The teaching materials for the learning experience on “Prophets and Revelation” are divided into three parts. In part 1, students will study paragraphs 5.1 through 5.2 of this doctrinal topic using the information in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. They will learn about prophets being called by God to speak for Him, and they will also study the doctrinal mastery passage Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38.
Note: You could teach the segments of this lesson in a single class session or over the course of several class sessions. If you choose to teach the segments over the course of several class sessions, you may need to briefly review with students what they learned in previous segments before you teach a new segment.
Begin by asking the following questions:
What are some people or groups throughout the world that have a spokesperson? (Examples might include political leaders, large corporations, and celebrities.)
What reasons can you think of for why these people or groups would have a spokesperson?
What are some reasons why God might have a spokesperson?
What do we call those who speak for God on earth?
Invite a student to read aloud paragraph 5.1 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what prophets do.
Invite another student to come to the front of the class to act as a scribe. Ask the student to write the word Prophets on the board. Ask the class to report on the different things prophets do that are listed in paragraph 5.1. Invite the scribe to write these things on the board below the word Prophets.
Which of the statements in paragraph 5.1 describes a prophet’s qualification as spokesman? (Students should identify the following key statement of doctrine: A prophet is a person who has been called by God to speak for Him. Ask the scribe to write this truth on the board. Invite students to mark this key statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.)
Begin by asking students the following question:
Which doctrinal mastery passage from the Doctrine and Covenants is associated with the key statement of doctrine that “a prophet is a person who has been called by God to speak for Him”? (Invite students to consider marking D&C 1:37–38 in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily.)
To help students understand the context of this scripture, explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 1 was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he and other Church leaders were preparing to publish the revelations he had received into a book of scripture, which would eventually become the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord identified Doctrine and Covenants 1 as a preface to the book of revelations that the Prophet Joseph Smith had received, and He taught that it was a “voice of warning” to the world (D&C 1:4), calling the world to repentance and establishing the need for prophets.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said about the words He speaks through His prophets. Ask students to report what they find.
What do you think it means that the Lord’s words “shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled”?
Why do you think it is important to understand that when a prophet speaks for the Lord, it is the same as if the Lord were speaking?
What effort do you think is required in order for a prophet to obtain the word of the Lord to declare it to the people?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson. Ask the class to listen for details that describe how prophets seek to obtain the word of the Lord. (You may want to create a handout of this statement to give to students.)
“As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I prayed daily for revelation and gave thanks to the Lord every time He spoke to my heart and mind. …
“When I recently faced the daunting task of choosing two counselors, I wondered how I could possibly choose just two from twelve men whom I love and respect.
“Because I know that good inspiration is based upon good information, I prayerfully met one-on-one with each Apostle. I then sequestered myself in a private room in the temple and sought the Lord’s will. I testify that the Lord instructed me to select President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring to serve as my counselors in the First Presidency. …
“When we convene as a Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, our meeting rooms become rooms of revelation. The Spirit is palpably present. As we wrestle with complex matters, a thrilling process unfolds as each Apostle freely expresses his thoughts and point of view. Though we may differ in our initial perspectives, the love we feel for each other is constant. Our unity helps us to discern the Lord’s will for His Church.
“In our meetings, the majority never rules! We listen prayerfully to one another and talk with each other until we are united. Then when we have reached complete accord, the unifying influence of the Holy Ghost is spine-tingling! We experience what the Prophet Joseph Smith knew when he taught, ‘By union of feeling we obtain power with God.’ No member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve would ever leave decisions for the Lord’s Church to his own best judgment!” (Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 94–95).
What did President Nelson teach about the process that prophets and apostles go through to receive revelation to guide the Church?
How can this knowledge of how prophets prepare to receive revelation help us when we may have questions about the teachings or practices of the Church? (We can know that prophets carefully seek and receive the Lord’s will, and we can follow their example to prepare our hearts to receive confirming revelation.)
Ask students to ponder experiences that have helped them come to know that prophets are called of God to speak His words and direct His Church. Invite students to share their experiences with the class. You may also want to share an experience as well as your testimony.
To help students further understand the key statement of doctrine that “a prophet is a person who has been called by God to speak for Him,” draw the accompanying diagram on the board:
What is the communication between Heavenly Father and His prophets usually called? (Write the word Revelation next to the arrow in the diagram.)
Invite a student to read aloud paragraph 5.2 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the different ways that Heavenly Father reveals His will to His prophets. Invite students to report what they find.
What are some things the Lord has revealed or continues to reveal to prophets today?
To help students understand that the Lord continues to reveal His will to His prophets, invite a student to read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about how mission calls are assigned. Ask the class to listen for one specific way the Lord reveals His will to prophets today.
“Each mission call and assignment, or a later reassignment, is the result of revelation through the Lord’s servants. A call to the work comes from God through the President of the Church. An assignment to one of the more than 400 missions presently operating around the world comes from God through a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, acting with the authorization of the Lord’s living prophet. The spiritual gifts of prophecy and revelation attend all mission calls and assignments. …
“… For the Twelve, nothing affirms the reality of ongoing latter-day revelation more powerfully than seeking to discern the Lord’s will as we fulfill our responsibility to assign missionaries to their respective fields of labor. I witness that the Savior knows and is mindful of each of us one by one and name by name. …
“… I promise that the spiritual gift of revelation will attend your call to the work of proclaiming the gospel and your assignment to a specific field or fields of labor” (David A. Bednar, “Called to the Work,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 68–70).
Besides mission calls, how are members of the Church today blessed by the revelation God gives to His prophets and apostles? (Stake presidents and bishops are also called by revelation through one who holds the authority.)
How have you personally been affected by prophetic revelation?
Consider sharing your testimony about how continuing revelation to prophets blesses not only the Church as a whole but individual members as well.
Note: The following review activity is not intended to be taught during the same class session as this lesson—“Prophets and Revelation, Part 1.” Please present this activity during a seminary class session that takes place after you have taught this lesson, but before you teach “Prophets and Revelation, Part 2.” This short review can be taught at the beginning or end of a class in which you teach a regular sequential scripture lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sure that this review takes no longer than five minutes, so as not to take away from the scripture block students will be studying in class.
Before class, write the following key phrase on a piece of paper: The voice of the Lord and His servants is the same—Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38. Cut the statement on the paper into separate words or short phrases, and give the pieces of paper to students. Explain that students will have one minute to put this phrase together in the right order as many times as they can. Each time students put the phrase in the right order, have them quickly mix the pieces up and do it again. For large classes, make multiple copies of the statement and divide students into groups.
After the minute has passed, invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how this scripture helps teach the truth that prophets are called by God to speak for Him. Ask students to report what they find.