Have you ever said to yourself while reading the scriptures, “I wish I could have that experience”? That is actually one of the purposes of the scriptures, to show us the blessings that are available and how to obtain them. All the miracles, gifts, visions, and visitations are available to anyone as soon as they are willing to receive them.
Joseph Smith 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.” –History of the Church, 3:380.
Another way of saying that is, no blessing that Joseph or any other prophet has received will be denied to the least saint, who prepares themselves to receive it, because God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
Today I’d like to explore how to obtain blessings by following the sacred formulas in the scriptures. We read in Doctrine & Covenants 130:21
“And when we obtain any blessing from God,
it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
The greater the blessing we seek, the more preparation and understanding is required to obtain it.
For example, the Lord says “ask and ye shall receive.” What is the law that governs this blessing? We find one sacred formula about this law written by Nephi.
1 Nephi 15:11. “Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?
+If ye will not harden your hearts,
+and ask me in faith,
+believing that ye shall receive,
+with diligence in keeping my commandments,
=surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
Each of these elements requires some understanding, study, prayer, and obedience to those principles in order to obtain the blessing.
What does it mean to not harden your heart?
What is it to ask in faith?
How can I be more diligent in keeping the commandments?
Some people have a natural gift of a certain blessing and they only need to exercise their agency to utilize it, but sometimes our desire for a blessing is something we don’t presently know how to get. Asking the Lord in faith for that blessing is going to trigger some experiences in your life that take you through incremental steps. You might visualize this process like this:
Blessings are always received when we obey the law.
In your Scripture Notes app, do a search for:
(obey or obedience or law) +bless*
You can choose to create a collection note from these verses but there is also at least one other to include from King Benjamin’s sermon. In Mosiah 2:24, he taught:
24. “And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you…”
These verses corroborate that blessings always flow out of obedience. However, to get to a state of obedience sometimes requires that we do some work to understand the law and how to live it. That understanding may cause us to have to sacrifice something like time, money, effort to obtain something, or effort to remove something negative. As we approach the point of obedience, there will be opposition to try and persuade us that obedience might be too steep a price to pay. The devil and his servants will whisper all kinds of things in our ears to get us to set this aside. Yet this is the price of heaven’s goods.
Thomas Paine in his pamphlet, “The American Crisis,” wrote:
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
The blessings of heaven indeed have a value attached to them, and there is a price to be paid by sustained obedience to show heaven that we do in fact want the blessing more than we want a life of ordinariness. When we finally prevail upon the heavens to claim the blessing by our obedience, the blessing naturally flows into our life as if it is the most natural thing. Intelligence cleaves to intelligence and as we have put ourselves into a state of reception, bringing what some might term our “vibration” into harmony with the “vibration” of the blessing, we are naturally attuned to each other.
An analogy can be seen in this video. When one tuning fork is struck, it creates a sound wave. Another tuning fork perfectly adjusted to that same pitch, will immediately begin to vibrate at the same frequency. Heaven is constantly sending out the waves seen in the fork on the left. It is only up to us to bring ourselves into harmony with it to immediately receive the blessings.
A few months back I introduced an idea of using Scripture Notes to search for all the instances of the word “if” in scripture and see what the “then” statement is that follows. If statements are laws or principles of law that govern what blessings you can receive by obedience to them. In the example above from 1 Nephi 15, you can clearly see there is a sequence of things that IF we do then, “surely these things shall be made known unto you.” There are thousands of these if statements in the scriptures, but there are many other sacred formulas as well that aren’t in that format, particularly in the Book of Mormon. For example, in 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul said:
14. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
That’s a piece of doctrine that is useful, but it’s not a set of instructions on how to overcome the natural man. Thankfully, King Benjamin gives us this formula in Mosiah 3:19.
19. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he:
+yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,
+and putteth off the natural man
+and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,
+and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,
+willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
=Elimination of the natural man
That is a complex formula. Nobody arrives at the blessing of putting off the natural man in a single pass event. Yet with sustained effort and the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we have been promised here that we can do it. This formula requires quite a bit of us. It’s easy to see we need to seek some understanding, sacrifice some tendencies of the natural man, and learn obedience to these principles in order to obtain these blessings.
Yes! Not every formula in scripture deals with something complex and difficult. Study the law of tithing and realize that obedience to that law just requires that we return 10% of our increase to the Lord to allow him to give us the blessings that go with that law. The Word of Wisdom in Doctrine & Covenants 89 is another law that is relatively easy to live and has tremendous blessings associated with it. The Lord starts off telling us it’s:
“3. Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.”
In other words, anyone can obtain these blessings easily by obedience to these principles. Now if addiction has caused you difficulty in living this law, then the graphic above may apply where you have to struggle a little harder to understand the benefits of the blessings, sacrifice some things, face opposition, and then ultimately obey this law, in order to receive the blessings.
The blessings of prayer and fasting are also listed. These are foundational laws that bring blessings into our lives without requiring any complexity. As we seek to obtain higher blessings, it will naturally require higher orders of magnitude of personal change. That’s the value and blessing of the atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives because we, of ourselves, are natural, carnal men and women. We are incapable of changing ourselves. We can only struggle in the spirit so long before we concede defeat unless we rely on the atonement to give us greater strength than we ourselves possess. We have to rely on Jesus Christ to actually change us in order to obtain these blessings (see my story here for an example).
Do a search in Scripture Notes for:
Create a collection note and start studying each verse looking for the principles that govern it. You can also look to the words of the prophets who talk extensively about this subject, such as President Nelson’s talk “Revelation for the church, revelation for our lives.”
Pay attention to words. As you read sacred formulas such as in Alma 17:2-3 about how the sons of Mosiah obtained the “spirit of revelation,” you will want to understand the difference between the gift of revelation, and the spirit of revelation. Digging out the foundation of laws requires that we search the scriptures.
3. “But this is not all;
+they had given themselves to much prayer,
=therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.”
No blessing we seek from the Lord will go unrewarded as we discover the laws that govern the blessings and then obey them. Reliance on Christ is a critical component of this process, as is our devotion to the things revealed to us. Personal growth is never easy but it’s why we came into mortality to have our rough edges knocked off and be celestialized by hitting the rough telestial opposition an earth life provides. Joseph Smith said it well:
“I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force…all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty…”
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