As you read this blog, you are likely in one of two camps. The first camp is the group that dutifully follows that direction of the brethren and avoids the mysteries. Conversations that move too far off the mainstream are met with a cautionary comment that we should avoid the mysteries and stick to the gospel. The other camp is composed of the group that has actually ‘read’ the scriptures and understands that the mysteries of God, as alluded to in the scriptures, are vital to our salvation. If you are a member of the first group, be warned that this is an attempt to move you to the latter perspective – the mysteries of God are to be sought after.

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First, consider the following. In Alma, chapters 11 and 12, we read of the confrontation between Zeezrom, an ‘expert in the devices of the devil’ and the missionaries Amulek and Alma. Following a rather sound defeat at the hands of the good guys, Zeezrom begins to sincerely ask questions that ‘he might know more concerning the kingdom of God.’ He asks the following:

What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works? (Alma 12:8)

Alma’s response is enlightening, not only from a doctrinal perspective, but also from a definitional point of view. Before Alma answer’s Zeezrom’s question regarding the resurrection, I believe he first clarifies the content of the discussion. The answer that he is going to give Zeezrom is considered to be a mystery of God and should be treated carefully. Here is Alma’s response found in Alma 12:9-11:

And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma’s point here is to us as well as Zeezrom. We should not harden our hearts to the word of God (which I take to be personal revelation). In so doing we will be given to know the mysteries of God in full. A key understanding here is that Alma’s answer to Zeezrom regarding the resurrection and judgment is considered to a mystery of God.

Now let’s take a look at Section 76 of Doctrine and Covenants, a marvelous composition reciting the vision of the three degrees of glory experienced by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Here is how the Lord introduces the topic found in verses 5 through 7:

For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

Here the Lord speaks of the blessings promised to those who fear Him and serve Him in righteousness and truth, enduring to the end. They are to be the recipients of ALL the mysteries of His kingdom. This, I believe, was not directed solely to Joseph and Sidney, but is a signal to all those who seek to serve God. We can be the recipients of all that God considers a mystery. What a tremendous blessing to those who understand and seek to receive His mysteries.

After presenting the information contained in section 76 regarding the three kingdoms and the benefits and liabilities of each, the vision is extinguished. Joseph records the following in verses which close out the section:

This is the end of the vision which we saw, which we were commanded to write while we were yet in the Spirit.

But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion;

Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;

Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;

To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves;

That through the power and manifestation of the Spirit, while in the flesh, they may be able to bear his presence in the world of glory.

And to God and the Lamb be glory, and honor, and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Here Joseph reaffirms that the contents of this section are considered a mystery of the kingdom of God. However, the content recorded in the section is only a small portion of what God gave to Joseph and Sidney. The broader knowledge was not to be given out freely but was only to be bestowed ‘on those who love him, and purify themselves before Him.’ I believe that the Lord is giving us an understanding that these things can be made known to us individually if we will prepare ourselves. It is edifying to me to see that the two scriptures dealing with the mysteries of the kingdom of God are consistent.

We can indeed be given personal access to this knowledge if we seek Him and sanctify ourselves. The key is the knowledge that these things are available. If we do not consider it important to seek after the mysteries of God or have a misguided understanding of the purpose of mysteries, how are we to receive these things from God? If we are not willing to pay the price that God asks, why should we think we should receive of these things? People! In these scriptures, God has promised us personal revelation pertaining to all the mysteries of God, if we will prepare ourselves to receive them. Think of it!

As a closing thought, I would like to again quote from Alma. First, consider that Alma was the recipient of the sanctifying baptism of fire when he was cleansed of all his sin and guilt. Secondly, simply passing through such an event does not give him nor us carte blanche to the knowledge of the kingdom of God. He actually had to work and strive to receive of the mysteries. Here is what he said, found in Alma 5:45-47:

… Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.

I marvel at the diligence that men such as Alma and Joseph and Sidney exhibited in seeking to know the mysteries of God. I marvel that God has extended that promise to each of us to follow the same path; to receive all that He has reserved for those that serve Him in righteousness and truth.

For those who shied away from the mysteries, have I convinced you to consider an alternative path?

What think ye?

33 Responses to “Section 76 – A Mystery of God Revealed”

  • Jack:

    What do I think? I think seeking after the mysteries has never made me a better Christian. So I’ll stick with the basics. For some “mysterious” reason the basics help me to be more loving — and as I get older that’s all that seems to really matter anymore.

