Dec 03

Do We Need Scriptures?

The Book of Mormon

Much of the Christian world today believes in a closed canon, and rejects the idea of continuing revelation in these, the latter days. This is perhaps because of scriptures like Revelation 22:18-19, which says:

18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The first issue here is that there’s way too much ambiguity associated with what’s written in this verse. Explain in unmistakable detail exactly what is meant by “this book.” Of course we assume it to be the Bible. Is that exactly what we’re talking about here? What does “add unto these things” mean? Precisely define “take away” exactly as it is meant, here. What exactly is “the book of this prophecy”? The second problem is that, even though the book of Revelation appears last in the Bible, it may not have been written last. So anything after it would be adding unto it if we were to take that concept at face value.

Speaking of which…

There is a nearly-identical verse in Deuteronomy 4:2, which reads:

“2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

What does “add” mean exactly? And “diminish”? And here we have “the word which I command you.” If we are to interpret this the same way most people interpret the passage from Revelations, then that would invalidate everything in the Bible after Deuteronomy 4:2. But of course this is ludicrous, and we know there is another interpretation for it.

What these verses are saying is simply that we not distort or misconstrue what is revealed to prophets, whether past, present, or future. The Lord is not talking to the prophets themselves, but to everyone else. It is not their place to change anything.

For example, there are thousands of extant scrolls and codices that date from many centuries ago. Some date even to the 2nd century A.D. What scholars have found is that there are differences in nearly all of them. Why? Because of careless or malicious copyists who changed things they were not authorized to change. The types of warnings in Revelation and Deuteronomy that we have looked at is for these types of folks, not the prophet.

It does not mean that the canon is forever closed. There is much scripture that we know about, and probably a lot that we don’t know about that will yet be revealed. For example, let’s take a look at what James E. Talmage said on the topic:

“Missing Scripture. — Matthew’s commentary on the abode of Joseph, Mary and Jesus at Nazareth, “and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, he shall be called a Nazarene” (2:23), with the fact that no such saying of the prophets is found in any of the books contained in the Bible, suggests the certainty of lost scripture. Those who oppose the doctrine of continual revelation between God and His Church, on the ground that the Bible is complete as a collection of sacred scriptures, and that alleged revelation not found therein must therefore be spurious, may profitably take note of the many books not included in the Bible, yet mentioned therein, generally in such a way as to leave no doubt that they were once regarded as authentic. Among these extra-Biblical scriptures, the following may be named; some of them are in existence to-day, and are classed with the Apocrypha; but the greater number are unknown. We read of the Book of the Covenant (Exo. 24:7); Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numb. 21:14); Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13); Book of the Statutes (1 Sam. 10:25); Book of Enoch (Jude 14); Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kings 11:41); Book of Nathan the Prophet, and that of Gad the Seer (1 Chron. 29:29); Book of Ahijah the Shilonite, and visions of Iddo the Seer (2 Chron. 9:29); Book of Shemaiah (2 Chron. 12:15); Story of the Prophet Iddo (2 Chron. 13:22); Book of Jehu (2 Chron. 20:34); the Acts of Uzziah, by Isaiah, the son of Amoz (2 Chron. 26:22); Sayings of the Seers (2 Chron. 33:19); a missing epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9); a missing epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3); missing epistle to the Colossians, written from Laodicea (Col. 4:16); a missing epistle of Jude (Jude 3).”

Jesus the Christ, James E Talmage, p. 113

And then the sealed portion of the plates from Ether 4:4–6, we read:

4 Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.

5 Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

The next point is that you can only understand spiritual things by the power of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14 helps illustrate this concept:

“14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The very ability to interpret spiritual things depends on the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal their meaning to you. In other words, it’s not what is written that carries the meaning and authority nearly as much as the Holy Ghost does.

I did not say that the written word holds no meaning.

Let me illustrate with a story from Wilford Woodruff:

“I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’ When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the written oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.’ ‘And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the [p.23]writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.'” (Conference Report, October 1897, p.22)

It is the living Prophet who leads the Church by the power of revelation that carries the ultimate authority to us.

The one problem is that the Prophet cannot be with all people at all times. The scriptures are there to bring the Spirit into our lives. They are there to help us understand the Gospel. They are available to anyone and everyone who wants them. They certainly fill these needs in ways that nothing else can. For a further discussion on what scriptures can do for us, see “What Are the Scriptures?”

Do we need the scriptures? Yes, we need them. We need them because the Lord saw fit that we should have them. We need them for the reasons listed above and many others. However, they are not as authoritative as the living Prophet and Apostles. Stick to what the Brethren say and you’ll never go wrong.

Nov 26

Unique Gospel Study System

We’ve got a way to completely overhaul your scripture study. Take a look at what our study journal has to offer.

The Gospel study journal:

  • provides you with the full LDS scriptures online
  • allows you to quickly retrieve notes and thoughts that you have recorded.
  • you can print your journal notes out at any time.
  • makes it easy to share thoughts and ideas with others.
  • makes it easy to remember the entire thought you had when you made the note.
  • allows for new inspiration – not bind you to only what you’ve already learned.
  • helps keep your scriptures from wearing out because of over-marking them.
  • helps prevent losing all of your notes should your scriptures get lost.
  • provides some structure without being overly rigid.

