Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Friday, March 1, 2019

“He Taught Them as One Having Authority”

Scripture links are hyperlinked to Scriptures at and will open in a new window. 
Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog. 

Elder William R. Bradford of the Seventy once spoke with the bishop of a ward whose youth had worked to earn money for an activity. The bishop asked Elder Bradford if he would help the youth get some recognition for what they had done. To the bishop’s surprise, Elder Bradford said he would not. He said that he was glad that the young people had worked hard, but that it was not important that they receive public recognition for that work.

When the youth decided to donate their money to the Church’s general missionary fund instead of using it for the activity, they wanted to have their picture taken with Elder Bradford as they made the donation, and they wanted to have the picture and an article put into the newspaper. Again Elder Bradford surprised them by saying “no.” He told the bishop: “You might consider helping your young people learn a higher law of recognition. Recognition from on high is silent. It is carefully and quietly recorded there. Let them feel the joy and gain the treasure in their heart and soul that come from silent, selfless service” (Conference Report, Oct. 1987)

What lessons can we learn from Elder Bradford’s response to the youth? One lesson we can learn is that we should do good things because we love God and want to please him, not because we want to receive recognition from other people. This is one of the characteristics of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

As we continue in our study of the New Testament we come to Matthew 6–7 where Jesus continues with the greatest sermon ever recorded, the Sermon on the Mount. (For historical background and more on the Sermon click her Blessed Are Ye)

In this next section Christ teaches that righteous acts of devotion should be done for the right reasons and to please Heavenly Father. He also instructed His disciples to seek first the Kingdom of God, or in other words, he continues our blue print for life.

1. If we hear and act on the Lord’s teachings, our lives will be built on a firm foundation Matthew 6–7  
What specific teachings from Matthew 6–7 will be most beneficial to us?  How do we build a firm foundation for our lives from what we read in these chapters.  Lets start at the beginning where Jesus taught about different motives a person may have for doing righteous acts. As we study this section let us check ourselves and look at our motives for service and find principles that can help us improve build and strengthen our foundation. 

Matthew 6:1–4. “Do Not Your Alms before Men, to Be Seen of Them”

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 
“Alms” can be defined as acts of righteousness or religious devotion, including acts of service or charity. President Dallin H. Oaks helps us understand the Savior’s teaching that our service should be done for the right reasons:  “Some may serve for hope of earthly reward. Such a man or woman might serve in Church positions or in private acts of mercy in an effort to achieve prominence or cultivate contacts that would increase income or aid in acquiring wealth. Others might serve in order to obtain worldly honors, prominence, or power. …“In contrast, those who serve quietly, even ‘in secret,’ qualify for the Savior’s promise that ‘thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.’ (3 Ne. 13:18; see also Matt. 6:4.) …“‘Charity is the pure love of Christ.’ (Moro. 7:47.) The Book of Mormon teaches us that this virtue is ‘the greatest of all.’ (Moro. 7:46.) …“If our service is to be most efficacious, it must be accomplished for the love of God and the love of his children. …“I know that God expects us to work to purify our hearts and our thoughts so that we may serve one another for the highest and best reason, the pure love of Christ” (“Why Do We Serve?” Ensign, Nov. 1984)

Why did Jesus condemn some people for doing good things such as giving alms (giving to the poor), praying, and fasting? Matthew 6:1–2   They were doing these things for the wrong reason. Jesus referred to these people as hypocrites.

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 

What is a hypocrite? A person who pretends to have certain qualities but does not have them; a person who tries to appear righteous but is not. Footnote 2a  in the LDS KJV Bible indicates that the Greek word for hypocrite can also be translated “pretender.” See Matthew 15:8; Luke 11:39.

What will be the reward for people who do good things to be seen by others? Matthew 6:2 .
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 

Why do you think the Lord would want His disciples to perform acts of service “in secret”? Matthew 6:3–4

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

What does doing righteous acts in secret suggest about a person’s motivation for doing them?  He or she wants to please Heavenly Father and serve others rather than seek attention from others.

What principle can we learn from the Savior’s teachings about performing acts of devotion?
 If we perform acts of devotion to please Heavenly Father rather than to seek the attention of others, then He will reward us openly,

What does it mean to you that Heavenly Father will reward us openly?

