Preparing Students to Receive Revelation: Insights from the Book of Mormon

By Shon D. Hopkin

Shon D. Hopkin, "Preparing Students to Receive Revelation: Insights from the Book of Mormon," Religious Educator 13, no. 2 (2012): 73–87.

Preparing Students to Receive Revelation: Insi​ghts from the Book of Mormon

Shon D. Hopkin

Shon D. Hopkin (shon_hopkin@byu.edu) was an assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU when this article was published.

During his discourse, King Benjamin tells the people that the knowledge he will share with them comes by revelation.

Gary Kapp, King Benjamin Preaches to the Nephites, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

How satisfying would it be to teach this year in a way that your students—even just a handful of them—are led to receive life-altering, revelatory knowledge and power directly from heaven? If there are specific scriptural approaches that increase the likelihood of the light of revelation being turned on in their eyes and in their lives, are you willing to spend the time to learn and implement those approaches? The Book of Mormon holds within its pages simple, straightforward pedagogical methods that can be employed to improve the likelihood of miraculous results in teaching.

While most read the Book of Mormon in order to better live the gospel, this sacred record also reveals how to effectively teach the gospel. The accounts of Book of Mormon “learners” should be read and pondered slowly, remembering the remarkable results that came from each of their learning experiences: Lehi, Nephi, the people of King Benjamin, Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, Nephi the son of Helaman, the people taught directly by Jesus Christ, the brother of Jared, Mormon, and Moroni. While the methodology discussed below forms a pattern that weaves throughout each of these stories, this study will focus only on the learning experiences of Nephi the son of Lehi (1 Nephi 11–14), the brother of Jared (Ether 1–4), and the people of King Benjamin (Mosiah 2–6). My purpose is to highlight the key role of desire in the learning process and the ways teachers can help sharpen the desires of learners to the degree that they are prepared to receive revelation.

Helping Students Develop a Desire

Past experiences with the Lord. The backgrounds of these three stories are strikingly similar, as the learners were each to some degree involved in journeys through the wilderness. Both Nephi and the brother of Jared were forced to gain new skills simply to survive and progress while on their journey to the promised land. The people of King Benjamin had fled to the land of Zarahemla under the direction of King Mosiah and were in the process of learning to adapt to their new environment, a process that included the efforts of the Nephites and Mulekites to adapt their different cultural backgrounds and become a united people. In all three stories, the learners were in a state of adaptation and were—aware of their physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Notwithstanding the difficulties that each of these three groups of learners had undergone, each had already had experiences with the Lord that allowed them to sense his trusting care. Nephi’s heart had been softened by the Lord in response to his prayers early in his journey in the wilderness (see 1 Nephi 2:16), and he had already received revelation and guidance numerous times before the remarkable prophetic experience recorded in 1 Nephi 11–14. The brother of Jared had similarly received an answer to his prayers concerning the preservation of his family (see Ether 1:39–41) and knew that he had been led by the Lord through the wilderness. Although we do not have an explicit record of the previous experiences of the people of King Benjamin, we do know that these were the people who did “hearken unto the voice of the Lord” (Omni 1:12) and who were then miraculously guided under the hands of Mosiah I to the land of Zarahemla. They knew that the Lord was watching over them, and they had seen his blessings in their lives.

In the classroom. It is a vital key to success in the classroom for teachers to realize that their students do not come to them as blank slates. As Susan Ambrose and others state in How Learning Works, “When students can connect what they are learning to accurate and relevant prior knowledge, they learn and retain more. In essence, new knowledge ‘sticks’ better when it has prior knowledge to stick to. . . . Prior knowledge of a topic can help students integrate new information.” [1] The Lord has not begun to work with students for the first time at the beginning of a semester, in a new course of study, or even before each class session. Nor should teachers ignore the wealth of experiences in the students that create hunger for the word and a sense of trust in the Lord that shows them he will respond. This is particularly true for students who are already baptized in the restored Church and have been offered the gift of the Holy Ghost by ordinance. [2]

It is a vital key to success in the classroom for teachers to realize that their students do not come to them as blank slates.

Photo by Kenny Crookston, BYU Photo. 

