Gospel study builds faith as principles are learned

It was on a warm September afternoon when I was traveling with a group of young adults to general conference that a lively discussion broke out about the current world conditions and how they related to the teachings in the Book of Mormon.

"Now that's just like Korihor. Don't you agree that's just like Korihor?" prodded one young adult next to me.I had been trying to avoid involvement in the conversation because the truth was, I had never heard of Korihor.

Under the pressure of the moment, I hastily agreed with him to divert attention from myself, and then spent an afternoon of quiet inner inspection.

As a member of only six months, I had been encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, but had the worst time with the Isaiah chapters. And I really wasn't much for reading.

That night, as we tented in Twin Falls, Idaho, I knelt and made a serious covenant with my Heavenly Father about my future daily study habits.

That very night, a new chapter of my life began with: "I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,. . ." (1 Ne. 1:1.)

Since then, I have come to know that a testimony is a result of faith. Faith involves action, which follows my understanding of the principles of the gospel. Understanding the principles is centered in daily scripture study.

Over the years, the issue of how to learn those principles from the scriptures has been an unfolding experience. The first six times through the Book of Mormon, my faith was warmed by the fires of the stories about individuals and their spiritual lives, but it wasn't until the seventh reading that the Book of Mormon became a book of doctrine.

It is a book about Christ and His teachings, the mighty change of heart, justification and sanctification, coming unto Christ and much more. But these truths did not unfold without study and prayer.

Some study methods that have helped me increase my faith include:

Don't be in a hurry. There is no need to cover a predesignated scripture block each time we study. If a verse or concept draws our attention, we should spend the time to study, cross-reference and understand it more fully.

Ponder. Ask questions such as who, why, what, where, when, how? As we ponder the meaning of the scriptures, we find ourselves wanting to more fully comprehend and understand. That desire leads us to finding the knowledge which leads us to faith.

Study. We can use the helps that are now available in our scriptures such as the footnotes, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, and Joseph Smith Translation. We can also keep a notebook of insights and understandings that come as we study, so that we can continue to increase understanding the next day.

Pray. Nephi taught that if we do not understand the scriptures, it is because "ye ask not, neither do ye knock, wherefore ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark." (2 Ne. 32:4.) We need to receive the Spirit to teach us the true meaning of the words of life.

Obey, change, repent, apply. This is where faith is expressed through our actions. Once we have learned what it is we must do, the witness and full understanding is often withheld until we complete the next step which is to go and do the thing which the Lord has commanded us. In the Doctrine and Covenants we are taught that we may receive greater knowledge and intelligence (the witness) through our "diligence and obedience." (D&C 93:27-28.)

Most important, if we are to increase our faith through study, then what should we study?

If a man cannot exert faith in a principle without first obtaining knowledge of the principle, then likewise, a man cannot exert faith in Christ's redeeming love without first knowing what Christ's redeeming role is.

Understanding His role and the atoning help available to me has dramatically increased my faith in Him and my capacity to do His work. Coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him was merely a phrase until I prayerfully invested the time to learn how to do so.

And yes, I now know that the world conditions of today are a lot like those in the days of Korihor.

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