Harold B. Lee, eleventh President of the Church and an Apostle for over three decades, bore humble witness from a full heart “that God lives, that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world.”1 With conviction born of years of service he said, “My humble prayer is that all men everywhere may understand more fully the significance of the atonement of the Savior of all mankind, who has given us the plan of salvation which will lead us into eternal life, where God and Christ dwell.”2
The journey home to our Father in Heaven was a central focus of President Lee’s teachings to the members of the Church. He exhorted each of Heavenly Father’s children to “gain for himself that unshakable testimony which will place his feet firmly on the pathway which leads surely toward the glorious goal of immortality and eternal life.”3
“The most important message that I can give to you and to all the world is to keep the commandments of God,” said President Lee, “for thereby you can qualify yourselves to receive divine guidance while you live here on the earth, and in the world that lies ahead be prepared to meet your Redeemer, and to gain your exaltation in the presence of the Father and the Son.”4
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have established the series Teachings of Presidents of the Church to help Church members deepen their understanding of gospel doctrines and draw closer to Jesus Christ through the teachings of the prophets in this dispensation. This book features the teachings of President Harold B. Lee, who said:
“The laws of God given to mankind are embodied in the gospel plan, and the Church of Jesus Christ is made responsible for teaching these laws to the world.”5
“Let there be burned into your souls those lessons that shall keep you always with your eye fixed upon the eternal goal, so that you won’t fail in life’s mission, so that, whether your life be short or long, you shall be prepared when the day comes to go into the presence of Him whose name you bear as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.”6
Each chapter in this book includes four sections: (1) a question that briefly introduces the focus of the chapter; (2) the “Introduction,” which illustrates the messages of the chapter with a story or counsel from President Lee; (3) “Teachings of Harold B. Lee,” which presents important doctrines from his many messages and sermons; and (4) “Suggestions for Study and Discussion,” which encourages personal review and inquiry, further discussion, and application to our lives today through questions.
For personal or family study. This book is intended to enhance each member’s understanding of gospel principles taught powerfully by President Harold B. Lee. By prayerful reading and thoughtful study, each member may receive a personal witness of these truths. This volume will also add to each member’s gospel library and will serve as an important resource for family instruction and for study in the home.
For discussion in Sunday meetings. This book is the text for Melchizedek Priesthood quorum and Relief Society Sunday meetings. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that the books in the series Teachings of Presidents of the Church “contain doctrine and principles. They are rich and relevant to the needs of our day, and they are superb for teaching and discussion.” Teachers should focus on the content of the text and related scriptures. As Elder Oaks explained, “A gospel teacher is not called to choose the subject of the lesson but to teach and discuss what has been specified.”7
Teachers should draw from the questions at the end of the chapter to encourage class discussion. Reviewing the questions before studying President Lee’s words may give additional insight into his teachings.
The Sunday meetings should concentrate on gospel principles, personal examples that teach these principles, and testimonies of the truth. When teachers humbly seek the Spirit in preparing and directing the lesson, all who participate will be strengthened in their knowledge of the truth. Leaders and teachers should encourage class members to read the chapters before they are discussed in Sunday meetings. They should remind class members to bring their books to their meetings and should honor class members’ preparation by teaching from President Harold B. Lee’s words. When class members have read the chapter in advance, they will be prepared to teach and edify each other.
It is not necessary or recommended that members purchase additional commentaries or reference texts to support the material in the text. Members are encouraged to turn to the scriptures that have been suggested for further study of the doctrine.
Since this text is designed for personal study and gospel reference, many chapters contain more material than can be fully addressed in Sunday meetings. Therefore, study at home becomes essential to receiving the fulness of President Lee’s teachings.
This prophet of God knew the way back home to our Father in Heaven, and he gave direction to all who would listen: “If you will listen and put into practice what you have heard, you will be led to that glorious place called not just happiness but joy. Joy means when you have lived such a life that you are ready to enter into the presence of the Lord.”8