Monday, 5 October 2015

How to Read the Scriptures

I have on my computer a copy of the Scriptures.  I also have a copy on my iPad as well as a printed copy that sits on my shelf gathering dust.  I assume that you have access to a copy as well.  My question is how do you use them? While I'm waiting for you to send me an e-mail with your answer let me tell you how I use my Scriptures.

I will read them as part of lessons I'm attending or teaching.  I also read them on a regular basis.  For example I just finished reading all of the words of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.  I also read all the scriptures on a yearly basis.  But this isn't the only way I use the Scriptures.  I also study them topically.  This is where I get most of my understanding of the principles of the Gospel.  But I don't ignore my reading because I need this reading to understand the context.  I find this two part approach to be very enlightening.

Another approach I use is to have a meta-principle in mind as I'm reading or studying.  I want to share one such principle with you.  I call this meta-principle behaviorism which I define this way.  I believe that we are three dimensional beings and that these three dimensions are Affect, Behaviour and Cognition.  Affect is everything you feel.  Behaviour is everything you do.  And Cognition is everything you think.  Behaviorism suggests that of the three the most important dimension and the one that takes precedence over the other two is what you do or in other words Behavior.  This is how I apply this principle to my study of the Scriptures.  It is a two step process.

Step number one I ask this question.  What the meaning of what I'm reading?

Step number two I ask.  How does what I'm reading, if it is true, affect my behaviour.

I believe that Jesus is concerned with two types of behaviour.  The first is sin and transgression.  I believe that He wants me to avoid doing either.  The second is being proactive in a positive way. For example if I'm serving in a calling then I believe that He wants me to perform at my best in my calling.  Let me give you an example that I hope will make this process perfectly clear.

Take this scripture in the Book of Mormon.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Alma 7:11-12

Some people think that the word succor in the second verse means that Jesus will make us feel better by taking upon Him some of our infirmities.  I believe this interpretation is wrong because I have tried feel better by thinking He is bearing some of my burden and I failed every time.  And the reason I have failed is because neither I nor any other person can measure how they feel.  Our feelings are far too ephemeral to be measured.  Your experience may mirror mine.  If it has then apply my technique and see what happens.

When I apply my two-step process here is how I understand this scripture.

I believe that this scripture is explaining to us that Jesus suffered pains, affliction and temptations of every kind and that He remained sin and transgression free.  As well He also completed His mission regardless of His personal feelings.  So if we are ever in pain, or suffering an affliction, or being tempted then we can know that we can endure successfully by remaining sin and transgression free, and we can complete our mission because He did.

Another example of this in His life is what He said while He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.

"And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matthew 26:39

The key is to focus on our behaviour.  And the test of whether our understanding of this scripture is true is how our understanding affects our behaviour.  If our understanding doesn't help us to remain sin and transgression free or if our understanding doesn't help you with your mission then there maybe something wrong with your understanding.  If that is the case then you need to go back to square one and look for another meaning in the scripture and then put this new meaning to the test.  Repeat this cycle until you are sin and transgression free, and you are successfully completing your mission.  If you can do this then your understanding is true.  In other words, the truth has set you free.

And that in a nutshell is how I read and study the Scriptures.

As always, comments are welcome.



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