RS/MP Lesson 14: “How to Share the Gospel Effectively” (George Albert Smith Manual)
Posted by kirkcaudle on July 12, 2012
A link to the full lesson is here.
The subheading of this lesson is “Our efforts to share the gospel are most effective if we love our brothers and sisters and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.” I think that this is just an awesome sentence and one that I have found to be very true in my own life. Before I begin my notes for this week let me echo everything that I said in my notes for lesson 12. I would encourage you to go back and read those if you have not already done so. In fact, I could almost just copy and paste those thoughts in lieu of these ones because the lessons are so similar to one another. Therefore, rather than simply repeat myself in these notes I will deal exclusively with the “related scriptures” referenced in the lesson. These passages are: John 13:34–35; 2 Timothy 1:7–8; 2 Nephi 33:1; Alma 20:26–27; Doctrine and Covenants 50:13–22.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35).
Jesus was not just repeating an old saying here. Rather, Jesus was calling on his Apostles to learn a new way of loving others. This command comes shortly after Jesus honors Judas Iscariot who would soon betray him (John 13:26-27). One way to view this passage is to see the love Jesus is talking about here as referring to the love of those who betray you. Or in other words, your enemies. This type of love would be something that would define Christians (John 15:8, Acts 11:26).
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou parker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God (2 Tim. 1:7-8).
Sometimes standing up for what you believe in is not easy. However, it is not supposed to be easy. We are called to “not [be] ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). In fact, Paul tells Timothy that he is actually called to suffer for the sake of the gospel. We are often ashamed or scared to share the gospel because we are afraid to suffer the consequences of our actions if things do not go the way that we want them to go. I once recall hearing Elder Maxwell say that “we plead for exemption more than we do for sanctification.” Perhaps sometimes we pray in our hearts for an exemption from sharing the gospel in difficult circumstances? President Smith felt that “sometimes we do not sufficiently sense the importance of [the gospel], that we do not teach it with the earnestness it demands.”
And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men (2 Ne. 33:1).
President Smith says that we should offer the gospel to people “without money and without price” and ask them to “hear what we have to say, and if it appeals to you, accept it freely.” We must speak by the Holy Ghost, but the listeners must freely accept the gift. The key word in this verse from Nephi I believe is unto. When one speaks by the Holy Ghost the words are carried unto a person’s heart. However, the words are not carried into their hearts. The into is where the accepting freely comes into play. This can be seen in verse 2 of the same chapter where “there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them.” This is one reason why we can never force or coerce another person into accepting our message. However, with that said, our message is not one of dissention, but one of reconciliation. President Smith remarked, “that the most effective way to share the gospel was to look for the good virtues in people of other faiths and then, with boldness but kindness, offer to share the additional truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Sharing the gospel in this way with help transform unto into into.
And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more—And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them (Alma 20:26-27).
I believe one reason that the king was “astonished exceedingly” regarding the actions of Ammon was that it was rare, in any age of time, to run into a person that acted out of pure love for others rather than for money, sex, and power. This love was contagious and the king’s son, Lamoni, had caught the desire. The king ended up also being “greatly astonished” at the language of his own son. I can only imagine that the king knew his son at least semi-well. Therefore, love transforms us into something that can be seen even by those who know us best. When we share the gospel with true love it is something that cannot be hidden.
Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth. And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong. Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be be some other way it is not of God. And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together (D&C 50:13-22).
Verse 22 is among my favorite verses in the entire LDS cannon, because it declares that the teacher and the learner should both be “edified and rejoice together.” This is something that I keep in mind during each of my lessons and something that I keep in mind as I share the gospel with my friends. When I share my testimony I hope that I am being edified at least as much as the person that is doing the listening. We can know when someone is speaking by the spirit because we can feel it. Therefore, those that we share the gospel with can recognize the truthfulness of our words because they will be able to feel it if they so chose to be receptive to the message. This section of scripture also teaches me that to sit down and read the scriptures all alone everyday is to miss the point of scripture study. Reading scripture is meant to be personal and communal through conversation with others and ultimately with God. We cannot preach the gospel effectively until we study the scriptures and bring that spirit to those that we come in contact with.
Sorry, as always, about any typos. I ineviatably make a few every time!