Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet at Kirtland, Ohio, December 27 and 28, 1832, and January 3, 1833. The Prophet designated it as the “‘olive leaf’ … plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us.” The revelation was given after high priests at a conference prayed “separately and vocally to the Lord to reveal his will unto us concerning the upbuilding of Zion.
”1–5, Faithful Saints receive that Comforter, which is the promise of eternal life; 6–13, All things are controlled and governed by the Light of Christ; 14–16, The Resurrection comes through the Redemption; 17–31, Obedience to celestial, terrestrial, or telestial law prepares men for those respective kingdoms and glories; 32–35, Those who will to abide in sin remain filthy still; 36–41, All kingdoms are governed by law; 42–45, God has given a law unto all things; 46–50, Man will comprehend even God; 51–61, The parable of the man sending his servants into the field and visiting them in turn; 62–73, Draw near unto the Lord, and ye will see His face; 74–80, Sanctify yourselves and teach one another the doctrines of the kingdom; 81–85, Every man who has been warned should warn his neighbor; 86–94, Signs, upheavals of the elements, and angels prepare the way for the coming of the Lord; 95–102, Angelic trumps call forth the dead in their order; 103–16, Angelic trumps proclaim the restoration of the gospel, the fall of Babylon, and the battle of the great God; 117–26, Seek learning, establish a house of God (a temple), and clothe yourselves with the bond of charity; 127–41, The order of the School of the Prophets is set forth, including the ordinance of washing of feet.
1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive his will concerning you: 2 Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels over you; the of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of , and are recorded in the of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world. 3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another , even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of ; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
4 This Comforter is the which I give unto you of , even the of the celestial kingdom; 5 Which glory is that of the church of the , even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son— 6 He that up on high, as also he below all things, in that he all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the of truth; 7 Which truth shineth. This is the . As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was .
8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; 9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; 10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you . 11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your ; 12 Which proceedeth forth from the presence of God to the immensity of space— 13 The which is in all things, which giveth to all things, which is the by which all things are governed, even the of God who upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.
14 Now, verily I say unto you, that through the which is made for you is brought to pass the resurrection from the dead. 15 And the and the are the of man. 16 And the from the dead is the redemption of the soul. 17 And the redemption of the soul is through him that all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the and the of the shall inherit it. 18 Therefore, it must needs be from all , that it may be prepared for the glory; 19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with , even with the presence of God the Father; 20 That bodies who are of the kingdom may it forever and ever; for, for this was it made and created, and for this intent are they .
21 And they who are not through the which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom. 22 For he who is not able to abide the of a celestial kingdom cannot a glory. 23 And he who cannot abide the law of a kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. 24 And he who cannot abide the law of a cannot abide a telestial ; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory.
Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory. 25 And again, verily I say unto you, the abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the of its creation, and transgresseth not the law— 26 Wherefore, it shall be ; yea, notwithstanding it shall , it shall be again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the shall it. 27 For notwithstanding they die, they also shall again, a .
28 They who are of a celestial shall receive the same which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your shall be that glory by which your bodies are . 29 Ye who are by a portion of the glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. 30 And they who are quickened by a portion of the glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. 31 And also they who are quickened by a portion of the glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness.
32 And they who remain shall also be ; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. 33 For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.
34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is by law is also preserved by law and perfected and by the same. 35 That which a law, and by , but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, , nor . Therefore, they must remain still. 36 All kingdoms have a law given; 37 And there are many ; for there is no in the which there is no ; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
38 And unto every kingdom is given a ; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. 39 All beings who abide not in those are not . 40 For cleaveth unto intelligence; receiveth wisdom; embraceth truth; loveth virtue; cleaveth unto light; hath on mercy and claimeth her own; continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
41 He all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever. 42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a unto all things, by which they move in their and their seasons; 43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.
44 And they give to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are year with God, but not with man. 45 The earth upon her wings, and the giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the of God.
46 Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand? 47 Behold, all these are , and any man who hath any or the least of these hath God in his majesty and power. 48 I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his was not comprehended. 49 The shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall even God, being quickened in him and by him.
