personal revelation
Week 05 is scheduled for study Jan. 25-31, 2021. What is the Spirit of revelation, and how do I look to Christ in every thought? Personal revelation is at the core of this week’s lessons.

Day 1

Doctrine and covenants 6; 8-9 – Heavenly Father speaks to me through “the Spirit of truth.”

The Lord reveals truths to us in our minds and hearts (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3). As you read Doctrine and Covenants 6-9, record any impressions you receive.

Many of us have the mistaken idea that God only sends the Holy Ghost to inspire and teach the members of His kingdom, the covenant makers and keepers. As you read this week’s sections in the Doctrine and Covenants, remember that Joseph Smith was not yet baptized. He did not have the gift of the Holy Ghost. He was, in effect, a non member.

Throughout the scriptures the prophets teach that the Spirit operates by faith, so if miracles cease to happen it is because faith has ceased to be exercised. There is no stipulation given by the prophets that says faith can only be exercised by members of His church. Faith in God is all that is required for miracles and answers to prayers. Look at what the Lord told Oliver Cowdery in Doctrine and Covenants 6:15-16.

15 Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth;

16 Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.

If the Holy Ghost can work with people outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as he does with those within God’s church, what is the difference? Let’s look at Doctrine and Covenants 8:2.

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

For those outside of the covenant path, the Holy Ghost may come and inspire them and give them answers, but to “dwell” in our hearts, requires the gift of the Holy Ghost. The difference is the permanence of his presence in our lives. For those outside the covenant path the Holy Ghost is a visitor. For those whose lives are on the covenant path back to the presence of God, the Holy Ghost dwells, or stays with the covenant maker/keeper. It is the degree to which we have access to the Holy Ghost that makes the difference. The gift of the Holy Ghost gives us 24/7 access to his influence and comfort, while those outside the covenant path can be visited by him from time to time.

Personal revelation

Sometimes we feel like we have to do something special to gear up for getting the Spirit for an answer to a prayer. We fast, pray, study, and ponder, all in an effort to get enough spiritual juice to summon the Spirit to give us that burst of insight we need. But this is just wrong. We should be fasting regularly if we are able to fast. We should be praying regularly, which everyone can. Study of the scriptures and the words of the prophets should be part of our daily routine, and pondering can take place anywhere at almost any time. The gift of the Holy Ghost allows the Spirit to become a permanent part of our life from hour to hour when we are doing all that the Lord has commanded us to do.

Look at how the “spirit of truth” works in our life on a daily basis. As an example, Oliver Cowdery was staying with Joseph Smith, Sr. He had heard of his son’s remarkable gift and the stories that were circulating in public. Oliver had a faithful heart, and he sought the things of God. He began to wonder if these things he was told by the Smiths could be true. He sought the Lord in prayer, and received peace to his soul, such that he knew he had received a direct answer from God. Over time, he came to believe that he wanted to be Joseph’s scribe. The feeling was so strong that he moved to where Joseph was living and approached him about it. Meanwhile, Joseph was waiting for the scribe the Lord was to send him to appear.

What Oliver was experiencing was the Spirit of truth. The Holy Ghost was working with him, planting the notion of being Joseph’s scribe in his heart so that Oliver desired more than anything to go and find Joseph so he could act as his scribe. The Holy Ghost is a testifier of truth, and everything his does moves the work of God forward in the lives of those who are touched by the truths he reveals to them. Some call it “gut feeling”, others “a prompting.” In any case, when we make ourselves susceptible to the Spirit’s influence, we are lead to do good and to make better decisions in our life. It works for those on the covenant path the same as for those not on the covenant path. But for those currently not on the covenant path, eventually the Spirit will lead them to accept the covenant path so he can teach them more and be an even greater influence for good in their life.

Receiving revelation

Just a note here. There is more than one way to receive revelation. Section 9 is famous for the quote about knowing if something is right by the burning in the bosom comment. And for Oliver Cowdery, and many others, this is absolutely accurate. But that doesn’t mean that God has only one way to communicate truth. Truth can be revealed through a settling of the mind, a clearing of the clutter of doubt and misconceptions that cause us to not want to make a choice that needs to be made. It can come through a peace that settles on the soul, bringing comfort and assurance that you are on the right path. Truth can also come from all false alternatives being closed to you, leaving only the right path open for you to go down. There are so many ways for truth to be revealed. Don’t think that if one method doesn’t work that you are lost, for there are so many possibilities. Pray instead that you will be sensitive to the Spirit so you will recognize the truth when you see it.

Day 2

Doctrine and covenants 6:18-21, 29-37 – Look unto Christ in every thought.

