Lesson Helps

FHE: Improving Scripture Study


Conference Talk: For more information on this topic read "Gospel Learning and Teaching," by David M. McConkie, Ensign, Nov. 2010, 13–15.

Thought: Immerse yourself in the scriptures. We cannot love what we do not know. (David M. McConkie, "Gospel Learning and Teaching", Ensign, Nov. 2010, 13–15.)

Song: “Search, Ponder, and Pray,” Children’s Songbook, p. 109

Scripture: And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children (2 Nephi 4:13).

Object Lesson:

Objective: To show that the scriptures can protect us if we use them.

Materials Needed: An umbrella and the scriptures.

Procedure: Hold up a closed umbrella and explain that it can protect us from the elements such as rain, sleet, or snow. Point out that it must be opened and used in order to offer that protection. Liken the umbrella to the scriptures. The scriptures were given to teach us the truth, which protects us from Satan’s deceptions and temptations. Remind the class that in order to protect us, the scriptures must be opened and used.

(Beth Lefgren and Jennifer Jackson, Object Lessons Made Easy, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010], p. 81.)


In the spring of 1949, M. Russell Ballard, at that time a young missionary in England, was called as president of the Nottingham District. Elder Ballard had been on his mission less than a year, but already he was serving as the leader of 34 full-time missionaries.

The work was hard, and the missionaries were constantly searching for new ways to preach the gospel. Like many missionaries, the new district president wanted to do something dramatic. But when the opportunity came, it turned out to be a little more than he had bargained for.

The Midland Debating Society was an old and respected organization in England. A member of the society contacted Elder Ballard and asked whether an authority from the LDS church could make a presentation. Elder Ballard was sure that his mission president, Selvoy J. Boyer, would jump at the chance to present the message of the restored gospel to such a large and important group of people. The plan was for President Boyer to speak for 45 minutes on the doctrines of the Church. Following his speech, those who wished to disagree would be allowed five minutes each. Then a question-and-answer period would follow.

Elder Ballard agreed to the format, set a date, and called the mission president. With great excitement, he explained the opportunity. No Mormon missionary had spoken to this society since John A. Widtsoe—a powerful, even legendary missionary—had addressed the group twenty-five years before. Elder Ballard knew that President Boyer was a gospel scholar and a fine speaker. He would make a wonderful impression on the audience.

President Boyer listened to all this and then simply said, "Good luck, my boy."

Elder Ballard was taken back for a moment. The mission president had obviously misunderstood. So Elder Ballard started over. Once again he explained the arrangements, and this time he was very clear that it was the president who was to do the speaking.

President Boyer listened again, and this time he said, "The Lord bless you, my boy." Then he hung up the phone.

President Boyer, of course, recognized the importance of this experience to his young district president, but Elder Ballard wasn't looking that far ahead. More than anything else, Elder Ballard was scared. He didn't want to make a fool of himself. The audience would be full of older, experienced British debaters. He was a 20-year-old American. Who would even take him seriously?

On the day of the presentation, he asked all 34 missionaries in the district to come to the great hall in Nottingham where he would speak. When they arrived, he asked them to scatter themselves through the audience. The fact was, Elder Ballard was not even sure that he and the other missionaries were safe. A debate of this kind could create great emotion.

Over twelve hundred people came to hear what the Mormon missionary would have to say for himself. Elder Ballard stood before them, feeling very much alone. He gave a presentation that was simple yet profound. He explained that Christ had established a church during his time on earth, but that after Christ died, the church changed and the priesthood power disappeared. He explained how the doctrines had become confused after Christ's death, and he told about the Nicene Council, where early Christians had met and agreed to teachings that were not inspired. He then quoted scriptures showing that Christ had known this would happen. Finally, he explained how the true teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

When Elder Ballard was finished, members of the debating society—mature, educated men and women—rose one after another to disagree with him. They accused Mormons of false teachings. They attacked the Book of Mormon. They challenged the very idea that a restoration had been necessary.

Elder Ballard listened and waited for his chance to defend the truth. When the time was opened up for questions, Elder Ballard was nervous but eager to set the record straight. He had less than an hour to leave a lasting final impression on his listeners. But as the questions began, the missionary's anxiety turned into joy as he was filled with the power of the Holy Ghost. Elder Ballard understood each question before it was finished, and the answer came to him immediately. He felt the Lord's Spirit, like a flood, filling him and guiding his responses. Sometimes he would actually quote scriptures by heart—verses he had read once or twice but certainly had never memorized. He spoke with clarity and yet with warmth and good will, and the audience was moved.

Time and again the questioners were impressed by Elder Ballard's answers as they heard his sound reasoning and felt the spirit with which he spoke. When the meeting finally ended, the crowd stood and gave him a standing ovation! Members of the debating society conversed with the many missionaries and congratulated Elder Ballard for his brilliant presentation.

But Elder Ballard knew better. Brilliance had nothing to do with it. He remembered the promise that the Savior had given to His apostles as he was preparing them for the time when he would no longer be with them. He told them that they would be able to teach the gospel because the Holy Ghost would guide them: "The comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26.)

Elder Ballard had felt alone as he had faced the great crowd, but he had not been alone. The Holy Ghost had been with him, ready to help him, and Elder Ballard's study of the gospel had prepared him. He had planted truths in his mind through his scripture study, and when he had needed those truths, the Holy Ghost had brought them to his remembrance—according to the promise.

(Tom Hughes, Dean Hughes, We'll Bring the World His Truth: Missionary Adventures from Around the World, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995], p. 62.)


Use this activity to review the order of the books of the Book of Mormon.

Someone selects a book. For example, they may be thinking of the book of Ether.

You can play as individuals or in groups. One of the individuals or groups guesses what book they think the person is thinking of. The person then indicates if the guess is high (comes after the correct answer) or low (comes before the correct answer), and the next group or individual takes a turn. Continue this process until the correct answer is given.

(Max Molgard and Allan Burgess, The Best of Fun for Family Night, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], p. 104.)

*For a printable pdf, click here.

Lead photo from Getty Images
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