The Importance of Taking Notes when Studying God's Word
In John 14:26, Jesus made a wonderful promise to His apostles. He said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to recall everything we have ever read or studied from God's word? Wouldn't it be great if the Holy Spirit taught us "all things" and brought to our "remembrance" the words of Christ?

We may earnestly desire to have the abilities mentioned above, but it is important to realize that this promise was made to the apostles of our Lord, not us (cf. Matt. 26:20ff; John 13:21ff). We today do not have a need for the Spirit to miraculously inform us of those things previously taught because we have God's completed revelation, which has been delivered once for all time (Jude 3). The Bible is God's word and it is able to make us "complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Tim. 3:17). Today we must believe that the Scriptures thoroughly equip us; we must not be deceived into thinking that the Holy Spirit will speak new revelations to us or give us personal reminders. The Lord expects us to exert ourselves to learn His will and then obey it. "Be diligent [study, KJV] to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).

At some point in all of our lives, we've attended school and hopefully tried our best to receive an education. In any secular class, whether the topic of study is biology, grammar, history, etc., one is much more likely to achieve success if he is actively learning; that is, he does the assigned homework outside of class and focuses his attention on taking notes and understanding the teacher's words while in class. It is readily accepted in secular education that these activities aid in the learning process. But, do the same principles work in the realm of spiritual education? Absolutely!

When one is studying the Bible, whether in the assembly or privately, he should strive to be an active learner. He should do his best to comprehend that which he is reading or hearing, and he should work to apply the lessons learned. Studying God's word is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, and all should make it a point to do so both publicly and privately. The words of Solomon come to mind regarding this point: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Eccl. 9:10). When we do anything in life, including studying the Bible, we should do it to the best of our ability. Without a doubt, one will learn by merely sitting and concentrating on the teacher's words. However, why not maximize your learning potential? Why not study with all your "might" and take notes to allow yourself to digest the inspired word of God more thoroughly (cf. Matt. 4:4)?

Taking notes is a productive activity for many reasons:

Are you an active learner, yearning to soak up the Scriptures like a sponge and grow spiritually to your fullest potential? Do you take notes when studying God's word? If not, start taking your spiritual learning to a higher level--take notes!

Additional Thought for Preachers & Teachers
To help students of God's word be better active learners, why not distribute a basic outline of each of your lessons along with an occasional verbal exhortation to take notes? Your handouts can be effective by simply enumerating your main points, or you could include more detail such as your sub-points and the Scriptures you will comment upon or reference. In either case, leave plenty of room for them to write. Yes, this creates more work for you, but isn't it worth it? May those who proclaim God's word from the classroom or pulpit do so to the best of their ability, always remembering "we shall receive a stricter judgment" (Jam. 3:1).