President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency explained the role of prophets and the need for the revelation they receive:
“The prophets, seers, and revelators have had and still have the responsibility and privilege of receiving and declaring the word of God for the world. …
“… These are the prophetic oracles who have tuned in over the centuries to the ‘celestial transmitting station,’ with a responsibility to relay the Lord’s word to others. …
“This Church constantly needs the guidance of its head, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was well taught by President George Q. Cannon, [while serving in] the First Presidency: ‘We have the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; but all these books, without the living oracles and a constant stream of revelation from the Lord, would not lead any people into the Celestial Kingdom of God’ [Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, 2 vols., sel. Jerreld L. Newquist (1974), 1:323]. …
“Revelation was required to establish this Church. Revelation has brought it from its humble beginnings to its present course. Revelation has come like flowing, living water. Continuing revelation will lead it forward to the windup scene. But as President [J. Reuben] Clark told us, we do not need more or different prophets. We need more people with ‘a listening ear’ (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, 82)” (“Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 2, 4, 6–7).
Today, as during the meridian of time, the foundation of the Church is the apostles and prophets (see Ephesians 2:20) and the revelation they receive (see Amos 3:7; Matthew 16:16–18). The Lord reveals His will through His servants the prophets and has declared, “My word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
The purpose of the Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual is to help you strengthen your testimony of living prophets and their teachings. It discusses our need for living prophets, the role of the President of the Church, the divine order of succession in the Presidency, the Quorum of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the importance of general conferences. President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) taught, “It is not alone sufficient for us as Latter-day Saints to follow our leaders and to accept their counsel, but we have the greater obligation to gain for ourselves the unshakable testimony of the divine appointment of these men and the witness that what they have told us is the will of our Heavenly Father” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, 130). A witness of the divine appointment of the living prophets is promised to each of us as we study the counsel of the Brethren and resolve to sustain them through our obedience. This manual will assist you in your study of the living prophets.
Each chapter of this student manual has four parts: “Introduction,” “Commentary,” “Points to Ponder,” and “Suggested Assignments.”
Each chapter begins with a brief introduction. This will help you focus on the chapter’s central topic.
Scriptures and the words of prophets, apostles, and other General Authorities in the “Commentary” section explain and clarify the doctrines and principles associated with the chapter’s central topic. Careful reading of the commentary will help you understand the need and role of living prophets in an ever-changing world.
The “Points to Ponder” section will help you ponder what you have learned. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles affirmed that pondering brings valuable results: “As you ponder and pray about doctrinal principles, the Holy Ghost will speak to your mind and your heart. … New insights will come and principles relevant to your situation will distill upon your heart” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 18).
At the conclusion of each chapter are assignments that encourage personal application. Please note that these assignments are suggestions and can be adapted according to your individual needs and direction from the Holy Ghost. If you are enrolled in the Teachings of the Living Prophets institute course (Religion 333), your teacher may incorporate some of these assignments into your course. Taking time to do these assignments will give you additional opportunities to be taught by the Holy Ghost.
Note: To more effectively use the “Points to Ponder” and “Suggested Assignments” sections, you may want to use a study journal or notebook to record questions, thoughts, goals, and impressions from your study. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encouraged us to write down impressions from the Spirit: “It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the five senses” (“Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led” [address to religious educators, Aug. 11, 1998], 3).
If you have difficulty using this manual due to a disability, please contact your instructor for additional resources. Alternative formats of this student manual may be available at si.lds.org.