Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Seek Learning, Even by Study and Also by Faith

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 What have you learned this week? What part has learning and education played in your life.  What have you studied, what have you brought to your mind that is virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy?

The Lord has given great emphasis to the need for spiritual and temporal education. But our learning as Latter-day saints is different from others as we are taught to learn by study and by faith.

This past week I was reading a conference talk by President Russell M. Nelson President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He said that we live in a most difficult time full of turmoil, personal problems and issues;  and the best way for us to deal with our turbulant times is to learn about Christ.  He challenged us to to study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.  He invited us to let the scriptural citations about Jesus Christ in the Topical Guide become our personal core curriculum; the more we learn about the Savior the more we understand His doctrine.  What struck me about this was the emphasis he placed on learning.  Not just reading scriputures but using the scriputures as a cirriculum, in the same way we use books in a classroom setting, the experience in doing so he said, can be life changing as we apply ourselves.

Also this week I was honored to be invited to a Muslim Ramadan celebration, Eid-ul-Fitr.  Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims and at the end of the month after fasting daily from dusk to sunset along with prayer and scripture study, they have a great celebration.  I was invited because I am seen by my Muslim friend as a Latter-day Saint with a great conviction for learning and bridging gaps through education.  I thought the opportunity for learning from attending such an event would be tremendous and not just for me but also for those who would learn from me as a Latter-day Saint. 

It is a great blessing to be part of the Lord's Church which puts such a great emphasis on eternal progression through education.  From the beginning the Lord commanded the saints to be taught in both spiritual and temporal matters.  And they were taught not just by other Latter-day saints but from others as well.  So here is the question again, what have you brought to your mind that is virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy? Doctrine and Covenants Section 88 will help teach us how to better do this.

On December 27 and 28, 1832 the Prophet Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants Section 88.  The revelation was received after High Priests prayed to the Lord to reveal his will unto them concerning the upbuilding of Zion.  In this revelation Joseph was commanded to organize the School of the Prophets.

"And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.   "Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
    "Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
    "That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you."
  D&C 88:77-80

The main purpose for the School of the Prophets was to prepare Church leaders in their callings as missionaries so they would be properly able to warn all people and testify of the gospel.

"That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor"  D&C 88:80-81.

This School is what provided a pattern for us in our learning and teaching as Latter-day Saints.

As commanded in the Revelation the school's course of study, included both religious and secular topics, and was to be instructed both by an appointed teacher and also by the students themselves, learning from one another, with each having a turn to speak, “that all may be edified of all.”

This is how the church runs all its classes; the teacher is appointed, studies and prepares, then leads the class not only in instructing but by discussion so that all are taught and strengthened.  The pattern set by the Lord then, follows through to today.  This is what I love about the Lord's church, it is unchanging, it is constant, reliable, and perfect.

The history of education in the Church is rich.  In  November 1834 The School of the Elders was organized, It replaced the School of the Prophets but was sometimes referred to by the same name.  Those who attended the school studied such subjects as English grammar, writing, philosophy, government, literature, geography, and ancient and modern history.  Although the students explored many disciplines, religious topics received the main emphasis.  The Lectures on Faith given by the Prophet Joseph Smith were first delivered to this school during the winter of 1834-35

After the Kirtland Temple was completed in 1836 the School for the Elders was reorganized under the name, once again, School of the Prophets.  This school was conducted in the temple and included the administration of the sacrament, the ordinance of washing of feet, and obtained a special endowment or gift of knowledge and power.

In January 1836 a new class or school was created, called the Hebrew School which was also held in the temple.  This class was taught by a Hebrew professor named Joshua Seixas.

There was also the Kirkland School which was a more traditional school attended by all, male and female, as well as youth.  This school was also held in the temple in 1836.  They studied geography, writing, arithmetic, and English grammar. In addition to using Noah Webster's dictionary as a text, they studied Samuel Kirkham's Grammar, J. Olney's Geography, and T. Burdick's Arithmetic."

Eliza R. Snow stated that during the spring of 1836 she 'taught a select school' for young ladies in Kirtland and she taught the Prophet's family at home in 1837; or homeschooling as we call it.

Not only was there an emphasis on learning in the Kirtland area but also schools were built in Independence and Far West Missouri, and after moving to Nauvoo the church opened the University of the City of Nauvoo.  The first academic year in Nauvoo was 1841-42.  This university was  among the first municipal universities in the United States with a curriculum that included languages German, French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, mathematics, chemistry and geology, literature, and history.