  • Jack,
    When you say “I’ll stick with the basics” I assume you mean the core gospel. I believe there is a general misunderstanding of what the ‘gospel’ is. If you consider the scriptural definition, such as found in D&C 33:11-12:

    “Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.
    Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved;”

    In my view, everything else beyond the gospel definition to repent and be baptized by water, first then baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost constitutes knowledge that is revealed to us through others, such as Joseph as discussed above, or to ourselves as Alma taught.

    Does it concern you when you read the statement in Alma 12 about those who are destined for the ‘chains of hell’ because they hardened their heart toward the knowledge God wants to give them?

    We are taught in the scriptures that the first commandment is to love God with all our hearts, the second is to love our neighbors. (Mark 12:29-31)
    I believe that our prime purpose in this life is to accomplish both of these commandments, but in the proper priority. We must first know God, then love Him, before we can truly love our neighbors. I believe that the way we come to know God is through seeking knowledge and wisdom from Him.

    I would also add that our capacity to love our neighbors is increased greatly by our passage through the baptism of fire defined above as part of the core gospel. That cleansing and sanctifying event does more to free ourselves from selfishness than anything else I know.

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Can we do many wonderful works, love our fellow man, and fill all our callings with good works only to have God say ‘depart from me’ “I never know you?’ That is why I feel it is the first priority to know and love God, then focus on loving others.

  • Could you have written a stupider opening paragraph?

    I mean, honestly. You’ve imagined and portrayed yourself as being pitted against “the brethren” on this issue. Beyond that, you thereby impute all who might agree with you, by siding them against the brethren. Hence, you psychologically predisposition people who respect the brethren (as they should) to be against you. (And really, you’re either in one camp or the other? Stereotypes should be used with more caution.)

    I’ll tell you this, if you’re not “with” “the Brethren”, then nobody has any business listening to you.

    The reality is that “the Brethren” have made many statements about “speculation” that are often misunderstood, both by those who wish to “ignore” the brethren, and by those who imagine to be following their direction. (And of the two groups, I’d rather be in the latter. Fortunately though, I don’t have to choose sides, as both are wrong.)

    Why you would want to portray the Brethren as being against you is beyond me.

    Here are some sources that undermine your thesis:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=a5112eb2162eb010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=652139e7e7a9b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=024644f8f206c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    The reality is, you have made a few good points despite your bewitchingly inept introductory paragraph, and it would have been much better and much more accurate for you had you gone to some lengths to show where the Brethren really stand on this issue rather than making shallow appeals to disgruntling archetypes. (Or, without going to lengths, just don’t bring the brethren into it at all.)

  • Jack:

    Here in is a great mystery: When we do it unto the least of these we do it unto God.

    God says that we show our love for him by doing what he asks of us — and, generally, what he asks of us has mostly to do with serving others. Our consideration of how the second commandment might be like unto the first ought point our minds toward the mystery of godliness. But even so, the hallmark of real knowledge concerning God is to know his love. For we cannot truly know him without knowing what it is to love like he does — in some measure.

  • cadams:

    I feel the mysteries have made me much better, when the Spirit is followed.

    All are essential in their time and season in our lives. We shouldn’t remain a child, although being child-like is always good. But when we become a man or woman (of Christ) we put away childish things.

  • Consider my comments and these quotes from Joseph Smith on the subject at hand.

    “The similarity of the words ‘secret’ and ‘sacred’ testifies to their common origin in hoary antiquity and suggests that what was once the most sacred was also the most secret.” (Jerry L. Ziegler, YHWH)

    We’ve all heard the caution. Leave the mysteries alone. Focus on the First Principles and Ordinances. Don’t get sidetracked or misled by uninformed speculation. After all, just getting the basics right in our lives is a monumental, lifelong task. Right?!

    But apparently, Joseph Smith didn’t feel that way. Joseph Smith: “I advise all to search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness.” (History of the Church 6:363)

    “I also gave some instructions in the mysteries of the kingdom of God; such as the history of the planets, Abraham’s writings upon the planetary systems, etc.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 118)

    Planets?! Joseph thought it quite appropriate to teach the Saints from the pulpit about the “history of the planets” and about Abraham’s writings upon the planetary systems”. These were termed “mysteries.” Today these topics would also be termed “mysteries”, but with a far different connotation – taboo mysteries. Yet, the Lord included some of Abraham’s writings about the planets in our scriptures. Why, then, should these mysteries be considered taboo, when they are both canonized and publicly available?

