"The Knowledge Hid Up Because of Unbelief"


"The Knowledge Hid Up Because of Unbelief"

Title"The Knowledge Hid Up Because of Unbelief"
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsAnderson, Kenneth W.
EditorNyman, Monte S., and Charles D. Tate, Jr.
Book TitleThe Book of Mormon: Fourth Nephi Through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction
Chapter3
Pagination31-44
PublisherReligious Studies Center
CityProvo, UT
KeywordsBrother of Jared; Faith; Godhead; Holy Ghost; Jesus Christ; Knowledge; Moroni (Son of Mormon); Mystery; Nature of God; Sanctification
URLhttps://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-mormon-fourth-nephi-through-moroni-zion-destruction/3-knowledge-hid-because-unbelief

“The Knowledge Hid Up Because of Unbelief”

Kenneth W. Anderson

Kenneth W. Anderson was associate dean of Continuing Education at Brigham Young University when this was published.

Today, the word of the Lord to the modern world through the prophet Moroni is: “Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief. Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief” (Ether 4:13–14). The purpose of this chapter is to identify the knowledge of God which is hid up from men and women because of unbelief and then to show the pattern of performance required for believers to find the great things laid up for them. Ultimately, the message of the Book of Mormon is that the Lord can show all things to each individual believer.

While there are many meanings of belief, we shall speak of casual beliefand causal beliefCasual belief is a passive kind of belief that never stirs the soul to do anything more than think with the mind. It is the belief Jesus referred to when he said to those who professed faith or belief but did not want to do any works: “Therefore wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead and cannot save you? Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble; thou hast made thyself like unto them, not being justified” (JST James 2:18–19).

Causal belief is the belief that leads to action. The scriptures equate it with faith. It is the substance of hope, the mental assurance of things hoped for but not seen (JST Heb. 11:1). Faith and causal belief are a gift of God given to men and women who live the laws which entitle them to this endowment of power, for it is a power (D&C 130:20–21). There is an uncommon dimension of faith in a few men and women that, when exercised in a true belief of Jesus Christ, causes the elements to react both physically and spiritually. This uncommon faith has a catalytic power to direct all matter and make earthly energy sources submissive. In the gospel sense this causal belief or faith generates salvation and eternal life. The promise is absolute that the correct faith in Jesus Christ is the power base that leads to salvation and exaltation.

Another term we need to define is mystery. In this chapter, mystery denotes a spiritual truth that was once hidden but now is revealed. It would have remained unknown were it not for special revelation that brought it to light. For example, God is a spiritual mystery to most of the world, but he has revealed himself to his prophets throughout the history of the world including those today, and we can exercise our faith in those revelations.

King Limhi correctly said of the record of Ether: “Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates” (Mosiah 8:19). The plates required a seer to unlock that mystery because the brother of Jared wrote in a language which could not be read (Ether 3:24). Moroni said the words on the record were “mighty even . . . unto the overpowering of man to read them” (12:24), but they were to be hidden from the people until after Christ had “glorif[ied his] name in the flesh” (3:21). Moroni was commanded to “write them” and to “seal up the interpretation thereof” (Ether 4:5). Moroni said:

For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then I will manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ. (Ether 4:6–7)

What specific knowledge did the brother of Jared possess which was hidden up because of unbelief? First, he understood the character of the Godhead—God our Father, his Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. . . . The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 343; hereafter TPJS). He also said: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. . . . I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man” (TPJS 345).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie has noted the following:

"The profound truth concerning God is that he is a Holy Man, a personage of tabernacle, a being in whose image and likeness mortal man was made. His work and his glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Eternal life is the name of the kind of life he lives, and until men know that he is a Holy Man, they will never have the desire and the incentive to become like him and to be inheritors of eternal life. . . . To Enoch the Lord identified himself by saying: “Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also” (Moses 7:35). (A New Witness 59–60)

The Brother of Jared Knew Jesus Christ. The LDS Bible Dictionary notes that Jesus:

"is the firstborn of the Father in the spirit and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is Jehovah, and was foreordained to his great calling in the Grand Councils before the world was. He was born of Mary at Bethlehem, lived a sinless life, and wrought out a perfect atonement for all mankind by the shedding of his blood and his death on the cross. He rose from the grave and brought to pass the bodily resurrection of every living thing and the salvation and exaltation of the faithful. He is the greatest Being to be born on this earth—the perfect example—and all religious things should be done in his name. . . . [For] his name is above every name, and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved. He will come again in power and glory to dwell on the earth, and will stand as Judge of all mankind at the last day." (633)