And the emphasis on education continued even during the evacuation of Nauvoo.  "Brigham Young instructed the migrating Saints to bring with them at least a copy of every valuable treatise on education-every book, map, chart, or diagram that may contain interesting, useful, and attractive matter, to gain the attention of children, and cause them to love to learn to read; and, also every historical, mathematical, philosophical, geographical, geological, astronomical, scientific, practical, and all other variety of useful and interesting writings, maps, etc., to present to the General Church Recorder, when they shall arrive at their destination, from which important and interesting matter may be gleaned to compile the most valuable works, on every science and subject, for the benefit of the rising generation." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Education)

The university of Deseret (now the University of Utah), was established by Brigham Young in Salt Lake City in 1850. "Education," he said, "is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world's work, and the power to appreciate life...A good school teacher is one of the most essential members in society"

 Between 1875 and 1910, the Church sponsored thirty-three academies for secondary education in seven western states, Canada, and Mexico, and in 1988 the educational system extended to 90 countries or territories The Church clearly has been built on the conviction that eternal progress depends upon righteous living and growth in knowledge, religious and secular.

 In sum, the attitude of the Church toward education is unusual in several respects. First, the Church is distinctive in the degree to which its members, child and adult alike, participate in the many educational activities of the Church: "As a people we believe in education-the gathering of knowledge and the training of the mind. The Church itself is really an educational institution. Traditionally, we are an education-loving people" (Widtsoe, 1944, p. 666).

Second, its commitment is to education as an essential component of religious life: "Every life coheres around certain fundamental core ideas…. The fact that [God] has promised further revelation is to me a challenge to keep an open mind and be prepared to follow wherever my search for truth may lead" (Brown, 1969, p. 11).

Third, it holds a deep conviction that knowledge has an eternal dimension because it advances man's agency and progress here and in the world to come: "Both creative science and revealed religion find their fullest and truest expression in the climate of freedom…. Be unafraid of new ideas for they are as steppingstones to progress. You will, of course, respect the opinions of others but be unafraid to dissent-if you are informed" (Brown, 1958, p. 2-3).

Fourth, it is insistent that secular and spiritual learning are not at odds but in harmony with each other: Latter-day Saints do not emphasize "the spiritual education of man to the neglect of his intellectual and physical education…. It is not a case of esteeming intellectual and physical education less, but of esteeming spiritual education more" (Roberts, pp. 122-23). "Secular knowledge is to be desired " as a tool in the hands of the righteous, but "spiritual knowledge is a necessity " (S. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 280).  -(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Education)

Now seeing a bit how deep rooted the emphasis on education is within the church tell me What opportunities for learning do we have at church itself, and what can we do to better prepare ourselves to learn in our Church meetings?

"Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.  See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.   Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.  And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace."  D&C 88:122–25

We have great opportunities to be taught by a person that is called of God and set apart to lead us in teaching and discussion.  We can better prepare ourselves to hear the leadership the Lord has given the teacher by respecting them and the calling without overpowering.  By listening not only to the teacher but to the discussion with love and unity.  Prepare ourselves with prayer and study before the class that we might be teachable as well as enlightened to share.  

We are commanded to learn by study and faith.  Why are study and faith both necessary in our efforts to learn? 

 "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith."   D&C 88:118

Because faith accelerates learning by study.  I personally have found a huge difference in my studies through prayer and faith.  When I seek the Lord's help in whatever it is that I am studying I find that my mind is open and receives the knowledge in richer way.  Where as when I have, in the past, depended upon myself only, things seemed more confusing and harder to grasp and I found myself being led astray. 

2 Timothy 3:7 states: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." This is how I felt when I allowed myself to be on my own learning without having faith in God and not obeying His commandments.  It is dangerous not to be connected to the spirit at all times and in all things.  

"O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.  But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."  2 Nephi 9:28–29.

In addition to studying the gospel, we are taught to seek learning in other areas, such as history, science, and good literature;What should be the relationship between gospel learning and other worthwhile study? 

The relationship between our spiritual learning and all other study should flow from God.  By prayerfully seeking His counsel through faith, our learning will be enriched and our minds will be secure.  This for me, is why I have taken the challenge from President Nelson and have begun my study of the Savior in a different way.  Through this I hope to gain a more complete knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ and his doctrine; and with that be enriched in all my undertakings and study.

President John Taylor, the third President of the Church, said: “We ought to foster education and intelligence of every kind; cultivate literary tastes, and men of literary and scientific talent should improve that talent; and all should magnify the gifts which God has given unto them. … If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religion, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding, and that understanding which flows from God” (The Value of General Education BYU Statements from the Scriptures and LDS Leaders)

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught us that "With all of your learning, learn of him. With all of your study, seek knowledge of the Master. That knowledge will complement in a wonderful way the secular training you receive and give a fullness to your life and character that can come in no other way” ( Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 118)

We are also commanded to continue learning throughout our lives.
The Lord through His prophets have always emphasized the importance of learning, it is our responsibility as His children to continue always to learn.

