Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teach Me All That I Must {Know and Do}, Part 2

What must we know to be saved?  Joseph Smith taught that “knowledge saves a man” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS), p. 357).  And in Doctrine and Covenants 131:6 we learn that “it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”

So what is it we must know? 

Is it enough to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and our Redeemer? Well, if it were, then even the devils would be exalted, for Satan and His followers have that knowledge:

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. (Luke 4:33-34)

Also James 2:19:

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble.”

So, no, a knowledge of who Jesus Christ is will not save us. 

Joseph Smith taught:

“Three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may 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 he is pursuing, is according to his [God's] 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, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Lectures on Faith, 2:2-5).

So here is some knowledge that can help us in the path of salvation:

·               Correct ideas of God’s character, perfections and attributes and
·               “An actual knowledge” that we are living according to God’s will.

In this world of darkness, having that kind of knowledge seems like an incredible achievement.  I think about what I know and how small and limited it is.  I think about how quickly and easily I get off course and how I would love to have the knowledge that my life is in accordance with God's will.  As important as this knowledge is, though, as I study the scriptures and Joseph Smith's words, I can see that, in the eternal scheme, this knowledge is really only a beginning point.  It is a prerequisite in exercising faith unto life and salvation. 

So what else must we know in order to achieve eternal glory and to enter into His rest? 

There are many things I think the Lord would like us to know along the way.  He wants us to study and learn and gain knowledge of all things.  As I've been studying the scriptures lately, I keep seeing something else that we must know to be saved.  I think it can be summed up by this verse:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

We must know Him.  That is the knowledge that is required for us to inherit eternal life.  Not just know of Him or about Him.  But to actually know Him. 

How can this be?  How can this happen?  We’re just lowly mortals. We’re full of sin and frailties.  We’re weak and fallen.  And He is good and great and powerful and full of light and truth and without spot.  How can we even dream of coming to know Him? 

I don’t know all of these answers, but I know that it is possible.  I know that He appeared to a boy – Joseph Smith – in answer to his earnest prayer in seeking God’s wisdom.  Joseph related:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS-History 1:16-17.)

I know that Joseph, years later, could testify:

By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God—Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning; Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision. (D&C 76: 12-14).

I know that Lehi, as a result of his faithfulness and his earnest seeking, came to know the Lord, as did Nephi and Jacob, two of his sons.  Enos knew Jesus Christ.  After being taught by Abinadi, Alma repented and followed the Lord and came to know Him.  Jesus Christ knew Nephi, the son of Helaman, and spoke with him gave him the sealing power.  And there's Adam, Enoch, Moses, Noah, Melchizidek, Abraham . . . the list goes on and on.  These were men who knew the Lord, who spoke with Him face to face.  They understood the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ because they had experienced it. 

But we are filled with unbelief.  We think:  That could not happen to me.  And we gloss over the promises given to us because they seem out of reach, or impossible, or maybe just a thing of the past. 

But whether we pay attention to them or not, the promises are there:

“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face, and know that I am” (D&C 93:1).

That is a promise for this life.  Do we believe it?  Probably not.  Because we don’t hear about it very often.   But Joseph Smith taught it to his people.  Listen to what he said:

“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.  When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. . . .  

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 the 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” (TPJS, p. 150-151).

Jeremiah prophesied of a new covenant for the house of Israel:

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

We (or at least I) may be the “least of them," but it is possible for even us (even me) to come to know the Lord.  Thus we are commanded: 

“And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life” (D&C 101:38).