Lesson 8: Revelation

"Lesson 8: Revelation," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Class members will learn to use the power of revelation in their own lives.


  1. 1.

    Study Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s talk given at a Brigham Young University devotional 29 September 1981, while he was a justice of the Utah Supreme Court and before his call as an Apostle. (The talk is printed in the New Era, September 1982, pages 38–46.)

  2. 2.

    Prepare posters or be prepared to use the chalkboard as called for in this lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development


Present the following situation in your own words:

A classmate tells you about a beautiful private lake where you and your friends can go swimming. There is a locked gate and a No Trespassing sign, but he tells you that this is not a problem because there is a key under the flat rock by the gate and everyone is using the lake. You and a friend decide to go. Your classmate told the truth; it is a beautiful, warm lake. You have a wonderful time swimming. On the way home, however, your skin begins to itch and turns a strange gray color. By the time you and your friend get home there are large blisters all over both of you. Your condition requires hospitalization and you nearly die.

Your classmate failed to tell you, or he didn’t know, that the lake was polluted with toxic chemical wastes.


  • How would you feel about a person who did this to you? What if he knew what would happen? (Let class members discuss this at some length.)

This is what Satan does. He often makes big promises, tricking you into thinking that the results will be good, but he doesn’t tell what the real results will be.

  • How does Satan often deceive us? (By telling us that such things as shoplifting, smoking, immorality, drugs, and so on are good.) What does he seem to promise with each, and what are the results of these activities? (Allow varied answers.)

Chalkboard or poster

Display the poster or write the following on the chalkboard:

Ways Satan Deceives Us

Satan does not cause all of our problems in this life. We are here to learn and be tested. What are some of the trials and problems that we must face? (Poor health, loss of family members or friends, accidents, financial setbacks, friends who turn against each other, hardships in getting an education, and so on.)

Fortunately, Father in Heaven sees and knows our needs. He wants us to succeed and has given us special gifts so we can resist Satan’s temptations. One of the greatest of these gifts is revelation.


Write on the chalkboard: “Revelation is communication from God to man.” (Dallin H. Oaks.)

Revelation Is Communication





Revelation Serves Many Purposes

Dallin H. Oaks, who is now an Apostle, suggested that we all have already received revelations and that we can receive more (see “Revelation,” New Era, Sept. 1982, pp. 38–46). Communication from God to us every day is a reality. It does happen.

Chalkboard and discussion

As the following purposes are placed on the chalkboard (or use a poster), ask class members to think of examples of revelation they have already had.

The Purposes of Revelation

  1. 1.
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
  5. 5.
  6. 6.
  7. 7.
  8. 8.

(Encourage the class to ask questions and share spiritual experiences of their own as the lesson progresses. Each of the eight purposes is available to each of us.)

Circle “To testify” on the chalkboard.

Elder Oaks said that “the testimony or witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel is true is a revelation from God” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 40).

We must ask Heavenly Father for this knowledge.

Circle “To prophesy.”

Revelation can tell of things that will come. Elder Oaks said, “After our fifth child was born, my wife and I did not have any more children. After more than 10 years we concluded that our family would not be any larger, which grieved us. Then one day, while my wife was in the temple, the Spirit whispered to her that she would have another child. That prophetic revelation was fulfilled about a year and a half later with the birth of our sixth child, for whom we had waited 13 years” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 40).

Circle “To comfort.”

“Some,” said Elder Oaks, “are comforted by visions of departed loved ones or by feeling their presence. … Others have been comforted in adjusting to the loss of a job or a business advantage or even a marriage. … A revelation of comfort can also come in connection with a blessing of the priesthood. …

“Another type of comforting revelation is the assurance received that a sin has been forgiven” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 40).

Circle “To uplift.”

“At some time in our lives each of us needs to be lifted up from a depression, from a sense of foreboding or inadequacy, or just from a plateau of spiritual mediocrity,” said Elder Oaks (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 41).

Circle “To inform.”

“On some sacred occasions, information has been given by face-to-face conversations with heavenly personages, such as in the visions related in ancient and modern scripture. In other circumstances, needed information is communicated by the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. [In these instances] the Holy Ghost acts in his office as a teacher and revelator,” said Elder Oaks (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 41).

Circle “To restrain.”

Nephi gives us an example of revelation used to restrain, “And now I … cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance” (2 Nephi 32:7).

Elder Oaks related the following experience that occurred during his service as president of Brigham Young University:

“Several years ago I picked up the desk pen in my office at BYU to sign a paper that had been prepared for my signature, something I did at least a dozen times each day. That document committed the University to a particular course of action we had decided to follow. All the staff work had been done, and all appeared to be in order. But as I went to sign the document, I was filled with such negative thoughts and forebodings that I put it to one side and asked for the entire matter to be reviewed again. It was, and within a few days additional facts came to light which showed that the proposed course of action would have caused the University serious problems in the future” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 42).

Circle “To confirm.”

Elder Oaks quoted Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “‘We’re expected to use the gifts and talents and abilities, the sense and judgment and agency with which we are endowed. … [Implicit] in asking in faith is the precedent requirement that we do everything in our power to accomplish the goal that we seek. … We’re expected to do everything in our power that we can, and then to seek an answer from the Lord, a confirming seal that we’ve reached the right conclusion’” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 43).

Often we are asked by the Lord to make decisions, and he asks that we only confirm those decisions with him. Such is the case when we are called to offices in the Church and must choose counselors or helpers. We should confirm those decisions with the Lord. Elder Oaks said that all General Authorities follow such a pattern (see New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 43).

Circle “To impel.”

This type of revelation moves us toward some action when we have not been seeking counsel.

The following account by Elder Oaks is an example of revelation that impels us:

“As a young girl, my grandmother Chasty Olsen Harris had [an] experience. She was tending some children who were playing in a dry riverbed near their home in Castle Dale, Utah. Suddenly she heard a voice that called her by name and directed her to get the children out of the riverbed and up on the bank. It was a clear day and there was no sign of rain. She saw no reason to heed the voice and continued to play. The voice spoke to her again, urgently. This time she heeded the warning. Quickly gathering the children, she made a run for the bank. Just as they reached it, an enormous wall of water, originating with a cloudburst in the mountains many miles away, swept down the canyon and roared across where the children had played. Except for this impelling revelation, she and the children would have been lost” (New Era, Sept. 1982, p. 44).

The Prophet Joseph Smith says:

“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 151).

In their Church callings, young men and young women can receive revelation that impels them to fulfill their responsibilities in a better way. Such revelation and guidance will always be within the framework of the Church and it will never be contrary to gospel principles.

Who Is Worthy?

Discussion and scripture

Revelation is one of the wonderful gifts of the Spirit.

  • Who is worthy of such a valuable gift? (Let the class members respond and then read Doctrine and Covenants 46:8–9 to the class. Emphasize the following from verse 9: “They [the gifts of the Spirit] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do” [italics added].)

  • What does “seeketh so to do” mean to you? (Try to get the class members to respond in their own way, but lead them to see that “seeketh so to do” means that he is trying with all his heart.)

Revelation, then, is one of the gifts of the Spirit that is available to all of us who love the Lord and are trying to keep his commandments. You have the privilege of having the Lord’s help every day to aid you in doing the right things.

Testimony and Challenge

Challenge class members to watch for moments during the coming week when the Lord tries to communicate with them. Ask them to think about the forms of revelation mentioned by Elder Oaks: to testify, to prophesy, to comfort, to uplift, to inform, to restrain, to confirm, and to impel.

Bear testimony of the power of revelation in your own life.