It has been said that you can’t teach what you don’t know anymore than you can come back from where you’ve never been. You must first learn and understand the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel to enable you to teach with the Spirit. You must exercise faith as you study the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets and apostles, and Preach My Gospel in preparation for teaching investigators. As you live worthily and work diligently, the Holy Ghost will help you become a proficient teacher of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bearing testimony invites the Spirit into our teaching.
We obtain the word by faith.
God promises the Holy Ghost to those who treasure up His word.
■ “A testimony is a spiritual witness and assurance given by the Holy Ghost. To bear testimony is to give a simple, direct declaration of belief—a feeling, an assurance, a conviction of gospel truth. Sharing your testimony often is one of the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the Spirit. It adds a current, personal witness to the truths you have taught from the scriptures. An effective missionary teaches, testifies, and invites others to do things that build faith in Jesus Christ. This includes making promises that come from living true principles” (Preach My Gospel , 198).
■ Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained “how testimony is instilled in our hearts”: “Since it is the Holy Ghost who testifies of sacred truth, we can do at least three things to make that experience more likely for [those we teach]. First, we can teach some sacred truth. Then we can testify that we know what we have taught is true. And then we must act so that those who hear our testimony see that our actions conform with what we said was true. The Holy Ghost will then confirm to them the truth of what we said and that we knew it to be true” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 84; or Ensign, May 1996, 62).
■ Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of testimony and the Holy Ghost in personal conversion: “The true church does not convert by signs and wonders, but by the testimony of the Holy Ghost. The Lord’s way of teaching religious truths is not by a public miracle or sign, but by a personal testimony” (The Lord’s Way , 88).
■ When we study the restored gospel “by faith,” we seek understanding from Heavenly Father by praying, applying gospel principles, and searching scriptures. Our understanding and our faith in what we study grows as we live according to the truths we learn. “Like all blessings from God, faith is obtained and increased through individual obedience and righteous action” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 55). This principle concerning faith is true for both missionaries and investigators. Heavenly Father rewards our faithful efforts with increased revelation. The Lord taught, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61). One of the challenges in teaching investigators is communicating these principles of happiness in such a way that they will apply them in their own lives and thus become converted.
■ President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “Learning is to be accompanied by faith, and as the Book of Mormon teaches us, learning ‘is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.’ (2 Ne. 9:29.)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 121; or Ensign, May 1982, 84).
■ Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how gospel study works together with faith: “Profound spiritual truth cannot simply be poured from one mind and heart to another. It takes faith and diligent effort. Precious truth comes a small piece at a time through faith, with great exertion, and at times wrenching struggles. The Lord intends it be that way so that we can mature and progress” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 119; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 88).
■ Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“In modern revelation the Lord has told us to ‘seek learning even by study and also by faith.’ (D&C 109:7.) Seeking learning by study, we use the method of reason. Seeking learning by faith, we must rely on revelation. Obedient to heavenly decree, we should seek learning by reason and also by revelation. …
“The things of God cannot be learned solely by study and reason. … We cannot come to know the things of God while rejecting or failing to use the indispensable method God has prescribed to learn these things. The things of God must be learned in his own way, through faith in God and revelation from the Holy Ghost” (The Lord’s Way, 16, 56).
■ Elder Henry B. Eyring used the Prophet Joseph Smith as an example of how the Lord blesses those who study the scriptures with faith: “Pondering the scriptures will lead you to ask the right questions in prayer. And just as surely as the heavens were opened to Joseph Smith after he pondered the scriptures in faith, God will answer your prayers and He will lead you by the hand” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 81; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 76).
■ Elder Eyring also spoke about two keys to receiving the Spirit:
“There are two great keys to inviting the Spirit to guide what words we speak as we feed others. They are the daily study of the scriptures and the prayer of faith.
“The Holy Ghost will guide what we say if we study and ponder the scriptures every day. The words of the scriptures invite the Holy Spirit. …
“We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than by passing quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture.
“Just as pondering the scriptures invites the Holy Ghost, so does daily pleading in prayer. If we do not ask in prayer, He will rarely come, and without our petition He is not likely to linger. … Heartfelt, constant pleading for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, with the pure intent to nourish our Father’s children, will surely bring blessings to us and to those we love and serve” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 114–15; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 83–84).
■ When missionaries pay the price to learn the restored gospel by study and faith, the Holy Ghost blesses them with power to teach in a manner that quenches the spiritual thirst of sincere investigators of truth and motivates them to draw closer to Jesus Christ by accepting the principles and ordinances of salvation restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
■ Elder D. Todd Christopherson of the Presidency of the Seventy gave insight regarding how to learn by the Spirit: “For the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. When I say study, I mean something more than reading. It is a good thing sometimes to read a book of scripture within a set period of time to get an overall sense of its message, but for conversion you should care more about the amount of time you spend in the scriptures than about the amount you read in that time. I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 9–10; or Ensign, May 2004, 11).
■ The manner in which the Lord wants us to teach requires that we prepare ourselves for the Spirit. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: “Our teaching will be effective if we approach it humbly through prayer and study. We will then be assisted by the Spirit in imparting the word, consistent and in harmony with what the Lord would have us teach” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 7; or Ensign, May 1999, 8).
■ President Spencer W. Kimball explained how reading the scriptures brings the influence of the Holy Ghost: “The years have taught me that if we will energetically pursue this worthy personal goal [to read and study the scriptures in depth] in a determined and conscientious manner, we shall indeed find answers to our problems and peace in our hearts. We shall experience the Holy Ghost broadening our understanding, find new insights, witness an unfolding pattern of all scripture; and the doctrines of the Lord shall come to have more meaning to us than we ever thought possible. As a consequence, we shall have greater wisdom with which to guide ourselves and our families, so that we may serve as a light and source of strength to our nonmember friends with whom we have an obligation to share the gospel” (“Always a Convert Church: Some Lessons to Learn and Apply This Year,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 3).
Why is it important that missionaries bear their testimonies often?
In what ways can you study by faith?
What does it mean to “treasure up in your minds continually the words of life” (D&C 84:85)?
Consider bearing your testimony in the next fast and testimony meeting in your ward or branch.
Select a favorite chapter from the Book of Mormon or a favorite section in the Doctrine and Covenants and spend significant time “studying by faith.” Take time to pray regarding the scripture, ponder, analyze, identify principles, and determine how you can apply what you learn in your life. Talk about your efforts with a close friend or priesthood leader.
“Importance of Daily Scripture Study” (pp. 155–56)
“Testimony” (pp. 178–80)