Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we as parents, teachers, and leaders insure that the rising generation is taught correct principles and doctrine. When we teach the truth to children and youth, they mature with sound knowledge and correct principles; when we fail to teach correct doctrine, we have no excuses when the upcoming generations stray.
We must all understand that real power comes from studying and teachings the doctrines of the gospel as they are found in the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets.
Many leaders have counseled parents, leaders, and teachers about the importance of helping our children and youth feast upon the teachings of the Savior and learn correct doctrine. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. taught: "The youth of the Church are hungry for the things of the Spirit; they are eager to learn the gospel, and they want it straight, undiluted….
"You do not have to sneak up behind [them] and whisper religion in [their] ears; … You do not need to disguise religious truths with a cloak of worldly things; you can bring these truths to [them] openly" (The Charted Course of the Church in Education, rev. ed. [pamphlet, 1994], 3, 9).
We must not teach "fluff" to the rising generation because they need "healthy food" in order to successfully make their way through this life. We cannot teach truth to the rising generation without searching it out first, and President Marion G. Romney taught the importance going to the fountain of truth: "When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it. … I appreciate other people's interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says" (address to religious educators, 13 April 1973; quoted by J. Richard Clarke in Ensign, Nov. 1982, 15).
In order to "be acquainted with what the Lord says" we must turn to those sources where we can find the counsel of the Lord, and those sources include the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets. We can ensure that we are teaching correct doctrine when we are consistent with the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets.
Teachers in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel" and "observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:12-13).
Teachers in the Church should teach "none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught them by the Comforter through the prayer of faith" (Doctrine and Covenants 52:9).
Church-produced manuals contain suggestions for application, questions, activities, and audiovisual materials that can help us focus our teaching on the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. President Spencer W. Kimball explained, "No one has the right to give his own private interpretations when he has been invited to teach in the organizations of the Church; he is a guest, … and those whom he teaches are justified in assuming that, having been chosen and sustained in the proper order, he represents the Church and the things which he teaches are approved by the Church" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 532-533).
Other scriptures show that the word of God has the power to change people's thoughts and attitudes, and to lead them to choose the right. When the prophet Alma led a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites, he used the word of God to teach correct principles. "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them - therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 31:5).
The teaching of the word of God has numerous effects.
learned that the truth caused the Zoramites to be "angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore
they would not hearken unto the word" ( 35:3). Alma
At another time in the history of the Nephites and Lamanites in the Book of Mormon, there was a band of robbers of Gadianton: "and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites" (Helaman 6:37).
The Book of Moses contained in the Pearl of Great Price gave the experiences of Enoch using the word of God: "And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him" (Moses 7:13).
Why are the scriptures so powerful? Because the scriptures or the word of God are "the rod of iron" which leads "to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; ... and I beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God" (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11:25).
We learn from another scripture that "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do…
"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 32:3, 5).
The Lord promises us great blessings as we diligently learn and teach His doctrine. One of those blessings is an increase in our personal knowledge. We must study the doctrines of the gospel before we can teach them effectively. President Kimball said, "It is a common thing to have a few passages of scripture at our disposal, floating in our minds, as it were, and thus to have the illusion that we know a great deal about the gospel. In this sense, having a little knowledge can be a problem indeed. I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves - and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again" ("How Rare a Possession - the Scriptures!" Ensign, Sept. 1976, 4).
The importance of teaching correct doctrine cannot be over stated. When we teach correct principles and doctrines, we can have great impact in the lives of the rising generation. Elder David Bednar explained, "Gospel doctrines are a supernal source of power and influence for good. President Boyd K. Packer has explained: `True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
The study of the doctrines of the gospel [of Jesus Christ] will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel.' Two important words in President Packer's statement should be highlighted.
"First, true doctrine changes attitudes and behavior. True suggests doctrine that comes from God and is correct and accurate. The sources of such doctrine are the authorized teachings of the Lord's anointed servants and the scriptures. False doctrines, personal opinions and speculation, and gospel `hobbies' do not and cannot produce the same righteous effect upon our outlook and conduct.
"Second, true doctrine that is understood changes attitudes and behavior. Interestingly, President Packer did not teach that simply knowing true doctrine changes us. Rather, doctrine must be understood … the word understanding in the scriptures frequently is linked to and associated with the heart and refers to a revealed result or conclusion. Thus, true doctrine confirmed in the heart as true by the witness of the Holy Ghost changes attitudes and behavior. Knowing true doctrine is necessary but is not sufficient. Understanding true doctrine both in our minds and in our hearts is essential to righteous attitudes and actions." (Increase in Learning - Spiritual Patters for Obtaining Your Own Answers).
The rising generation must be taught correct doctrine in order for them to rise to their full potential and to be prepared to take their places as parents, leaders, and teachers. We must teach correct doctrine to our children and youth in order to strengthen our families, communities, and nations.