Lesson 160: The Living Prophet

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013


Introduction

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are blessed to be led by a living prophet, seer, and revelator. In ancient times, prophets were chosen by the Lord and authorized to speak for Him. Likewise, in our day the words of the living prophet represent the voice of the Lord unto us and to the world (see D&C 1:37–38). In this lesson, students will study recent counsel from the President of the Church, the Lord’s chosen prophet.

Suggestions for Teaching

Continuing revelation through a living prophet

Write the following question on the board: Who is the most important prophet for you?

Invite the class to ponder this question and listen for the answer as you read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson.

“The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 17).

  • Why do you think the living prophet is the most important prophet for us?

After students respond, continue reading President Benson’s statement:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. … Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in Church periodicals” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” 17).

Explain that we sustain all the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. However, the President of the Church is the only person who is authorized to exercise all the priesthood keys on the earth and the only person who is authorized to receive and declare revelations for the entire Church.

  • According to what you have learned in recent lessons, when has the President of the Church declared revelations for the entire Church or announced significant changes in the way the Church operates? (Answers might include when President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto regarding plural marriage [see Official Declaration 1], when President Joseph F. Smith declared previously unknown truths about the postmortal spirit world [see D&C 138], and when President Spencer W. Kimball declared that the blessings of the priesthood were to be made available to all worthy members of the Church [see Official Declaration 2].)

Invite a student to read the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf aloud. Invite the class to listen for a truth concerning revelation in our day.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“One of the glorious messages of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ is that God continues to speak to His children! He is not hidden in the heavens but speaks today as He did in ancient days. …

“God’s priceless instructions to humankind are found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In addition, the Lord speaks to us through His servants, as He will again at … general conference” (“Why Do We Need Prophets?” Ensign, March 2012, 4).

  • What doctrine concerning revelation did President Uchtdorf teach? (Students may use different words, but they should identify something similar to the following doctrinal statement: The Lord continues to speak to us today through His living prophet. You may want to write this doctrine on the board.)

  • Where can we find the words of the living prophet? (Answers might include general conference, Church magazines, LDS.org, and mormonchannel.org.)

To help students understand the significance of the Lord continuing to speak through His living prophet, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President John Taylor. Ask the class to listen for why continuing revelation through prophets is important.

President John Taylor

“We require a living tree—a living fountain—living intelligence, proceeding from the living priesthood in heaven, through the living priesthood on earth. … And from the time that Adam first received a communication from God, … it always required new revelations, adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which the churches or individuals were placed. Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt” (in The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [1987], 34).

  • According to President Taylor, why do we need a living prophet? (Through the living prophet, God gives direction specific to the needs and circumstances of the time.)

  • How can understanding the need for continuing revelation affect the way you listen to or read the words of the living prophet?

Following the counsel of the living prophet

To help students discuss the counsel of the living prophet, select one or more general conference addresses given by the President of the Church in the past year. Provide a copy of a talk for each student in the class. Give students time to look for doctrines and principles the living prophet is currently teaching.

After students have had sufficient time to read, ask them to list doctrines and principles the President of the Church is teaching. Consider asking a student to write their responses on the board.

    To help students understand and feel the importance of the doctrines and principles they have identified, ask some or all of the following questions:
  • Which of these principles or doctrines do you feel are especially relevant to you? Why?

  • In what ways are you and your family trying to follow the counsel of the prophet?

  • Why do you think it is important that we study and apply what the current President of the Church is teaching?

Write the following questions on the board, and invite students to answer them in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

From the words of the living prophet that you have just studied, what messages do you feel the Lord wants you to receive?

What will you do because of the prophet’s recent counsel?

Invite students to act on what they have written. Testify that as they do so, they can have confidence that Heavenly Father will bless them. Encourage students to consistently study and apply the teachings of living prophets.

Invite students to share their testimonies of living prophets.

As a conclusion to this seminary year, encourage students to continue studying the scriptures every day. If they will be taking the next seminary course, you might suggest that they begin studying the Old Testament. You may want to invite a student to testify of the blessings he or she has received by continuing to read the scriptures daily even when seminary has not been in session.

Commentary and Background Information

The importance of following living prophets

President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

“Of all mortal men, we should keep our eyes most firmly fixed on the captain, the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the man who stands closest to the fountain of living waters. There are some heavenly instructions for us that we can only receive through the prophet. A good way to measure your standing with the Lord is to see how you feel about, and act upon, the inspired words of his earthly representative, the prophet-president. The inspired words of the president are not to be trifled with. All men are entitled to inspiration, and various men are entitled to revelation for their particular assignment. But only one man stands as the Lord’s spokesman to the Church and the world, and he is the president of the Church. The words of all other men should be weighed against his inspired words.

“Though his prophet is mortal, God will not let him lead his church astray. (See Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.) God knows all things, the end from the beginning, and no man becomes president of the church of Jesus Christ by accident, or remains there by chance, or is called home by happenstance.

“The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today’s instructions from God to us. God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture, plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering that you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece. That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in Church periodicals” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 16–17).

President J. Reuben Clark Jr. also emphasized the need for listening to living prophets:

“Some time ago a pamphlet came across my desk. … On the outside page it was stated, ‘We need a prophet,’ and as I read it then, and as I think of it now, I think how blind the world is. …

“… We do not lack a prophet; what we lack is a listening ear by the people and a determination to live as God has commanded” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, 79–80).

President Wilford Woodruff said:

“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty” (Official Declaration 1).