Alma the younger, as we read in Mosiah, chapter 27, was ‘going about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church. Aided by the prayers of his father and others, Alma experienced the ‘mighty change.’ In Alma, chapter 36, he tells his son Helaman:
24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Alma took his charge to be bringing others to the same gate as he had passed through, ‘that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.’
This need to be born again. to experience the mighty change, to be baptized by fire and by the Holy Ghost is a charge that is laid upon each one of us as Alma tells us in Mosiah, chapter 27:
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
All of us are, by this scripture, to be born again as Alma was. We, all individually, or collectively are to shed our sins, and walk with God.
In describing what we should be doing once on the strait and narrow path, Nephi stated the following in Second Nephi, chapter 31:
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
I believe that feasting upon the word of Christ is what we call today personal revelation. We are to seek knowledge and wisdom from the source of all knowledge. To reinforce this idea, I would point to the example of Lehi at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. We read in 1 Nephi, chapter 2, that ‘the Lord spake unto [Lehi] in a dream. Lehi was commanded to take his family into the wilderness and in verse 3, we find that Lehi was ‘obedient unto the word of the Lord.’ Lehi, in this instance, demonstrates that we can receive personal revelation in dreams. The word of the Lord comes to us in dreams, visions, and revelations.
I have no doubt that Lehi prepared for this revelation by mighty prayer as is recounted in the first chapter.
5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
Prayer is the preparation for the receipt of revelation. If we do not ask, we shall not receive. We are to seek the word of Christ, just as Lehi and Alma have done.
Some ten years after Alma was born again, we find that he still thirsted after the knowledge and wisdom that the Spirit brings. He speaks here is his quest to understand these things:
45 And this is not all. 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?
46 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.
47 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.
Even with the great experience that Alma received, he was only at the beginning. He then applied himself to the acquisition of the knowledge and wisdom of God. The truth was made available to Alma through the Spirit of God as a result of many days of fasting and prayer. The spirit of revelation is knowledge given to us through the communion with this Spirit. The spirit of prophecy is the ability to gain the knowledge of the truth as recorded in the scriptures.
Should we not follow the example of Alma? Should we not be born again? Should we not crave, as he did, the truths available through the conduit of personal revelation?
Later, in Alma, chapter 40, this great man recounts another example of how we gain knowledge through revelation.
3 … Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection.
Following this statement, Alma speaks of a mystery – that of the resurrection. I have no doubt that Alma was prompted to share the knowledge he gained from seeking to know the mysteries of God. I believe this is an example of a mystery becoming a doctrine, in this case the doctrine of the resurrection. Should we not follow Alma’s example and seek to understand the mysteries of God? We find the following in Alma, chapter 12:
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
If we will maintain a soft heart, we are promised here that we may receive knowledge of the mysteries of God in full. It is by diligent fasting and prayer that these things can be made available to us. The contrast is brought out in this scripture; we can choose to seek the mysteries of God and be brought into His kingdom or we can close off our minds and hearts to the mysteries of God and find ourselves in hell. What a choice… if anyone were to tell me that we should stay away from the mysteries, I would respond that such thinking is the path away from God.
We are promised that we will be filled with this knowledge. It is important to our salvation. It is critical that we strive to be born again and then seek to receive the mysteries of God. In what I consider to be one of the most meaningful scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants, we read of this promise:
5 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.
6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
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.
To those who fear and serve God in righteousness is given to opportunity to receive all the mysteries of God. We are given the same opportunity as Ether, Enoch, and other examples in the scriptures of those who reaped the benefits of seeking the knowledge of God. These great men were privileged to see the world from beginning to end. Nephi and Lehi also received this great revelation.
After Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received this revelation concerning the kingdoms of God, we read the following
114 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;
Again, we are presented with a mystery revealed. We are allowed to read of a portion of His word which can now be considered doctrine – a public statement of the knowledge of God imparted through revelation.
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
3 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.
The words of Christ, received through personal revelation, through the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy, open an avenue to us to receive all the mysteries of God. We are told that those who are not willing to seek the mysteries are not allowed into the kingdom of God. We are shown examples in the scriptures of great people who have received personal revelation that has given them knowledge of things that were, that are, and that will be.
The gate to the strait and narrow, the mighty change, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost gives us a ticket for an unbounded amount of knowledge and wisdom. The Lord delights in giving us these understandings. We should, individually and collectively, strive to gain all the knowledge and wisdom promised us, if we but seek it.
What think ye?