The brother of Jared also knew the nature of the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead. As the name implies, the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, not possessing a body of flesh and bones (D&C 130:22). He is manifested to us on the earth both as the power of the Holy Ghost and as the gift of the Holy Ghost. The power can come upon any of us before baptism and is the convincing witness that the gospel is true. It gives us a testimony of Jesus Christ and of his work and the work of his servants upon the earth. The gift can come only after proper and authorized baptism, and it is conferred by the laying on of hands (Moroni 2:1–3). The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify and sanctify members from all sin. Thus receiving it is often spoken of as a baptism of “fire.” The Holy Ghost knows all things (D&C 35:19) and can lead us to know of future events (2 Peter 1:21). “Other names that sometimes refer to the Holy Ghost are Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, Comforter, and Spirit” (Bible Dictionary 704). Even though we have the right to receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, actually gaining it requires personal obedience and worthiness.

How did the human race come to a knowledge of God? When God created Adam and Eve and placed them on this earth, he endowed them with knowledge of his existence. They enjoyed communion with him, and there was no veil to separate them. God conversed with Adam face to face; Adam stood in his presence, received his instruction, and beheld his glory. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, they retained their knowledge of God. They knew the real facts: God had created them and they were accountable to him for their conduct. It was by manifestation of himself to man, even after the Fall, that the knowledge of God continued to be known by Adam and his posterity. Though they were separated from God’s presence and did not see his face, they heard his voice. This laid the foundation for the mental exercise of their faith, through which they could obtain a knowledge of God’s character and also of his glory. The whole human family in the early age of their existence had this knowledge disseminated among them. Thus the existence of God became an object of faith. Their evidence of God was the testimony from their fathers, the testimony of man. This shared knowledge and testimony of the reality of God as their Father stirred up the faith of multitudes to seek after him—to search after a knowledge of his character, attributes, and perfections, until they became extensively acquainted with him, and not only to commune with him and behold his glory, but to be partakers of his power and stand in his presence (Lectures on Faith 2:12–35; hereafter LF).

What is the pattern of performance required for believers to find the great things laid up for them? The general invitation from the Lord to “come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you . . . knowledge . . . hid up because of unbelief” is unto all people, Latter-day Saint and nonmember alike (Ether 4:13). Who could not benefit from a knowledge of the Godhead, their character and attributes? However, the more specific invitation to “Come unto me, O ye House of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you . . . [the] great things the Father hath laid up for you” indentifies the favorites of heaven, even Covenant Israel (4:14). They are to be the receptors not only of the knowledge of the Godhead, but also of manifestations that reveal great things “from the foundation of the world” (Ether 4:14). The greatest thing to be revealed was the pattern of performance required of men and women to be saved and exalted. This pattern of performance laid up by the Father is called the “great plan of our God”—“the plan of salvation”—the “plan of happiness” (2 Nephi 9:13; Moses 6:62; and Alma 42:8).

The plan of salvation is a divinely established system of laws and ordinances which empower God’s spirit children to develop faith sufficient to be saved. The plan was activated by the creation of man and woman on this earth; their fall from God’s presence; and the great atoning sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation, also called the gospel of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 27:13–21), is an established order of God that requires obedience to laws and ordinances, and which order, when entered into by covenant, guarantees eternal life, which is the quality of life God lives.

The exercise of true faith in Jesus Christ, plus repentance from sin leads to the watery grave of baptism by immersion in the hope of having sin remitted. Legal administrators then bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon that soul. This is the gift above gifts, for the Holy Ghost is the Revelator and the Sanctifier within the established order of the great plan of our God. The Holy Ghost will, with edifying, instructive and corrective revelations to the heart and mind of man and woman, lead them because of their personal faith through a cleansing process until their sins are remitted. This process of sanctification in Jesus Christ, when completed, becomes a key to obtaining great knowledge, for “in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord . . . that they may become sanctified in me, then I will manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations” (Ether 4:7).

