Lesson 17: Teaching from the Scriptures

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 124–31


The purpose of this lesson is to help us understand why we should teach from the scriptures.

Introduction

  • Display visuals 17-a, “We must study the scriptures if we are to teach from them,” and 17-b, “Teaching the gospel requires a good knowledge of the scriptures.”

President J. Reuben Clark Jr. once told a group of teachers in the Church: “Your essential … duty, is to teach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. … You are to teach this Gospel using as your sources and authorities the Standard Works [scriptures] of the Church, and the words of those whom God has called to lead His people in these last days” (The Charted Course of the Church in Education [1938], 9).

The scriptures are the greatest teaching aids available to us. It is important to know them and use them as we teach.

The Importance of Teaching from the Scriptures

The Lord has clearly taught the importance of knowing the scriptures and teaching with them. During His visit to the Nephites, He said, “Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things [the scriptures] diligently” (3 Nephi 23:1). We are to search them because they teach us about Jesus Christ and because “they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled” (D&C 1:37; see also 1 Nephi 19:23).

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 68:2–4. What “scriptures” do we have today in addition to the standard works? (The inspired teachings of modern-day Apostles and Prophets.) Where can we find the teachings of modern-day Apostles and Prophets? (Church magazines and general conference reports.) How have you been blessed as you have treated their counsel as scripture?

Teaching the Scriptures Effectively

When Lehi and his family arrived at the promised land, Nephi taught his brethren the scriptures in a way that they could understand them: “For I did liken all scriptures unto us,” he said, “that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). Likening the scriptures unto ourselves is very important if we are to teach them effectively. Good teachers often compare the scriptures to our own situations by showing how the events of the past apply to the present.

  • Show visual 17-c, “Nephi and Lehi find the Liahona.”

    Lehi finds Liahona(click to view larger)

    17-c, Nephi and Lehi find the Liahona.

The following story from the Book of Mormon was used in this way by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“Can you think of yourself as being Nephi who heard his father excitedly call attention to something he had found just outside the door of his tent? It was … ‘a round ball of curious workmanship,’ made ‘of fine brass,’ and none of you had ever seen anything like it before. (1 Ne. 16:10.) …

“… If you were greatly interested and observed very carefully the workings of this unusual ball, [you would note] that it worked ‘according to the faith and diligence and heed’ which were given unto it concerning the way you should go (1 Ne. 16:28.) … Upon closer examination, you [would note] that there were writings upon the ball that were ‘plain to be read’ and … explained the ways of the Lord. [As you made requests of the Lord, the instructions would change. The change of instructions was according to the faith and diligence of your family. (1 Ne. 16:28)]. …

“The ball, or Liahona—which is interpreted to mean a compass—was prepared by the Lord especially to show unto [Lehi] the course which he should travel in the wilderness. Wouldn’t you like to have that kind of a ball—each one of you—so that whenever you were in error it would point the right way and write messages to you … so that you would always know when you were in error or in the wrong way?

“That, my young brethren, you all have. The Lord gave to every boy, every man, every person, a conscience which tells him every time he starts to go on the wrong path. He is always told if he is listening; but people can, of course, become so used to hearing the messages that they ignore them until finally they do not register anymore.

“You must realize that you have something like the compass, like the Liahona, in your own system. Every child is given it. … If he ignores the Liahona that he has in his own makeup, he eventually may not have it whispering to him. But if we will remember that everyone of us has [a Liahona] that will direct [us] aright, our ship will not get on the wrong course … if we listen to the dictates of our own Liahona, which we call the conscience” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 115–17; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 77–79).

  • How did President Kimball use the scriptures to teach a truth we can use today?

When we understand the scriptures, we can apply the principles taught in them to situations in our lives. The following examples show how two fathers taught their children from the scriptures.

“Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged”

Lara and Todd had been told repeatedly not to leave their bicycles in the driveway. One day their father came home to find both bikes in the driveway. He confronted Todd first. “Todd,” he said, “I just found Lara’s bike in the driveway. What should I do?”

“You should ground her for a week, like you told us you would,” Todd answered.

Later, the father asked Lara: “I just found Todd’s bicycle in the driveway. What should I do?”

“Give him another chance; he’ll remember next time,” Lara responded.

The father then called both children together and had them read Matthew 7:1–2.

When they finished reading these verses, he said: “Todd, you are grounded for one week. Lara, I’ll consider this a warning if you’ll go out and move the bike right now.”

“The Laborer Is Worthy of His Hire”

Ron contracted with his father to wash all the windows in the house for 10 dollars. His brother, Rick, contracted to paint the dining room—also for 10 dollars. It took Ron half a day to do the windows. It took Rick two days to paint the room. When the father paid both boys their $10.00, Rick protested that he should be paid more because he worked longer. In answer, the father read Matthew 20:1–15.

The father concluded by saying that he had kept his part of the bargain, so Rick should go his way and not be angry.

Preparing to Teach from the Scriptures

President Harold B. Lee stated: “I say that we need to teach our people to find their answers in the scriptures. … But the unfortunate thing is that so many of us are not reading the scriptures. We do not know what is in them, and therefore we speculate about the things that we ought to have found in the scriptures themselves. I think that therein is one of our biggest dangers of today” (“Find the Answers in the Scriptures,” Ensign, Dec. 1972, 3).

No one will force us to study the scriptures. We can always find many excuses for not studying and searching the scriptures. We must commit ourselves to studying the scriptures and work out a regular study plan. If we do, when we are faced with the choice of either reading the scriptures or doing something else, we will choose the scriptures because we have already made the choice.

The ability to read, enjoy, and teach the scriptures not only requires that we plan, but also that we ponder and pray.

  • Read Moroni 10:3. What does Moroni tell us about reading the scriptures?

As we read the scriptures, we should ponder them in our hearts. President Marion G. Romney said: “As I have read the scriptures, I have been challenged by the word ponder. … The dictionary says that ponder means ‘to weigh mentally, think deeply about, deliberate, meditate.’ … Pondering is, in my feeling, a form of prayer. It has, at least, been an approach to the Spirit of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 117; or Ensign, July 1973, 90).

Moroni 10:4 tells us that after pondering the scriptures (studying out in our own minds what we have read), we should ask Heavenly Father “if these things are not true”; and “he will manifest the truth of it unto [us] by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Conclusion

In order to effectively teach from the scriptures, we must prepare by reading regularly. We must ponder the material by thinking about it, feeling it, and praying with sincere intent. Then we must practice what we have come to know and understand through the Spirit. When we have done this, we can teach from the scriptures with power and persuasion.

Challenges

As you read the scriptures each day, underline or mark passages that are significant for you. Consider how they can be “likened to us.”

Teach your family from the scriptures in family home evening, around the dinner table, or in some other family situations by using scripture stories and applying them to your family’s needs.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapter 10, “Scriptures.”

  2. 2.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.