    Lastly, for those who would “stick to the basics,” there is this: “There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst,” Joseph Smith lamented, “who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door to heaven by saying, So far God may reveal and I will believe.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 309.

  • Sean Cox’s comments on my post got caught in the spam filter because of the multiple URLs imbedded in the text. His comments have been added to the record along with my response to his questions and comments.

    Sean said: Could you have written a stupider opening paragraph?

    My response: Yes, I have written stupider opening paragraphs, but you caught me on a good day. I rank this one up there with essays on flea infestations.

    Sean said: I mean, honestly. You’ve imagined and portrayed yourself as being pitted against “the brethren” on this issue. Beyond that, you thereby impute all who might agree with you, by siding them against the brethren. Hence, you psychologically predisposition people who respect the brethren (as they should) to be against you. (And really, you’re either in one camp or the other? Stereotypes should be used with more caution.)

    My response: Haven’t read my blog much have you? Probably, haven’t scanned my other website http://www.fulness.com where I give a scriptural perspective on the apostasy of the restored church… On second thought, you should probably stay away. I don’t want you to strain on what comes after ‘stupider.’ I see you ascribe to the FAIR strategy of attacking an author’s literary skills if you can’t find enough evidence with which to hack him. May i employ it also?

    Sean said: I’ll tell you this, if you’re not “with” “the Brethren”, then nobody has any business listening to you.

    My response: You are absolutely correct. No one has any business listening to me. I would, though, suggest all who read this give heed to the word of the Lord. What does it mean when the Lord states that ‘a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord. And upon my house it shall begin, and from my house it shall go forth, saith the Lord; First, among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.’ (D&C 112:24-26)

    Who do you think the Lord is addressing in this scripture? Should we give heed to this warning, or just ignore it?

    Sean said: The reality is that “the Brethren” have made many statements about “speculation” that are often misunderstood, both by those who wish to “ignore” the brethren, and by those who imagine to be following their direction. (And of the two groups, I’d rather be in the latter. Fortunately though, I don’t have to choose sides, as both are wrong.)
    Why you would want to portray the Brethren as being against you is beyond me.
    Here are some sources that undermine your thesis:
    Two URLS to talks by Elders Oaks and Ballard.

    My response: I am familiar with the talks you linked from your comments and many others of the same vein. If you are interested, I would be happy sometime to provide a commentary on these talks and how I see their divergence from the message of the fulness of the gospel.

    However, it is curious that these men speak of support in seeking the mysteries of the kingdom or the glories of the celestial kingdom from the pulpit and act with some regularity in a different manner. Where does one draw the line between encouraging the acquisition of the ‘mysteries’ and the crusade for doctrinal purity that nets high profile ‘saints’ straying from the ‘milk’ of the gospel?

    Several years after the September six, I was a personal witness to this type of inquisition. I watched a good friend summarily excommunicated largely on the basis of their journals. Can ‘the brethren’ (not little b not big B) preach on the need to seek the mysteries and then condemn study groups that stray away from the Gospel Doctrine lesson plan?

    Sean said: The reality is, you have made a few good points despite your bewitchingly inept introductory paragraph, and it would have been much better and much more accurate for you had you gone to some lengths to show where the Brethren really stand on this issue rather than making shallow appeals to disgruntling archetypes. (Or, without going to lengths, just don’t bring the brethren into it at all.)

    My response: I will need some help to understand how to portray myself as ‘bewitchingly inept.’ Does that mean you were entranced by my stupidity? I have to admit this post was triggered by the ward ‘hammer’ who, based on his position of leadership, fills the role of doctrinal ‘cop.’

    In summary, Brother Cox, I have heard it all before. Your perception of the ‘rightness’ of the current path of the church and it’s leaders differs from mine. If you cannot gain anything from reading my stupid thoughts then you are free not to land on my page. I would hope, though, that your efforts are pointed toward a relationship with your Savior. I have said it many times and will say it again. No stake president, apostle, or prophet can save you, it can be accomplished only on your desire to know God. If you pin your salvation on the brethren, you will be mightily disappointed.

