Monday, December 22, 2008

I Believe in Revelation

Articles of Faith #9
[I] believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and [I] believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

I have lived much of my life immersed in the concept of revelation, both personal and prophetic. It has become as much a part of my life as breathing, but when looked at objectively it is quite an extraordinary concept. It is amazing and humbling to me to realize that God stands ready to remove ANY and ALL ignorance from my mind, should I ask. I find the process of revelation even more fascinating when reading about Church history. I think it is one of the most misunderstood core principles of the Church.

Many people think that revelation is about Truth, but it isn't—at least, not primarily. I believe revelation is primarily about receiving direction from God. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of Truth, but sometimes it comes in a form that few humans recognize as truth. In our limited, childish perspectives that do not benefit from any memory of our lives before and possess only meager understanding of eternal principles, we like to define Truth in our own image, and fail to remain open to God's revelations. We limit Him to an oversimplified "yes" or "no" by our very unwillingness to acknowledge His superior understanding. Rather than being willing to follow His guidance, whatever it is, we try to force Him into our superstructure of existing knowledge. I think this limits our spiritual gift of revelation.

Revelation is about learning, and can only exist where there is ignorance. If any one person understood all there was to know, there would be no need for God's guidance. The revelation of truth and knowledge would be moot in a place where they already exist. Therefore, revelation is an eternal principle applied only to a mortal sphere. In order to receive revelation from God, one must realize that one is ignorant. If a person has already decided that they understand, that they know the facts of the circumstance, they have closed the door on revelation. In order to remain open to revelation, a person must never say "now I know all" even after an answer is received from God.

To briefly share an example of this in my own life, I had a powerful spiritual prompting to serve a mission when I was fourteen years old. When I was twenty, I received an even more powerful spiritual prompting that I was not to serve a mission. I was twenty-two when I again received revelation on this matter: that it was up to me to serve or not, but to make up my mind myself. Feeling the desire to serve, I did, and was irrevocably changed and infinitely blessed. Was I ever wrong in my promptings? I don't think I was, though I received a vastly different answer each time. In a sense, I was never given a conflicting answer because the person who was answered was a different person each time.

Revelation is about imperfection. We find it difficult to realize that in an imperfect world, God may have to guide us down imperfect paths to achieve His perfect ends. Was it a perfect answer to kill Laban in order to save the souls of the children of Lehi? Was it a perfect answer to eradicate the heathen nations which occupied Israel? Is it a perfect answer to sacrifice His Most Holy Son to our sin?

Not in the sense that we would like to believe in perfection: that everything is fair and just and merciful, also. Sometimes mercy requires injustice, and sometimes God's perfect work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man requires Him to work within our flawed framework. In fact, I would suggest that only by working within a flawed framework can those perfect ends be manifest.

THAT is why we believe in continuing revelation; because we acknowledge that God's commandments may differ when given in different, mortal circumstances. At some time, He may say "kill" when at another, He may ask us to die. At one time, He may ask us to practice one law and revoke it at another time.

To truly believe in continuing revelation, I feel that one must also believe that past "mistakes" in the divine direction of His church (and, I might add, in the divine direction of individual lives) are not mistakes at all, but are simply other commandments for other times and circumstances. And, to acknowledge a need for revelation, one must acknowledge one's own ignorance. After all, revelation cannot exist in the same place as perfect understanding. But without perfect understanding, we have only faith and trust that God will do all He has promised, and that He is indeed directing the growth of His imperfect church members towards His perfect ends.


  1. Many people think that revelation is about Truth, but it isn't—at least, not primarily. I believe revelation is primarily about receiving direction from God.

    Yes! I love how you have stated your views of revelation and its relationship to truth. It seems that God doesn't feel it necessary to immediately correct all His children's incorrect ideas or opinions--even in this last dispensation, and even if they are held by Church teachers or leaders. The core doctrines are correct, but some of the explanations and interpretations of those doctrines may be better than others.

    We are meant to learn through our experiences, not be puppets; thus we are given a great deal of latitude to believe differently about many things.

    If we seek God in prayer, I believe that we can receive enough guidance (not always all we want) to let us discover how to live and eventually return to Him. And if we have the humility you describe, we will gladly exchange any of our false opinions for true ones along the way, whenever we can.

    My only question would be about the examples you mentioned as possibly not being "perfect" answers (killing Laban,etc.)to problems. But I think it may be a matter of how one chooses to define "perfect."

    Thank you for putting into clear and elegant prose many of the views I hold about the role of revelation in our lives, and the reason why continuing revelation and living prophets are the ways that God "[directs] the growth of His imperfect church members towards His perfect ends."

  2. "Revelation is about learning, and can only exist where there is ignorance. If any one person understood all there was to know, there would be no need for God's guidance. ... Revelation is about imperfection."

    This is phenomenal insight. I believe in revelation and believe I understand it fairly well - but I feel enlightened after reading this. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for this insightful post. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Those who are church members but have no experience with the things of the Spirit should be troubled. The purpose of baptism is to give us access to the Holy Ghost. There is a price each needs to pay to have the manifestations of the Holy Ghost. If that price is unpaid then what purpose is there for membership in the Lord's church?

    I'm not advocating a membership test, but the parable of the 10 virgins appears to say that a time will come when the Lord will create a division in His church and many will be found unprepared to enter the Lord's glory that might have otherwise been there's.

  4. What a packed post! As I read, I kept thinking, "OK, I need to reference this line" - but after about ten of those thoughts I just gave up trying.

    This is wonderful, SilverRain. I will be linking to it at some point on my own blog.

  5. What a marvelous post,you have soothed my soul by articulating half felt thoughts against which I have felt compelled to defend myself,in order to defend what others might see as testimony.Now I can better trust the process.


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