“Lesson 20: Safeguarding Faith and Testimony,” The Eternal Family Teacher Manual (2015)
“Lesson 20,” Teacher Manual
Families and individuals have a sacred duty to develop faith in Jesus Christ and maintain strong testimonies. The Savior warned that in the last days, even “the very elect” might be deceived (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22). This lesson focuses on strengthening testimony to safeguard against the adversary’s forces, which seek to destroy faith.
Explain that Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once spoke about packs of wolves that roamed the countryside in Ukraine many years ago. The only thing that frightened them was fire. When traveling away from cities, people had to build large bonfires and keep them burning throughout the night to repel the wolves.
Invite a student to read the following statement:
“Travelers understood that building and maintaining a roaring bonfire was not just a matter of convenience or comfort; it was a matter of survival. …
“We do not have to protect ourselves from wolf packs as we travel the road of life today, but, in a spiritual sense, we do face the devious wolves of Satan in the form of temptation, evil, and sin. We live in dangerous times when these ravenous wolves roam the spiritual countryside in search of those who may be weak in faith or feeble in their conviction. … We are all vulnerable to attack. However, we can fortify ourselves with the protection provided by a burning testimony that, like a bonfire, has been built adequately and maintained carefully” (“Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 34).
Why is maintaining a strong testimony “a matter of survival” in today’s world? (After some discussion, write the following on the board: When we fortify our testimonies, we become less vulnerable to attacks on our faith.)
How can having a strong testimony help you to strengthen family members and others against attacks on their faith?
Display or write the following chart on the board. Do not include the bold principles in parentheses; these principles are provided for the benefit of the teacher. Ask students to read the verses in one of the columns, searching for principles that help protect against forces that weaken faith. Invite students to summarize what they read in a clear statement of doctrine or principle and then share their statements.
(When we maintain steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, we can press forward on the strait and narrow path leading to eternal life.)
(When we follow the Lord’s apostles, prophets, and other Church leaders, we can be protected from deception.)
(Through the Holy Ghost, the Lord can send peace and direction when our faith is attacked.)
(Fasting, prayer, and scripture study strengthen faith and testimony and enable us to withstand challenges.)
How have these principles strengthened you or someone you know against attacks on faith?
How might you use this information to strengthen someone you know who is struggling with his or her faith?
Remind students of the following: “Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 264). Testify that having faith in Jesus Christ, following the prophets, seeking the Spirit, and studying the scriptures will safeguard and strengthen testimonies. When we fail to do these things, faith can be weakened and testimonies lost.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to illustrate this point:
“One of my fine missionaries who served with me when I was the mission president in Toronto came to see me some years later. I asked him, ‘Elder, how can I help you?’
“‘President,’ he said, ‘I think I’m losing my testimony.’
“I couldn’t believe it. I asked him how that could be possible.
“‘For the first time I have read some anti-Mormon literature,’ he said. ‘I have some questions, and nobody will answer them for me. I am confused, and I think I am losing my testimony.’
“I asked him what his questions were, and he told me. They were the standard anti-Church issues, but I wanted a little time to gather materials so I could provide meaningful answers. So we set up an appointment 10 days later, at which time I told him I would answer every one of his questions. As he started to leave, I stopped him.
“‘Elder, you’ve asked me several questions here today,’ I said. ‘Now I have one for you.’
“‘How long has it been since you read from the Book of Mormon?’ I asked.
“His eyes dropped. He looked at the floor for a while. Then he looked at me. ‘It’s been a long time, President,’ he confessed.
“‘All right,’ I said. ‘You have given me my assignment. It’s only fair that I give you yours. I want you to promise me that you will read in the Book of Mormon for at least one hour every day between now and our next appointment.’ He agreed that he would do that.
“Ten days later he returned to my office, and I was ready. I pulled out my papers to start answering his questions, but he stopped me.
“‘President,’ he said, ‘that isn’t going to be necessary.’ Then he explained: ‘I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’
“‘Well, that’s great,’ I said. ‘But you’re going to get answers to your questions anyway. I worked a long time on this, so you just sit there and listen.’
“And so I answered all his questions and then asked, ‘Elder, what have you learned from this?’
“And he said, ‘Give the Lord equal time.’
“May we engrave that thought on our minds and carry it with us as we walk through this process of mortality. Let us give the Lord equal time” (“When Shall These Things Be?” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 60).
What did you learn from the experience that Elder Ballard shared?
How might giving the Lord “equal time” in your personal and family life strengthen you and your family against Satan?
How might practicing these principles now prepare you to be a better spouse and parent?
Conclude this portion of the lesson by asking a student to read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When we are consistently praying morning and night, studying our scriptures daily, having weekly family home evening, and attending the temple regularly, we are actively responding to [Jesus Christ’s] invitation to ‘come unto Him.’ The more we develop these habits, the more anxious is Satan to harm us but the less is his ability to do so. Through the use of these tools, we exercise our agency to accept the full gifts of His atoning sacrifice.
“… I testify that as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache, every challenge we face” (“Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 94).
Ask students if any of them could share an experience that is not too personal in which they overcame challenges to his or her faith.
Ask students to raise their hands if they know someone who is struggling to maintain his or her testimony.
Ask students to study and compare Luke 22:31–32; 3 Nephi 18:32; and Doctrine and Covenants 108:7–8 to learn the duty that we have as faithful members of the Church, particularly toward family members. After sufficient time, invite students to share what they learned. Students should understand the following principle: When we are converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have a duty to strengthen the faith of others.
Share the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:
“I have found that two fundamental reasons largely account for a return to activity and for changes of attitudes, habits, and actions. First, individuals return because someone has shown them their eternal possibilities and has helped them decide to achieve them. The less active can’t long rest content with mediocrity once they see that excellence is within their reach.
“Second, others return because loved ones or ‘fellowcitizens with the saints’ [Ephesians 2:19] have followed the admonition of the Savior, have loved their neighbors as themselves, and have helped others to bring their dreams to fulfillment and their ambitions to realization.
“The catalyst in this process has been—and will continue to be—the principle of love” (“Our Responsibility to Rescue,” Ensign, Oct. 2013, 5).
Why do you think love is such an important catalyst in strengthening the faith of others?
What have you or someone you know done to help strengthen the faith of someone who was struggling spiritually?
What steps can you take to be more effective in fortifying others’ faith?
Conclude by bearing your testimony that students can help restore and strengthen the faith of their friends and family as they show love and follow the principles discussed in this lesson.