  • Jack:

    spektator,

    The trick is to do like Nephi did. He followed his father–the Lord’s anointed–with the utmost loyalty AND he had great and marvelous things shown to him personally. And those things that were shown to him personally he shared with the utmost care. Indeed, much, if not most of it, he was commanded not to share at all.

  • Anthony,
    Great quotes. We read of Joseph Smith speaking on the topic of the mysteries. I would suggest that the full dosage of the mysteries would be to have the same experience as Nephi or Enoch where they were given a vision of the beginning to the end. What more information could you possibly add to this?

  • Jack,
    Yes, I agree that the spirit can constrain us from sharing the mysteries that people are not ready for. But, wouldn’t that be a personal revelation or guidance? I struggle with the idea that the GAs can set boundaries on what and how individual members can discuss.

    As we read in the D&C of Hiram Page, we have a circumstance where Joseph had to correct a member. When is it appropriate for the leadership of the church to challenge a members right to speak of mysteries? Or to hold discussions on such topics? It really seems to be a gray area.

    Are we to share what we believe to have received from the spirit unless we are constrained by the spirit? This seems to be the case with Nephi and Joseph.

    Many questions…

  • Perhaps the admonition not to share mysteries is a bit unnecessary. Maybe the fact that they are “unlawful” to write is really a way of saying they simply cannot be written in the human language. The words can only be pointers towards experiences and understanding.

    I also think this is demonstrated by the parables Jesus Christ used to teach. He spoke so that only those seeking would understand the spiritual meanings of his words.

    The funny thing about the mysteries is that the more you learn the more you know you don’t know!
    I love this Sanskrit proverb: He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.

    I kinda feel like the mysteries are something we experience and that they are not easily conveyed to others. We certainly should seek after them for ourselves. Why do we have a young farmboy receiving a heavenly vision? To teach us our own potential.

    I think there is much to learn about the possibilities in all our scripture stories. The patriarchs and prophets (for the better part) were without church. They occasionally started their own, but most of them left the established “heirarchy.” They were called of God, not of men.

    Interesting stuff.

  • Javelin:

    Jack and Sean seem to have trouble thinking for themselves. When the president of our church enters the room, we all stand up. When Christ enters the room, we all fall to our knees. I choose to follow the holy ghost since it’s impossible for the spirit to lead me astray.

    BTW, the origin of the word “obey” means to listen, not to follow. We can’t really follow God if we are not listening to the holy ghost.

  • TST,
    Your comment about the Sanskrit proverb really hits home. To say it another way, I believe that the more you learn, the less you know and the more you ‘know’ the less you learn.

    I like Anthony’s ending quote from Joseph Smith, I do believe that we will leave this world with the same attitude we have in life. If we think we know everything, it may be a little hard for us to ‘unlearn’ the things that are impeding our spiritual progress. ‘Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.’ as Paul said. That is what I am trying to do.

    The caution against sharing mysteries can also be from unbelief. After Nephi laid out the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31 and 32 he said:

    “And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.”

    I think Nephi is telling us that one reason the Spirit may constrain us from speaking of the things of the Spirit is because of unbelief. To make progress in the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge, we have to be humble and willing to listen.

  • Javelin,
    I know where Jack and Sean are because I was once there myself. We, many times, only perceive what we want to see. If something doesn’t fit in our worldview, we can easily miss it or ignore it. I have to continually check my own perception to try to understand if I have bad information that is restricting my ability to understand that which is good.

    We are all on a spiritual journey; one that will take us as far as we are willing to go. Sometimes it takes a ‘critical’ event to shake us up and provide us an opportunity to see things from a higher plane and improve our ability to understand things not previously considered.

    I agree with you, the only safe harbor is in listening to the spirit. But, the ‘mystery’ to me is how so many people can be ‘listening’ to the spirit and come up with completely different answers. I have been accused of listening to the wrong spirit because of some of my positions relative to things spiritual. Is that the reason or is God taking me on a certain path in order for me to learn the lessons I require to continue my progression?

  • Javelin:

    With the spirit, we will see something different than our neighbor, but that usually comes from the little things. The basic truths don’t waver. In other words, God did not believe that worthy black males were unworthy to hold the priesthood for one hundred twenty years, then change his mind. So many regular Mormons knew that ban was wrong prior to 1978. They did not need to hear from the Brethren in late 1978 to know it was wrong.