How can we purify our motives for serving and performing other good works? Elder Neal A. Maxwell asks: "Do we have both right conduct and right reasons for that conduct? Are we so secure in our relationship with the Lord that our goodness and attention to duty would continue even if it were not seen of men? Would we fill our roles in the Church even if there were no mortal taking of the roll?" (Notwithstanding My Weakness)

2.  The Savior taught us how to pray  Matthew 6:5–13
Continuing in our study of these chapters we come to the next section where Jesus teaches us how to pray and how not to pray, and also that Heavenly Father will bless those who ask him for what they need.

Matthew 6:5-6.  Praying to “Be Seen of Men” 

5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

When studying and learning in this section its important to remember that public prayer is not wrong simply because it is not done in secret. Prayer and other religious practices can be performed publicly if they are performed with sincerity and devotion. The people of the times of Christ ministry as taught to us by elder McConnkie many times, prayed for publicly for the wrong reasons.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie described some of the prayer practices that the Savior warned against in Matthew 6:5: “Devout Jews, at set times, faced Jerusalem, covered their heads, cast their eyes downward, and ostentatiously went through the ritual of prayer. If the hour of prayer found them in the streets, so much the better, for all men would see their devoutness! To attract attention by saying one’s own prayers aloud in the synagogue was not uncommon. Such were among the practices of the day” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Vol 4)

According to these verses, why do hypocrites pray?  "that they may be seen of men."

How are we taught to pray by the Savior in this sermon?  
Joseph Smith: "We would say to the brethren, seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in." (History of the Church, 5:31)

"It is not always the words we use in prayer that count so much as the spirit in which they are said. If we are truly humble, we will acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all our righteous endeavors. Praying without humility is praying without faith. You just cannot have true faith without humility." (Elder Eldred G. Smith Conference Report, April 1955)
Matthew 6:7. “Vain Repetitions”
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

The Lord’s warning against “vain repetitions” is not necessarily a prohibition against using the same or similar words each time we pray. The Lord is also warning against prayers that are mechanical, shallow, or empty. Our prayers should be humble, heartfelt, and expressed with faith.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin explained what is meant by “vain repetitions” and how we can avoid them in our prayers:  “Our prayers become hollow when we say similar words in similar ways over and over so often that the words become more of a recitation than a communication. This is what the Savior described as ‘vain repetitions.  Do your prayers at times sound and feel the same? Have you ever said a prayer mechanically, the words pouring forth as though cut from a machine? Do you sometimes bore yourself as you pray?   Will prayers that do not demand much of your thought merit much attention from our Heavenly Father? When you find yourself getting into a routine with your prayers, step back and think. Meditate for a while on the things for which you really are grateful. Look for them. They don’t have to be grand or glorious. …“Think of those things you truly need. Bring your goals and your hopes and your dreams to the Lord and set them before Him. Heavenly Father wants us to approach Him and ask for His divine aid” (“Improving Our Prayers,” Ensign, Mar. 2004)

Matthew 6:8. “Your Father Knoweth What Things Ye Have Need of, before Ye Ask”

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Some people might ask what purpose is served in asking for blessings if Heavenly Father already knows what we need. Through prayer we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord, exercise our faith in His ability to bestow desired blessings, and acknowledge that ultimately all blessings come from Him. When done properly prayer helps us evaluate our lives and align with the will of God.

Elder David E. Sorensen taught that one reason we pray is because the process of prayer changes us: “I believe that our Heavenly Father teaches us to pray because the very act of praying will improve us. We worship our Father in Heaven as all-knowing and all-powerful. Surely, as our Creator, He knows our cares, our worries, our joys, our struggles without our informing Him. The reason our Heavenly Father asks us to pray cannot be that we are able to tell Him something He does not already know. Rather, the reason He asks us to pray is that the process of learning to communicate effectively with Him will shape and change our lives” (“Prayer,” Ensign, May 1993)

The Bible Dictionary teaches that we also pray to gain blessings the Lord desires to give but requires us to ask for: “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”)

Matthew 6:9–13 The Lord’s Prayer
Studying the Lord’s Prayer helps us identify how we can improve our own prayers by following His example.  

