Seminaries and Institutes
Teach the Doctrine

“Teach the Doctrine,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way: For All Who Teach in the Home and in the Church (2022)

“Teach the Doctrine,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Teach the Doctrine

Although Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge throughout His life, He was not formally educated like other religious leaders of His day. And yet when He taught, the people marveled, saying, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Why were His teachings so powerful? “My doctrine is not mine,” the Savior explained, “but his that sent me” (John 7:15–16). Doctrine is eternal truth—found in the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets—that shows us the way to become like our Father in Heaven and return to Him. Regardless of how experienced you are as a teacher, you can teach with power, as the Savior did, by teaching the Father’s doctrine. You and those you teach will marvel at the blessings God sends when your teaching and learning are grounded in His word.

To Teach the Doctrine

  • Learn the doctrine of Jesus Christ for yourself.

  • Teach from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets.

  • Help learners seek, recognize, and understand truths in the scriptures.

  • Focus on truths that lead to conversion and build faith in Jesus Christ.

  • Help learners find personal relevance in the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The Savior Learned the Doctrine

It seems clear that the Savior learned from the scriptures in His youth as He increased “in wisdom … and in favour with God” (Luke 2:52). His deep understanding of the Father’s doctrine became evident when His parents found Him in the temple at a young age, teaching Jewish teachers and answering their questions (see Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46 [in Luke 2:46, footnote c]). Later, when Satan presented him with extreme temptation in the wilderness, Jesus’s knowledge of the doctrine in the scriptures helped Him resist the temptation (see Luke 4:3–12).

You too can seek to learn true doctrine more deeply before you teach it. As you prepare to teach and learn with others, look carefully for what the Lord has said about the truths you are teaching. Search the scriptures and words of living prophets for explanation and counsel. Living and applying the truths you study will invite the Spirit to teach you the doctrine in even deeper ways and to confirm the doctrine’s truthfulness in the hearts of those you teach.

Questions to Ponder: Why is it important to understand gospel truths for yourself? How have you gained a deeper understanding of the truths of the gospel? What do you feel inspired to do to improve your study of the scriptures and the words of living prophets?

From the Scriptures: Proverbs 7:1–3; 2 Nephi 4:15–16; Doctrine and Covenants 11:21; 88:118

The Savior Taught from the Scriptures

After the Savior’s death, two of His disciples were walking and talking with a mix of sadness and astonishment in their hearts. How could they make sense of what had just happened? Jesus of Nazareth, the man they trusted to be their Redeemer, had been dead for three days now. And then there were the reports that His tomb was empty, with angels declaring that He was alive! At this pivotal point in these disciples’ faith, a stranger joined their journey. He consoled them by “expound[ing] unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning [the Savior].” Eventually, the travelers realized that their teacher was Jesus Christ Himself and that He was indeed risen. How did they recognize Him? “Did not our heart burn within us,” they later reflected, “while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:27, 32).

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, “The central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ” (“The Blessing of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 34). Throughout His ministry, Jesus used the scriptures to teach, correct, and inspire others. Be sure that your teaching does not drift away from the scriptures and words of prophets. As you faithfully rely on God’s word in your teaching, you can do for others what the Savior did. You can help them to know Him, for we all need our faith in the Savior strengthened regularly. Your love for the scriptures will be evident to those you teach, and your teaching will invite the Spirit to cause their hearts to burn with a testimony of the Father and the Son.

Questions to Ponder: How have you been influenced by a teacher who used the scriptures to help you come to better know the Savior? What might you do to rely more on the scriptures and words of prophets as you teach? How can you help those you teach know and love God’s word?

From the Scriptures: Luke 4:14–21; Alma 31:5; Helaman 3:29–30;3 Nephi 23

The Savior Helped People Seek, Recognize, and Understand Truth

A lawyer once asked Jesus, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” In response, the Savior guided the questioner to the scriptures: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” This led the man not only to his answer—“Love the Lord thy God … and thy neighbour”—but also to a follow-up question: “And who is my neighbour?” The Savior answered this question with a parable about three men who saw a fellow traveler in need. Only one of the three, a Samaritan, who was hated by the Jews just because of where he came from, stopped to help. Jesus then invited the lawyer to answer his own question: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him?” (see Luke 10:25–37).

Why do you think the Savior taught in this way—responding to questions with invitations to search, ponder, and discover? Part of the answer is that the Lord values the effort of seeking truth. “Seek, and ye shall find,” He has invited over and over again (see, for example, Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; Doctrine and Covenants 4:7). He rewards the seeker’s acts of faith and patience.

Like the Savior, you can help those you teach recognize and understand truth. The scriptures, for example, are filled with gospel truths, but sometimes it takes conscious effort to find them. As you are learning together from the scriptures, stop and ask those you teach what gospel truths they notice. Help them see how these truths relate to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. Sometimes eternal truths are stated in the scriptures, and sometimes they are illustrated in the stories and lives of the people we read about. It can also be helpful to explore together the historical background of the verses you are reading, as well as the meaning of the verses and how they apply to us today.

