Search These Things Diligently
There are countless blessings promised us in the Book of Mormon, and one today stuck out to me.
On the second day of preaching to the people in Bountiful, Christ recounted the words of Isaiah that are found in Isaiah 54.
After doing so, in 3 Nephi Chapter 23 he tells the people gathered about:
1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently…
He was speaking specifically about the (“great”) words of Isaiah, but as with many words in the Book of Mormon we can personalize them and apply them to our lives.
As I was reading through these verses, the thought came to me about how much time I spend “searching” other places besides the scriptures for answers. Every day, to and from work I listen to podcasts. I read — almost exclusively — non-fiction and business and self help books. My social feeds are full of tweets and posts and links to blogs from “thought leaders” and “influencers”.
What if I totaled up all of that time? How many hours a day am I searching in places for answers when I KNOW they can be found in the scriptures? I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to some inspirational TED talk or an audio book, even taken notes, and then failed to act.
It feels like a lot of time wasted. Come to think of it, the Tim Ferriss Show doesn’t come with a promise of specific blessings from heeding his counsel either…
Yet there are numerous promises to us for studying the scriptures, as opposed to the “words of men”. Christ told us (still in 3 Nephi 23):
4 Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles. (That’s us…)
5 And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things.
Obviously, Christ knew how important the scriptures are:
7 …He said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept.
8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before Him, He cast his eyes upon them…
He then proceded to check the record, and noticed that it missed the fulfillment of the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite from earlier in the book of Helaman. Then he quoted half (2 chapters) of the book of Malachi, because his words were important for them to have in this record, and Malachi was a prophet 170 or so years after Lehi left Jerusalem.
There was a comment in our class today on how Christ chose to quote Isaiah and Malachi exactly, as opposed to teaching the same principles using different words. Why would he do it this way?
He was reinforcing the words of the Prophets. He was cementing the importance of these scriptural records to help the people understand.
Later, in chapter 26, Christ leaves us with this promise:
9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
The “greater things” are referring to the other records that exist but haven’t been given to us yet, but we can also take it to mean that as we act on our faith, and diligently study the scriptures, greater things will be revealed through the spirit. Think of all of these other promises that come through the Spirit:
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
2 Nephi 32:
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
One thing that I have taken from my “other studies” comes from Tony Robbins. He talks about focus, and that what we focus on is where our energy is naturally concentrated. Once we are focused on something, we then need to figure out what it means, and what to do about it.
Christ taught the people — and through them, us — about the importance of the record, about diligently searching. It means he knew their importance and wanted us to have them.
What should we do about it then? It means we need to meditate, to study, to heed, and to ponder the scriptures for guidance in our lives. And for me, at least, it means I need to switch out some of my self-help reading for time reserved for diligently searching the scriptures, which, come to find out, may actually be more effective in the long run:
Search the scriptures. Search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory, nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them. Then again we say: Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets, and learn what portion of them belongs to you.”
~Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1:262 (Emphasis added.)