The journal entries you create can be linked together. You can tag them with keywords. You can link scripture references to them. Entries may also contain citations from other books which you feel are relevant.

Take a look at the QuickStart Guide to see how easy it is to use.

We want to your feedback!

Please leave thoughts, comments, and suggestions on our Contact Us page.

Nov 11

Free Gospel Study Journal

Would you like to have the perfect scripture study journal? One that you will never lose? The Gospel study journal offered at LDSScriptureStudy.com is just what you’re looking for. You can have your notes online, printed out, or both.

The Gospel study journal will:

  • allow you to quickly retrieve notes and thoughts that you have recorded.
  • make it easy to share thoughts and ideas with others.
  • make it easy to remember the entire thought you had when you made the note.
  • allow for new inspiration – not bind you to only what you’ve already learned.
  • help keep your scriptures from wearing out because of over-marking them.
  • help prevent losing all of your notes should your scriptures get lost.
  • provide some structure but without being overly rigid.

The journal entries you create can be linked together. You can tag them with keywords. You can link scripture references to them. Entries may also contain citations from other books which you feel are relevant.

To create your free Gospel study journal, visit http://www.ldsscripturestudy.com/

For a more detailed explanation of how the study journal works, see “The Study Journal.”

Jan 24

Journal Edition of the Book of Mormon

At Deseret Book this morning, I noticed that there were Books of Mormon that were so-called “Journal” editions. As I opened one up, I quickly figured out why. They have over-sized margins so that you can write a lot more out to the side of the verses.

This is great news for us. Each time you create a note, it gets a note number and you create a title for it. You write this out in the margin of each scripture that you link to that note. This allows you to quickly refresh your memory of what the note is or look it up in your journal if you want to, whether that’s online or in the PDF of your notes that you can create and carry with you (either digitally in a device or printed out).

If you’d like to take a look at these journals, here is a link:

Book of Mormon – Journal Edition

Mar 04

New Version Released!

We are pleased to announce that a new version of the study journal has been released.  Most of the updates had to do with notes not saving properly.  The note editor has also been updated.  A few other minor things were fixed as they were found.  If you would like a free LDS Scripture Study journal, claim yours at http://www.ldsscripturestudy.com/ .  We always welcome feedback!  Please let us know about your experience on our Contact Page.

Mar 17

Gospel Scholarship: Why Keep a Study Journal?

Book of Mormon Study JournalWhat is so important about keeping a personal journal?

First, let’s establish a scope of what we are talking about. In my mind, a personal journal is something that I would pass on to my posterity. Therefore, I would write in it the things of most importance to me for them. This would be things like personal revelations and spiritual experiences, as well as major events in my life.

1 Nephi 19:3“And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.”

Nephi understood that the things that he was going to write on the plates were for the instruction of the people who should live in the land after he did. He wrote on these plates the plain and precious parts of the prophecies and ministry that took place among his people. Nephi wasn’t the only person who thought this way.

1 Nephi 5:21 – They were able to preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.

Omni 1:17“And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.”

It seems to me that the fact that their language had become corrupted had a direct relationship to the fact that they brought no records with them. Here is why I think this:

Moses 1:5-7:
“5 And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration;
6 And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled.
7 Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”

Adam kept a book of revelations. He used it to teach his children to read and write. As a correlation to this, they had a language that was pure and undefiled. Therefore, his children were able to learn the same language. They were able to teach it to their children the same way. It’s interesting to note that this process is called “this same Priesthood”. The process of recording one’s personal revelations is considered to be a thing of the priesthood.

D&C 68:4“And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

How could it become “scripture” save it were written down? The very root of the word, “script”, means “to be written.” When we are moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, we need to write it down. We can thus preserve a perfect memory of the event. We then have that memory recorded for retrieval at a later date. This can be for many reasons, one of which Nephi mentions:

1 Nephi 19:18“And I, Nephi, have written these things unto my people, that perhaps I might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.”

Throughout the Standard Works, the word “remember” and slight variations thereof appear 500 times. Do you think it’s important that we remember the teachings of the Lord to us? What about those personal things that He has revealed to you personally?

Just for the thrill of it, check out an article in the New Era, December 1980, page 26. It’s by President Spencer W. Kimball, and it’s called “President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals.” He explicitly states, “We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.”

Well, a prophet has stated that it is a commandment, so that’s good enough for me.

Mosiah 17:4“But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken.”

Why did Alma write all of this? He wrote it because he believed it and knew that it was true. So why don\’t we write down our own personal convictions and revelations?