  • OWIW:

    Perhaps it is an “honorable” thing to desire to stick to the basics and follow the brethren;

    • John 17: 3
    3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

    D&C 19: 10
    10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it!

    • JST 1 Tim. 3: 15-16
    16 The pillar and ground of the truth is (and without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness,) God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

    • D&C 84: 19
    19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

    Matt. 13: 11
    11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

    Eph. 3: 3-4, 9
    3 How that by revelation he made aknown unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
    4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
    • • •
    9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who b

    • D&C 76
    And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament….

    These are they who are “honorable” men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.

  • Javelin:

    Following the brethren is fine. It’s much more important to follow the whispering of the holy ghost. I would be careful about labeling who goes to what degree of heaven. That is God’s judgement, not man.

  • OWIW:

    I am simply quoting scripture. God is doing the labeling.

    I have judged nobody. I don’t even think the biggest part of the test has taken place yet so nobody can receive their final judgment yet..

    but thank you for you for your wisdom.

  • NEPT:

    I can tell you one thing, pure intelligence is extremely liberating. When the blinders fall and eyes are opened, the shackles of the craftiness of men fall.

  • Mysteries are delving into the scriptures and gaining a true understanding of the message of God. Example when will the Second Coming take place?
    We all know the basics such as “but the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the Angels in Heaven.” and watch for the signs etc. However there is a scripture which reveals much more and is never quoted by the brethren.

    The Scriptures explain that the Second Coming will take place after the opening of the Seventh Seal or in the beginning of the seventh thousand years; that is after the year 2000. In an answer to a question in section Seventy Seven in the Doctrine and Covenants the Prophet Joseph said:

    D&C 77:12: “….Even so in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things…and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of His work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years-the preparing of the way before the time of His Coming.”

    This plainly teaches that the Savior will come in the beginning period of the seventh thousand years.

    The scriptures further state in D&C 77:13 in answer to the question “when are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation? Answer: They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal before the Second Coming of Christ.”

    So this plainly teaches that the Saviour will not make his appearance until after the opening of the seventh seal or in seventh thousand years. The beginning period

    So why have so many leaders of the church got this wrong. I will give one example but I could quote many.

    In 1889 at Grantsville Utah President Woodruff said:

    “Many of these young men and maidens that are here today will in my opinion, if they are faithful, stand in the flesh when Christ comes in the clouds of heaven. These young people from the Sabbath schools and from the mutual improvement associations will stand in the flesh while the judgments of the almighty sweep the nations of the earth as with the bosom of destruction, in fulfilment of the revelations of God, and they will be the very people whom God will bless and sustain…”

    The mysteries of Godliness are great and most can be found by searching the scriptures, pondering, praying and listening to the Spirit. This is open to all saints as it states in D&C 76:1-10

    Thank you for your post.

  • Jack:

    Javelin,

    I proudly wear the title of “non-thinker” on my forehead. I’m tired of thinking. All my searching into the mysteries didn’t teach me ought about love. Now my greatest satisfaction comes from playing silly mindless games with my kids and eating chocolate — and strangely, I think I’m finally beginning to get a glimpse of what love really is.

  • Jack,
    What is progression if it isn’t learning? What is eternal progression if it isn’t eternal learning? I can’t say why your searching didn’t bear the fruit that you were looking for. I can say that sometimes the answers come in ways you didn’t expect.

    I would suggest that we are in this mortal probation to learn certain lessons. Sometime it takes several times to learn the lesson before we can move on.

    I have often pondered the scriptures where we are told that we should ask what we are supposed pray about. Watcher had a great post on that topic recently but I am too lazy to link to it.

    On second thought, playing mindless games with my grandkids and eating chocolate are very satisfying to me also.

  • I think we do have to find the balance between head knowledge and experience. We are here to experience life and learn through those experiences. If I never experienced life all my head knowledge would be pretty worthless. That is a valid point.

    I also know that my journey (increasing my spiritual knowledge) has taught me charity and its importance more than anything else.
    We all have a different journey and learn in different ways.

    I’ve been reading the History of the Church books and Joseph Smith spoke a lot about knowledge. He believed it to be essential.

