I have been meaning to use these pithy post titles for some time now but since the content I have in mind for them overlaps I decided to use them all for this single post. The overall subject is one of my favorites and one of the most important we could talk about – personal revelation.
Exaltation: It’s All about Who You Know
So why is exaltation about who you know? It is because exaltation means becoming one with God. The “person” we need to know in order to become exalted beings is God.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17: 3)
The whole notion that exaltation and spiritual progression are entirely matters of relationship is a useful one I think. It helps us focus on the most important things in life like our personal relationship with God. Too often we get hung up on the means (observance of commandments and cultural practices) and lose sight of the end (really knowing God). I often repeat the phrase: “Knowing God is a very different thing than knowing about God”. And knowing God requires personal revelation.
Lest you think I am not also an advocate of obedience to God let me say that personal revelation always leads to repentance and greater obedience to God. As we receive light and knowledge for God it becomes clear to us what we must do to be happier and that is always to change to become more like him – or in other words to repent and obey Him more fully.
Puncture or Perish
That leads to my second post title: Puncture or Perish. (This title is a play on the old saying in the Arts: Publish or Perish.) The idea is that if we, as members of the truest Church on the earth and as the only people on the earth who have the Gift of the Holy Ghost do not “puncture the veil” and receive real and identifiable personal revelation on a fairly regular basis we are in serious spiritual danger. When Peter testified that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord responded:
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matt 16: 17-18)
I firmly believe (along with many modern prophets and apostles) that an appropriate interpretation of verse 18 is that the rock Christ was referring to was the rock of revelation. Now lots of folks have interpreted this to mean that the overall church is founded on the rock of revelations to prophets like Joseph Smith. While I don’t disagree with that idea, I think it is only part of the story. The other crucial meaning is that each of us must be personally built on the rock of revelation as well. I have concluded that anything short of personal revelation from God is a dangerously sandy foundation for our own spiritual progress.
The Lord gives us instructions on increasing our relationship with and knowledge of him in the D&C:
And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
Among most church members worldwide I think the injunction to “seek learning, even by study” is most commonly neglected. I think Mormons don’t study the gospel enough. But among Mormon blog participants (bloggernaclites) I suspect we have an unusually high percentage of folks that are better at the study portion than at the “seek learning… by faith” (and personal revelation) portion.
In other words, I suspect that if our personal revelation does not keep up with our personal study of the deeper and stickier parts of Mormon doctrine and history we may be on a path leading to agnosticism or falling away. Our foundation on the rock of personal revelation must be strong enough to support our faith in the face of the winds and rains we will encounter in life – and perhaps more so for those of us who are “storm chasers” and actively seek to get to the bottom of those sticky doctrinal or historical questions. And by our very nature we Mormon bloggers are “storm chasers”. Many or most of us are drawn to the Bloggernacle because it allows us to study and seek the answers to those nagging questions about Mormon doctrine or practices that are not a good fit for the average Sunday school discussion. But in such digging we often must weather winds and rains of uncertainty as we are occasionally forced to adjust incorrect assumptions we previously held. It is the price to be paid for digging up truth I suppose.
So fellow storm chasers, when was the last time you clearly heard the voice of God in your mind and heart? If it has been too long let me recommend a foundation check before taking on that next level 4 or level 5 storm. (Hey, if it got Moses across the Red Sea it can get us past a few spiritual winds and rains, right?)