2 Nephi 25: 23 & 26
23 – “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
26 – “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

Jacob 4:1-4
1 – NOW behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain;
2 – But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers-
3 – Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.
4 – For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

Look at the reasons that these people gave for writing. They wrote to persuade their families to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God. They wrote so that their families would know where to look for a remission of their sins. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Feb 26

Gospel Study Journal – Now In Beta

After way too long, we are proud to announce the availability of our new online Study Journals.  We are currently in the testing phase.  We are looking for a few brave souls who are interested in creating their own, private online study journal (they’re free).  Then, we’d like for you to poke around to see how things work.  In a few days, we’ll have a way for folks to provide feedback.  Write us about things you’d like to see, things that don’t appear to work the way you’d like, and any other questions of comments you have for us.  If you’d like to have all of your study notes in a single place, drop by and create your own study journal.  We’d love to see you!

What is the study journal? http://www.ldsscripturestudy.com/the-study-journal/ explains the purpose of this site and what it can do for you.

Sign up at http://www.ldsscripturestudy.com/

Jan 10

Henry B. Eyring on Keeping a Journal

In the great ocean of printed words and spoken discourses we have available to us, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have left no uncertainty as to the value of keeping a journal.  Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, related a personal experience in this regard in the October 2007 General Conference.  He said:

“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

– Henry B. Eyring, October 2007 General Conference, “O Remember, Remember”

Who would not benefit from such a practice?  Who would not want to see Heavenly Father’s hand more clearly in their life?  This is one of the numerous gems that have inspired the creation of the LDS Scripture Study project.

Feb 12

The Gospel Study Journal is Coming!

We are so thrilled to make available our upcoming Gospel Study Journal!  You will be able to link your entries together, or link them to scripture references or passages.  Entries can be tagged with keywords.  You may even include citations to other works in your entries.  This allows for non-conventional ways of studying and comparing related entries that you have written.  Eventually, you will be able to share study journal entries with others.

You will be able to search by keyword, scripture reference, or look at all entries attached to the one you have open.  You will also be able to print entries.  It becomes your own, personal, searchable knowledge base.  You can use it to reference any entry that you have ever written on any topic.

We’re working as fast as we can so that you will be able to create your free, private Gospel Study Journal and start using it soon!

Nov 13

Why Bother Keeping a Journal?

What is so important about keeping a personal journal?

First, let’s establish a scope of what we are talking about. In my mind, a personal journal is something that I would pass on to my posterity. Therefore, I would write in it the things of most importance to me for them. This would be things like personal revelations and spiritual experiences, as well as major events in my life.

1 Nephi 19:3“And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.”

Nephi understood that the things that he was going to write on the plates were for the instruction of the people who should live in the land after he did. He wrote on these plates the plain and precious parts of the prophecies and ministry that took place among his people. Nephi wasn’t the only person who thought this way.

1 Nephi 5:21 – They were able to preserve the commandments of the Lord unto their children.

The experience of the Mulekites demonstrates some good reasons to keep written records:

Omni 1:17“And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.”

It seems to me that the fact that their language had become corrupted had a direct relationship to the fact that they had no records with them.

Let’s take another look at this concept from a different perspective:

Moses 1:5-7:

“5 And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration;

 

6 And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled.

7 Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”

Adam kept a book of revelations. He used it to teach his children to read and write. As a correlation to this, they had a language that was pure and undefiled. Therefore, his children were able to learn the same language. They were able to teach it to their children the same way. It’s interesting to note that this process is called “this same Priesthood”. The process of recording one’s personal revelations is considered to be a thing of the priesthood.

D&C 68:4“And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

How could it become “scripture” save it were written down? The very root of the word, “script”, means “to be written.” When we are moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, we need to write it down. We can thus preserve a perfect memory of the event. We then have that memory recorded for retrieval at a later date. This can be for many reasons, one of which Nephi mentions:

1 Nephi 19:18“And I, Nephi, have written these things unto my people, that perhaps I might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.”

Throughout the Standard Works, the word “remember” and slight variations thereof appear hundreds of times. Do you think it’s important that we remember the teachings of the Lord to us? What about those personal things that He has revealed to you personally?

There is an article in the New Era, December 1980, page 26. It’s by President Spencer W. Kimball, and it’s called “President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals.” He explicitly states, “We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives.”

Well, a prophet has stated that it is a commandment, so that’s good enough for me.

Mosiah 17:4“But he fled from before them and hid himself that they found him not. And he being concealed for many days did write all the words which Abinadi had spoken.”

Why did Alma write all of this? He wrote it because he believed it and knew that it was true. So why don’t we write down our own personal convictions and revelations?

Let’s take a look at what the Nephites thought about writing things down.  One passage from 2 Nephi 25 and one from Jacob 4:

2 Nephi 25: 23 & 26

23 – “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

26 – “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”

Jacob 4:1-4

1 – NOW behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain;

2 – But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away; but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers-

3 – Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.

4 – For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

Look at the reasons that these people gave for writing. They wrote to persuade their families to believe in Christ and to be reconciled to God. They wrote so that their families would know where to look for a remission of their sins.  Let us all make time to write down our spiritual experiences, personal revelations, and anything that would promote faith among the members of our families.