50 Then shall ye know that ye have me, that I am, and that I am the true that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound. 51 Behold, I will liken these kingdoms unto a man having a field, and he sent forth his servants into the field to dig in the field. 52 And he said unto the first: Go ye and labor in the field, and in the first hour I will come unto you, and ye shall behold the joy of my countenance.
53 And he said unto the second: Go ye also into the field, and in the second hour I will visit you with the joy of my countenance. 54 And also unto the third, saying: I will visit you; 55 And unto the fourth, and so on unto the twelfth. 56 And the lord of the field went unto the first in the first hour, and tarried with him all that hour, and he was made glad with the light of the countenance of his lord.
57 And then he withdrew from the first that he might visit the second also, and the third, and the fourth, and so on unto the twelfth. 58 And thus they all received the light of the countenance of their lord, every man in his hour, and in his time, and in his season— 59 Beginning at the first, and so on unto the , and from the last unto the first, and from the first unto the last; 60 Every man in his own , until his hour was finished, even according as his lord had commanded him, that his lord might be glorified in him, and he in his lord, that they all might be glorified.
61 Therefore, unto this parable I will liken all these , and the thereof—every kingdom in its hour, and in its time, and in its season, even according to the decree which God hath made. 62 And again, verily I say unto you, my , I leave these with you to in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall upon me while I am near— 63 unto me and I will draw near unto you; me diligently and ye shall me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is for you; 65 And if ye ask anything that is not for you, it shall turn unto your . 66 Behold, that which you hear is as the of one crying in the wilderness—in the wilderness, because you cannot see him—my voice, because my voice is ; my Spirit is truth; abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound. 67 And if your eye be to my , your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light all things.
68 Therefore, yourselves that your become to God, and the days will come that you shall him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will. 69 Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your thoughts and your of far from you. 70 Tarry ye, tarry ye in this place, and call a , even of those who are the first in this last kingdom.
71 And let those whom they have warned in their traveling call on the Lord, and the in their hearts which they have received, for a little season. 72 Behold, and lo, I will take care of your , and will raise up elders and send unto them. 73 Behold, I will my work in its time. 74 And I give unto you, who are the first in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you ; 75 That I may testify unto your , and your God, and my , that you are clean from the of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last , which I have made unto you, when I will.
76 Also, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in and fasting from this time forth. 77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall one another the of the kingdom. 78 Teach ye diligently and my shall attend you, that you may be more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; 79 Of things both in and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the , and the judgments which are on the land; and a also of countries and of kingdoms— 80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to the calling whereunto I have called you, and the with which I have commissioned you.
81 Behold, I sent you out to and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to his neighbor. 82 Therefore, they are left excuse, and their sins are upon their . 83 He that me shall find me, and shall not be forsaken. 84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to up the law and up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come; 85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come.
Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not from the blood of this generation. 86 Abide ye in the wherewith ye are made ; not yourselves in , but let your hands be , until the Lord comes. 87 For not many days hence and the shall and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the shall his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in ; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.
88 And after your cometh wrath and indignation upon the people. 89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of , that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. 90 And also cometh the testimony of the of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
91 And all things shall be in ; and surely, men’s shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people. 92 And shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the cometh; go ye out to meet him. 93 And immediately there shall appear a in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
94 And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That , the of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her , that the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned.
And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it. 95 And there shall be in for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the of the Lord shall be unveiled; 96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be to meet him. 97 And they who have slept in their graves shall forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the of heaven— 98 They are Christ’s, the , they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
99 And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his ; who have received their part in that which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be according to men in the flesh. 100 And again, another trump shall sound, which is the third trump; and then come the of men who are to be judged, and are found under ; 101 And these are the rest of the ; and they live not again until the years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.
102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall still. 103 And another trump shall sound, which is the fifth trump, which is the fifth angel who committeth the —flying through the midst of heaven, unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people; 104 And this shall be the sound of his trump, saying to all people, both in heaven and in earth, and that are under the earth—for ear shall hear it, and every knee shall , and every tongue shall confess, while they hear the sound of the trump, saying: God, and give glory to him who sitteth upon the throne, and ever; for the hour of his judgment is come.