    “When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned. The Israelites prayed that God would speak to Moses and not to them; in consequence of which he cursed them with a carnal law.” Joseph Smith

    “Knowledge is necessary to life and godliness. Woe unto you priests and divines who preach that knowledge is not necessary unto life and salvation. Take away Apostles, etc., take away knowledge, and you will find yourselves worthy of the damnation of hell. Knowledge is revelation. Hear, all ye brethren, this grand key: knowledge is the power of God unto salvation.” Joseph Smith

    I guess I don’t think it’s possible to learn to exercise the gifts of the Spirit or see the face of God unless I seek the hidden treasures of knowledge. If these things weren’t mysteries everyone would have them.

  • So… what shows up in my mailbox today but the October Ensign with an article on page 24 entitled Be a Blogging Missionary. The quote of the day is:

    “Don’t delve into the mysteries.”

    Does the church encourage seeking to know the mysteries of God by which we can avoid the chains of hell? Not this month.

    Spek

  • MelissaM:

    I think that Heber J Grant had hand in this mess with a conference talk in April 1924 quoted in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church book found here: http://www.lds.org/gospellibrary/materials/teachHJGrant/start_here_0.pdf

    page 5 “Teach and live the first principles of the gospel, and let the
    mysteries of heaven wait until you get to heaven.”

    As per D&C 20:
    6 But after repenting, and humbling himself sincerely, through faith, God ministered unto him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all other whiteness;

    7 And gave unto him commandments which inspired him;

    8 And gave him power from on high, by the means which were before prepared, to translate the Book of Mormon;

    9 Which contains a record of a fallen people, and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and to the Jews also;

    10 Which was given by inspiration, and is confirmed to others by the ministering of angels, and is declared unto the world by them—

    11 Proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true, and that God does inspire men and call them to his holy work in this age and generation, as well as in generations of old;

    12 Thereby showing that he is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Amen.

    13 Therefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter come to a knowledge of this work.

    14 And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life;

    15 But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation—

    16 For the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

    (please reread verse 9)

    1 Nephi 1:1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

    (Please note that Nephi had great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God)

    1 Nephi 10:17-19
    17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

    18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

    19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

    ~~~

    So who do we believe in this instance? The book that by the mouth of the Lord contains the fullness of the gospel or a man accepted as a “modern Prophet?” Sad that one has to choose. What do we do when the words of the “Living prophets” contradict the words of the book that contains the fullness of the Gospel?

    It’s called cognitive dissonance. It hurts.

    I believe in the words of the book brought forth by a choice seer as per 2 Nephi 3 and JST Genesis 50. I believe the words therein are plain and are not in need of interpretation. I just need to unplug my unbelief and actually read the words instead of the interpretation, commentary, and justification of men with “knowledge” that I have experienced around it. We as a people don’t bother to read our scriptures. We think that we can get it via men in a predigested slick cover format. Please Read D&C 20:6-16 again.

    • Spektator:

      From Melissa: What do we do when the words of the “Living prophets” contradict the words of the book that contains the fullness of the Gospel?

      My easy/hard answer is that we go to the Lord. I discovered that He is more than willing to 1) provide understanding and 2) provide comfort and peace. We have to open the door, though, something that is a lot easier when we have the motivation to seek and understand His perspective on the situation.

      I believe the scriptures are the lens through which we should view the words and works of men. I believe that the early saints were much more attuned to the spirit and expected knowledge from heaven. We, in the church today, have accepted correlation and rejected personal revelation.

      Spek

    • #18 Yes, LiZ, let’s all hope ! Unfortunately, I’m already miarred (and quite happily, I should say !) and I am a full time therapist and not a very good one, apparently. (You did catch my tongue-in-cheek smiley face at the end of my #17, no?) : ) #19 Annegb, perhaps you need to re-read D&C 121 (one of my absolute favorite sections), because HF is clearly confirming that Job was a real person, or, at the very least, confirming the blblical story of Job. If Job was a fictional character then why make any mention of him to Joseph? Just saying

  • The first camp is the group that dutifully follows that direction of the brethren and avoids the mysteries. Conversations that move too far off the mainstream are met with a cautionary comment that we should avoid the mysteries and stick to the gospel.

    I’ve always understood this counsel to mean “avoid speculation,” because it leads to “endless speculation,” disputation and distraction from the real labor at hand.