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

One of the most important things we learn about the Lord's Prayer is taught to us by President Russel M Nelson: “The Lord prefaced His prayer by first asking His followers to avoid ‘vain repetitions’ [Matthew 6:7] and to pray ‘after this manner’ [Matthew 6:9]. Thus, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a pattern to follow and not as a piece to memorize and recite repetitively” (“Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers,” Ensign May 2009)

Knowing that His prayer is a pattern for us to follow; what do we learn about the attitudes we should have as we pray? Matthew 6:9 

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

President Dallin H. Oaks taught that we should use special prayer language when addressing our Father in Heaven: “When we go to worship in a temple or a church, we put aside our working clothes and dress ourselves in something better. This change of clothing is a mark of respect. Similarly, when we address our Heavenly Father, we should put aside our working words and clothe our prayers in special language of reverence and respect. In offering prayers in the English language, members of our church do not address our Heavenly Father with the same words we use in speaking to a fellow worker, to an employee or employer, or to a merchant in the marketplace. We use special words that have been sanctified by use in inspired communications, words that have been recommended to us and modeled for us by those we sustain as prophets and inspired teachers. 
“The special language of prayer follows different forms in different languages, but the principle is always the same. We should address prayers to our Heavenly Father in words which speakers of that language associate with love and respect and reverence and closeness” (“The Language of Prayer,” Ensign, May 1993)

What do we learn about the kinds of things we should pray for and about?  Jesus Christ taught that we should pray for the kingdom of God to come. An example of this comes from President Thomas S. Monson who called upon the Saints to petition the Lord in prayer to open those areas of the world where the gospel is not currently allowed to be preached: “The Church is steadily growing; it has since its organization over 178 years ago. … There remain, however, areas of the world where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely. As did President Spencer W. Kimball over 32 years ago, I urge you to pray for the opening of those areas, that we might share with them the joy of the gospel. As we prayed then in response to President Kimball’s pleadings, we saw miracles unfold as country after country, formerly closed to the Church, was opened. Such will transpire again as we pray with faith” (“Welcome to Conference,” Ensign Nov. 2008)

Matthew 6:13. “Lead Us Not into Temptation” The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that the Lord does not lead us into temptation as we see with the corrected translation: “And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:14; compare Matthew 6:13, footnote a; see also James 1:13)

3.  Heavenly Father answers prayers Matthew 7:7–11
To strengthen our faith that God will hear and answer our prayers we are taught to ask, seek, and knock.  The Savior taught that just as a loving father would not give a stone or a snake when his son asks for bread or fish, Heavenly Father will not deny the gift of personal revelation to His children who ask for it.

7 ¶ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

The scriptures are rich with examples of people who “asked,” “sought,” and “knocked”

1 Nephi 11:1: For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.

Ether 2:18–3:6 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.
19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.
20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.
21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.
22 And he cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?
23 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
24 For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.
25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

 Joseph Smith—History 1:11–17:   While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
12 Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
13 At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
14 So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

What do we learn from these examples about obtaining answers to our prayers?  By asking, seeking, and knocking, in faith and patience, Heavenly Father will answer, personal revelation and understanding of the gospel will come. 

.President Boyd K. Packer told of a family prayer his family had before he left on a trip to California. A veterinarian had told them that their cow would not live through the day. “Our little boy said our prayer. After he had asked Heavenly Father to ‘bless Daddy in his travels and bless us all,’ he then started an earnest plea. He said, ‘Heavenly Father, please bless Bossy cow so that she will get to be all right. In California, I told of the incident and said, ‘He must learn that we do not get everything we pray for just that easily.  There was a lesson to be learned, but it was I who learned it, not my son. When I returned Sunday night, Bossy had ‘got to be all right’” (“Prayer and Promptings,” Ensign  Nov. 2009)

Brother Mangal Dan Dipty, a member of the Church from India, said: “As a child I attended the German Lutheran church regularly. We would go to the mountains to pray together often. One rainy day, everyone in the prayer group was drenched, and one of the preachers offered a fervent prayer pleading with the Lord to stop the rain. To our amazement the rain stopped. That was the beginning of my faith in God and prayer” (“My Journey as a Pioneer from India,” Ensign, July 2016)

Some important context for Matthew 7:7–11 can be found in the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 7:12–17 .  In these verses, Jesus’s disciples anticipated some reasons people might give for not seeking truth from Heavenly Father. 

JST, Matthew 7:12–17. Compare Matthew 7:7–8Jesus teaches His disciples that the Father gives revelation to all who ask.