When teachers begin a new course of study as if nothing has been accomplished previously, they essentially force the students to go back to the beginning of their learning. Instead, the teacher should be actively engaged in helping the students connect with and bring all their prior experiences and wisdom to bear in the new classroom setting so that it is possible to build from what they have already received. While some teachers encourage their students to “leave their problems at the door” so that they can focus on the lesson being taught, this may not be the most effective way to prepare students to receive revelation. Instead, students should be encouraged to bring an awareness of their problems with them to class, not in a way that distracts from the lesson but in a way that creates a deep sense of hunger and a desire to gain solutions that the gospel can provide. Nephi, the brother of Jared, and the people of Benjamin did not come to the classroom setting as empty buckets waiting to be filled, but rather came to learn because their past and current experiences showed them just how much they needed the Lord and showed that he was willing to help them as he had in the past.

How can a teacher help each student in a large class to connect with his or her own personal background and experiences?

· Verbally or in writing, students can be asked to ponder what their current needs are and why they have the deep necessity to seek after the Lord. This type of activity does not always need to take long but should be engaged in frequently. Students should also be encouraged to ponder, write about, and share evidences from the scriptures and from their own lives that the Lord is willing to answer their needs.

· Students can be frequently reminded that prophets such as Nephi, Alma, and Joseph Smith received inspiration when they came to the Lord in need of help, trusting that he was able to provide.

· Students can be encouraged to remember that the Lord is seeking to build on the things he is teaching them in their personal lives and to request in the opening prayer and in their personal prayers that he will grant the revelation that they need and desire.

These overt reminders work as triggers that motivate the students to turn their minds to the Lord and to the reality of revelation. Just as Nephi, the brother of Jared, and King Benjamin’s people were aware of their lack and sought after the Lord diligently because of that lack, so must students in the classroom be encouraged to remember and focus their hearts and minds on the reality that they are in the midst of a quest for a promised land and that they have not yet arrived. This reminder can and should come at the beginning of the course of study but should also be considered to a certain degree in almost every hour of study. Students who do not remember their need and who are not prepared to seek after the Lord are not prepared to learn. [3]

Not only is it vital that the students remember their need and their past evidences of the Lord’s care, but it is essential for every teacher to remember daily that she or he is entering into a personally tailored course of study with each student that is already in progress. A lack of awareness of this fact will blind the teacher to the true nature of the learning opportunities. Students can be prepared to receive revelation because they have already gained valuable experience in the process.

Inspiring Learners to Become Agents in the Learning Process

Nephi. The two teachers in Nephi’s remarkable vision (first the Spirit of the Lord and then the angel) continue the process of helping Nephi sharpen his desires to “see, and hear, and know” (1 Nephi 10:17) by using questions and simple interaction. When the Spirit asks Nephi to respond to basic questions, he allows Nephi first to express his desires in a way that brings them into sharper focus for him and then to bear testimony of the things which he believes in a way that helps him decide how important those desires are. First, the Spirit asks, “What desirest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:2), allowing Nephi to organize his desires in his own mind in a way that he can express them clearly. The Spirit immediately follows that question with another question, “Believest thou?” (v. 4). This question confronts Nephi with the importance of his own choices with regard to what his father taught and with regard to his own desire. The importance of Nephi’s use of agency to express his own belief is demonstrated in the Spirit’s response to Nephi’s affirmation. The Spirit shouted “Hosanna” (v. 6), worshipping God for the choice that Nephi made and praising his student, thereby reinforcing Nephi’s positive choice and teaching him just how important that use of agency was. Nephi is further rewarded when the Spirit shows him the tree and Nephi is able to see that which his father saw. However, the vision does not become one-sided at this point— the interaction continues in an upward spiral of choice and positive consequences. The Spirit commands Nephi to “Look!” (v. 8), and only when Nephi looks does he see. The Spirit again asks him in verse 10, “What desirest thou?” and now Nephi’s desires have changed and been more fully honed, and he wants to know more. Just as when he heard his father’s dream the first time, the new knowledge that has come to Nephi leaves him hungry for more. The Spirit emphasizes Nephi’s continued need to hunger and desire when he again asks what Nephi’s desire is (v. 10).