President Russell M. Nelson tell us “Because of our sacred regard for each human intellect, we consider the obtaining of an education to be a religious responsibility. … Our Creator expects His children everywhere to educate themselves” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 6).

The Doctrine and Covenants is replete with instructions on learning.  

1.  Why should we learn? 

"It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance."  D&C 131:6

"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."  D&C 6:7

'Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."  D&C 130:18–19

2.  How should we learn?  

"And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people."  D&C 90:15

"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. 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"  D&C 11:21–22

"Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;
33 For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly."  D&C 136:32–33

3.  What should we learn?  

"The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one"  "And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, and all this for the salvation of Zion. Amen."  D&C 93:36–37, 53

"Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me."  D&C 19:23

"And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;  Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you..... And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. "  D&C 88:76–80, 118

Along with this we are also instructed about what to avoid, President Ezra Taft Benson taught that we should avoid whatever weakens our reason, impairs the tenderness of our conscience, obscures our sense of God, takes off our relish for spiritual things.  (“In His Steps,” in 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year [1980], 61) 

A Temple Education.  
The temple is a house of learning, and is the center of learning for members of the Church.  We should put the temple at the center of our lives. Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Quorum of the Twelve taught:The temple is a place of instruction. Here the principles of the gospel are reviewed and profound truths of the kingdom of God are unfolded. If we enter the temple in the right spirit and are attentive, we go out enriched in gospel knowledge and wisdom” (“Looking toward the Temple,” Ensign, Jan. 1972, 56–57). 

And Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: “The temple is a great school. It is a house of learning. In the temples the atmosphere is maintained so that it is ideal for instruction in matters that are deeply spiritual. …

“The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will only be partly understood. Return again and again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known. …

“So look toward the temple. Point your children toward the temple. From the days of their infancy, direct their attention to it, and begin their preparation for the day when they may enter the holy temple.  “In the meantime, be teachable yourself, be reverent. Drink deeply from the teachings—the symbolic, deeply spiritual teachings—available only in the temple” (The Holy Temple [pamphlet, 1982], 6–8).

What are some truths you have learned through attending the temple?  
Prayers are answered, revelation occurs, and instruction by the Spirit takes place in the holy temples of the Lord, the temple is a great place of learning, we should attend the temple often in our quest for knowledge.

Can all this seem a little overwhelming, indeed it can, and one can feel great pressure at times, sensing that they are not doing enough fast enough, or have missed out.  So How can we continue to learn without being overwhelmed by all there is to know?

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;  And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours."  D&C 78:17–18

Be patient with yourself, don't push to hard, continue steadfastly day by day, prayerfully, allowing the Lord to lead you, to teach you.  You will gain a wealth of knowledge quicker than you think and all you need will come, line upon line.

President Wilford Woodruff counseled, “Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once; learn one thing at a time, learn it well, and treasure it up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a great store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 269).

So Why all this?  

"And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—"  D&C 82:18

All this for the good of his children, for the good of the church...


We need to continue to learn throughout our lives so we will be enriched and so we can better serve others. The Lord has commanded us to “seek learning … by study and also by faith”  It has been my prayer recently to gain more knowledge, to have a better understanding of all things concerning my health, education in my job, dealings with my fellow man, and most importantly the things of God, and the life of the Savior.  In the short time I have been called to teach in relief society and this gospel doctrine class, what I have learned has been immense, and has been life changing.  I have a greater confidence in myself, and in hearing direction and guidance from Heavenly Father not to mention all the things I have learned from history, scriptures and the best books.  In such a short time the Lord has given me a vast treasure, one that I deeply desired. I can only imagine what is to come and look forward to it with great joy.  If we can all continue to do this through our lives, to be open to all there is for us to learn, we can only imagine what eternity will bring in terms of light and knowledge.  


Further Study by video:

Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ in our Lives Russell M Nelson
Muslim Celebrations The Council of Islamic Organizations 
A School and an Endowment lds,org School of the Prophets
The Joseph Smith Papers Revelation, 27–28 December 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]  Revelation, 3 January 1833 [D&C 88:127–137]
Encyclopedia of Mormonism  Encyclopedia of Mormonism Education
Encyclopedia of Mormonism  Encyclopedia of Mormonism Acadamies 
Value of General Education byu Statements from the Scriptures and LDS Leaders BYU Education
Conference Report 1992, 1964  Conference Reports
Ensign Nov 1992 Where is Wisdom
Ensign Jan. 1972  Lookiung Toward the Temple
In His Steps 1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year  In His Steps
The Holy Temple pamphlet, 1982 Open Library Read Free
The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham 1946

The Fall of Adam and Eve

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