Instructed by the Lord to create a School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet used a small room above Newell K. Whitney’s store to instruct the leaders of the Church in gospel doctrine, the affairs of the Church, and other matters to prepare them for Church leadership and missionary service. (D&C 88:77-80) These meetings provided opportunities for deep discussions of gospel principles, the reception of spiritual experiences, and the reception of revelations. D&C 88:122-125 gave commandments to the brethren in the School, requiring them to appoint a teacher, love one another, avoid being covetous and give freely, and be charitable. They were also required to cease from and avoid idleness, uncleanliness, faultfinding, excessive sleep, late bedtimes, and sleeping late in the morning.
We should learn “by study and also by faith”
§ D&C 88:118. President Marion G. Romney said: “I believe in study. I believe that men learn much through study…I also believe, however, and know, that learning by study is greatly accelerated by faith” (Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney , 72)
§ In addition to studying the gospel, we are counseled to seek knowledge in science, history, and literature. President John Taylor said: “We ought to foster education and intelligence of every kind; cultivate literary tastes, and men of literary and scientific talent should improve that talent; and all should magnify the gifts which God has given unto them…If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religion, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding, and that understanding which flows from God” (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham , 277).
§ President Gordon B. Hinckley quoted Matthew 11:29, “Learn of me” and then said: “I should like to suggest that you follow that injunction given by the Son of God. With all of your learning, learn of Him. With all of your study, seek knowledge of the Master. That knowledge will complement in a wonderful way the secular training you receive and give a fullness to your life and character that can come in no other way” (Improvement Era, Dec 1964, 1092)
§ Elder Russell M. Nelson said: “Because of our sacred regard for each human intellect, we consider the obtaining of an education to be a religious responsibility…Our Creator expects His children everywhere to educate themselves” (Ensign, Nov 1992, 6)
Why should we learn? What should we learn? How can we learn? The following scriptures provide answers:
§ President Gordon B. Hinckley taught young people the value of education: “It is so important that you young men and you young women get all of the education that you can. The Lord has said very plainly that His people are to gain knowledge of countries and kingdoms and of things of the world through the process of education, even by study and by faith. Education is the key which will unlock the door of opportunity for you. It is worth sacrificing for. It is worth working at, and if you educate your mind and your hands, you will be able to make a great contribution to the society of which you are a part, and you will be able to reflect honorably on the Church of which you are a member. My dear young brothers and sisters, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can possibly afford, and you fathers and mothers, encourage your sons and daughters to gain an education which will bless their lives” (Ensign, June 1999, 4)
§ President Brigham Young taught: “Our education should be such as to improve our minds and fit us for increased usefulness; to make us of greater service to the human family” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 255) A good education helps us serve our families, others, and the kingdom of God.
§ D&C 68:25-28. Parents have a solemn responsibility to help their children learn the gospel as well as practical skills such as how to maintain good health, work diligently, get along with others, manage their finances, and get a good education. While serving in the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Hinckley emphasized: “You know that your children will read. They will read books…magazines and newspapers. Cultivate within them a taste for the best. While they are very young, read to them the great stories which have become immortal because of the values they teach. Expose them to good books. Let there be a corner somewhere in your house, be it ever so small, where they will see at least a few books of the kind upon which great minds have been nourished” (Ensign, Nov. 1975, 39)
§ President Thomas S. Monson reminds us that little children can understand the teachings of the scriptures: “A …hallmark of a happy home is discovered when home is a library of learning…the Lord counseled, ‘Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith’ (D&C 88:118). The standard works offer the library of learning of which I speak. We must be careful not to underestimate the capacity of children to read and to understand the word of God” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, 70)
§ President Benson taught: “Today, with the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read…Feed only on the best. As John Wesley’s mother counseled him: ’Avoid whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, …increases the authority of the body over the mind’” (1979 Devotional Speeches of the Year , 61)
§ The plan for developing the city of Zion was sent to the Missouri saints by the Prophet in 1833. A temple was planned for the center of the city. Salt Lake City followed this plan and we should learn from that. The temple should be at the center of our lives and the temple is a center of learning for faithful Saints. In D&C 88:119, the Savior emphasizes that the temple is “a house of learning”. Elder John A. Widtsoe taught: “The temple is a place of instruction. Here the principles of the gospel are reviewed and profound truths of the kingdom of God are unfolded. If we enter the temple in the right spirit and are attentive, we go out enriched in gospel knowledge and wisdom” (Ensign, Jan 1972, 56-57)
§ Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “The temple is a great school. It is a house of learning. In the temples the atmosphere is maintained so that it is ideal for instruction in matters that are deeply spiritual… The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will only be partly understood. Return again and again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known…So look toward the temple. Point your children toward the temple. From the days of their infancy, direct their attention to it, and begin their preparation for the day when they may enter the holy temple. In the meantime, be teachable yourself, be reverent. Drink deeply from the teachings—the symbolic, deeply spiritual teachings—available only in the temple” (The Holy Temple [pamphlet, 1982], 6-8)
§ Because of the sacredness of temple ordinances, the counsel of our leaders is that we should not discuss specific aspects of the ceremonies and ordinances outside the temple.
§ Attend the temple as often as you are able. President Ezra Taft Benson asked: “Do we return to the temple often to receive the personal blessings that come from regular temple worship? Prayers are answered, revelation occurs, and instruction by the Spirit takes place in the holy temples of the Lord” (Ensign, May 1988, 85)
§ Learning without being overwhelmed by all there is to know: President Wilford Woodruff counseled: “Do not be discouraged because you cannot learn all at once; learn one thing at a time, learn it well, and treasure it up, then learn another truth and treasure that up, and in a few years you will have a great store of useful knowledge which will not only be a great blessing to yourselves and your children, but to your fellow men” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham , 269)
§ Learning the gospel in seminary and institute class: President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Our great program of Church education moves forward. The work of training students through the seminary and institute program is constantly being enlarged…We urge all for whom it is available to take advantage of it. We do not hesitate to promise that your knowledge of the gospel will be increased, your faith will be strengthened, and you will develop wonderful associations and friendships” (Ensign, May 1984, 47).
§ Developing our talents through education: Since each of us has been given talents by our Heavenly Father, we should use educational opportunities that will help develop our individual talents and interests. If we do this, the Lord will give us greater opportunities to use those talents and abilities.