105 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the sixth angel, saying: She is who made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication; she is fallen, is fallen! 106 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the seventh angel, saying: It is finished; it is finished! The of God hath and the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.
107 And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the shall be filled with his , and receive their and be made with him. 108 And then shall the first angel again sound his trump in the ears of all living, and the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God in the years. 109 And then shall the second angel sound his trump, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty of God in the second thousand years— 110 And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall forth upon the land and upon the sea, and in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be no longer; and shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a years.
111 And then he shall be for a little season, that he may gather together his armies. 112 And , the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven. 113 And the devil shall gather together his ; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies. 114 And then cometh the of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all.
115 For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb. 116 This is the glory of God, and the ; and they shall not any more see . 117 Therefore, verily I say unto you, my , call your solemn assembly, as I have you. 118 And as all have not , seek ye diligently and one another words of ; yea, seek ye out of the best words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
119 yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a , even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; 120 That your may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with hands unto the Most High. 121 Therefore, from all your light speeches, from all , from all your desires, from all your and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.
122 Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege. 123 See that ye one another; cease to be ; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. 124 Cease to be ; cease to be ; cease to one with another; cease to longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be .
125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of , as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and . 126 always, that ye may not faint, until I . Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen. 127 And again, the order of the house prepared for the of the of the , established for their instruction in all things that are expedient for them, even for all the of the church, or in other words, those who are called to the ministry in the church, beginning at the high priests, even down to the deacons— 128 And this shall be the order of the house of the presidency of the school: He that is appointed to be president, or teacher, shall be found standing in his place, in the house which shall be prepared for him.
129 Therefore, he shall be first in the house of God, in a place that the congregation in the house may hear his words carefully and distinctly, not with loud speech. 130 And when he cometh into the house of God, for he should be first in the house—behold, this is , that he may be an — 131 Let him offer himself in prayer upon his knees before God, in or remembrance of the everlasting covenant.
132 And when any shall come in after him, let the teacher arise, and, with hands to heaven, yea, even directly, salute his brother or brethren with these words: 133 Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to , in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your and through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever.
Amen. 134 And he that is found of this salutation shall not have place among you; for ye shall not suffer that mine house shall be by him. 135 And he that cometh in and is faithful before me, and is a brother, or if they be brethren, they shall salute the president or teacher with uplifted hands to heaven, with this same prayer and covenant, or by saying Amen, in token of the same. 136 Behold, verily, I say unto you, this is an ensample unto you for a salutation to one another in the house of God, in the school of the prophets.
137 And ye are called to do this by prayer and thanksgiving, as the Spirit shall give utterance in all your doings in the house of the Lord, in the school of the prophets, that it may become a sanctuary, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit to your . 138 And ye shall not receive any among you into this school save he is clean from the of this generation; 139 And he shall be received by the ordinance of the of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted.
140 And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church. 141 It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of , he is to gird himself according to the given in the thirteenth chapter of John’s testimony concerning me. Amen.See Also: Appliance Stores In Green Bay Wi
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We are admonished repeatedly in the scriptures to preach the truths of the gospel by the power of the Spirit (see D&C 50:14). I believe most parents and teachers in the Church are aware of this principle and generally strive appropriately to apply it. As important as this principle is, however, it is only one element of a much larger spiritual pattern. We are also frequently taught to seek learning by faith (see D&C 88:118).
Preaching by the Spirit and learning by faith are companion principles that we should strive to understand and apply concurrently and consistently. I suspect we emphasize and know much more about a teacher teaching by the Spirit than we do about a learner learning by faith. Clearly, the principles and processes of both teaching and learning are spiritually essential. However, as we look to the future and anticipate the ever more confused and turbulent world in which we will live, I believe it will be essential for all of us to increase our capacity to seek learning by faith.
In our personal lives, in our families, and in the Church, we can and will receive the blessings of spiritual strength, direction, and protection as we seek by faith to obtain and apply spiritual knowledge. Nephi teaches us, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth [the message] unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not necessarily into the heart.
A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spiritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter. Learning by faith opens the pathway into the heart. The Principle of Action: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen [but] are true” (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings.”1 These teachings highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for that are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings.
