Relief Society Lesson #7: Continuous Revelation through Living Prophets
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter
This lesson has solid basics on the prophets, the role of living prophets in guiding the church, and blessings that may come through following the prophet’s counsel.
There are, however, many nuances around prophets and their roles. I have added comments below each section of the lesson to help teachers add this nuance to their lessons – hopefully enriching the classes where they teach.
Quote from Howard W Hunter in the introduction
“My greatest strength through these past months has been my abiding testimony that this is the work of God and not of men. Jesus Christ is the head of this church.”
The church is led both by men and by God. Our leaders are inspired and they interpret God’s guidance through a mortal lens, as we all do.
1 – What is a prophet and what do they do?
“A prophet is one who has been called and raised up by the Lord to further God’s purposes among his children. He is one who has received the priesthood and speaks with authority. Prophets are teachers and defenders of the gospel. They bear witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prophets have foretold future happenings…”
There are some women called as prophetess like Miriam, Deborah, etc.
There have been times when there is more than one prophet on the earth at a time. (Today we sustain 15 people as prophets.)
There are a variety of roles for a prophet. S/he may do some or all of these things depending on the call from God.
- Defender of the Gospel
- One who warns
- Spokesperson for God
- Witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ
2 – God guides His children through a living prophet today
“We are guided by a living prophet of God—one who receives revelation from the Lord.”
I like the use of the word guided. Not commanded in all things, but guided.
“The Lord has revealed his mind and will to his anointed prophets. There is an unending stream of revelation flowing constantly from the headwaters of heaven to God’s anointed servants on earth. Since the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the voice of the Lord to his prophets has continued as before.”
For many years in the early church when members referred to the prophet they meant “Joseph, the Prophet” even though another man had become the President of the Church. Only more recently, do we sustain the current President as a prophet.
3 – Spiritual famine and the voice of the prophet
“They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:12
Throughout history, there is often spiritual famine in the world – and our day is no different. There are many voices to listen to and consider. Many people are searching for the right path for their lives. Listening and heeding the prophet can provide us with good direction and counsel; ultimately the choice is our own and the path is our own. The prophet and the church can help us develop a personal relationship with God.
4 – How do we best follow the prophet?
“It is the present living prophet who is our leader, our teacher. It is from him we take direction in the modern world. … If we follow the teachings of the living prophets, we will not go amiss.”
It is the stewardship of the President of the Church to receive revelations for the entire Church and to give doctrines of the Church.
We also have a stewardship to learn for ourselves and wisely follow or apply the prophet’s counsel.
The statement about “not going amiss” is is a little sticky, because it paints with a broad stroke, is open to some level in interpretation, and minimizes personal agency.
“No decision emanates from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve without total unanimity among all concerned.”
I appreciate that the First President and Quorum of the Twelve work together and have decided to show a united front. This builds trust and gives consistent message to church members. It is unclear, however, what unanimity means considering the very hierarchal nature of the quorum.
5 – General Conference
“In general conference, we receive inspired counsel from prophets, seers, and revelators. … Let us study their words, spoken under the Spirit of inspiration, and refer to them often. The Lord has revealed his will to the Saints in this conference.”
I love General Conference. I love hearing counsel and testimony from our leaders. I pray to often about how these words can/do apply to me personally.