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.
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?