In verse 13, the Spirit disappears from Nephi’s presence and is replaced by an angel who continues to ask Nephi questions, although these questions are more cognitive in nature: “Knowest thou . . . ?” (vv. 16, 21). The questions seem designed with multiple purposes. First, they encourage Nephi to stay involved as an active learner. Second, they help Nephi to formulate that which he already knows clearly enough to be expressed. Third, the process of answering the angel’s questions forces Nephi to again see where his understanding is deficient and sharpens his desires to understand those areas better. The angel continues to command Nephi to “Look!” and to “Behold!” in ways that refocus his mind from time to time, and then rewards him for his appropriate use of agency. Eventually, Nephi’s mind seems to be prepared and focused to a level at which he can be taught continuously, without the need for constant reminders and interjections. Nephi had been lifted to a level at which he was prepared to exercise his faith, heart, and mind sufficiently to receive streams of revelation from the Lord.

The brother of Jared. A similar process occurs with the brother of Jared. He had arrived in a beautiful valley that tempted him to act as if the journey was over. The Lord had to strongly remind him (see Ether 2:14) that his quest was not complete and that there were greater heights to be reached. That chastening helped the brother of Jared to reset his sights on greater things and helped him to reengage his heart and mind in seeking for solutions. The Lord provided a challenge for the brother of Jared that required him to continue to be engaged as an active learner. The task of building boats to cross the great sea forced the brother of Jared to use all of his prior experience but still left him with unanswered questions. The Lord allowed the brother of Jared to stay engaged not by supplying him with all of the answers immediately but instead by allowing him to choose how he would respond and what he would do in each case. The learning experience is again characterized by two-way communication between the learner and the teacher, allowing the learner to grow from experience to experience and allowing the teacher to gauge the preparedness of the learner.

The Lord later engages the brother of Jared in a way that connects the experience directly to the revelatory experience of Nephi. He asks the brother of Jared, “Sawest thou more than this [i.e., my finger]?” (Ether 3:9). The brother of Jared’s response allows him to express his desire: “Show thyself unto me” (v. 10). However, before the Lord will grant his desire, which has now been focused by the question and answer, he prepares the brother of Jared with the same question that the angel used with Nephi: “Believest thou . . . ?” (v. 11). When the brother of Jared chooses to exercise his agency to testify of his belief, then the Lord is able to show himself to him.

The people of King Benjamin. A similar process in which the teacher challenges his learners and continues to assess their preparedness to learn is evident in the teachings of King Benjamin. It appears that one of King Benjamin’s initial priorities in his teaching was to remind his people that—although they had successfully come through the wilderness to the land of Zarahemla—their spiritual quest was far from over. He reminds them that they are nothing without God, even less than the dust of the earth (see Mosiah 2:20–26). This reminder engages the hearts and minds of his students, encouraging them to see their lack and stimulating a desire to overcome their fallen state. There are two instances during Benjamin’s teaching in which he clearly assesses the level of his students’ understanding and belief, allowing them to choose to express their belief and desires in a way that will emphasize to them their own needs and their own belief. First, in Mosiah 4:1–3, King Benjamin “cast[s] his eyes round about on the multitude” and ascertains their belief and feelings because they have physically fallen to the ground from awe of the Lord. He then allows them to express their belief and desires. The combined expression of (1) desire and need and (2) belief perfectly mirrors Nephi’s responses to the Spirit’s questions, which also ascertained (1) desire and (2) belief. The people state, “O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins . . . for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . who shall come down among the children of men” (Mosiah 4:2). After this affirmation of belief, the Spirit comes into their hearts and brings them to a new level of preparedness to receive further revelation. Just as the angel urged Nephi to look and behold, King Benjamin encourages the people to continue to be engaged by calling their “attention” to “hear and understand” (Mosiah 4:4).

Before granting the final blessing of bestowing on the people the name of Christ, Benjamin again allows them to exercise their agency and express their belief in his message. “He sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them” (Mosiah 5:1). The people again respond with an affirmation of their belief and with an expressed desire to enter into a covenant. Although the scriptures do not describe the revelation of the people of Benjamin in the same terms as the visions of Nephi and the brother of Jared, it is interesting to note that the people state that through “the manifestations of his Spirit” they have had “great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, [they] could prophesy of all things” (v. 3). With this description of seeing that which is to come, it appears that the visionary experiences of these three groups may have been more similar than they first appear.

