Search the Scriptures, Daily
Elder Alvin F. "Trip" Meredith III was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 3, 2021, at age 50. At the time of his call, he had been serving as the president of the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission. He served as a member of the Sixth Quorum of the Seventy in the North America Southeast Area from 2012 to 2016 and a member of the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy in the Asia Area from 2016 to 2018.
Elder Meredith received a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University in 1994. In 2001, he received a master of business administration degree in finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. From 1995 to 1999 he worked as a
Six Sigma black belt for GE Capital. He then worked as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group from 2001 to 2003. Prior to his call as a mission president, he was a senior vice president at Asurion.
Elder Meredith has served in a number of Church callings, including full-time missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission, elders quorum president, bishop, and stake president.
Alvin Frazier Meredith III was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 22, 1970. He married Jennifer Edgin in 1998. They are the parents of six children.
“Search the Scriptures, Daily”
What a beautiful number with a wonderful message. President Kusch, thank you for that introduction. My wife, Jennifer, and I count it both an honor and privilege to be with you today. President Nelson, when speaking directly to your generation, said, “My beloved younger brothers and sisters, you are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world. You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”1 We see that capacity in you and it gives us hope for the future.
I commend you for pursuing your education. President Hinckley said: “Education is the key to opportunity.”2 You should view your education as an investment. You will invest time and money, and some stress and late nights, but the returns on investment are great. Some returns will come now, but most in the future. Your returns will include a greater potential to provide for your families and a greater capacity to serve…both in the church and in your communities. Many of you are making sacrifices for your education. I applaud you for doing so.
My topic to you today is singular in focus. I will share with you both personal experiences, as well as scriptural and prophetic guidance. If you sense me exhorting and pleading, you are sensing correctly.
I begin with a personal experience, one from my formative years in Tennessee, where I grew up.
When I was in high school, I was part of an organization called The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You may look at me now and be surprised to hear that I was an athlete. A few years ago, my mother sent my wife a picture of me from my athletic days …when I had a head full of hair and was much more fit. The message to my wife from my mother was, “This is what you have to look forward to in the resurrection.”
Well, The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was and is, an organization with a great mission. It was a community of athletes, from different denominations, that shared a faith in Christ. I became an active member of the group and felt blessed by the association with peers who were doing their best to become disciples. I was so engaged in the group, that during my junior year, I was elected to be the president of my high school’s chapter for the following year, my senior year.
There was to be a training held in Nashville for all the newly elected presidencies from each high school in Tennessee. In advance of the training, there was a form that we had to complete. On this form, we indicated the high school we attended, what sports we played, and what church we attended. I turned the form in and thought nothing of it.
A couple of weeks later, shortly before the training was to be conducted, my wrestling coach, who happened to be the sponsor for the group, came to my fourth period American History class and invited me to step out into the hallway with him. He asked me, in a surprisingly tender way, if I were a Mormon. [This was before we emphasized using the correct name of the Church.] I responded, “Yes sir. Coach you know that.” He said, “I know. I know.” He looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable. He then said, “I’m not sure how to tell you this, but I just received a call from the state offices of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They saw your form. They called to say that they do not recognize Mormons as Christians and that you would not be able to serve as president of the group.”
Well, I didn’t care about the title, but my world was rocked a little bit. In today’s language, we might have called that a crisis of faith. I knew what I believed, but someone else was telling me that I believed something different, and it was unsettling to me. Lesson learned: never let people who know little tell you what you believe or don’t believe.
My coach told me that I could still go with them to the training in Nashville and someone there would talk to me to explain why they felt that way. I went to the meeting and waited outside in the lobby. It was a busy night for them and no one ever came to talk to me.
Unbeknownst to me, my stake president called Church Headquarters and after a couple of months, he told me that some representatives from the Church had spoken with some people from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and somehow the issue had been resolved. I was not going to be able to serve as the president because they had already appointed someone else, but that was never the objective. I continued to be active in the group because of the really good people that were a part of it.
As the end of my senior year came to a close, there was a vote taken to see who from our chapter, or our high school, would be recognized as “Fellowship of Christian Athletes Athlete of the Year.” Well, I had had a pretty good football season followed up with a pretty good wrestling season, and lo and behold, I was voted by my peers as “Athlete of the Year.”
Now to be honest, I felt that was some sweet justice. The year before, I wasn’t even recognized as being Christian, and now I was receiving their ultimate award.
