New Year, New Testament

On January 1st of each year, Mormons around the globe begin a new Sunday School & Seminary course of study focusing on one of our standard books of scripture. In 2010, we delved into the Old Testament of the Bible. For 2011 we now launch into the New Testament, and I couldn’t be more excited. I hope you are, too!

“The entire message of the New Testament breathes a spirit of awakening to the human soul. Shadows of despair are dispelled by rays of hope, sorrow yields to joy, and the feeling of being lost in the crowd of life vanishes with the certain knowledge that our Heavenly Father is mindful of each of us”

– Thomas S. Monson [“The Spirit Giveth Life,” Ensign, June 1997, 2.]

In 1987 I had the great joy of living and studying for a college semester in the Holy Land. For the first three months, I lived in a Kibbutz near Bethlehem, and in late spring became part of the very first group of students to live in the BYU Jerusalem Center [only partially completed at the time]. For five months I was immersed in Biblical and Near Eastern study in a very intensive and personalized way. I fell in love with the people and the land, and had worship experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life.  Most important of all was the beginning of my personal and powerful relationship with Jesus; offering me a sure foundation for an enduring testimony of His divinity. Being able to literally “walk where Jesus walked” is a blessed experience I would wish for everyone, however, it is important to remember that:

Judean Hills

“We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked. In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality” (Thomas S. Monson, The Paths Jesus Walked, April 1974).

There is nothing sweeter than reading first-hand apostolic accounts of the life and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Indeed, Elder Neil L. Anderson recently reminded us of the importance of studying the New Testament:


“The stories of Jesus shared over and over bring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strength to the foundation of testimony. . . Do our children say, “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear”? . . . As you reverently speak about the Savior—in the car, on the bus, at the dinner table, as you kneel in prayer, during scripture study, or in late-night conversations—the Spirit of the Lord will accompany your words. . .  I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of all mankind. His life, His Atonement, His Resurrection, His awaited return are as sure and certain as the rising sun. His name be praised forever and ever.”

– Neil L. Anderson, Tell Me the Stories of Jesus General Conference, April 2010 [or, watch his entire talk HERE]

SONG: Tell Me The Stories Of Jesus

EXTRA – for purchase, I recommend:

  •  Book: The New Testament Made Easier – David J. Ridges
  • Book: Scripture Study for Latter-Day Families – New Testament – Leavitt and Christensen
  • Audio Bible: The Word of Promise New Testament– NKJV – Produced by Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Christian company. I have personally found these CDs “lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy”.  This dramatized 20-hour, 20 CD set includes award-winning voice talent such as Michael York, Marisa Tomei, Jim Caviezel, and hundreds more. The audio incorporates an original soundtrack with beautiful music & sound effects which brings the scriptures alive. I expected it to be very pricey, but it can be purchased for less than$25 online, also may be found at Wal-Mart and most bookstores. For those used to the traditional King James Version [KJV], the NKJV has very few changes [mainly substituting “You” for “Thee”]. This does not subtract from the spirit & meaning of the text. I believe you will find these CDs very moving and inspirational.

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