In the classroom. These three teaching experiences illustrate that religious learning should be goal oriented and that the goal should be to turn the hearts and minds of the students to an experience with personal revelation. The teacher must constantly assess where the students are to know where to spend time next. [4] This type of assessment can happen in many ways: through writing, verbal responses, and nonverbal cues. One of the ways that the angel assessed Nephi’s readiness was to ask him to look and then to see if he looked or not. The Lord first recognized the brother of Jared’s readiness because he had physically “fallen to the earth” (Ether 3:7). King Benjamin also recognized his people’s readiness to learn because of their posture. Similarly, teachers can look at the eyes, listen to the responses, and watch the posture of their students to see whether or not they are prepared to progress.

Additionally, these examples demonstrate that teachers could spend more time asking students to express their desires, the hopes on which their hearts and minds are focused, and the level of their understanding and belief. These could come in the following forms:

· Students could be asked to explain what they understand about a certain topic. Their efforts to explain will both strengthen their understanding and reveal to them their need to learn more.

· More importantly, students can be asked why the topic has importance to them and to others. Many teachers use the “So what?” test during lesson preparation to assess whether the concepts to be taught are of sufficient value. If the teacher cannot easily answer the question “So what?” regarding a certain concept, then the concept should be eliminated or refined in the lesson preparation.

· Students can be given quizzes, tests, or other evaluations in order to help them and the teacher become aware of that which they still do not know.

· Students can be asked to share either verbal or written testimony of a specific topic or in general. Students can be asked to privately assess the level of their testimonies of a certain topic on a scale of 1–10.

Teachers could spend time asking students to express their desires, the hopes on which their hearts and minds are focused, and the level of their understanding and belief.

Photo by Matt Reier, © Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

These opportunities to respond do more than simply help to keep students awake. They are crucial opportunities for students to use their agency in the classroom in order to choose how to respond. As they formulate responses, they will strengthen their understanding of gospel concepts but will also see where their knowledge is still lacking, causing them to seek for more. In other words, the response does not simply allow the teacher to assess preparedness. The choice to respond causes the preparedness; the response itself changes the students and allows them to be ready for further revelation.

Since this type of interaction between the teacher and student allows the student to play an active role in the learning process, it influences what will be learned during the course of study. As Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School general president, has stated, “I [have] discussed how questions of the heart emerge, capture us, and allow us to learn in ways that change us. Such questions can grow inside us only when we are free to choose what and how we will learn.” [5] Such freedom to engage personally with the subject at hand seems to be precisely what scriptural teachers intended when they allowed their students to express their own desires and beliefs before proceeding with a lesson, content that it reflected those desires and beliefs.

Moving Students beyond the Teacher and into a Direct Experience with the Lord

Nephi. The efforts of the teacher to point Nephi to increased revelation rather than directing him only to the brilliance of the teacher is most powerfully represented in 1 Nephi 11:12. The Spirit commands Nephi to look, but Nephi states that “I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence” (emphasis added). Nephi emphasizes that he was looking to the teacher as the source of his knowledge. Instead, the teacher purposefully disappeared in order to allow Nephi to see the beautiful image of the mother of God and to begin to understand the condescension of God. If the teacher had remained, then Nephi’s view would have been filled with the image of the teacher, and he would have missed the beautiful revelation that was available. Indeed, one explanation for the shift in 1 Nephi 11 from the Spirit to the angel might be that Nephi’s focus on Christ is being reinforced, while his dependence on any one teacher as the source of his knowledge is being diminished. Since both teachers are pointing toward the same subject, in essence Nephi is being taught that it is the subject that has power and that the identity of the teacher lacks importance. The teachers are pointing away from themselves and toward the Savior.

The brother of Jared. The experience of the brother of Jared illustrates how a teacher can encourage a student that there is more to be gained if the student will seek with greater faith and earnestness. The Lord purposefully gives the brother of Jared a bit of knowledge and revelation at a time and then entices him with the indication that there is more. The Lord hints at the available increase of revelation when he discusses his full body and then asks, “Sawest thou more than this [my finger]?” (Ether 3:9). The brother of Jared immediately understands what the Lord is suggesting and pleads, “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me” (v. 10). After ministering to the brother of Jared face-to-face, the Lord provides further instruction when he indicates that what the brother of Jared is about to see should not be revealed to others at the present time. It is apparently only after the brother of Jared knows that there is more to be revealed that his desire is strong enough to see the vision of “all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be . . . even unto the ends of the earth” (Ether 3:25). At this point in the account, Moroni reveals to latter-day readers that the Lord had provided the brother of Jared with an enticement at an earlier date, telling him that “if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things” (Ether 3:26).

