Have you ever heard someone say something and thought, “that can’t be right,” but then later you determined it was correct? I hope we all have. It shows we can grow and refine our thinking.
It’s actually critical for us that we can do this with the scriptures. Nobody masters the scriptures on a first pass and even after many passes we may still cling to false ideas that go uncorrected for a variety of reasons.
As mortals, we constantly search for meaning and try to take information we receive and assimilate it. However, there are some warnings in the scriptures about doing this.
Peter warned us that
“no prophecy of the scriptures is given of any private will of man.” (JST 2 Peter 1:20)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on this verse stating:
“Unless and until a scripture means to a man what it means to God, man has not caught the vision of the truth taught, or comprehended the doctrine being revealed.”
Jesus warned us that “whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock…” (3 Nephi 11:40)
In a mortal realm we are here to learn to discern truth from error, light from darkness, good from evil, and sweet from the bitter. We face numerous challenges doing this because in a telestial world, we face the promptings of devils and unclean spirits, which in turn have caused false philosophies of mankind to perpetuate throughout the ages.
Sometimes a doctrine can be misinterpreted to mean something it doesn’t to fit a circumstance that might be comforting due to the situation a person is in. Sometimes a doctrine is used to torture someone such as the notion babies require baptism or they are doomed to hell.
Other great heresies are perpetuated because people deny the power of God. Joseph Smith was told this in his First Vision.
“They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (Joseph Smith History 1:19)
What power do they deny? Among them, the power of God to perform miracles, to reveal new scripture, to reveal himself to man, to restore priesthood authority by the laying on of hands, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Although the knowledge of these things has been restored to the earth, the power of God to do these things is still often denied even among those professing to be members of the Lord’s church.
I have been surprised on occasion to see someone write or hear them speak and say certain blessings of the gospel are the province of the Lord’s prophets and not available to the membership of the church.
Of course there is an order in the Lord’s kingdom that deals with stewardships, but nowhere in the scriptures does it put limits on the greatest blessings available. All may come and partake. Angels can and should minister to the general membership of the church. They may be unseen at most times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel their presence from time to time and receive instruction and edification from them.
The scriptures clearly teach that God wants to bring mankind back into his presence, even in mortality for those that sanctify themselves. Unbelief is the great barrier that prevents this from happening, not position.
In the April 2010 general conference, President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk on the power of the priesthood and said:
“We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.”
Note Elder Packer’s closing statement that priesthood power won’t have the strength it needs until it’s fixed in the family. We are in a ramp-up period as the institutional church is trying to put more on families starting with teaching Come Follow Me. We all look at that as inspired to have happened a year before Covid hit so families were ready to take this on at home.
In reality, gospel learning should have always been happening at home, but with a greater focus now. We are going to need priesthood power and gifts of the Spirit in abundance in days not too far ahead.
It may be an uncomfortable thought that individuals need to be prophets within their own homes, and yet that’s what Moses taught (Numbers 11:29) and is truly the great message of the scriptures. We must come to an individual relationship with God and obtain his presence. We should all aspire to this blessing. The scriptures and the temple teach this doctrine very clearly.
Here’s an informative and short scripture search.
Open a search pane in Scripture Notes and type:
More and less
A few of the results you’ll remove, but most talk about not declaring more or less than the scriptures.
More might be viewed like the Pharisees were guilty of, adding layers of complexity and requirements to receive the blessings of God.
Less would be a denial of truth and requirements for sanctification which are actually necessary to obtain the blessings.
The core message of the scriptures doesn’t need watered down. It just needs embraced in it’s simplicity. We should pray daily to have our false traditions removed from us and to have our hearts and minds sanctified by the truth.
D&C 10:67. Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
(Featured image by lucadp @ 123rf.com)