I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present. Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. This assurance is founded upon a correct understanding about, and trust in, God and enables us to “press forward” (2 Nephi 31:20) into uncertain and often challenging situations in the service of the Savior.
For example, Nephi relied upon precisely this type of future-facing spiritual assurance as he returned to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass—“not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do. Nevertheless [he] went forth” (1 Nephi 4:6–7). Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to, and results in, hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way.
2 The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present. Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.
Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process. This helix is like a coil, and as it spirals upward it expands and widens. These three elements of faith—assurance, action, and evidence—are not separate and discrete; rather, they are interrelated and continuous and cycle upward. And the faith that fuels this ongoing process develops, evolves, and changes. As we again turn and face forward toward an uncertain future, assurance leads to action and produces evidence, which further increases assurance.
Our confidence waxes stronger, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We find a powerful example of the interaction among assurance, action, and evidence as the children of Israel transported the ark of the covenant under the leadership of Joshua (see Joshua 3:7–17). Recall how the Israelites came to the river Jordan and were promised the waters would part, and they would be able to cross over on dry ground.
Interestingly, the waters did not part as the children of Israel stood on the banks of the river waiting for something to happen; rather, the soles of their feet were wet before the water parted. The faith of the Israelites was manifested in the fact that they walked into the water before it parted. They walked into the river Jordan with a future-facing assurance of things hoped for. As the Israelites moved forward, the water parted, and as they crossed over on dry land, they looked back and beheld the evidence of things not seen.
In this episode, faith as assurance led to action and produced the evidence of things not seen that were true. True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to action. Faith as the principle of action is highlighted in many scriptures with which we are all familiar: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26; emphasis added).
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22; emphasis added). “Awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith” (Alma 32:27; emphasis added). And it is faith as the principle of action that is so central to the process of learning and applying spiritual truth. Learning by Faith: To Act and Not to Be Acted Upon How is faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings related to gospel learning? And what does it mean to seek learning by faith? In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14).
As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of agency—the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not only to be acted upon—especially as we seek to obtain and apply spiritual knowledge. Learning by faith and from experience are two of the central features of the Father’s plan of happiness.
The Savior preserved moral agency through the Atonement and made it possible for us to act and to learn by faith. Lucifer’s rebellion against the plan sought to destroy the agency of man, and his intent was that we as learners would only be acted upon. Consider the question posed by Heavenly Father to Adam in the Garden of Eden: “Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). The Father knew where Adam was hiding, but He nonetheless asked the question.
Why? A wise and loving Father enabled His child to act in the learning process and not merely be acted upon. There was no one-way lecture to a disobedient child, as perhaps many of us might be inclined to deliver. Rather, the Father helped Adam as a learner to act as an agent and appropriately exercise his agency. Recall how Nephi desired to know about the things his father, Lehi, had seen in the vision of the tree of life.
Interestingly, the Spirit of the Lord begins the tutorial with Nephi by asking the following question: “Behold, what desirest thou?” (1 Nephi 11:2). Clearly the Spirit knew what Nephi desired. So why ask the question? The Holy Ghost was helping Nephi to act in the learning process and not simply be acted upon. Notice in 1 Nephi 11–14 how the Spirit both asked questions and encouraged Nephi to “look” as active elements in the learning process.
From these examples we recognize that as learners, you and I are to act and be doers of the word and not simply hearers who are only acted upon. Are you and I agents who act and seek learning by faith, or are we waiting to be taught and acted upon? Are the children, youth, and adults we serve acting and seeking to learn by faith, or are they waiting to be taught and acted upon? Are you and I encouraging and helping those we serve to seek learning by faith? We are all to be anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking (see 3 Nephi 14:7).
A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost.
Thus, learning by faith involves the exercise of moral agency to act upon the assurance of things hoped for and invites the evidence of things not seen from the only true teacher, the Spirit of the Lord. Consider how missionaries help investigators to learn by faith. Making and keeping spiritual commitments, such as studying and praying about the Book of Mormon, attending Church meetings, and keeping the commandments, require an investigator to exercise faith and to act.
