Saturday, January 19, 2013
Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #5 "This is the Spirit of Revelation"
It’s time to play “Jeopardy” again! It will be like the TV game show, except the questions are not trivial. You remember how the game goes: You give you an answer, and the class members have to tell what the question is. If they can't figure it out, give them the reference so they can look it up. The first answer tells us our topic.
Answer: According to the Bible Dictionary, without it, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.
Question: What is revelation?
“Continuous revelation from God to his saints…makes possible daily guidance along true paths and leads the faithful soul to complete and eternal salvation in the celestial kingdom… Without revelation, all would be guesswork, darkness, and confusion.” (Bible Dictionary, p. 762)
Write “REVELATION” on the top of the board. Write “DARKNESS AND CONFUSION” on the lower left side of the board. Write “LIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE” on the upper right side. You will add to the board as the lesson progresses. The final chart will look like this:
Answer: Quoting Joseph Smith, “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph [or the prophet], but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even [this person] may know all things as he is able to bear them.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 149)
Question: Who is the least saint?
You and I are the least saints. We are able to receive as much revelation as we can prepare for. The topic of this game is one that we need to understand or we really will be in spiritual jeopardy! That topic is how to prepare to receive revelation.
Answer: In 1991, he said, “No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration.” (Conference, Oct ’91)
Question: Who is Boyd K. Packer?
Our lesson outlines six steps to take us from confusion to revelation.
1. Study the matter in your mind
Answer: According to Joseph Smith, this man became “exceedingly anxious to have the power to translate bestowed upon him.”
Question: Who is Oliver Cowdery?
Section 8 is the Lord’s answer to Oliver’s request to translate. He said yes. Read aloud D&C 8:1, 10-11. What happened with Oliver Cowdery and his desire to translate? (He was not able to do so immediately, so he gave up and went back to being scribe. The Lord then took away the gift from him, without his ever having learned how to exercise it. The Lord did not criticize him, but used the incident to teach him about revelation.)
The Lord had told him that according to his faith it would be done.
Write FAITH on the board.
Oliver had faith! Oliver Cowdery had a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet. He knew that God had answered the question in a glorious way. He had the faith to inquire of God himself.
Write “(Belief…” next to FAITH
He went to Pennsylvania to meet Joseph and found himself immediately acting as a scribe for him, having only known Joseph for a matter of days. What he did not know about was the other half of faith: all the work Joseph had exercised along with his belief.
Write “…and Works)” next to “Belief”
In Joseph Smith-History, Joseph describes his prayer in 2 verses (15-16). In 4 verses he describes the answer he received – the First Vision (17-20). But he spends 8 verses describing the time spent studying the problem in his mind (8-15).
Point out these words: serious reflection, great uneasiness, I attended…as often as occasion would permit, in process of time, at length…he even thought ahead about what place would be the best place to offer his prayer.
When it came to translating the golden plates, Oliver came into the picture at the point where Joseph was translating so fast that Oliver hardly had time to dip his pen in the ink. It looked so easy. But he had not been there to see the months that Joseph had spent learning to translate, poring over the characters, looking for similar ones, doodling with them on paper, struggling to learn what they meant. It’s like going to a concert and hearing a great violinist play a masterwork. We may say, “I’d give half my life to play like that,” when that, in fact, is what the violinist has done. We don’t see the preparation, the work, the frustration, the years of lessons. We just see how easy it looks now.
Read aloud D&C 9:7-10.
The Lord kindly took away the gift from him without his having learned how to use it, and left in its place a great lesson for him and for all of us.
The scripture said,“If you had known this…” So why didn’t the Lord tell him when he started to translate?
When our daughter, Camille, was six, she wanted to use a Bible flannel board kit we had bought for her part of family night. However, she wanted to use some of the pictures that had not been cut out yet. And she wanted to cut them out herself. I knew that those flannel board figures were really hard to cut out. But I also knew Camille. I knew that it would do no good to tell her that it was too hard for her. So I just let go ahead and try.
She cut out about two or three little pieces and discovered for herself that it was really hard. She was no longer anxious to do it.
When Oliver saw how hard it was, like Camille with the flannel board figures, like us with a great concerto, he decided he really didn’t want to do it that badly, and he went back to being a scribe.
Our manual tells us the Lord expects us to be active, not passive, as we seek revelation from Him. We grow as we use the gifts and resources he has provided to help us study matters out in our minds.
2. Ponder on the scriptures and words of prophets
Answer: Dallin H Oaks said, “[It] may … lead to current revelation on whatever [subject] the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time.”
Question: What is scripture reading?
Elder Oaks says further, “We do not overstate that point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation.
“Because we believe that scripture reading can help us receive revelation, we are encouraged to read the scriptures again and again. By this means, we obtain access to what our Heavenly Father would have us know and do in our personal lives today. That is one reason Latter-day Saints believe in daily scripture study.” (Ensign, Jan. ’95, p.8)
Answer: 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 unto him.
Question: What is James 1:5?
Elder Boyd K. Packer says, “No message appears in scriptures more times, in more ways than, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’” (Conference, Oct. ’91)
3. Inquire of the Lord in faith
Answer: The act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. (BD, p. 752)
Question: What is prayer?
“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.” (BD, p. 753)
4. Be obedient and serve God
Answer: Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that this is the way to revelation.
Question: What is righteousness?
He also said, “We cannot have the companionship of the Holy Ghost – the medium of individual revelation – if we are in transgression or if we are angry or if we are in rebellion against God’s chosen authorities.” (Ensign, Mar. ’97, p. 9)
5. Be meek and humble
Answer: The state of mind in which Joseph found he could not translate “a single syllable.”
Question: What is anger (or pride)?
David Whitmer recalled that one morning when Joseph Smith was getting ready to resume translating the Book of Mormon, “something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went upstairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went downstairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour – came back to the house, and asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came upstairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.” (B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:131)
Write BE HUMBLE.
6. Focus on the things of God rather than the things of the world
Answer: According to Elder Boyd K. Packer, inspiration comes more easily in this type of setting.
Question: What is peaceful?
“[The] trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention, less restraint, less dignity, less formality is not coincidental nor innocent nor harmless …
“The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer.
“Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit.” (Conference, Oct. ’91)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Divine guidance is so crucial … that we need to go out of our way to put ourselves in a situation in which such special help can be given.” (Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, p. 121)
Story: “Turn Here!”
Tell the story from the February 2001 Ensign, pp. 35-37, pointing how each of the steps (except scripture reading) were used by Officer Dove in his amazing rescue of an accidentally kidnapped infant.
Quoting Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Of all the great and wonderful and inspiring promises I have read, the most reassuring to me are the words of the Savior: ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ (Matthew 7:7) … Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is our Father. He is accessible to us.’” (Ensign, Jan. 1994, p. 2)
Introduction to next lesson
This week’s lesson objective has been to help us all “understand how to prepare to receive personal revelation.” Next week’s lesson is the second part: how to “learn to recognize personal revelation” when it comes.