Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 50. Before today the most I remembered about this section is it is used a lot by missionaries to teach each other, the proper way to teach those who are learning about the church. That is still the part of this section that stood out the most to me today as I re-read it but I was also struck by a few other thoughts.
At this time, the church was plagued by visions and visitations from the servants of the devil but they didn't realize that they were of the devil and were taking what they were told by these visitations and causing problems. The Lord in this section clears some of that up. However, there is more in the section that has greater application to us today.
Missionaries, at least they did when I was one 10 years ago, use verses 21 and 22 of this section to make sure that they are teaching by the Spirit. The verses state that he that teacheth by the Spirit of truth receiveth is as it is preached by the Spirit of truth. And, he tat preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and uplifted and rejoice together. What I have always understood that verse to mean is that if you are teaching by the Spirit in an appropriate fashion, then you should learn something too. We had a great example of this yesterday in the Sunday School class I was in. We were learning about when the Savior at the beginning of His ministry goes to Nazareth and reads Isaiah in the synagogue and tells the people there that He is the long awaited Messiah. Those of you familiar with the story will remember that the people become angry and then seek to cast Him off of a cliff but He of course does not allow that to happen.
The instructor asked why the people were so angry. I pointed out that it was because they knew Him, had watched Him grow up and knew His flaws, if any, and that we all might have a similar problem if a sibling or a cousin were called as the prophet. I also pointed out that they requested Jesus do the miracles he had done in Caupernum in their presence and He told them no, citing scriptural examples of prophets who in the past had only visited 1 widow out of thousands and only cleansed one leper out of hundreds and that the people might have taken offense to such statements, who knows? The instructor mentioned that he had never thought of that before. It is a perfect example of bringing in the Spirit to teach and both the student and the instructor learned something that day.
I have heard it said that if you do not have the Spirit, you should not teach the gospel, or the things of the Spirit. I don't know if that is too extreme or not to be honest. Because we need to make sure that we are giving the things of the Spirit the sacred reverence they deserve. For sure if you prepare by the Spirit and cultivate that same Spirit so it is with you when you present, you can be assured that you are teaching/presenting the things your intended audience needs to hear.
The second verse that stood out to me was verse 29 and 30 where it says that if you are cleansed from sin you shall ask whatsoever you will of the Lord and it shall be given you. However, verse 30 teaches an important principle, that if we are truly cleansed from sin, we will not ask anything thing that is contrary to the will of the Lord. That is the important part. It reminded me instantly of Helaman 10 where Nephi is given the sealing power because the Lord knows that Nephi will not ask anything that is contrary to the will of the Lord, the Lord has seen into Nephi's heart and found it to be pure and desiring only the things of the Lord. That is the goal for everyone. As we strive to overcome the sins of the natural man, we grow ever closer to our Heavenly Father little by little until one day He will say to us too that He knows we won't ask anything contrary to His will. That is the goal for me and I hope it is for all of you too. And we have ample proof in the scriptures that it is attainable in this life. It just requires a lot of dedication and work. Until tomorrow.