New Testament Lesson 01 (“Come, Follow Me” Sunday School Manual)
A New Approach to Gospel Learning
Beginning this year, “The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has approved a significant step in achieving a new balance between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church. Purposes and blessings associated with this and other recent changes include the following:
• Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening
faith in Them.
• Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported
curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.
• Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.
• Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary
work and receiving ordinances and covenants and the blessings of the temple.”
Studying in the Home and at Church
The Guiding Principles stated by our leaders include the following:
Home Centered The home is the best place to live, learn, and teach the gospel (see 3 Nephi 17:3; D&C 68:25).
Church Supported Classes at church support us in living, learning, and teaching the gospel (see Moroni 6:4–5).
Home Centered Our gospel learning and teaching should be part of our daily lives (see Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Acts 17:11).
Church Supported Teachers inspire learners to experience the power of God’s word for themselves (see Alma 32:27–30).
Home Centered Studying the scriptures will bring power into our lives (see 2 Nephi 32:3; Alma 17:2–3; Helaman 3:29–30).
Church Supported Teachers help learners discover gospel truths in the scriptures and invite them to share their insights (see D&C 88:122).
The primary goals of these weekly newsletters from latterdaygospelsource.com are to supplement and support your home-centered study of the New Testament. These newsletters do NOT replace the Church-provided materials titled “Come, Follow Me” and should not be used to teach any lesson. You are to follow the official Church manuals, both for individuals and families and, if you are a Gospel Doctrine teacher, the Teacher’s Manual. Use these newsletters only to enhance and expand your own personal knowledge of these subjects.
Studying the Life of Christ
This year’s topic will assist you to draw closer to the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. As you study His life and His early Church, you can gain a greater testimony and awareness of Him as a living, personal Redeemer. You can better understand His great and infinite atonement. And you can have a great spiritual experience if you will make this course more than an academic exercise by praying about those things that you learn.
IMPROVING YOUR PERSONAL STUDY AND TEACHING
Make Your Home More Gospel Centered. The First Presidency said, ““We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.” The beginning of this new year and this new way of studying the scriptures is an excellent way to follow this counsel.
Take Responsibility for Your Own Learning. It is not up to your teacher to see that you understand the scriptures. It is up to you. Our Prophet’s invitation to strengthen our own testimonies in preparation for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, will best be accomplished by your own scripture study at home and your own prayerful seeking for inspiration from those scriptures.
Elder David A. Bednar taught: “As learners, you and I are to act and be doers of the word and not simply hearers who are only acted upon. Are you and I agents who act and seek learning by faith, or are we waiting to be taught and acted upon? … A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception.”
Record Your Impressions. You will be invited throughout the year to record your impressions as you study these lessons. This is a key to your learning and testimony. Those impressions will be provided by the Holy Spirit as you seek and pray for them. They will become the foundation of your gospel knowledge and of your testimony. Do not skip this important step in the process. You can write them directly into your manual in the appropriate places provided.
Look for Doctrine. This is the first goal suggested by the new manual and it is essential to your success in understanding the scriptures. “A doctrine is an eternal unchanging truth,” says the manual. So each New Testament lesson should be understood according to the doctrines it teaches. For example, the story of Mary’s acceptance of her role as the mother of our Savior is a compelling and beautiful one. But hearing the story alone is not enough. We should ask ourselves, “What are the doctrine(s) associated with this story? There are several, but perhaps the most obvious is Obedience. May showed us how we should respond whenever we are asked to do something by the Lord or his servants. “Be it unto me according to thy word,” she said (Luke 1:38). We should study and discuss the doctrine(s) found in each lesson. Write them down, and write down your own definition of what they mean. Then, take those observations with you to Sunday School. If you are the teacher, ask your students each time, “What is the doctrine that is illustrated by this story?” and then discuss it.
Adapt Your Study to Your Personal Circumstances. Inside each lesson you will find sections aimed at Personal Scripture Study as well a Family Scripture Study. Use these materials in a manner that best reflects your needs and your home. If youth are present, you will want to adapt your study to them. The same is true if little children are present. Make certain that the principles are taught in a way that best suits your family’s circumstances. The manual suggests many helpful activities and discussions that will make this effective for your family.
Remember that there is one lesson for every week of the year. You will be discussing lessons in Sunday School only twice per month, but every Monday of every week you should be reading and studying that week’s lesson in your home. Then bring your knowledge and impressions with you when you come to the next Sunday School class. If you are a Gospel Doctrine teacher, you will be covering material from at least two lessons each time you meet (except this first time), so you will need to be selective in what you discuss. Let your students’ impressions guide your discussion to ensure that what is taught is what is of the most value to them.
I testify to you that I have my own witness of the importance and effectiveness of these new methods. I hope that I can be helpful to you along the way.
1. “A New Balance between Gospel Instruction in the Home and in the Church,” Enclosure to the First Presidency letter dated October 6, 2018.
2. “Letter from the First Presidency,” Liahona, Dec. 1999, 1.
3. “Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 64.