Teach From the Prophets
I fall into what looks to be a common trap: questing. There is some scripture or other that phrases
something in an interesting way and I run down a rathole of a private interpretation and end up in
a very strange place spiritually. Apparently, so of you do the same thing as well.
When Alma (the elder) set up the church among the people of Zeniff who were hiding from King Noah,
he seemed to understand this tendency to wander off from the teachings of the prophets:
18 And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests;
even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them,
and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
19 And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save
it were the things which he had taught,
and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
20 Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save
it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another,
but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism,
having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God.
Teach Only the Words of the Prophets
Verse 19 provides clear instruction on what the priests should teach:
"...nothing save it were..." teachings of the prophets.
Alma focuses even harder specifically to his times by being specific
about what he had taught - "...repentance and faith in the Lord..."
The general command is to preach only the words of the prophets and
the specific teachings for the day were given.
Application in Our Day
I think the general command to only preach the words of the prophets
still applies to us today. Anything we teach, especially in a church setting, should be well
founded in the scriptures and the words of our modern prophets. As to specifics, the teachings
of our living prophets, drawn from the most recent general conference addresses, should be the text
of our teaching, alongside the scriptures.
Our church gatherings, especially Sunday School, can often fall to being a bit contentious as one person
or another speaks personal conjectures. These can be somewhat useful, but can also divide us into
camps that may move us onto divergent paths. The history of the Church is littered with groups who
"splintered" away from the main body over one doctrinal point or another and I think Alma and our modern
prophets continue to work to prevent this from happening.
"...their hearts knit together in unity..."
Although each of us can see different aspects of the words of the prophets and surely express them, we
can all remain focused on the goal of our redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation through him.
This can bring all of our
unique insights together and bring ourselves together in the kind of unity Alma commanded:
"...in love one towards another." As we each teach and preach toward that common goal of following the Savior,
our individual experiences and insights will pull us close together rather than tearing us apart.
I hope we can always remember that our teaching to each other should always be consistent
with the teachings of our prophets and the scriptures. Let us study both diligently so we can have
the Spirit's help in our understanding of the gospel. In this more divine way, we will teach in ways that encourage unity
and love, both within our families and our classes. We will ever come closer to the kind of people that Christ wants
us to become - "...the children of God."