One of the fundamental roles of a missionary is to help an investigator make and honor commitments—to act and learn by faith. Teaching, exhorting, and explaining, as important as they are, can never convey to an investigator a witness of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. Only as an investigator’s faith initiates action and opens the pathway to the heart can the Holy Ghost deliver a confirming witness.
Missionaries obviously must learn to teach by the power of the Spirit. Of equal importance, however, is the responsibility missionaries have to help investigators learn by faith. The learning I am describing reaches far beyond mere cognitive comprehension and the retaining and recalling of information. The type of learning to which I am referring causes us to put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change our hearts (see Mosiah 5:2), to be converted unto the Lord, and to never fall away (see Alma 23:6).
Learning by faith requires both “the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Learning by faith is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart. Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself.
The young boy Joseph Smith instinctively understood what it meant to seek learning by faith. One of the most well-known episodes in the life of Joseph Smith was his reading of verses about prayer and faith in the book of James in the New Testament (see James 1:5–6). This text inspired Joseph to retire to a grove of trees near his home to pray and to seek for spiritual knowledge. Note the questions Joseph had formulated in his mind and felt in his heart—and which he took into the grove.
He clearly had prepared himself to “ask in faith” (James 1:6) and to act. “In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? … “My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.
No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right … and which I should join” (Joseph Smith—History 1:10, 18). Notice that Joseph’s questions focused not just on what he needed to know but also on what he needed to do. And his very first question centered on action and what was to be done! His prayer was not simply which church is right.
His question was which church should he join. Joseph went to the grove to learn by faith. He was determined to act. Ultimately, the responsibility to learn by faith and apply spiritual truth rests upon each of us individually. This is an increasingly serious and important responsibility in the world in which we do now and will yet live. What, how, and when we learn is supported by—but is not dependent upon—an instructor, a method of presentation, or a specific topic or lesson format.
Truly, one of the great challenges of mortality is to seek learning by faith. The Prophet Joseph Smith best summarizes the learning process and outcomes I am attempting to describe. In response to a request by the Twelve Apostles for instruction, Joseph taught, “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.”3 And on another occasion, the Prophet Joseph explained that “reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God.
”4 Implications for Teachers The truths about learning by faith have profound implications for parents and teachers. Let us consider three of these implications. Implication 1. The Holy Ghost is a teacher from the Father. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, and He is the teacher and witness of all truth. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “The office of the Holy Ghost in His ministrations among men is described in scripture.
He is a teacher sent from the Father; and unto those who are entitled to His tuition He will reveal all things necessary for the soul’s advancement.”5 We should always remember that the Holy Ghost is the teacher who, through proper invitation, can enter into a learner’s heart. Indeed, you and I have the responsibility to preach the gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter, as a prerequisite for the learning by faith that can be achieved only by and through the Holy Ghost (see D&C 50:14).
In this regard, you and I are much like the long, thin strands of glass used to create the fiber-optic cables through which light signals are transmitted over long distances. Just as the glass in these cables must be pure to conduct the light efficiently and effectively, so we should become and remain worthy conduits through whom the Spirit of the Lord can operate. But we must be careful to remember in our service that we are conduits and channels; we are not the light.
“For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matthew 10:20). It is never about me, and it is never about you. In fact, anything you or I do as instructors that knowingly and intentionally draws attention to self—in the messages we present, in the methods we use, or in our personal demeanor—is a form of priestcraft that inhibits the teaching effectiveness of the Holy Ghost.
“Doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God” (D&C 50:17–18). Implication 2. We are most effective as instructors when we encourage and facilitate learning by faith. We are all familiar with the adage that giving a man a fish feeds him for one meal. Teaching the man to fish, on the other hand, feeds him for a lifetime. As parents and gospel instructors, you and I are not in the business of distributing fish; rather, our work is to help individuals learn to “fish” and to become spiritually self-reliant.
This important objective is best accomplished as we encourage and facilitate learners acting in accordance with correct principles—as we help them to learn by doing. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17). Notice this implication in practice in the counsel given to Junius F. Wells by President Brigham Young (1801–77) as Brother Wells was called in 1875 to organize the young men of the Church: “At your meetings you should begin at the top of the roll and call upon as many members as there is time for to bear their testimonies and at the next meeting begin where you left off and call upon others, so that all shall take part and get into the practice of standing up and saying something.