How did the brother of Jared develop the belief—the faith—to cause his soul to leap from faith to perfect knowledge? And, second, how did he become sanctified? We will consider these two questions for they are central to finding hidden knowledge and the manifesting of great things promised to Israel.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

"three things are necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.First, the idea that he actually exists; Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes; Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which one is pursuing is according to His will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive. But with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful. "(LF 3:2–5)

The “great mystery” of the Godhead was revealed and made known to the brother of Jared. It was a central factor in his faith in approaching and receiving instruction from God. The brother of Jared not only knew God existed, but was acquainted with his character, perfections, and attributes. He knew God was “holy and dwellest in the heavens” (Ether 3:2); that he was “merciful” (v. 3); has all power (v. 4); was “a God of truth, and canst not lie” (v. 12); that he was compassionate (1:35); slow to anger (vv. 36–37); God was abundant in goodness (vv. 42–43); he was a God of justice and judgment (2:14–15); he was no respecter of persons (1:36–37); and he was a God of love (vv. 40–43; 2:14; and Hel. 15:3).

A correct understanding of the attributes of God is and always has been essential to gaining of faith and salvation! In the Lectures on Faith we read: “Let us here observe that the real design which the God of heaven had in view in making the human family acquainted with his attributes was that they might be enabled to exercise faith in him . . . and through the exercising [of] faith in him, might obtain eternal life. For without the idea of the existence of the attributes which belong to God, the minds of men could not have power to exercise faith in him so as to lay hold upon eternal life” (LF 4:2). Faith is a mental and spiritual exercise.

The brother of Jared was told “never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast” (Ether 3:9). “The God of heaven, understanding most perfectly the constitution of human nature and the weakness of man, knew what was necessary to be revealed and what ideas needed to be planted in their minds to enable them to exercise faith in him unto eternal life” (LF 4:2). How would you like to have “the mind of Christ” implanted in you? That blessing is for Israel, the favorite of heaven.

The brother of Jared knew he was a favorite of heaven; he knew he had embraced the order of things which God had established for the redemption of man. This knowledge empowered him with a mental and spiritual confidence not only to draw near to the Lord, but also to lay hold of answers to the problems which vexed his life.

The knowledge the brother of Jared had that his course of life was according to the will of God is marvelously recorded in the scriptures. He was “highly favored of the Lord” (Ether 1:34); the Lord always heard and responded to his inquiries and petitions with personal instruction “because this long time ye have cried unto me” (v. 43). The Lord brought the brother of Jared and his family and friends forth “where there never had man been” and “even to that great sea which divideth the lands . . . being directed continually” by his hand (Ether 2:5, 6, 13). The brother of Jared was chastened by the Lord and repented of his evil. He learned the “Spirit will not always strive” with anyone who is disobedient (v. 15). Twice he declared to the Lord, “I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me” (vv. 18, 22). The truth is that the brother of Jared had so many personal revelations from the Lord that he knew his own course in life was according to the will of God. Instead of rejecting divine correction, he absorbed it, repented of all evil, and, by this process, increased his personal faith in the Lord. His faith was productive and fruitful and led to a perfect knowledge of God.

The second question was, how did the brother of Jared become sanctified? His sanctification came, as it comes to all to whom it comes, as a direct result of “yielding [his] heart unto God” (Hel. 3:35). He constantly created a wholesome environment where the Holy Ghost could edify, instruct, and correct him with the word of truth. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in his great intercessory prayer for his apostles in the Holy Land spoke of sanctification coming through reception of the word. He plead with the Father for the Twelve saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The brother of Jared constantly heard and felt the word of truth come through him. The word of truth came because of his experience with God, who will be as compassionate with us as he was with him. More of the word of God came to the brother of Jared in the valley of Nimrod when “the Lord came down and talked with [him]; and [the Lord] was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not” (Ether 2:4). Just as Moses led the children of Israel in the wilderness with the word of God, so the brother of Jared led his people with the word giving “directions whither they should travel” (v. 5). After four years of living in tents on the seashore, the brother of Jared was visited of the Lord, who “stood in a cloud and talked with him for the space of three hours” and “chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 14). The brother of Jared received the sanctifying word of truth and repented of this evil and “did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him” (v. 15). It was evil for a man “highly favored of the Lord” not to call upon God for and in behalf of “his brethren.” He had a priesthood assignment and duty to receive the word and go at the head of these people (1:42). His prophetic duty as a seer was both to receive the word and to be the clear channel of truth for his family, Jared’s family and their friends (vv. 40–43; Mosiah 8:15–18). These sanctifying experiences with the word came as an unfolding and cleansing process which included chastening. The Lord has said: “For all those who will not endure chastening . . . cannot be sanctified” (D&C 101:5). Later, when the sanctification process was complete and the brother of Jared’s faith had matured, the Lord “could show unto him all things” and “not withhold anything from him” (Ether 3:26). He had become sanctified and perfect in Christ Jesus.