The people of King Benjamin. As in the experience of the brother of Jared, the people of King Benjamin are also prepared early on to know that great blessings and great revelation are available if they will prepare themselves for it. At the beginning of his speech, Benjamin focuses their minds on this possibility by encouraging them not to trifle with his words so “that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view” (Mosiah 2:9). He is promising more than an interesting discourse; he is declaring to them that heaven can speak to them if they will open their hearts and minds to receive it. Benjamin had earlier prepared his son for the remarkable opportunity that awaited his people and knew that the end goal of his discourse was not to convey information but was instead designed to “give [the] people a name,” the name of Christ (Mosiah 1:11). It is likely that Benjamin shared this goal with Mosiah so that he would in turn share it openly with the people.

During his discourse, Benjamin continues to point to the possibility of heavenly communication. Rather than simply teaching the concepts of the angel regarding Christ in Mosiah 3, he purposefully tells the people that the knowledge he will share with them comes by revelation from an angel of God. After the people have been led to feel the goodness of God and have given voice to their experience, Benjamin again encourages them that there is more for them to receive (see Mosiah 4:4). Possibly because of the enticement of this encouragement, the next time that the people speak, they reflect that their revelatory experience has included not only the initial joy of the Spirit but the opening of vision of things to come. Their declaration is exactly what King Benjamin had hoped (Mosiah 5:6), and he is able to give unto them the name of Christ.

In the classroom. How can teachers point their students to the revelation that is available to them? As Elder David A. Bednar has stated:

You and I are to act and be doers of the word and not simply hearers of the word. . . . 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. Thus, learning by faith involves the exercise of moral agency to act upon the assurance of things hoped for and invites the evidence of things not seen from the only true teacher, the Spirit of the Lord. [6]

First, as stated early in this study, teachers need to have a clear vision in their own minds that this is the goal and to exercise their faith that revelation from the Spirit of the Lord is possible. As a fruit of that faith, there are many things that teachers can do to encourage their students to seek further:

· Teachers can give frequent verbal reminders that there is more for them than the teacher is able to offer. The students must be verbally encouraged to look beyond the teacher and discover the heavenly messages that God has in store for them. This would include the admission that the importance of the identity of the teacher pales in comparison to the importance of the message and its true source.

· As in Nephi’s vision, the admission that the teacher is not the final source of knowledge might lead teachers to encourage students to learn from other teachers when the opportunity is available.

· Teachers can point students toward scriptures, such as those analyzed in this study, and to quotations from modern prophets, such as the quote from Joseph Smith found in the conclusion of this article, that emphasize God’s willingness to grant revelation. Teachers can then remind the students that these statements and stories exist in order to encourage them to obtain revelation for themselves.

· The teacher can provide frequent verbal reminders such as “Remember that the Spirit can testify truth to you,” “If the Spirit speaks to you, make sure to write those promptings down,” “Imagine in your heart how you will feel,” “Imagine how this would look,” “Invite the Spirit as you read these scriptures,” and so on. These verbal cues express to the student the deeper purpose of religious education and emphasize that the information being conveyed by the teacher—while important—is not the final end.

Students can and should be challenged to seek after the Lord in real ways inside and outside of class, and then the teacher should send forth, as did Benjamin, to ascertain and assess what the experiences of the students have been so that they can be encouraged to continue upward.

Teaching the Reality of Revelation

Belief in revelation. The writers of the Book of Mormon appear to be deeply focused on convincing modern-day students and teachers that it is possible to receive revelation. [7] By the end of the three learning experiences in this study, Nephi saw a vision of the future history of the world until its end; the brother of Jared had a similar opportunity, seeing and learning things that were so precious that he was commanded not to share them at the present time; and the people of Mosiah obtained a mighty change of heart as a result of their learning experience, coming to know personally the forgiving goodness of the Lord, being redeemed of their sins, and feeling the saving power that can be offered by only the Lord, in addition to having “great views of that which is to come” (Mosiah 5:3). As M. Catherine Thomas described the effects for the people of Benjamin, “Perhaps this was the first time among all the people brought out from the land of Jerusalem that a king and priest . . . had succeeded in bringing his people to this point of transformation: he had caused them as a community actually to receive the name of Christ.” [8]