Many may think they haven’t any testimony to bear, but get them to stand up and they will find the Lord will give them utterance to many truths they had not thought of before. More people have obtained a testimony while standing up trying to bear it than down on their knees praying for it.”6 President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has given similar counsel in our day: “Oh, if I could teach you this one principle.
A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. ‘The spirit of man,’ as the scripture says, indeed ‘is the candle of the Lord’ (Proverbs 20:27).
“It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!”7 I have observed a common characteristic among the instructors who have had the greatest influence in my life.
They have helped me to seek learning by faith. They refused to give me easy answers to hard questions. In fact, they did not give me any answers at all. Rather, they pointed the way and helped me take the steps to find my own answers. I certainly did not always appreciate this approach, but experience has enabled me to understand that an answer given by another person usually is not remembered for very long, if remembered at all.
But an answer we discover or obtain through the exercise of faith, typically, is retained for a lifetime. The most important learnings of life are caught—not taught. The spiritual understanding you and I have been blessed to receive, and which has been confirmed as true in our hearts, simply cannot be given to another person. The tuition of diligence and learning by faith must be paid to obtain and personally “own” such knowledge.
Only in this way can what is known in the mind be transformed into what is felt in the heart. Only in this way can a person move beyond relying upon the spiritual knowledge and experience of others and claim those blessings for himself or herself. Only in this way can we be spiritually prepared for what is coming. We are to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Implication 3.
Our faith is strengthened as we help others seek learning by faith. The Holy Ghost, who can “teach [us] all things, and bring all things to [our] remembrance” (John 14:26), is eager to help us learn as we act and exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Interestingly, this divine learning assistance is perhaps never more apparent than when we are teaching, either at home or in Church assignments. As Paul made clear to the Romans, “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” (Romans 2:21).
Notice in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants how teaching diligently invites heavenly grace and instruction: “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand” (D&C 88:77–78; emphasis added).
Consider that the blessings described in these scriptures are intended specifically for the teacher: “Teach … diligently and my grace shall attend you”—that you, the teacher, may be instructed! The same principle is evident in verse 122 from the same section: “Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege” (D&C 88:122; emphasis added).
As all speak and as all listen in a dignified and orderly way, all are edified. The individual and collective exercise of faith in the Savior invites instruction and strength from the Spirit of the Lord. Seek Learning by Faith: A Recent Example All of us were blessed by the challenge from President Gordon B. Hinckley in August 2005 to read the Book of Mormon by the end of that year. In extending the challenge, President Hinckley promised that faithfully observing this simple reading program would bring into our lives and into our homes “an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.
”8 Please note how this inspired challenge is a classic example of learning by faith. First, you and I were not commanded, coerced, or required to read. Rather, we were invited to exercise our agency as agents and act in accordance with correct principles. President Hinckley, as an inspired teacher, encouraged us to act and not just be acted upon. Each of us, ultimately, had to decide if and how we would respond to the challenge—and if we would endure to the end of the task.
Second, in proffering the invitation to read and to act, President Hinckley was encouraging each of us to seek learning by faith. No new study materials were distributed to members of the Church, and no additional lessons, classes, or programs were created by the Church. Each of us had our copy of the Book of Mormon, and a pathway into our heart opened wider through the exercise of our faith in the Savior as we responded to the First Presidency challenge.
Thus, we were prepared to receive instruction from the only true teacher, the Holy Ghost. The responsibility to seek learning by faith rests upon each of us individually, and this obligation will become increasingly important as the world in which we live grows more confused and troubled. Learning by faith is essential to our personal spiritual development and for the growth of the Church in these latter days.
May each of us truly hunger and thirst after righteousness and be filled with the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 12:6)—that we might seek learning by faith. If Any of You Lack Wisdom, by Walter Rane, courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art Their Joy Was Full, by Walter Rane, courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art The Desires of My Heart, by Walter Rane, courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art Photograph by Craig Dimond, posed by models Photograph by Ruth Sipus, posed by model