teaching with confidence

To make Jesus Christ the rock upon which we build our spiritual foundation, we must earnestly study His words in the scriptures.

Teaching in the Savior’s Way is an amazing resource to the members of the Church. For this month’s Teacher Council I wanted to address how to teach with confidence. Fortunately, page 12 in Teaching in the Savior’s Way referred me to Doctrine and Covenants 11. Once I read and studied the section I realized that there was enough material in that section for a discussion to be had for at least the 50 minutes we would be in council.

Suggestion on how to use this material in a Teacher Council
Below I have written my musings in article format. In council I plan to give each person the verses of the section with spaces between them so they know which chunks we will be discussing. On a separate piece of paper I will have a series of questions and comments to help guide the discussion.

You will no doubt have different thoughts on this section of the Doctrine and Covenants, and that is good. Use what is best for your teachers, and remember that you need to help them find ways to apply what they learn for all the ages with which your teachers are working.

Historical Background:
Doctrine and Covenants 11 was given in 1829, eleven months before the Church was organized. The revelation was given through Joseph Smith to his brother Hyrum Smith.

1 A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2 Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word.

3 Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

In reference to the statement that “whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle,” read the following:

1 Chronicles 13:9-10
9 ¶ And when they came unto the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.

10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.

All of our lives we have been taught that we don’t take honors unto ourselves like Uzza did in thinking it was okay for him to touch the holy ark of the covenant without being authorized to do such a thing. We have to be called to a work before we are allowed to do it. But the doctrine that every member of the Church need only desire to do this work, and that qualifies them to do it, is unique to the saints of the last dispensation of time. In the here and now the Lord wants all of us to do the work. This is different from every other dispensation of time. Now all of us are to do the work of the gathering. This is the end time, the final gathering of God’s children, the promised gathering of Israel that all the other dispensations looked forward to.

To be called to the work requires only that we be baptized and have a desire to participate. That is good enough in the eyes of the Lord. Today is the fulfillment of the scripture in Jacob 5:70-72 where he says:

70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.

71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.

72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

So what are the promises made to those who accept the call to come and labor in the Lord’s vineyard, which is the teaching of the gospel to all people?

4 Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.

5 Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.

Our promise from God is that if we will seek Him we will find Him. If we ask for knowledge and inspiration we will find knowledge and inspiration. And why is He so quick to promise this? The answer is in verse six. It is because by doing so we will be helping Him to establish “the cause of Zion” on the earth.

6 Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.

And what will He do for us when we seek to establish Zion?

7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.

When we seek for wisdom from God, not just knowledge, but how to use it in our daily lives, the Lord promises He will unfold to us the mysteries of God. This is where the wealth of the eternities lies, because learning wisdom from God is what brings us eternal life.

This demonstrates that as important as knowledge is, how to apply that knowledge in our lives is even more important. The gospel of Christ is all about teaching us how to live a godly life, not about amassing facts and figures about the wonders of creation or memorizing trivia about Church history. If the gospel isn’t changing our lives then we aren’t living it correctly.

8 Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.

9 Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.

The more we desire to learn of Him the more He will unfold the mysteries of God to us. What is a mystery except that which we don’t currently understand? The mysteries of godliness are just those ways of thinking, feeling, and acting that are foreign to us, but are a natural part of God’s life. The purpose of the Spirit is the reveal to us these things and help us feel comfortable making the changes we need to make to feel, think, and act as God does. This is how the Lord will bless us.

10 Behold, thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee;

11 For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.

We have all been promised that we have gifts of the Spirit. The Lord promises us that if we will ask for those gifts, and believe that through our efforts to learn and practice them, that He will help us develop our current gifts and give us more gifts. All it takes is a desire and willingness to do what we need to in order to be given more gifts and develop further the ones that come naturally to us. This is our Father’s promise to us through His Son.

12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

When we follow the Spirit, search the scriptures daily, and live (to walk) humbly, the Lord promises us that He will give (impart) to us His Spirit to enlighten our minds. This is personal revelation. This is what it means to have the mysteries of godliness revealed to us. As we live a good life of obedience, immersing ourselves in the word of God, the Spirit helps us come to understand how the Lord thinks, feels, and acts so we can do the same. We come to understand the power of the plan of salvation that is in operation in our lives, and we understand more fully the love of our Savior.

15 Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called.

Hyrum was told to wait until the Church was organized before he began to preach the gospel. We don’t have to be called to share the gospel since the Church has already been organized and we have all been baptized.

16 Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.

17 And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

18 Keep my commandments; hold your peace; appeal unto my Spirit;

19 Yea, cleave unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of which has been spoken—yea, the translation of my work; be patient until you shall accomplish it.

20 Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.

21 Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.

22 But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.

Here are the key phrases that apply to us: “appeal unto my Spirit,” “cleave unto me with all your heart,” “first seek to have my Spirit and my word,” “study my word.” And then comes the promise from God that when we have done these things “then shall all things be added thereto.”

When we teach the gospel that teaching needs to be founded on what we have learned from the Spirit, after having spent time studying the scriptures, the word of God. Supplemental materials are fine, but no supplemental material holds the promise of the same kinds of revelation promised to those who study the scriptures. For great teaching only comes from the Spirit. Without the Spirit we cannot teach.

This requires then that our lives are being lived such that we are not only worthy of personal revelation, but worthy of having the Spirit with us during our daily lives. Are we living a life that invites the Spirit into our home and into our mind and heart? Or are we trying to face our class armed only with facts and figures, asking questions that stock answers are considered “enough.” One who teaches by the Spirit seeks to open the minds and hearts of class members to the Spirit so He can teach them the doctrines we are talking about.

It is important to remember that we don’t make anyone have the Spirit to be with them. All we can do is bring Him with us to the lesson because of our preparation, and we are promised that as we bear testimony of the truth that He will carry that testimony and those truths and implant them into the hearts of those who listen to us.

23 Behold thou art Hyrum, my son; seek the kingdom of God, and all things shall be added according to that which is just.

24 Build upon my rock, which is my gospel;

25 Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy, for wo unto him that denieth these things;

26 Therefore, treasure up in your heart until the time which is in my wisdom that you shall go forth.

27 Behold, I speak unto all who have good desires, and have thrust in their sickle to reap.

Note that this revelation is addressed to “all who have good desires, AND have thrust in their sickle to reap.” [Emphasis added] This is our calling as teachers. Teaching members of the Church the doctrines of the gospel is just as important as teaching these things to those outside the Church. Our purpose is to change lives. And how can we help others lives change if ours have not been changed by our study of the scriptures and our efforts to live a more holy daily life?

28 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world.

29 I am the same who came unto mine own and mine own received me not;

30 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen.

“Power to become the sons [and daughters] of God.” [Emphasis added] Does this sound like a timid teacher to you? Does this sound like one who blows an uncertain horn? When we do what this section of the Doctrine and Covenants teaches us to do as teachers, we will learn (yes, it takes time, but you have to start somewhere) how to stand with confidence in front of our classrooms. As our lives change from reading the scriptures and applying what we learn from them, we will also learn how to show forth more Christlike love to our class members, and the Spirit will become stronger during our lessons.

These are not my promises to you. These are Christ’s promises to all of us.