Chapter 1: Divine Truth

Doctrines of the Gospel Teacher Manual, (2011), 1–2


Introduction

  1. Begin the class period by singing with the students “Oh Say, What Is Truth?” (Hymns, 1985, no. 272). Point out that author John Jaques wrote the words to the hymn as a poem entitled “Truth.” The poem was included in a British mission pamphlet, The Pearl of Great Price, published in Liverpool in 1851. The lyrics were set to music composed by Ellen Knowles Melling, a Scottish convert taught by Elder Jacques.

    After giving the background of the hymn, read the lyrics and discuss their meaning with the students.

  2. Prepare copies of President Spencer W. Kimball’s First Presidency Message, “‘Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith’” (Ensign, Sept. 1983, pp. 3–6), in which he emphasized the importance of seeking and applying truth. Distribute a copy of the article to each student, and assign the students to read it in conjunction with the Doctrinal Outline on page 2 of the student manual. Tell the students to be prepared to discuss their reading in class.

  3. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, He said, “For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37.) Pilate then asked the question of the ages: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Ask the students how they would have answered Pilate. What is truth?

Ideas for Teaching

  1. A.

    Divine truth is absolute reality.

    1. Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Better questions might be, “Who is truth?” and “From whom does truth emanate?” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ represents truth and is the embodiment of all truth (see 3 Nephi 15:9). Everything in this world that is true has a divine source, and that source is Jesus Christ.

    2. How do the scriptures define truth? Have the students compare Doctrine and Covenants 93:24 with Jacob 4:13. (Truth is the knowledge of things past, present, and future. Truth is that which endures.) How does the word really in Jacob 4:13 add to the definition of truth? Discuss the statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in Supporting Statements A on page 2 of the student manual about basic truths that really matter (see Things as They Really Are, p. 4). Why are the truths that Elder Maxwell pointed out really so important?

    3. What is the difference between absolute truth and relative truth? (see Supporting Statements A on pp. 2–3of the student manual; or Spencer W. Kimball, “Absolute Truth,” Ensign, Sept. 1978, pp. 3–4). Ask the students to give examples of each.

    4. Read and discuss Alma 7:20. Bear witness that absolute truths are those eternal and immovable truths that have been revealed by God.

  2. B.

    All divine truth is possessed by God and imparted by him to his children.

    1. Are prophets the only ones to have discovered and disseminated truth? Read the statements by President Joseph F. Smith (see Gospel Doctrine, p. 30) and President Brigham Young (see Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 2–3) in Supporting Statements B on page 3 of the student manual. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the fountain of all truth, and all truth discovered by anyone—philosophers, scientists, inventors, and reformers—has come from that fountain. Point out, however, that although many people have sought the truth and discovered it, not all teach the truth. Each of us must rely on the Holy Ghost to determine whether a teaching is true and comes from the fountain of all truth. Each of us must also measure all secular teachings against the teachings of the standard works. Discuss the scripture references in Doctrinal Outline B 4 on page 2 of the student manual.

    2. Is there any value in obtaining knowledge from secular sources? Read the statement by President Kimball in Supporting Statements B on page 3 of the student manual (see “‘Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith,’” p. 3). Emphasize that secular truths do not bring salvation nor open the doors to the celestial kingdom. They are valuable only when we have put absolute truths first. By so doing, we may use all truth—absolute and relative—to bless ourselves and others.

    3. Discuss Doctrine and Covenants 88:77–79. List on the chalkboard the various secular fields of study mentioned by the Lord in verse 79. They include astronomy, geography, geology, history, political science, languages, and international relations. Why are these subjects “expedient” for us to understand? (v. 78). Read verses 80–81, explaining to the students that a study of secular subjects better prepares us to labor in the kingdom of God and share the gospel with the people of the earth.

      Each of us has a responsibility to learn enough so that we can better serve the Lord, as Elder John A. Widtsoe wrote: “God does not require all His servants to become doctors, or professors, or even profound students of these subjects, but He expects them to know enough of these things to be able to magnify their calling as His ambassadors to the world” (Priesthood and Church Government, p. 56).

  3. C.

    Adherence to revealed truth brings great blessings and, ultimately, salvation.

    1. Why should we struggle to obtain knowledge and truth? Use the scripture references in Doctrinal Outline C on page 2 of the student manual and the quotations from Supporting Statements C on page 3 of the student manual to discuss some of the benefits of obtaining knowledge and truth.

    2. Read Doctrine and Covenants 93:26–28. What must we do before we can receive a fulness of truth? (Keep the commandments of God.) Read verses 39–40. How are light and truth taken from us? (Satan takes light and truth from us when we disobey the commandments of God.) Note that these scriptures emphasize the importance of rearing our children in light and truth.

Conclusion

Challenge the students to make the quest for truth and knowledge a daily, lifelong activity. Too many Latter-day Saints are satisfied with what they already know and fail to continue in their quest for life-giving truth and light. They may consequently forfeit their chance for eternal life. President Kimball charged the Saints:

“We must do more than ask the Lord for learning. Perspiration must precede inspiration; there must be effort before there is the harvest. We must take thought, work, be patient, acquire competence. …

“As a people, we Latter-day Saints have been encouraged by the Lord to progress in the learning of God as well as in the sound learning of the earth. Too many of us spend far too much time watching the television or in habits and activities that do not enlarge ourselves or bless others. Would that we might lift ourselves to higher visions of what we could do with our lives! There should be no people who have a higher desire to obtain truth, revealed and secular, than Latter-day Saints.” (“‘Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith,’” pp. 5–6.)