The Lord reveals truths to us in our minds and hearts (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3). As you read Doctrine and Covenants 6-9, record any impressions you receive.

Please make sure you have read the verses for today’s lesson before you read what comes next. Here is an important, and life-changing principle. Everything in the gospel of Christ is centered on our next life, our future reward. All of the commandments are for the here and now, but most of the promises, the rewards for keeping those commandments are in the next life. Yes, there are benefits now, because the commandments are eternal principles and keeping them will begin to bring about the blessings of living by those principles, even in this life. But the final, the great reward, cannot be given in mortality, for the great reward is living with God and being glorified with God.

Reread the verses and look for anything that applies to just this life. I think you will see that the Lord says quite a few things about them remaining faithful, doing good, etc. But most of His promises are for the eternities, the hereafter. We can take comfort in Christ in the here and now, because he will claim us as his in the next life. This is where hope and faith come into the picture. We believe in the promises of God, so we live according to His commandments now to claim the ultimate blessings of our obedience in the day of our resurrection. This is the eternal view of life that those who are only focused on their mortal experience cannot fathom.

This process of living by faith requires us to constantly keep our focus on the author and finisher of our faith, Christ. Our thoughts need to be centered on him and on his teachings. This doesn’t mean we sit around all day and blankly stare at pictures of Jesus. What this means is that we live our lives AS Jesus lived his. We do good in any way we can, we serve wherever we can, and we love in any way we can. We seek the Spirit and his direction in our life. This is how we look to Christ in every thought. Our lives are based on his teachings and his example. We emulate him in all we do.

Day 3

Doctrine and covenants 6-7; 9:3, 7-14 – “Even as you desire of me so it shall be.”

The Lord reveals truths to us in our minds and hearts (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3). As you read Doctrine and Covenants 6-9, record any impressions you receive.

Just today I realized why I have never understood the promise made in today’s lesson. I haven’t understood God’s promise that whatever I ask for, in faith, will be given, for a good reason. My assumptions were wrong. I was forgetting that there are rules by which God operates in the dispensing of blessings. He will not operate outside of those rules, for they are His rules.

The first thing I was missing is the basic premise that God is good. Everything about Him is good, and nothing that is evil comes from Him. So when He promises that if I ask, it will be opened to me, or if I seek, I shall find, he is not saying that I can ask that my neighbor be cursed with the plague, and He will gladly grant my request. God will only dispense that which is good, and that which will bless the lives of others for good. My request would be what the scriptures refer to as “asking amiss.”

The second thing I was missing was the bank of rules surrounding the reception of good things. I cannot be living a life of base debauchery, and expect to receive revelation. I cannot be living a life centered on my own pleasures and gratification and receive spiritual gifts. In order for good things to be given, I must first be making an effort to incorporate all good things of which I am aware, into my life. When I make goodness a part of my soul, the Lord can open more goodness to me, for He will see I am making an effort to become more like Him. And God is always anxious to bless such efforts.

For those who are living up to their covenants to the best of their abilities, when they seek for answers, He will help them find those answers. When they “knock” or request the Lord attend to their requests, He will. The assumption I was missing in the title of today’s lesson is that when I am working to be like Christ, what I desire to that end will be granted me. But I must first be trying to live a Christlike life. I must be doing all that I can to live up to what I know. If I am lazy about my obedience to the commandments, I can’t honestly expect the Lord to throw the door wide open when I knock, and invite me into His presence and all that such a reception would entail. I have not lived worthy of it.

Voices of the Restoration

I feel it is important to emphasize a particular point from this section of the manual. There are those who focus heavily on the method used to translate the Book of Mormon. The truth is, there were several methods used to get the job done. But the drive for some is to know exactly how it was done, and why it was done in one way and not another. When asked directly about how he translated the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith said “that is was not intended to tell the world all the particulars.” (This is a quote from the manual, pg 20.)

There is a danger for our soul if we adopt a doctrinal or procedural hobby horse in the gospel. When the prophet says to let it alone, because the Lord did not see fit in His wisdom to reveal to the world the particulars of how something, or why something was done, then we ought to just accept it and move on. It can still be a source of curiosity, but we should not pursue something the Lord has withheld revelation on the subject. Obviously He has withheld that information for a good reason. I would love to know how the earth was created, but it isn’t pertinent to my salvation, so I hope there will be videos I can watch on the subject in the hereafter that will satisfy my curiosity. Who knows, if there is time travel, perhaps I can watch the actual event as it happened!

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This Is the Spirit of Revelation

Week 05