The Savior said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16). The Father’s doctrine consists of eternal truths that, when consistently applied, lead to exaltation. Central among these truths is the Savior’s Atonement and its essential role in the plan of salvation. The Savior has commanded us to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77). As we do, the Holy Ghost bears witness of the truthfulness of the doctrine and inspires people to live it. Doctrine does not change—rather, it changes us, and it changes those we teach.
Center Your Teaching on the Doctrine of Christ
President Boyd K. Packer taught, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.”1 As a gospel teacher, you can trust that “the virtue of the word of God” has a “more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than … anything else” (Alma 31:5). If you focus on simply entertaining learners or keeping them occupied, you may miss out on teaching eternal truths that will help learners make meaningful changes in their lives.
One way to ensure that you are teaching true doctrine is to consider how what you are teaching relates to the doctrine of Christ, which is summarized in 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 27:16–21 and found throughout the scriptures. Continually ask yourself, “How will what I am teaching help my class members build faith in Christ, repent, make and keep covenants with God, and receive the Holy Ghost?”
Questions to ponder. How will those I teach be blessed as they live the doctrine of Christ? (see 3 Nephi 27:16–21). What will be the eternal consequences if they do not live the doctrine of Christ?
Scriptural example. According to Mosiah 5:2–5, what caused King Benjamin’s people to change? What did King Benjamin teach them? (see Mosiah 2–5). How do the things that King Benjamin taught relate to the doctrine of Christ?
Teach within the Context of the Plan of Salvation
Sometimes learners—especially youth—wonder how gospel principles relate to them or why they should obey certain commandments. However, if they understand Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for the happiness of His children, the reasons for gospel principles and commandments become clearer and the motivation to obey increases. For example, someone who understands the doctrine of eternal marriage and our potential to become like Heavenly Father has reasons to obey the law of chastity that are more powerful than the desire to avoid unwanted pregnancy or diseases.
Questions to ponder. What principles will I be teaching in upcoming lessons? How can I help class members understand those principles in the context of the plan of salvation?
Scriptural example. Alma taught that God gave His people commandments after teaching them the “plan of redemption” (see Alma 12:32). How can I apply this pattern as I teach?
Use the Scriptures and the Words of Latter-day Prophets
The Lord has commanded us to “teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom” (D&C 88:77) and to use the scriptures to “teach the principles of [His] gospel” (D&C 42:12). The scriptures and words of latter-day prophets and apostles are the source of the truths we teach. At every opportunity, inspire those you teach to turn to the word of God for guidance, answers to questions, and support. If learners will “feast upon the words of Christ,” the doctrine they find there will “tell [them] all things what [they] should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
Questions to ponder. How can I inspire those I teach to “feast upon” the word of God? How can I help them use footnotes, the Topical Guide, and other study aids to better understand the scriptures?
Help Learners Liken the Scriptures to Themselves
Nephi said, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning” (1 Nephi 19:23). The same gospel truths that inspired and sustained Abraham, Esther, Lehi, and Joseph Smith can help those you teach face modern challenges. To help learners liken scriptures to themselves, invite them to insert their names into a verse or ponder how an account in the scriptures relates to their lives.
Question to ponder. What scripture passages have given me insight into a struggle I have faced?
Scriptural example. How did the Savior liken the scriptures to the people He taught? (see, for example, Luke 4:24–32).
Help Learners Find Scriptural Truths
Before learners read a scripture passage in class, consider asking them to look for specific truths taught in the passage. Sometimes such truths are stated clearly, and sometimes they are implied. For example, you could say, “As you read Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–14, look for truths you learn about the Holy Ghost.”
Question to ponder. What can I do to help class members learn how to find gospel truths in the scriptures?
Scriptural example. Why did the Savior want the Nephites to search the scriptures and read the words of the prophets? (see 3 Nephi 23:1–5).
See also the video “Searching the Scriptures” (LDS.org).
Testify of True Doctrine
The Savior taught “as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29). The Savior’s personal testimony gave authority to His words and helped those He taught recognize that He was teaching eternal truths. As you bear testimony of true doctrine, the Spirit will confirm the truth of the doctrine in the hearts of those you teach.
Question to ponder. How has my testimony been strengthened by another person’s powerful witness?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from Alma’s example of bearing testimony of truth? (see Alma 5:43–48).
Support Gospel Learning in the Home
If the people you teach learn gospel doctrines only in your class, they will not have the spiritual nourishment they need. The most important thing you can do to help learners build their faith and become more Christlike is inspire them to learn from the scriptures on their own and in their families. For ideas, see “Support Gospel Learning in the Home” in this resource.
For the Discussion Leader
Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching.
Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section. Do not try to cover everything in one meeting.
Practice. Invite teachers to share a few of their favorite scriptures. Discuss various ways in which each scripture could be likened to the lives of learners.
Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.