There was to be an awards ceremony held in Nashville for all the “Athletes of the Year” from each high school in Tennessee. In advance of the awards ceremony, there was a form that we had to complete. On this form, we indicated the high school we attended, what sports we played, and what church we attended.
A couple of weeks later, shortly before the awards ceremony, my wrestling coach, came to my sixth period Economics class and invited me to step out into the hallway with him. I recognized the look on his face He had received a similar call as he had the year before and came to tell me that I would not receive the award. He apologized and said he had thought this issue had been resolved. He told me that he wasn’t sure what was taught at my church, but he considered me a true Christian. [That was better than any award I could have been given.]
He told me that he had demanded for someone to come from their state offices to visit with me at our high school. He was a little upset that no one had talked with me the prior year in Nashville.
So one day, a very nice, well-intentioned man came to meet with me. We met in my coach’s classroom during one of his empty periods. He shared, from a sheet of paper, about ten points of our doctrine that he said were inconsistent with their definition of Christianity. You would be familiar with those points…our belief that the Godhead are separate beings, that obedience (not just faith) is important, that there are degrees of glory in heaven, that the Bible is not the only word of God, and so on.
He was very gentle, I would even say Christian, as he shared those. He was a good man, just misguided. He opened his bag and put his paper away and asked if I had any questions.
I said, “Yes, I do. Was that a Bible that I saw in your bag?”
He replied, “Yes.”
I asked, “Can we look at some scriptures in it?”
Now I should tell you, I had a really good seminary teacher. And we were really good at scripture chase. Back in those days, we had forty scripture mastery verses for each year. Every Friday, every Friday, we would have donuts and we would scripture chase.
He was kind enough to share his Bible with me. We turned to Matthew chapter 3, Acts chapter 7, James 2, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Chronicles 29, and others. He listened graciously.
A conversion was solidified in that process…not his, but mine. The scriptures became an anchor for my testimony. I had had a trial of faith. But after that, I received a reassuring witness, just as we are promised in the Book of Mormon.3 That witness came through the Spirit, because of the scriptures.
My message today, my plea, is search the scriptures, daily. Make scripture study a daily discipline. With all the energy of my heart, I exhort you and plead with you, to study the scriptures every day without fail.
One of Jesus’s most repeated admonitions is to search the scriptures. During his mortal ministry, the Savior stated, “Search the scriptures; … they are they which testify of me.”4 To the Nephites after His resurrection, he said, referring to the scriptures: “Ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently.”5 In latter-days, in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants he said “search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and … shall all be fulfilled.”6
Before I go further, I have one ground rule for today. That is: NO GUILT. Some of you are feeling it already. I know that because many of us have inherited the overactive guilt gene.
Today, we will talk about the scriptures, their blessings, and I will encourage you to be diligent going forward, but please do not feel guilt for days in the past that you did not read. Start today and press forward, look forward. “Remember Lot’s wife,”7 do not look back.
When the latter-days are written about in the scriptures, there are sobering descriptions of the time in which we live. The crises of faith that some experience were described with incredible foresight. (Before I talk about those, can I make the obvious observation that there are also, in our day and time, amazing evidences of God’s work moving forward in miraculous ways. There are faithful saints, present company included, who strive to be true disciples of Christ and emissaries of truth.)
But, we do see the fulfillment of prophecy about the “perilous times”8 of the latter-days. In several places in scripture, when the latter-days are described, when the crises of faith are mentioned, there is accompanying admonition to study the scriptures. Why? Because the scriptures are key to helping us stay on the path, especially in the time in which we live.
The Savior spoke of the “very elect”9 being deceived in the latter-days. But accompanying that prophecy, is his promise that “whoso treasureth up [his word] shall NOT be deceived.”10
Paul prophesied about the latter-days. He said this, “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.”11 But he did not leave that prophecy without some counsel. He said, “These things command and teach.” 12 He then talked about the importance of being an example, which is a topic for another day, but then he said this, “…give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”13 In other words, study the scriptures. He went on to emphasize, “Meditate upon these things (meaning the scriptures); give thyself wholly to them…. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”14
In a later letter to Timothy, Paul referred to the “perilous times”15 of the latter-days. He said that people would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”16 Doesn’t that sound like the Information Age in which we live? “Ever learning” but not knowing “the truth.” In that letter, Paul repeated the same counsel that often accompanies descriptions of the latter days. Study the scriptures. He used these words, “Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned…all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”17 To reiterate, the key point is that whoso treasureth up the word of God shall not be deceived.