Now, since the brother of Jared and “many” others obtained sanctification, which was their key to great knowledge, eternal life and the presence of God, how can we obtain the same today? The use of the word “unfolding” (Ether 4:7) verifies an orderly gaining of faith and gradual sanctification process. Learning to live the principles of the gospel and receive instructive revelation from the Holy Ghost does not happen all at once. It is a growing and maturing process just as it was for the brother of Jared. However, the same sanctifying and revelatory process is available to the Saints today. For “he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true” (v. 11).

President Ezra Taft Benson has counseled:

We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible. The scriptures record remarkable accounts of men whose lives changed dramatically, in an instant, as it were. Though they are real and powerful, they are the exception more than the rule. For every Paul, for every Enos, and for every King Lamoni, there are hundreds of thousands of people who find the process of repentance much more subtle, much more imperceptible. Day by day they move closer to the Lord, little realizing they are building a godlike life. They live quiet lives of goodness, service, and commitment. They are like the Lamanites, who the Lord said “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not (3 Nephi 9:20). (5)

Some members of the Church may suppose this marvelous manifestation of truth to the worthy soul is only for the General Authorities, but President Joseph Fielding Smith gave a great insight to the general membership when he said,

The question frequently arises: “Is it necessary for a member of the Council of the Twelve to see the Savior in order to be an apostle?” It is their privilege to see him if occasion requires, but the Lord has taught that there is a stronger witness than seeing a personage, even of seeing the Son of God in a vision. . . . When Spirit speaks to spirit, the imprint on the soul is far more difficult to erase. Every member of the Church should have impressions that Jesus is the Son of God indelibly pictured on his soul through the witness of the Holy Ghost (979).

While we are growing in this gospel pattern, prayer is a basic but vital element. President Harold B. Lee said,

The most important thing you can do is to learn to talk to God. Talk to Him as you would talk to your father, for He is your Father, and He wants you to talk to Him. He wants you to cultivate ears to listen, when He gives you the impressions of the Spirit to tell you what to do. If you learn to give heed to the sudden ideas which come to your minds, you will find those things coming through in the very hour of your need. If you will cultivate an ear to hear these promptings, you will have learned to walk by the Spirit of revelation. (3–4)

Revelation that leads to sanctification seems to begin with those small impressions to the heart and mind. When we act upon them, they tend to generate both an increased belief in being led by the Spirit and by an increased confidence that God knows and cares about us. With our continued responding to spiritual impressions, the flow of instruction from the Holy Ghost increases. Other channels of revelation begin to open, such as dreams and waking visions. Most instruction is personal and family centered. It is always stewardship bound, which means no one would ever receive instruction for someone in higher authority and responsibility. And while all members are authorized to receive this instruction within their stewardships, that which comes, if correct, will always be in agreement with instruction from the Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

In the revelation designated as the “olive leaf,” the Lord gives additional instruction to bring about this sanctification process in the members:

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. . . . Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound. . . . Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own due time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. (D&C 88:63–68)

Sanctification is a central destination which all believers must reach if they are to receive the “great things laid up” for them. However, some members of the Church perceive difficulty in obtaining faith great enough to lead to being sanctified. It is not a quick process. The mental exertion of exercising faith and performing acts of obedience required for progressing toward sanctification has always appeared to be more difficult than relying on humans or things. As a result, some individuals may be distracted, grow negative and cynical, disbelieving that these truths pertain to them. They sometimes begin to contend, either verbally or quietly in their hearts, with the word of God, supposing he doesn’t hear their prayers. The Lord spoke of those individuals to Moroni, saying: “And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; and he that shall deny these things, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ” (Ether 4:8). The Lord also noted that “all those who will . . . deny me, cannot be sanctified” (D&C 101:5).

Today, we see dissidents raising their voices in opposition to Church leaders. Elder Boyd K. Packer commented on this, saying: “Not too many days ago in a moment of great concern over a rapid series of events that demonstrated the challenge of those within the Church who have that feeling of criticism and challenge and apostasy, I had an impression, as revelations are. It was strong and it was clear, because lingering in my mind was ‘why? why? when we need so much to be united.’ And there came the answer: ‘It is permitted to be so now that the sifting might take place, and it will have negligible effect upon the Church’” (CES).

