The purpose of this lesson is to encourage us to make the home a center for gospel learning.
Enos was the son of a prophet and often heard his father talk of eternal truths. One day Enos went into the forest to hunt. He recorded the experience as follows:
“The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life … sunk deep into my heart.
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker” (Enos 1:3–4).
After praying all day long, he heard a voice telling him that his sins were forgiven. The experience was so important to Enos that he taught the gospel and rejoiced in it the rest of his life.
Enos is an example of a young man who was properly taught the gospel in his home. An Old Testament writer wrote: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). If we follow this counsel as fathers, we too may be blessed with loyal children who obey us and the Lord.
The family is the most important organization both in the Church and in society. Indeed, it is the only organization that will exist eternally. For this reason the Lord has commanded us to make our homes places where families can learn the gospel and progress together.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28. Where do our children gain basic knowledge about the world we live in? Where can they learn about eternal life?
Children learn about this life in the home, at school, and from their playmates. But neither the public schools nor their friends can teach our children about the gospel. This sacred responsibility is ours, given to us by Heavenly Father. If we fail to teach our children what He would have us teach them in this life, we are in danger of losing them in eternity.
Of course, before we can teach the gospel to our children, we must first learn it ourselves. Elder Marion G. Romney said: “Let every priesthood bearer, in the majesty and power of his calling, set in order his own house; let him regularly observe home evening and otherwise bring up his ‘children in light and truth’ (D&C 93:40)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1969, 110; or Improvement Era, June 1969, 97).
This means that, with our wives, we are responsible for teaching gospel principles to our children. To fulfill that responsibility, we must begin the practice of gospel study in our homes with our wives and encourage our children to follow our example. King Benjamin told parents:
“Ye will not suffer your children … that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil. …
“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14–15).
If we are to follow the counsel of the prophets, we need to plan with our wives how best to teach our children. Although each of us may accomplish this purpose in a different way, we must be willing to work out the best plan to make our home a place for gospel learning. (The remainder of this lesson provides suggestions on how to encourage gospel learning in our families.)
Our homes should be a place where our children feel free to talk with us. A home that is filled with tension does not encourage children to ask questions and express their feelings. President David O. McKay taught parents: “Show a willingness to answer questions. A child that is asking questions is contributing happiness to your life” (Gospel Ideals , 480). We should encourage children to ask questions, especially about gospel subjects. We may not always know the answers to their questions, but we can always search them out together.
In what specific ways can we encourage gospel discussions in our homes?
One way we can teach our children is through family prayer. When we pray, we can communicate our hopes, concerns, and ideals for our family. We can teach concern for the needs of others as we pray for family members and others. And we can teach appreciation for blessings as we express our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.
Other times to encourage gospel discussions are at meals and at bedtime. In such settings, children can be encouraged to ask questions, and adults can explain gospel principles. To encourage children’s questions, we can share gospel stories from the Book of Mormon or the Bible or from our own spiritual experiences.
Show visual 15-a, “The home should be a center of gospel study.”
To promote regular scripture study, a shelf or book stand could be set aside as a gospel library. Here, books, pictures, tapes, a tape player, and other teaching aids could be kept for the whole family to use. The standard works of the Church and the Gospel Principles manual should be included in our library. If possible, each child should have his or her own copy of the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
We can study the scriptures individually and as families. To encourage individual study, parents must set the example. The following are ways we can study the scriptures individually:
Read the scriptures from beginning to end, reading one or more chapters each day, or for a certain amount of time each day.
Search the scriptures to find the answer to a specific problem we have.
Make a list of scriptures that inspire us.
Cross-reference scriptures in a regular study plan.
Discuss with class members other ways to study the scriptures.
To study the gospel as families, each father must schedule a time with his wife and children when they can get together specifically for this purpose. The following are ways we can study the scriptures as families:
Plan for a certain amount of time for scripture study each morning before we leave for work and the children leave for school, or hold a short family scripture study in the evening before the children go to bed.
Tell stories from the scriptures to the younger children.
Select special scripture verses, write them on a card, and post the card on a bulletin board or wall for all the family to see.
Encourage family members to memorize scriptures.
Choose a scripture that teaches a principle and decide on a way to practice the principle taught. For example, read together Matthew 25:31–40, and then help a needy family. Or read James 1:26–27 and Galatians 6:2; then help an elderly person.
Whatever approach we choose to follow, we should always begin our scripture study with prayer, asking Heavenly Father for guidance and help in understanding. After our study period, we should think about what we have read and how to apply the gospel principles we have read in our lives.
Bishop H. Burke Peterson of the Presiding Bishopric said: “There shouldn’t be—there mustn’t be—one family in this Church that doesn’t take the time to read from the scriptures every day. Every family can do it in their own way” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 79; or Ensign, May 1975, 53–54).
Have the previously assigned class member who has achieved success in studying the scriptures with his family report on his method. Or have a previously assigned Aaronic Priesthood youth tell why he feels he should learn the gospel in his youth, especially before going on a mission. (He may want to read Alma 37:35.)
Show visual 15-b, “Family home evening is a good time to study the gospel as a family.”
Family home evening is a good time to teach our children the gospel. Those of us who have the family home evening manual should use it. If no manual is available, we should study the scriptures and the Gospel Principles manual, listen to gospel recordings, or share our feelings about the Church. Creating a pleasant, happy atmosphere will help the children enjoy the evening and help them participate more willingly.
When the opportunity presents itself, we should bear our testimonies to our children. The opportunity to bear our testimonies may come at mealtime, during scripture study, during family home evening, or in gospel discussions with our children. When our children hear us bear our testimonies and see us live the commandments, their understanding of the gospel will increase.
Ask class members to share experiences they have had teaching the gospel to their children.
As we study the gospel individually and with our families, our testimonies and our homes will be strengthened. Because we are trying to live closer to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, we will find answers to our problems and have a greater peace of mind. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “We want to have peace and joy and happiness in this life and be inheritors of eternal life in the world to come. These are the two greatest blessings that it is possible for people to inherit. We can gain them by reading and learning the words of eternal life, here and now, and by keeping the commandments” (“Drink from the Fountain,” Ensign, Apr. 1975, 70).
Study the gospel regularly.
Hold family prayer daily.
Take every opportunity to teach the gospel to your family.
Before presenting this lesson:
Read the additional scriptures listed at the end of this lesson.
If you desire, assign class members to share successful experiences they have had in studying the scriptures as a family or teaching the gospel to their children. You may also want to assign an Aaronic Priesthood youth to tell why he feels it is important to learn the gospel in his youth.
Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.