Scripture Commentary — John 5:38-40 & 45-47
John 5:38-40 and 45-47 — Effective scripture study
Verse 38 (Jesus speaking to the doubting and hypocritical Jewish leaders)
- “And ye have not his work abiding in you…” — You read the ‘word’, but you don’t internalize the teachings. The ‘word’ does not abide or reside in your hearts or your minds. If it did, you would realize that the Lord Himself sent me, and you would believe me, and believe IN me. But you refuse to believe despite the many spiritual wonders you are beholding.
Verses 39-40 (again Jesus addresses unbelieving Jews)
- “Search the scriptures…” — You read the scriptures thinking that they and they alone will bring you eternal life. However, the scriptures bear witness of ME! You refuse to come unto me to receive LIFE (see 2 Nephi 33:10-11). Jesus doesn’t condemn them for searching the scriptures nor for their views concerning the scriptures. He faults them because they viewed the scriptures as an end in and of themselves. They knew the scriptures well, but didn’t realize that the scriptures don’t grant life — Jesus does!
- “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me:” — You trust in Moses and his law, but you have missed the point! Moses wrote and taught OF ME! If you believe Moses, you should believe ME. He wrote my words.
Lessons to be learned:
- It is not enough to quote a verse. Satan can do that. The words must be applied in the way the Lord intends. WHen it is, we will obey the gospel, adn order our lives in conformity to His will and commandments.
- The purpose of scripture study is for us to apply what we read, to liken the scriptures unto ourselves. The Savior can then bless us with the hope of eternal life. See Hebrews 5:9.
- Why should we study the scriptures:
- We can then teach children.
- Scripture study prepares us to teach.
- The Lord often speaks to us through the scriptures.
- We can receive spiritual strength from the scriptures.
- We can more readily solve problems in our lives.
- We express our love to God as we study His word.
- The scriptures lead us to Christ.
- The scriptural truths that are most sacred are buried the deepest in the scriptures, in order to protect the spiritually immature. Elder Gene R. Cook.
- Keys to better scripture study:
- Read with someone.
- Read until you learn something new or learn something from the Spirit.
- Liken the scriptures to yourself.
- Pray before and after your scripture study.
- Read looking for answers.
- Ponder during and after your reading.
- Take notes as you read.
- Neatly mark your scriptures.
- Read slowly.
- Ask yourself questions as you read.
- Study by topic.
- Enjoy the scriptures.
- “I feel guilty when I don’t read the Book of Mormon daily. I feel President Benson looking at me, saying, ‘Marvin, you know better than that!’ ” Elder Marvin J. Ashton, March 11, 1990.
- An excellent ‘scripture reading barometer’ is found in Luke 24:32 !!
- Perhaps this is the ultimate in scripture study. Elder Bruce R. McConkie bought 100 copies of the Book of Mormon. He picked 100 gospel topics or themes. He then read a copy of the Book of Mormon with a theme in mind. As he read, he would remove a page of the Book of Mormon that had scriptures relating to his given theme, and he then placed those pages in a binder labeled with the theme. He did this 100 times. He and his wife, Amelia, read 30 minutes every day in these binders during their married life together.
- Five levels of scripture study:
- Read (Alma 33:14)
- Search (John 5:39)
- Feast upon (2 Nephi 31:20)
- Treasure up (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85)
- Liken (1 Nephi 19:23)
- Beautiful scriptural references relating to scripture study:
- John 14:26 — The Holy Ghost helps us recall scriptures.
- John 15:3, 9 — The ‘word’ cleanses our souls and ensures understanding.
- Mosiah 26:3 — Unbelief prevents understanding.
- 3 Nephi 11:5 — One must open his ears to understand.
- Doctrine and Covenants 32:4 — Pray always for understanding.
- Doctrine and Covenants 136:32-33 — Pray and be humble, and your ears will be opened.
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