Although the results of the learning process come at the end of each story, the teacher from the beginning must engage in all aspects of preparation and of teaching with faith in the possibility of those results. That faith will motivate how the teacher chooses to spend time in the classroom and on which topics the teacher chooses to focus. It will inform everything that the teacher says and does in the classroom, providing an added degree of sincerity, fervor, and commitment to each action and statement. The importance of this faith-based approach to teaching cannot be overstated. If the angel had not clearly understood the kind of revelation that was available to Nephi, it would have subtly but significantly changed his teaching methods in a way that would have impeded Nephi’s ability to have the heavens opened to him. Instead, the angel understood the possibilities and worked in each moment to prepare Nephi for success. The same can be said for the teaching preparation and approaches of King Benjamin with his people and of the Lord with the brother of Jared.

In the classroom. Of course, this type of faith seems easy to the missionary who is not yet in the mission field or to the seminary teacher who has not yet been confronted by rows of sleepy faces or to the Gospel Doctrine teacher who has not yet had to deal with a sprawling, disconnected response from a student. Once in the classroom, face-to-face with students who exert agency of their own, many teachers lose sight of the possibility of powerful revelation and simply seek to survive. However, even in the face of opposition, teachers can exercise faith in the reality of revelation by

· praying daily and particularly before lesson preparation to see the divine capabilities of their students and to teach to those capabilities;

· before class, and where possible during class, looking into the faces of students, working to see them as the Lord sees them, full of the divine potential to receive revelation; and

· in moments of doubt, asking the Lord to reveal the true capabilities of the students and then writing what the Spirit prompts.

Although these steps are not revolutionary, they have the power to alter teaching in ways that will help lead students to personal revelation.

Conclusion

The experiences of Nephi, the brother of Jared, and the people of King Benjamin exhibit remarkable parallels in the methods used by the teachers to encourage their students to receive revelation. These methods center on helping to sharpen the desires of the students to learn more than the teacher has to offer. As the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them.” [9] Joseph’s message is also one of the primary messages of the Book of Mormon. All who truly seek can receive revelation directly from the heavens. Teachers can learn simple and specific ways in which they can help prepare their students to receive revelation and can thereby be tools in the Lord’s hands to point their students toward the true purposes of religious education.

Notes 


[1] Susan A. Ambrose and others, How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, 2010), 15–16.

[2] See J. Reuben Clark Jr., “The Charted Course of the Church in Education,” in Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1965–75), 6:48–49. “These students hunger and thirst, as did their fathers before them, for a testimony of the things of the Spirit and of the hereafter; and knowing that you cannot rationalize eternity, they seek faith, and the knowledge which follows faith. They sense by the Spirit they have that the testimony they seek is engendered and nurtured by the testimony of others and that to gain this testimony which they seek for—one living, burning, honest testimony of a righteous God-fearing person that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph was God’s prophet—is worth a thousand books and lectures aimed at debasing the gospel to a system of ethics or seeking to rationalize infinity. . . . These students, born under the covenant, can understand that age and maturity and intellectual training are not in any way or to any degree necessary to communion with the Lord and his Spirit.”

[3] This appears to be the criticism that the Lord levels against the Pharisees in Luke 15. Because they believed they were already “found” and did not sense their need for the Lord, they were unable to learn from him and were thus truly lost.

[4] Modern educational studies support the importance of frequent assessment in the classroom. See, for example, Linda Suskie, Assessing Student Learning (Boston: Anker, 2004), 3–17.

[5] Russell T. Osguthorpe, The Education of the Heart (American Fork, UT: Covenant Communications, 1996), 11.

[6] David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith” (address to CES religious educators, February 3, 2006), 4.

[7] See, for example, Alma 26:22, in which Ammon provides a formula that will enable a gospel learner to “reveal things which never have been revealed.” Both Mormon (Mormon 9) and Moroni (Moroni 10:4–5) express the same goals. A similar case could be made for Nephi (1 Nephi 11), Jacob (Jacob 4), Alma (Alma 12:10–11; Alma 32), and others.

[8] M. Catherine Thomas, “Benjamin and the Mysteries of God,” in King Benjamin’s Speech: That Ye May Learn Wisdom, ed. John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1998), 291.

[9] History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 3:380.