    To give an example, Laman and Lemuel (in 1 Nephi 15) could not understand the words of their father, Lehi, and were disputing “one with another” concerning them. So, they were speculating on the meaning of Lehi’s words, which led to actual arguments between the two of them. Nephi was pained upon seeing this because their hearts were hard and they weren’t doing what the gospel actually requires, namely, that if there is something you don’t understand in the gospel, you are to inquire of the Lord and the Lord will explain it to you.

    In other words, speculating on mysteries, or things that we don’t understand, meaning things that as yet have not been revealed by God to us, or unfolded to us to our understanding, through visions, prophecy, revelations, angelic ministrations, etc., IS NOT the gospel way. Speculating on mysteries is the way of the devil, for he strives to stir up the hearts of the children of men to contend one with another, in endless disputations over things they know nothing about, but think that they do, just as Laman and Lemuel both thought they understood Lehi’s words, without actually asking God to explain it to them, yet could come to no consensus or unity (“we cannot understand the words”).

    Now, Nephi did the gospel thing. He didn’t speculate on his father’s words, he merely recognized that he didn’t understand them and then went directly to the Lord, praying constantly until the Lord finally opened the heavens and gave him the same vision and understanding, so that he saw eye-to-eye as did Lehi. The doctrine of seeing eye-to-eye leads to a unity of faith and no contention and no speculation.

    So, fast forward to now. The latter-day saints are a faithless lot, thinking they know this or that without actually having received any visions, ministrations of angels, prophecies, etc. They know nothing because they have not performed the required labor, yet they speculate on all the things they don’t know, guessing that this or that passage of scripture means this or that. They are just guesses and such a practice leads nowhere, except to disputations and drawing battle lines that my interpretation is right and yours is wrong, but neither side knowing for a fact, for neither side has inquired of the Lord and received a confirmatory vision, like Nephi did. Both sides are like Laman and Lemuel, who, when asked if they inquired of the Lord, aswered, “We have not, for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.”

    And that is how latter-day saints are today. “The Lord maketh no such thing known unto us” is their unspoken belief. If they pray, they pray sporatically and without the necessary weeping. They do not cry unto the Lord. And they do not pray without ceasing, as did the ancients. Instead of looking to the Lord in every thought, as they are commanded to do, viewing the Lord’s death before their eyes constantly, the Lord is the furthest thing from their minds.

    And then they wonder why it is that they can’t get the heavens to open up to them. Why angels do not minister to them. The leadership of this church is right. This people needs to stop their speculation and humble themselves before God and exercise faith unto repentance, looking continually to the Lord and praying always, until, like Joseph, they receive a manifestation of the remission of their sins by an angel coming down in a pillar of fire, which fire would purify them. Then, and only then, should they turn their attention to the mysteries, but not to speculate on them, but merely to start inquiring of the Lord to have Him show them the mysteries, so that they can finally talk of the mysteries with knowledge and not with guesses.

    • Spektator:

      LDSA,
      You are doing a very good job to pull me out of my self imposed hiatus. Thanks for your comments.

      As I thought about this, I believe you have hit upon the confusion that reigns in the minds of many members. I fully agree with you that there is a distinct difference between speculating on the mysteries and seeking the mysteries. So much of the ritual that the LDS church has devolved into inhibits a member from seeking further knowledge and understanding. If Alma 12 is any indication, the fruits of the self satisfied avoidance of the mysteries and the associated truth and knowledge are the chains of hell…

      Spek

    • LDSA, this:

      I’ve always understood this counsel to mean “avoid speculation,” because it leads to “endless speculation,” disputation and distraction from the real labor at hand.

      To give an example, Laman and Lemuel (in 1 Nephi 15) could not understand the words of their father, Lehi, and were disputing “one with another” concerning them. So, they were speculating on the meaning of Lehi’s words, which led to actual arguments between the two of them.
      [...]
      In other words, speculating on mysteries, or things that we don’t understand, meaning things that as yet have not been revealed by God to us, or unfolded to us to our understanding, through visions, prophecy, revelations, angelic ministrations, etc., IS NOT the gospel way. Speculating on mysteries is the way of the devil, for he strives to stir up the hearts of the children of men to contend one with another, in endless disputations over things they know nothing about, but think that they do, just as Laman and Lemuel both thought they understood Lehi’s words, without actually asking God to explain it to them, yet could come to no consensus or unity (“we cannot understand the words”).

