important “because the gospel is expressed clearly there. If we follow it and the other scriptures, it helps us to become unified and stay unified.”
This unity fosters the Spirit, says Elizabeth. “When we’re all in agreement with the gospel, then you can feel the Spirit when it’s taught. When there’s contention, you can’t feel the Spirit at all.”
Better Understanding through Seminary
When it comes to developing a better understanding of the scriptures, these young women all agree that seminary has been indispensable. “In seminary you learn a lot about the people in the scriptures and the whole history behind them,” says Denise.
“Seminary is part of my life,” says Lesley Reiner, 17. “I know that it’s important. You should study personally, and then seminary is there for you to study together.”
Sarah adds, “I always look forward to studying the scriptures every morning in seminary. My testimony has been strengthened. I think it’s a special time.”
For Sariah, seminary has become a place to share her feelings. “At first it was hard for me because my mother is the seminary teacher and I had the feeling that I couldn’t really express my thoughts,” she says. But she overcame her worries and has found seminary to be a place of safety and support in expressing her questions, thoughts, and feelings about the gospel.
The Effect of the Scriptures
The scriptures have had a very real effect on the lives of these young women, and they have been able to apply the scriptures in various ways.
For instance, scripture study has helped them answer others’ questions as well as their own. “If you understand the scriptures and the principles in them,” says Elizabeth, “then, if someone asks you something about the gospel, you can actually explain it better because you understand it yourself. That makes it a lot easier.”
In addition, Denise has found strength and encouragement through the scriptures. “If you simply read what kind of temptations the people had back then and how they were able to overcome them, that strengthens you today,” she says. “And when you read in the scriptures about all of the blessings of the gospel, then you know what you get in return for faithfulness, and that’s also good to know.”
Because of the effect the scriptures have had in their lives, these young women now see themselves on a path leading to even greater understanding and testimony. And they feel bound together in unity to Latter-day Saints everywhere through the word of God.
Lesley’s Favorite Scripture
1 Corinthians 13:3–8. “I like this scripture because it describes many important attributes.”
Denise’s Favorite Scripture
2 Timothy 2. “It’s just beautiful how Paul wrote the letter to Timothy with all of those words of comfort and shared with him all of his experiences. I think that’s one of the most beautiful chapters in the scriptures.”
Sariah’s Favorite Scripture
D&C 14:7. “I like this scripture because it emphasizes that the greatest gift we can receive from Heavenly Father is eternal life.”
Sarah’s Favorite Scripture
1 Corinthians 10:13. “That is really a beautiful promise, because then I always know that I can withstand any temptations.”
Elizabeth’s Favorite Scripture
D&C 84:88. “It says that the Lord is always there for us and that we are protected. It’s comforting, and that’s why I like this scripture so much.”
Photographs by David A. Edwards, except as noted; photograph of Brandenburg Gate © Getty Images
Photograph of scriptures by Matthew Reier, © IRI