Scripture is a hallmark of religion, and we believe that regular scripture study is a key to spiritual progress and protection. The Latter-day Saint scripture library includes the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The Lord also instructed us to treat the teachings of living prophets as scripture: “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:5). How can we maintain a course of study that draws upon both sources and gives them the attention they deserve? Here are four ways you can seamlessly integrate your study of the standard works with your study of the teachings of living prophets.
1. Study topically.
Perhaps you want to learn more about patience, Jesus Christ as a judge, the need for opposition, or the gathering of Israel. Choose a topic to focus on and then study that topic thoroughly and deeply using available resources in both ancient scripture and general conference talks. The Topical Guide is in the back of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible and can also be found in the online scripture resources [scriptures.churchofjesuschrist.org] or the Gospel Library app. To study one topic across general conference talks, the general conference website[gc.churchofjesuschrist.org] allows you to search talks by topic.
Type or select your topic of study to solicit focused results.
To find even more resources, type your chosen topic into the general search bar at churchofjesuschrist.org and then narrow your results by selecting the source options you want to explore.
By studying the listed scriptures and then the related talks and articles, you can add depth, breadth, and an increased understanding of your study topic.
2. Seek insight from seers.
Seers by definition have the power and authority to interpret scripture. While that can mean translating ancient text into a modern language, it also includes expounding existing scripture with prophetic insight. The teachings of prophets and apostles can help us gain additional scriptural understanding and application.
The Latter-day Saint Scripture Citation Index [scriptures.byu.edu], also available as an app, is an excellent tool to find out what prophets and apostles are teaching about scripture. During your own scripture study, you will come across verses that capture your attention—either through a spiritual confirmation or a desire to know more. By using the scripture citation index, you can identify all of the occasions where that verse has been quoted or referenced in general conference, as far back as the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Journal of Discourses.
Select the verse(s) you would like to study further using the scripture index on the right.
You will then see a list of talks that have referenced your chosen scripture. When you click on any talk title, that talk opens in the center pane with the highlighted scripture reference. In this example, the scripture reference is 2 Nephi 31:20, and Elder Dale G. Renlund’s talk “Choose You This Day” is open with the reference highlighted in orange.
Using the Scripture Citation Index, you can find multiple talks addressing the principles taught in the scriptures. In the search example, there are 159 talks listed that quote or reference 2 Nephi 31:20; Can you imagine how your understanding of that verse could increase by reading all those talks? This is an abundant source of reference material that makes it simple to study ancient scripture side by side with teachings from modern prophets.
When you study general conference talks and find scripture references, make notes in your scriptures that will help you find the talk again when you read related verses. You can write in your margins or make digital notes. Then as you read the scriptures, your notes will point you to messages about the principles you are studying. Did you know that many general conference talk titles come from scripture phrases? Consider the following examples from the October 2019 general conference talks:
“The Joy of the Saints,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson (Enos 1:3)
“Trust in the Lord,” President Dallin H. Oaks (Proverbs 3:5)
“After the Trial of Our Faith,” Elder Jorge M. Alvarado (Ether 12:6)
“Deceive Me Not,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson (Moses 1:16)
In your Book of Mormon, next to Enos 1:3, you could write “Christofferson, Oct 2019,” and the two sources will then be linked for your future study and reference.
4. Embrace footnotes.
When you review general conference talks, take time to look at the footnotes. They will often direct you to specific scripture verses you can study and mark, and some speakers will share additional commentary or references to sources they used to prepare their talks. This will enhance your study and tie together your scriptures and teachings of living prophets.
President Ezra Taft Benson testified, “To learn of Christ necessitates the study of the scriptures and the testimonies of those who know him” (“Listen to a Prophet’s Voice,” October 1972). These four tips can help you access more of God’s words and add variety to your gospel study. The resulting balance strengthens testimony of the eternal nature of truth and the power of continuing revelation.
Lead image from Shutterstock
Stephanie Dibb Sorensen teaches as adjunct faculty in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. She primarily teaches the Living Prophets class, and while inviting students to heed prophetic counsel, she initiated a personal course of study based on President Nelson’s Topical Guide challenge. By enhancing her study with teachings of living prophets and religious educators, Stephanie created a study guide to help others undertake a similar study experience. The result was Learn of Me, an annotated study workbook of Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide, published by Covenant Communications in October 2019.
Learn of Christ's teachings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine & Covenants with this helpful and insightful resource, Learn of Me available in stores at Deseret Book and at deseretbook.com.