Three Methods of Scripture Study
Elder David A. Bednar
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(CES Fireside for Young Adults •
February 4, 2007 • Brigham Young University)
I now want to review with you three
basic ways or methods of obtaining living water from the scriptural
reservoir: (1) reading the scriptures from beginning to end, (2)
studying the scriptures by topic, and (3) searching the scriptures for
connections, patterns, and themes. Each of these approaches can help
satisfy our spiritual thirst if we invite the companionship and
assistance of the Holy Ghost as we read, study, and search.
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. This is
the first and most fundamental way of obtaining living water.
Studying by topic typically follows, grows out of, and builds upon our
reading of the scriptures from beginning to end. For example, as we
read the Book of Mormon we may identify and seek to find answers to
important doctrinal and practical questions such as these:
• What is faith in the Savior?
• Why is faith in Jesus
Christ the first principle of the gospel?
• Why and how does faith in
the Redeemer lead to repentance?
• How does the Atonement
strengthen me to do things in my daily life that I could never do with
my own limited capacity and in my own strength?
Focusing upon such questions and
studying by topic, using the Topical Guide and index to the triple
combination, allow us to dig into and explore the depth of the
scriptures and obtain a much richer spiritual knowledge. This approach
increases the rate at which living water flows into our lives.
Both reading from beginning to end and studying by topic are
prerequisites to the third basic method of obtaining living water from
the scriptural reservoir. Whereas reading a book of scripture from
beginning to end provides a basic breadth of knowledge, studying by
topic increases the depth of our knowledge. Searching in the
revelations for connections, patterns, and themes builds upon and adds
to our spiritual knowledge by bringing together and expanding these
first two methods; it broadens our perspective and understanding of the
plan of salvation.
In my judgment, diligently searching to discover connections, patterns,
and themes is in part what it means to “feast” upon the words of
Christ. This approach can open the floodgates of the spiritual
reservoir, enlighten our understanding through His Spirit, and produce
a depth of gratitude for the holy scriptures and a degree of spiritual
commitment that can be received in no other way. Such searching enables
us to build upon the rock of our Redeemer and to withstand the winds of
wickedness in these latter days.