On one of the occasions, when the adversaries of the Savior tried to trap him with a deceitful question, he prefaced his response with the statement: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.”19 There is a promise in the inverse of that statement: “If ye know the scriptures, ye shall not err.” And we can add, “ye shall not stray.”
We see that promise in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, which was a perfect prophecy of the time in which we live. As I alluded to earlier, there are many that are pressing forward with a strong faith in Christ and His restored gospel. There is much good, both in the church and outside of it.
That being said, it is not hard to see, in our lives, the great and spacious buildings20, the mists of darkness21, and the filthy rivers of water22…in other words, those things that lead to a crisis of faith. The adversary is intent on distracting us from the things that will lead us to the love of God and the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Who was it that made it to and stayed at the tree in Lehi’s vision? It was those that “press[ed] their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron.”23 When asked by his brothers what the iron rod was, Nephi said, “it was the word of God”24 and then gave this promise, “whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.”25
When we study the word of God, when we search the scriptures, we draw closer to the Savior. The gospel writer John said that the scriptures were written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”26
When we search the scriptures, our spiritual capacity is expanded. The Spirit comes into our lives when we are in the scriptures. Our desires to stay on the path increase.
When we search the scriptures, the power to resist temptation increases. We can overcome our spiritual weaknesses. We are endowed with both knowledge and strength so that we will not err, or be led away.
Years ago I served as a counselor to a new mission president in the Tennessee, Nashville mission. This mission president set a goal for his presidency to speak in every ward in the entire mission over a very short period of time. In order for us to accomplish that goal, there were some Sundays that we had to speak in two wards. On one Sunday at a 9:00 sacrament meeting in one building followed by an 11:00 sacrament meeting in another building that was about 30 minutes away. When I finished my 9:00 sacrament meeting and got in the car, I could not remember the shortest distance between the two buildings. I was relieved as I remembered that just that week at work, our company had issued to the management team brand new I phones and this was the first version of the I Phone with “Siri”, the little lady who could answer our questions and I thought I would put Siri to the test. Maybe she could be my personal “Lea Phona” and so I pushed the button and I said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and she replied, “It’s all a mystery to me.” I thought perhaps she misunderstood and I pushed the button again and I said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and this time she said, “I would suggest that you direct your questions of a spiritual nature to someone more qualified to answer, preferably a human.” Now, there was some wisdom in Siri’s response, but I would point out that many of our questions of a spiritual nature we can find in the scriptures.
The Savior taught from the scriptures, because they are the source of truth. Even though he was “the Word” 27, with a capital “W,” he still taught from the word, the scriptures. If the Savior taught from the scriptures, it is good that we do the same. One of the ways that we keep the doctrine pure is to stay anchored to what is taught in the scriptures and by living prophets and apostles.
President Marion G. Romney, shared almost fifty years ago to a group of seminary and institute coordinators, a timeless insight. He said, “I don’t know much about the gospel other than what I’ve learned from the standard works.” He gave the following analogy: “When I drink from a spring, I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it.… I appreciate other people’s interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel, we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says.”28
There are many commentaries on the scriptures. Some are insightful, and some are even helpful. But please never let reading or listening to those commentaries replace getting into the scriptures for yourself. Stay close to the source.
When you have the opportunity to teach the gospel, teach from the source. Teach from the scriptures, the Come Follow Me manual, and the words of prophets and apostles. We invite the Spirit into our teaching when we teach from the source. There is drift that can occur when our sources are too far down stream.
You may find that there is learning that comes from studying the scriptures that does not come from the words on the page. Studying scriptures will invite the Spirit into your life, which will teach you. Sometimes the Spirit will teach you about what you are reading. Sometimes it will bring things to your remembrance, that you need to be taught, that may have nothing to do with what you read.
You will certainly find that scriptures will provide answers to many of your questions. And, you will also find that reading the scriptures daily, will increase your faith and provide hope while you wait for answers to those questions that have not yet been revealed.
The very beginnings of the Restoration remind us of other blessings of searching the scriptures. The catalyst for the Restoration was a question. Joseph wanted to know which church was true, which church he should join, but guidance came from scripture. It was the scriptures that sent him pray. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.”29 Before the Father and the Son spoke to Joseph in that most sacred of all groves, they spoke to him through scripture.