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is an intimate relationship between sustaining the Brethren and sanctification. The quality and quantity of our sanctification is, in large measure, a product of the quality and quantity of our sustaining the living prophets and apostles in our words and our deeds. They are mouthpieces of the Lord, the clear voice of truth. The following words came to Heber C. Kimball at Far West, Missouri, on 6 April 1839:

Verily I say unto my servant Heber, thou art my son, in whom I am well pleased; for thou art careful to hearken to my words, and not transgress my law, nor rebel against my servant Joseph Smith, for thou hast a respect to the words of mine anointed, even from the least to the greatest of them; therefore thy name is written in heaven, no more to be blotted out forever, because of these things; and this Spirit and blessing shall rest down upon thy posterity for ever and ever. (Whitney 242)

The Prophet Joseph taught:

God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by . . . the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation. (TPJS 149)

Then he asked:

Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. (TPJS150–51)

The word of the Lord to Moroni for all Israel is: “Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel” (Ether 4:15). This covenant was a promised restoration of all blessings from God, including the faith and power and order of the ancient Saints to administer the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation with all its attendant and revealed blessings. And it comes to every soul, male and female, who believes the word of God spoken by authorized, legal administrators, assigned by God himself to perform the life-giving ordinances for the believing soul. Obedience to this covenant is an absolute guarantee of sanctification and eternal life.

The Lord instructs: “Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name” (Ether 4:18).

Is it proper to seek for spiritual gifts, not signs, but spiritual gifts? Is it correct and not asking amiss to pray for the soul-sanctifying privilege of seeing the face of the Lord Jesus while we yet dwell as mortals on this earth?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated, “If we are to see his face in that eternal realm, where the same sociality that exists among us here, then coupled with eternal glory, shall endure everlastingly, can we go amiss by seeking to establish that sociality here and now? Are we not commanded: Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened?” (369).

Finally, Moroni says:

And now I . . . bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men and women shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood. And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things. . . . And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. (Ether 12:38–41)

There are people on the earth today who have seen the Lord. Many ask the Brethren if they have seen him. Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “I said there was a question that could not be taken lightly nor answered at all without the prompting of the Spirit. I have not asked that question of others, but I have heard them answer it—but not when they were asked. They have answered it under the prompting of the Spirit, on sacred occasions, when ‘the Spirit beareth record’” (D&C 1:39). He continued: “I have heard one of my brethren declare: ‘I know from experiences, too sacred to relate, that Jesus is the Christ.’ I have heard another testify: ‘I know that God lives; I know that the Lord lives. And more than that, I know the Lord.’ It was not their words that held the meaning or the power. It was the Spirit. ‘For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men’” (2 Nephi 33:1). Elder Packer then said: “I have come to know that the witness does not come by seeking after signs. It comes through fasting and prayer, through activity and testing and obedience. It comes through sustaining the servants of the Lord and following them” (“The Spirit Beareth Record” 88).

The title page to the Book of Mormon prophetically tells that Jesus Christ manifests “himself unto all nations,” which ultimately means individual men and women of all nations (see also 3 Nephi 11:15). May the Lord bless us to know of his existence, his character and attributes, and to know that the course we are pursuing is according to his will. May the Lord increase our faith and lead us to sanctification so we will be fruitful in the knowledge of him. May we avoid contending with the word of God, and, more particularly, may we be free from contending against the words of his apostles, for these legal administrators are the very channel of light and truth through which salvation and eternal life will come to any of us. The Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve hold the keys to obtaining the lesser and higher ordinances in which the power of Godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh—the very covenant-making opportunities that lead by our obedience to the sacred sanctification process and to the perfections of Jesus Christ. Having these endowments of power, we will then be able to allow the Lord to reveal his will to us in any manner he chooses, even to the unfolding of all his revelations as we have need.

Bibliography

Benson, Ezra Taft. “A Mighty Change of Heart.” Ensign (Oct. 1989) 19:2–5.

The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective. Eds. Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young Univ., 1990.

Lee, Harold B. “President Lee Gives Solemn Witness.” Church News (3 Mar. 1973) 3–4.

McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985.

Packer, Boyd K. CES Religious Educators Symposium, Brigham Young Univ. (10 Aug. 1993).

———. “Spirit Beareth Record.” Ensign (June 1971) 1:87–88; also in Conference Report (Apr. 1971) 122–28.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. “The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve.” Improvement Era (Nov. 1966) 69:977–79.

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Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945.