      Now, Nephi did the gospel thing. He didn’t speculate on his father’s words, he merely recognized that he didn’t understand them and then went directly to the Lord, praying constantly until the Lord finally opened the heavens and gave him the same vision and understanding, so that he saw eye-to-eye as did Lehi.

      sounds like the brethren at Jerusalem who understood not for they supposed.

  • page 5 “Teach and live the first principles of the gospel, and let the mysteries of heaven wait until you get to heaven.”

    Fundamentally, I agree with this quote, for it is the seeing eye-to-eye doctrine. It simply means, do not speculate on heaven. If you want to know about heaven, ask God, and He will give you a vision of heaven. A vision of heaven is, essentially, the same as going to heaven. So, “wait until you get to heaven” is, essentially, the same as saying “wait until you receive a vision of heaven.” Which is the doctrine of inquiring of the Lord and learning firsthand of the mysteries yourself, as explained in my previous comment.

    The vision in D&C 76, like everything else given to us in this dispensation, is a taste. Those who apply themselves, through the necessary labor, will receive a remission of their sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. in their justified state, they then, per D&C 50, can ask whatever they want to know and the Lord will tell them. D&C 76 is merely bait. The Lord is baiting His people so that they have something to ask about. Anyone who wants to see this vision can see it by performing the required labor.

    The vision is not meant to be a stepping stone to endless speculation and debate, but a stepping stone to a unity of the faith, in which all ask and receive this same vision. That is its purpose.

    • Spektator:

      LDSA,
      What better promise is there than what we find in the opening of the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. I like it so much it is worth repeating:

      5 For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who bfear me, and delight to honor those who cserve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

      6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their aglory.

      7 And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

      8 Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

      9 And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

      10 For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

      Who are the wise and prudent whose wisdom and understanding shall come to naught? I suspect that they are the ones who aren’t willing to seek (not speculate on) the mysteries of God.

      I believe the promise is to everyone who is willing to pay the price to seek and understand the mind and will of God.

      Spek

  • MelissaM:

    Anarchist,

    I think you are a rare individual.

    This quote in my ward was taken to mean just obey the list of rules and worry about it later meaning after you die. I believe that regardless of man’s contact with Heaven historically, currently as a church we are in a state of unbelief talked about in Moroni 10.

    I agree with you in “inquiring of the Lord.” We should all be actively seeking. Nothing is gained by speculation, discussion,and argument. The book opens with seeking the Lord. 1 Nephi chapters 1-2. I find the whole structure of Gospel Doctrine class quite amusing in this regard.

    I don’t see many LDS people seeking the Lord or inquiring of the Lord. They look to the Ensign, or to the lessons in the manuals, or the the talks on Sunday. I don’t even believe that we know the questions to ask. As a people, we see it in legalistic terms. If I follow all the commandments and check the boxes, then I’m all good.

    A foundational problem is this cult of personality we have created in “Follow the Prophet” regardless of the warnings found in 2 Nephi 4, 2 Nephi 28, Mosiah 23, Mosiah 29, Helaman 12, etc

    There is no scripture that states that men will not lead us astray. There is much scriptural counsel to the contrary.

    Our lesson manuals, unless read *very* carefully perpetuate this following. http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-george-albert-smith/chapter-6?lang=eng

    In the last 2 months I have been told from the pulpit to follow our leaders the end. That blind obedience is okay because my leaders are the mouthpieces of God. My son has been berated by local leadership into wearing a white shirt because it is demanded by leadership.I asked why we have Sacrament meeting first in our block meetings in spite of the fact that it is difficult for families. I was told to not ask why and that Leadership made those decisions. My stake president from the pulpit has been very vocal in his cultural nonscriptural demands, expectations, and counsel.

    Where is the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this?
    Where does this end?

    I cannot help but be reminded of comparing the Joseph Smith Inspired Version of Mathew 23 to the KJV:

    http://centerplace.org/Default.asp?CTUrl=http://www.centerplace.org/hs/iv2kjv/default.htm&CTTitle=Comparison of IV to KJV

    There are some who would say that we should not read the IV version of the Bible because we have the JST. There are some who would say that we have all we need within the LDS published editions. I say 2 Nephi 28:29-32.

    But that chapter doesn’t apply to us right? It applies to those who will never read the words of the book. We are chosen and true after all right?

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