Questions to Ponder: How do you identify eternal truths in the scriptures or words of prophets? How are those truths blessing your life? What are some ways you can help learners recognize and understand truths that will be meaningful to them and bring them closer to God?

From the Scriptures: John 5:39; 1 Nephi 15:14; Doctrine and Covenants 42:12

students studying

We can help those we teach find and recognize truth for themselves.

The Savior Taught Truths That Lead to Conversion and Build Faith

One Sabbath day, the Savior and His disciples, feeling hungry, passed a field and started eating the grain. The Pharisees, always eager to emphasize the finer points of the law of Moses, pointed out that gathering grain was technically a form of work, which was forbidden on the Sabbath (see Mark 2:23–24). To use the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob’s phrase, the Pharisees were “looking beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14). In other words, they were so focused on traditional interpretations of the commandments that they missed the divine purpose of those commandments—to draw us closer to God. In fact, the Pharisees didn’t even realize that the One who gave the commandment to honor the Sabbath was standing before them.

The Savior took this opportunity to testify of His divine identity and to teach why the Sabbath is important. It was created for us as a day to worship the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus Christ Himself (see Mark 2:27–28). Such truths help us understand that God’s commandments are about more than just our outward behavior. They are meant to help us change our hearts and become more fully converted.

Carefully consider the doctrine and principles you decide to focus on. While there are many truths in the scriptures that can be discussed, it is best to focus on truths of the gospel that lead to conversion and build faith in Jesus Christ. The simple, basic truths the Savior taught and exemplified have the greatest power to change our lives—truths about His Atonement, the plan of salvation, the commandments to love God and love our neighbor, and so on. Invite the Spirit to bear witness of these truths, helping them go deep into the hearts of those you teach.

Questions to Ponder: What are some truths of the gospel that have helped you become more converted to Jesus Christ and have greater faith in Him? How has a teacher helped you focus on the most essential truths of the gospel? What can you teach that will help others become more deeply converted to Jesus Christ?

From the Scriptures: 2 Nephi 25:26; 3 Nephi 11:34–41; Doctrine and Covenants 19:31–32; 68:25–28; 133:57; Moses 6:57–62

The Savior Helped People Find Personal Relevance in His Doctrine

“This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them,” the Pharisees complained about Jesus—implying that this was not appropriate behavior for a spiritual teacher (Luke 15:2). Jesus saw that this was an opportunity to teach them some profound spiritual truths. How would He do it? How would He help the Pharisees see that it was their hearts—not His—that were impure and needed healing? How would He use His doctrine to show them that their thinking and behavior needed to change?

He did this by speaking to them of a sheep that wandered from the flock and of a coin that went missing. He spoke of a rebellious son who sought forgiveness and of an older brother who refused to receive him or eat with him. Each of these parables contained truths that were relevant to how the Pharisees viewed others, teaching them that every soul has great worth (see Luke 15). The Savior did not tell the Pharisees—or any of us—who to identify with in His parables. Sometimes we’re the anxious father. Sometimes we’re the envious brother. Often we’re the lost sheep or the foolish son. But whatever our circumstances, through His parables, the Savior invites us to find relevance in His teachings—to discover what He wants us to learn and what we may need to change in our own thinking and behavior.

You may notice that some learners don’t see why some truths matter to them. As you consider the needs of those you teach, think about how the truths in the scriptures could be meaningful and useful in their circumstances. One way you can help learners see the relevance of the truths they are discovering is by asking questions like “How can this help you with something you are experiencing now?” “Why is it important for you to know this?” “What difference can this make in your life?” Listen to those you teach. Allow them to ask questions. Encourage them to make connections between the Savior’s teachings and their own lives. You could also share how you have found relevance to your own life in what you are teaching. Doing this can invite the Spirit to teach learners individually how the doctrine can make a difference in their lives.

Questions to Ponder: What is it that makes gospel truths meaningful and useful to you? What helps you find personal relevance as you study the gospel? What are you doing to focus on truths that are relevant to those you teach?

From the Scriptures: 1 Nephi 19:23; 2 Nephi 32:3; Doctrine and Covenants 43:7–9

Some Ways to Apply What You Are Learning

  • Evaluate what you are teaching to make sure you are teaching true doctrine. These questions can help:

    • Is what I’m planning to teach founded on the scriptures and words of latter-day prophets?

    • Have multiple prophets taught this? What are current Church leaders teaching about it?

    • How will this help others build faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and progress along the covenant path?

    • Is this consistent with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, or do I feel spiritually unsettled about it?

  • Daily study the word of God to learn true doctrine for yourself.

  • Ask learners to read scriptures and the words of modern prophets as you teach.

  • Teach learners how to use the footnotes, the Guide to the Scriptures, and other resources as they study the scriptures.

  • Invite learners to find truths in a scripture passage or a story.

  • Bear testimony of how you have come to know a doctrine is true.

  • Use stories or metaphors to help learners gain a deeper understanding of gospel truths.