The Holy Ghost cannot bring to remembrance that which has not been learned in the first place, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles pointed out on June 27 in a session of the 2017 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.
He was referring to Doctrine and Covenants 84:85, which states, “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”
It would be silly for two missionaries to set up a teaching appointment with a family but do nothing to prepare, Elder Renlund observed.
“These two missionaries need to follow the pattern demonstrated by the sons of Mosiah, who ‘had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God,’ (Alma 17:2)” he explained.
“What should they treasure up?” he asked. “Should it be the intricacies of Isaiah’s prophecies? The meaning of the creatures in the book of Revelation? The relationship between Leviticus and Deuteronomy? While those subjects might satisfy somebody’s intellectual curiosity, these are not the words of life that God needs missionaries to treasure.”
Rather, the words of life are words that, if hearkened to, will lead to eternal life, Elder Renlund said.
He added that the word of God is permanently coupled with keeping the commandments. “These words of eternal life are without effect unless they are associated with obedience and repentance.”
Elder Renlund summarized, “Missionaries need to treasure up doctrines that support the commitment invitations they plan to extend. Additionally, they are to treasure up the promises that God makes to those who accept and keep those specific invitations.”
Missionaries, he said, can identify what to treasure up by asking themselves what the invitation is that will be extended, what doctrine, correctly understood, will motivate the investigator to accept the invitation, and what blessings God has promised for accepting and keeping the invitation.
To demonstrate the process of “treasuring,” Elder Renlund focused on three invitations missionaries extend: “Will you pray?” “Will you attend Church?” and “Will you be baptized?”
For each question, Elder Renlund invited each mission president and wife to individually go through an exercise in which they discussed with each other what doctrine, correctly understood, would motivate the investigator to accept the invitation and what blessings God has promised for accepting and keeping it.
“This same model or pattern applies to all of the invitations that your missionaries will extend,” he said. “They can know what to study by asking what doctrines underlie the invitations they will extend today and what promised blessings are associated with those invitations.”
Personal and companionship study is an excellent occasion to do this, Elder Renlund said, adding that he had observed in meeting with missionaries that they struggle with using this time effectively because their study is unfocused and therefore does not have a lot of purpose. “Please teach missionaries to effectively use this time by focusing on their investigators, the invitations that will be extended and the doctrines and blessings that underlie the invitations.”
He said that Chapter 2 in the missionary guide Preach My Gospel is excellent for effective personal and companionship study, its key points being prayer, the Holy Ghost, focusing on the investigator, working with your companion, working to improve and living what you learn.
“Having continually treasured up the doctrines and the promises that are coupled with a specific invitation, missionaries will be able to have ‘given to [them] in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man,’ ” Elder Renlund concluded.
“These doctrines will become the basis for a lifetime of commitments. Each missionary will have formed a firm foundation for their lives. They will have formed a firm foundation for their future lives as mothers and fathers and parents.”