You are the first generation entering adulthood with the inspired paradigm of home-centered, church-supported gospel learning. In light of that, may I strongly encourage you to search the scriptures with your families, your future families. Family scripture study will provide you, and your children, with protection and strength. The value comes in consistency. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to be consistent.
President Nelson reflected on his family scripture. He said: “Time for family scripture study may be difficult to establish. Years ago, when our children were at home, they attended different grades in several schools. Their daddy had to be at the hospital no later than 7:00 in the morning. In family council we determined that our best time for scripture study was 6:00 A.M. At that hour our little ones were very sleepy, but supportive. Occasionally we had to awaken one when a turn came to read. I would be less than honest with you if I conveyed the impression that our family scripture time was a howling success. Occasionally it was more howling than successful, but we did not give up.”30
I am personally very grateful that my wife is so conscientious about our family scripture study. We still have three teenagers and an 11-year-old at home. We have felt the blessings of consistency, but I will tell you that our family scripture study is not perfect or even pretty.
I conclude with some observations about recent counsel from President Nelson.
A year ago, in April General Conference, President Nelson invited us to increase our faith in Christ by doing five things. He said, “My dear brothers and sisters, my call to you…is to start today to increase your faith. Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life….” He continued, “To do anything well requires effort.” Note what his first invitation was. He said, “First, study. Become an engaged learner. Immerse yourself in the scriptures to understand better Christ’s mission and ministry.”31
Then on January 1st of this year, as we rang in 2022, President Nelson suggested a few resolutions. In a New Year’s Day post on Facebook and Instagram, he said, “I’m sure many of you are setting aside time to write down your resolutions for the coming year. May I make a few suggestions?” Once again, note what he encouraged first. He said, “First, resolve to strengthen your spiritual foundation. This may involve setting a specific time and place to study the scriptures….”32
As we were taught in last General Conference, sequence is often instructive.33 I thought it was very instructive that when President Nelson taught about increasing faith in Christ and making resolutions, his first invitation was to search the scriptures.
I was also struck by the phrase that he mentioned in his New Year’s Day post: “This may involve setting a specific time and place to study the scriptures.” One could set a general goal of studying the scriptures, but setting a goal that includes a specific time and a specific place to study will greatly increase our likelihood of studying daily. A general goal never has as much power as a specific goal.
We are all juggling busy schedules. Sometimes we find that good things get in the way of the best things. You each are involved in many good things. How can we make sure that searching the scriptures, certainly one of those “best things,” makes it into our daily schedules? Consider President Nelson’s words “a specific time and a specific place.” I invite you, I plead with you, I exhort you, to search the scriptures daily, at a specific time and a specific place.
We began today with President Nelson’s observation of your generation. He said, “You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.” Searching the scriptures daily will help you reach your capacity, your divine full potential. Remember: no guilt about days not read in the past. Look forward, and search the scriptures daily. I witness of the strength and blessing that comes from searching the scriptures daily. Most importantly, I witness of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and our Redeemer. Of that I testify, in his name, even Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Devotional for Youth, June 3, 2018
2. Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Perpetual Education Fund,” General Conference, April 2001
3. Ether 12:6
4. John 5:39
5. 3 Nephi 23:1
6. Doctrine and Covenants 1:37
7. Luke 17:32
8. 2 Timothy 3:1
9. Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:22
10. Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37
11. 1 Timothy 4:1
12. 1 Timothy 4:11
13. 1 Timothy 4:13
14. 1 Timothy 4:15-16
15. 2 Timothy 3:1
16. 2 Timothy 3:7
17. 2 Timothy 3: 14, 16
18. Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37
19. Matthew 22:29
20. 1 Nephi 8:26, 1 Nephi 11:35-36, 1 Nephi 12:18
21. 1 Nephi 8:13, 1 Nephi 12:16
22. 1 Nephi 8:23, 1 Nephi 12:17
23. 1 Nephi 8:30
24. 1 Nephi 15:24
26. John 20:31
27. 1 John 1:1
28. J. Richard Clarke, “My Soul Delighteth in the Scriptures,” General Conference, October 1982
29. Robert D. Hales, “Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation,” General Conference, October 2006
30. Russell M. Nelson, “Living by Scriptural Guidance,” General Conference, October 2000
31. Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” General Conference, April 2021
32. Church News, January 1, 2022
33. Vaiangina Sikahema, “A House of Sequential Order,” General Conference, October 2021