I wasn't sure where to start. What do I tell high schoolers? What questions will they ask? Of all of the Gospel, what do I teach them in that amount of time? I had a lot of questions, few answers and so I prayed.
At first I thought I would tell them spiritual experiences ... teenagers like stories right? But filling the time with stories didn't feel right. What did feel right was talking to them about the love of God and the power of revelation. I talked about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and I had a plan.
I began by briefly introducing myself, telling them that I am a journalist by trade not a preacher. I shared my testimony of the Savior. I told them I know God sent his Son to die for us, because He loves us. When I quoted the scripture "Eli eli lama sabactani" they ALL listened. Not just the pay attention kind of listen but the listen when the Spirit is bearing witness to our spirits that THIS is the word of God, THIS is the Truth.
I quoted to them, but the comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things unto your rememberance whatsoever I have said unto you. I told them I know that because God loves us so much and He knows this is a confusing world that He gave us a way to know the Truth. Not just some of the Truth, but the Truth of all things. I talked about the pattern to receiving revelation, the way we can find out for ourselves God's will. 1) Study 2) Remember - Truth and feelings 3) Meditate 4) Ask, in the name of Christ, with faith, nothing doubting 5) Receive. I then quoted James 1:5, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and it shall be given him.
I told them because God loves us, He is not a God of confusion. He is a God of clarity. Joseph Smith during the early 1800s was only 14 when he was searching out a Church. He was confused by how one group would teach and interpret the scripture one way while a different group would teach the same scripture differently. He read James 1:5, he decided to find out for himself. One morning in the Spring of 1820 he went to a nearby grove of trees, prayed and God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. They answered his question, none of the churches were right. As a result of that and other revelations he was called as a prophet and the true church, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth. But we don't have to believe blindly. No. We never have to believe blindly and just rely upon what they say; what our parents say; what our teachers say; what our friends say. We can know for ourselves. How? Because God will tell us in our mind and in our heart.
I read to them about beware false prophets in sheep's clothing and recognizing the difference by their fruits. I said the Book of Mormon is one of Joseph Smith's fruits. I quoted them Moroni 10:3-5 and told them that I decided to find out for myself. I was 12. After having read the Book of Mormon I locked the door to my room, knelt down and prayed. AND I RECEIVED AN ANSWER! There were no angels or visions, but in my heart I felt the joy, the peace, the comfort the rightness of it and I knew it to be true. Because everything that is good comes from God and there is nothing that is good that doesn't come from God.
I wrapped up my comments by telling them that if they remember nothing else from today. That I understand, I was in high school. We some times tune out or just don't remember because we're busy. I told them, you remember this! That I know that God loves you. He knows each of you by name. He knows your trials, your successes, what you are struggling with, what you need to repent of. He knows you and no matter what you have done, He loves you. Because He loves you He has promised not to leave you comfortless. We don't have to be confused. If we seek for the Truth from the Source of Truth, we will find it. I promised them in the name of Christ, because He Himself has promised them that through the power of the Holy Spirit they can know the Truth of all things. God hears and answers prayers. He answered mine, he will answer yours.
I opened it up for questions.
I was asked how we can profess the Book of Mormon to be true when the Bible clearly states not to add to or take away from this book. I read the verse he was referring to in Revelation, taught about what the word Bible means, a collection of books. I taught them how it was formed, hundreds of years after the last book in it was written, hundreds of years after Christ. I declared that John wrote epistles after Revelation and yet they are in the Bible. I mentioned they could find a similar verse in Deut 4:2 and that if we were to interpret it that way we would have to cut a large portion out of the Bible. Yet what those verses mean is that we do not add to or take away from God's Truth. We accept Truth and teach it as it is, not how we interpret it to be but how the Lord interprets it to be.
I was asked about the purpose of life. I said life is a test, the goal is to attain joy, and return and live with Heavenly Father.
I was aksed how we pass the test. I said we seek out the truth and live it. That includes having Faith, repenting, getting baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost.
I was asked if we have to get baptized to go to Heaven. I said yes.
I was asked about the people who don't get the chance to get baptized. I taught that in our temples we perform that ordinance or sacrament for the dead and that this gives everyone the opportunity to accept or reject God's teachings. Again this teaches us about how much the Lord loves His children.
I was asked what happens to us when we die if we aren't baptized. I said that the spirits of all men whether they be good or evil are taken straight home to that God which gave them life. I said we are then, according to our deeds, either able to enter into a state of paradise or a state of waiting. There if we haven't had the opportunity to learn the Truth in this life, we will have the opportunity in the next.
I was asked if that was pergatory. I said no, not in the sense that most people understand pergatory. We call it spirit prison.
I was asked where the spirit world is. I answered that the spirit world is here on earth, that we cannot always perceive these spirits but they are there. Whatever state we are in is where we will feel most comfortable.
I was asked if we believe Joseph Smith spoke for God. I said Joseph Smith was a prophet and like all prophets he taught God's word. But we don't have to believe what he taught or what any other prophet teaches blindly. Becauase The Lord loves us, we each have an opportunity to find out for ourselves that what the prophets teach is true or not. We don't believe blindly, we seek out light and try to spread it to others.
I was asked that what if we seek the Truth and never find the Book of Mormon. I said the Book of Mormon is not the Gospel, it is another witness of Christ and his mission. But if we seek Truth in this life and never find the Truths contained in the Book of Mormon then we will have that opportunity after we die. The Book of Mormon is true so if we seek Truth we will recognize it when we read it.
The teacher said there is a lot of archeological evidence supporting what is taught in the Bible but it is not-existent for the Book of Mormon. I mentioned how there is an institute called FARMS that has discovered some evidences. The teacher refuted that. I said that the Book of Mormon was written in the Americas and the last I knew there was an estimated 90+ percent of ruins left uncovered in Central America. He said it must still be a red flag right in front of our face. I said ultimately whatever may have happened anciently to those physical evidences, buried, destroyed by other civilizations, or just undiscovered; the Book of Mormon is a spiritual gift and so it is by the Spirit of God that we must seek its proof. Sure consider the archeoligical evidences out there or the lack of them but it is the Spirit that we can rely upon to teach us the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and God's gospel. God is the ultimate Source of Truth and if we seek Him out, He will answer.
It was a lot of fun and I felt the Spirit there. I saw in the eyes of the students that they felt the Spirit too. I love it when the note passing stops, the bored looks go away and I can see the Spirit bearing witness to their spirits that these things are true. Light fills their eyes and mine and peace fills our hearts. Each and every lesson that is my favorite moment of teachings. I am no more convincing than the next man but the Spirit, now that, that is how we can know nothing doubting.