12 Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
13 For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
14 And then said his disciples unto him, They will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.
15 And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.
16 Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, Thus shall ye say unto them,

17 What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?

Imagine you have a friend who is reluctant to seek guidance or blessings from the Lord. What might you say to encourage this friend? How might you use the Savior’s words in Matthew 7:7–11?  Elder Richard G. Scott taught that the Lord will give us what we need, not necessarily what we ask for: “Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’ (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1995)

4.  We can identify true and false prophets by their fruits Matthew 7:15–20
At some point in our gospel journey we have all likely been exposed to false philosophies and other deceptions of the adversary, whether on the internet or from other sources. We may have also heard others criticize the Lord’s servants.  Matthew 7:15–20 is a warning to us, to beware:

15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

How can we understand how to discern false prophets and teachings from true ones?  Elder M. Russell Ballard stated: “When we think of false prophets and false teachers, we tend to think of those who espouse an obviously false doctrine or presume to have authority to teach the true gospel of Christ according to their own interpretation. We often assume that such individuals are associated with small radical groups on the fringes of society. However, I reiterate: there are false prophets and false teachers who have or at least claim to have membership in the Church. There are those who, without authority, claim Church endorsement to their products and practices. Beware of such. …Beware of those who speak and publish in opposition to God’s true prophets and who actively proselyte others with reckless disregard for the eternal well-being of those whom they seduce(“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, Nov. 1999)

Joseph Smith teaches us that: "When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

Elder Bernard P. Brockbank stated: "A false prophet will not build the kingdom of God but will build in opposition to God's program and will build the kingdom of false men and Satan. A true prophet will not build the kingdom of Satan. A true prophet will help build the kingdom of God. He will teach the teachings and doctrines of Jesus Christ. He will teach the God-inspired scriptures." (Conference Report October 1965)

What are some of the fruits by which we can know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God ?D&C 135:3

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

How could we use the Savior’s analogy in Matthew 7:15–20 to bear testimony to our friends and family about the Prophet Joseph Smith? 

Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration. His spiritual work began with the appearance of the Father and the Son, followed by numerous heavenly visitations. He was the instrument in God’s hands in bringing forth sacred scripture, lost doctrine, and the restoration of the priesthood. The importance of Joseph’s work requires more than intellectual consideration; it requires that we, like Joseph, “ask of God.” Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.

Many of those who dismiss the work of the Restoration simply do not believe that heavenly beings speak to men on earth. Impossible, they say, that golden plates were delivered by an angel and translated by the power of God. From that disbelief, they quickly reject Joseph’s testimony, and a few unfortunately sink to discrediting the Prophet’s life and slandering his character.

To questions about Joseph’s character, we might share the words of thousands who knew him personally and who gave their lives for the work he helped establish. John Taylor, who was shot four times by the mob that killed Joseph, would later declare: “I testify before God, angels, and men, that [Joseph] was a good, honorable, [and] virtuous man— … [and] that his private and public character was unimpeachable—and that he lived and died as a man of God.”

We might remind the sincere inquirer that Internet information does not have a “truth” filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true.  (Jospeh Smith by Neil L Anderson )

What is a true disciple? A true disciple does the right thing for the right reasons. A true disciple follows the Saviors example of prayer, a true disciple treats others kindly and fair, and strives to serve God and do His will.   Are we true disciples?  Do we fit this description?  

We learn in this last section of the greatest sermon ever preached that Jesus teaches his disciples to do alms, pray, and fast in secret and to lay up treasures in heaven instead of on earth. He shows his disciples how to pray and teaches that Heavenly Father will bless those who ask him for what they need. Jesus teaches his disciples to forgive others, to judge righteously, and to treat others as they would like to be treated and He teaches his disciples that they will be blessed for serving Heavenly Father and doing his will.  If we are His true disciples, this is our plan to follow, these directions are our blueprint for life.  As we earnestly, faithfully and humbly seek to adhere to these principles we will know God, we will be a light to the world, we will have peace, joy, and all that the Father has to give unto us.  We will be true disciples and be filled as we fill others.  

Next Week:  As you study many of the miracles the Savior performed, ponder examples of modern-day miracles big or small that you have experienced or heard about.

New Testament Student Manual
New Testament Seminary Manual
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith Translation
Conference Reports

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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