“Unit 1, Day 2: The Role of the Learner,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 1, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
The Holy Ghost, the teacher, and the learner each have an important role in gospel learning. This lesson can help you understand each of these roles so that you can be successful in your learning efforts. You may need to regularly review the principles taught in this lesson to remind yourself of your responsibility in gospel learning.
Consider the following scenario:
One young woman feels inspired and edified as she studies her home-study seminary lessons. She feels the influence of the Holy Ghost. She is grateful for the things she learns and ponders ways to apply them in her life. Another young woman completes the same lessons, but she is often bored and feels she doesn’t get much out of them.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are some possible reasons why these two young women have such different experiences while completing the same seminary lessons?
As you study today’s lesson, look for doctrines and principles that can help you fulfill your role as a learner in seminary and strengthen your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Three individuals have essential roles in a gospel-learning setting like seminary: the Holy Ghost, the teacher, and the student.
One truth we can learn from these verses about the roles of the Holy Ghost is that the Holy Ghost teaches truth.
Based on what you have experienced in your life, how can we know when the Holy Ghost is teaching us truth? (You might find Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3 helpful.)
Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–14, looking for the role of a gospel teacher. Note that these verses were given to early Church members who had been ordained to teach the gospel.
What is the role of a teacher of the gospel?
Read 2 Nephi 33:1, looking for what the Holy Ghost does when truth is taught by His power.
According to 2 Nephi 33:1, what does the Holy Ghost do for us?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 88:118, looking for how we are to seek learning.
One way we are to seek learning is by faith. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what happens as we seek to learn by faith. After quoting 2 Nephi 33:1, Elder Bednar said: “Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not necessarily into the heart. A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spiritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter. Learning by faith opens the pathway into the heart” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 61).
From this statement we learn that if we seek to learn by faith, then we invite the Holy Ghost into our hearts to teach and testify of truth.
- Faith is more than passive belief. We express our faith through action. Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What do you think we can do to learn by faith?
Imagine that you have never played soccer, but a teacher promises you that he can teach you to play soccer well enough to play on a soccer team. You believe in the teacher’s ability to teach and in your ability to learn. The teacher takes you to a soccer field. He explains and demonstrates how to dribble a soccer ball, but he not does not let you try to do it yourself. He then explains how to pass a soccer ball and demonstrates by passing it to you. However, before you have a chance to try to pass it back, the teacher comes to you and retrieves the ball. He does the same for throwing a soccer ball inbounds after it has gone out of play. He thanks you for your time and leaves.
After this type of a lesson, how prepared would you feel to try out for a soccer team? Why?
Although learning about and watching others play soccer helps, if you want to develop the needed skills to succeed in soccer, what must you do?
How might this example relate to learning by faith?
Only believing and trusting that the Spirit can teach us is not enough. To obtain knowledge of God’s truths, we must also put forth effort to learn and apply what we learn. Elder Bednar taught about the faith-inspired action that is involved in learning by faith:
“A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost. …
“… Learning by faith requires both ‘the heart and a willing mind’ (D&C 64:34). Learning by faith is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart. Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” 64).
Recall the young woman described at the beginning of this lesson who is frequently bored and feels she doesn’t get much out of the home-study seminary lessons. Imagine that she expressed these frustrations to you. From what she has said in the past about how she completes the lessons, you’ve found that she often writes superficial responses to the assignments in her scripture study journal and is frequently distracted by other interests as she works on her lessons. She also doesn’t participate in classroom activities or discussions during the weekly class sessions.
- In your scripture study journal, write three or four examples of spiritual, mental, and physical efforts you would encourage this young woman to put forth so she can benefit from learning by faith.
Examples from the life of the Apostle Peter illustrate how seeking to learn by faith invites the Holy Ghost into our hearts to teach and testify of truth. Read Matthew 4:18–20, looking for the Savior’s invitation to Peter and his brother Andrew.
What did the Savior invite Peter and Andrew to do?
How was their response an example of seeking to learn by faith?
Peter’s action of following Jesus Christ allowed him to be with the Savior throughout His mortal ministry. He was privileged to regularly hear the Savior teach and to witness Him perform many miracles. After the Savior’s invitation, Peter even walked on water (see Matthew 14:28–29).
On one occasion Jesus asked His disciples two questions. Read Matthew 16:13–17, looking for the personal question the Savior asked His disciples and how Peter responded.
Notice in verse 17 what the Savior explained about how Peter had received his knowledge. Peter received his knowledge through revelation from Heavenly Father that came through the power of the Holy Ghost. Ponder how Peter’s experience is an illustration of the truths taught in this lesson.
- Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Describe a time when you sought to learn by faith. How did the Holy Ghost fulfill His role in gospel learning when you did this?
What will you do to learn by faith and invite the Holy Ghost into your heart to teach and testify of truth? If you need some specific ideas of what you can do, you might choose one or two of the following actions to focus on:
Study the scriptures daily.
Develop scripture study skills, such as marking, cross-referencing, and using the scripture study aids.
Reverently and attentively engage in learning activities, and avoid distractions.
Meaningfully complete the learning activities in each lesson.
Record additional impressions, thoughts, and notes in your scripture study journal.
Explain gospel doctrines and principles to others, record and share insights and experiences related to gospel doctrines and principles, and testify of the truthfulness of gospel doctrines and principles.
Apply gospel doctrines and principles in your life (see John 7:17).
As you seek to learn by faith in your seminary experience, you will be following the counsel of President Thomas S. Monson: “Young people, I ask you to participate in seminary. Study your scriptures daily. Listen to your teachers carefully. Apply what you learn prayerfully” (“Participate in Seminary,” Aug. 12, 2011, seminary.lds.org).
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied “The Role of the Learner” lesson and completed it on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: