In speaking of those who serve God in righteousness, the Lord said, "To them will I reveal all mysteries, yea all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom" (D&C 76:7)
It is the nature of man to be inquisitive, to wonder about, explore, and learn things that are presently unknowable, and that tendency applies even to matter of religion. As we read the scripture we find many places where we wonder, "What does this mean?" or "What does that refer to?" For example, the book of Revelation talks of beasts with many heads, of dragons, of a beast that comes up out of the sea, etc. Obviously these creatures are all symbolic but the scriptures don't tell us what they represent.
In both the Old and New Testament we read about the great and terrible day of the Lord when He will come in the clouds of heaven and, with great power, destroy the wicked and save His people. Throughout the scriptures we find passages that give us signs and wonders to look for that will indicate when this glorious day is close at hand, yet for over two thousand years biblical scholars have been diligently studying the Bible to determine exactly when this event will occur and yet there is no one agreed upon answer. However, this hasn't stopped people from continuing to find answers to this and many other questions that the scripture haven't give us answers to, and this tendency is especially true of those who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are several reason why Latter-day Saints are so inquisitive about the mysteries of God. The first is that the LDS church believes in continuing revelation. In fact, this church is build on the premise that God appeared to a young boy by the name of Joseph Smith and revealed many things that are not contained in the Bible but which have been revealed in such scriptures as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the book of Moses and the book of Abraham. But instead of these new revelations answering all of our questions, they have done just the opposite because with more knowledge comes more questions, which invites people to want to learn even more.
For example, in ancient times people looked up into the night sky and wondered what those twinkling dots of light were. Today scientists know exactly what they are, how far away they are, what they are made of, and many other facts that ancient people never even dreamt of asking. Yet, the more scientists study the universe and the more knowledge they gain about it, the more questions they have. That's because knowledge is like a door that when opened takes us into a room that contains several more doors, and when we open any one of them, they take us into yet another room with several more doors. Therefore, the more knowledge we gain the more questions it generates. Since the LDS Church has been given more knowledge about the mysteries of God than any other religon, it is only natural that those who belong to the LDS church would have more questions than other Christians.
Another reason why LDS members search for answers to spiritual questions is because in their Articles of Faith it declares, "We believe all that God has revealed and that he will reveal many other great and important things." Since God has promised to reveal even more than what He already has, this clearly implies that there is more to know, which only whets man's appetite to want to find out what else there is to learn. This in turn, causes his natural instinct of curiosity to drive him to search the scriptures more deeply in order to learn more of the mysteries of God.
And there is yet a third reason why LDS members search the scriptures so diligently and that is because there are many truths that are hidden in plain sight in the scriptures. For example, we have all read certain passages of scripture many, many times and think we know what it means, only to hear someone explain those scriptures in ways we have never thought of before. Often times, as we read the scriptures we have this same experience ourselves as a verse of scripture suddenly takes on an entirely different and more profound meaning that it ever had before.
The scriptures repeatedly tell us that no one can know the things of God except the Spirit of God reveals it to them, and that it is by the Spirit that all mysteries and the deep things of God are revealed to us (1 Cor. 2:9-11; Eph. 3:5; D&C 121:26). For this reason, perhaps no other people have a greater desire to seek the Spirit in order to learn more about the mysteries and deep things of God than those who belong to the LDS Church.
Yet, even so, not all members understand these mysteries in the same way. As a result, there can sometimes be passionate discussions between LDS members as they disagree over issues that are not clearly stated in the scriptures.
For example, it is firmly taught that after we die our spirits go either to paradise or the spirit prison but who exactly goes where? Some say only Mormons go to paradise, while others say that all good people go there, while others say that the only members of the LDS Church and good people who have not heard the gospel go there.
The LDS Church teaches that the gospel is taught in the spirit world but some believe that it is only taught to those who have not heard the gospel in this life. It is their belief that if a person rejects the gospel in this life that they will not have a second change to accept it in the next life. Then there are others who say that those who rejected the gospel in this life but accept it in the next life will not have the same reward as those who never heard the gospel in this life but later accepted it.
The Lord has revealed that we were in the beginning with God and that the intelligence of man was neither created nor can be destroyed (D&C 93:29). That clearly means that the intelligence of man has always existed. However, the scriptures don't plainly tell us exactly what an intelligence is. Some say it is an unembodied, individual substance that has its own personality and that when God created us as spirit children He merely covered this individual substance with a spirit body, just like our mortal body covers or encases our spirit body. In other words, man is made up of three parts - his mortal body, his spirit body, and his intelligence. However, there are others who say that intelligence in found in all matter, therefore when God created us a spirit beings, our intelligence comes from the material that makes up our spirit body.
The scriptures tell us that after the resurrection we will be assigned to one of three kingdoms - celestial, terrestrial, and telestial and some of these scriptures seem to strongly indicate that once assigned to one of these kingdoms that we cannot advance from one kingdom to a higher one. However, there are others who argue that it is possible for people to advance all the way from the lowest to the highest kingdom.
There are those who believe that those who have been sealed as husband and wife and were righteous in this life, will immediately enter into their exaltation at the time of the resurrection, while others believe that after the resurrection such people will still need to continue progressing until they eventually achieve their exaltation.
There are those who believe that exalted being will be able to do everything that God our Father can do, while other believe that our heavenly Father will always be greater than us and that we will merely be gods of lesser capabilities. There are those who believe that exalted beings will create planets of their own for their spirit children to live on while others believe that only our Father in heaven will have the power to create worlds. And the list of these kinds of topics goes on and on.
There have been men of great spiritual understanding, who possess a highly righteous character who nonetheless strongly disagree with one another over one or more of these or other topics. Needless to say, the more convinced someone is that their understanding is correct and that it came from personal revelation received through the Spirit, the more adamant they will be in defending their beliefs. This was true in the ancient church of Christ and even among some of the apostles.
For example, when Paul first began to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, the Jewish Christians in Antioch, where Paul was from, were vehemently opposed to allowing Gentiles to become Christians. In speaking of this debate, the scriptures tell us that there were "no small dissension and disputation among them" (Acts 15:2), Because both sides couldn't agree with one another they decided to take the matter to the apostles in Jerusalem but even during that meeting "there had been much disputing" (vs 7). Later on Paul and Barnabas had a dispute among themselves over an issue and no longer would work together (vs 36-39). Paul tells of an incident where he rebuked Peter over the issue of eating with the Gentiles (Gal. 2:11).
The common thread that runs through all of these incidents is there was a lack of clear revelation to definitively answer these doctrinal questions. In fact, it took a revelation from God before Peter himself came to understand that the gospel could be preached to the Gentiles (Acts 10). But in the absence of a clear, defining revelation, righteous men do the best they can to understand the mysteries of God based on the knowledge they currently have.
The same condition existed among the righteous Nephites. When Jesus visited them he found them disputing over points of doctrine. Obviously, there were disputes because the scriptures they had were not clear on the points they disagreed on so Jesus had to give them clear instructions on what they were to believe (3 Ne. 11:28). And even after this, another dispute arose among the believers in Christ concerning what to call the name of their church, and once again it took a clear revelation to resolve the dispute (3 Ne. 27).
What we learn from this is that it is possible for righteous people to have genuine differences of opinion on various gospel subjects and that their opinions may not necessarily be based on divine revelation but on their own educated understanding. Although the LDS Church leaders encourage their members to study and ponder the scriptures for themselves, they also counsel people not to become preoccupied with the mysteries of God. A "mystery" is defined as something that is unknown, therefore "the mysteries of God" are anything that God has not clearly revealed to His church at large. People may receive personal revelation but, by definition, that is private information, intended exclusively for the benefit of that individual to whom it was given.
For example, a father may receive revelation for his family but such a revelation doesn't necessarily or automatically apply to any other father. In the same way, one person may feel they have received a revelation on a particular gospel subject but such a revelation is personal and is not meant to be applied to others. For this reason, when people make a comment or give their answer to a question made in a Sunday School class or other participation meetings, they have the right to express their ideas and opinions, but it should also be realized that others will, and often do, hold a different opinion and that they likewise have the right to their own views. However, too often, a difference in opinion, leads to expressing an "I'm right; you're wrong" attitude, which can then easily escalate a discussion into a dissension which, if not checked, can lead to a passionate defensive disagreement.
One of the major functions of the Church is to be the source of truth. That doesn't mean it is the source of all truth, but whatever it teaches can be considered as truth. Therefore, whatever is not the officially stated teaching of the church cannot authoritatively be said to be true. For example, on the subject of evolution, the Church teaches that God created the earth and all that is in it, including Adam and Eve, whom He placed in a garden, where they were able to talk with Him faced to face, and that they were tempted by the devil through the serpent to disobey a commandment God gave them. But as to how God created the earth, how long it took, what kind of fruit Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat, or what happened to their bodies that caused them to become mortal, the Church has not provided any answers to these questions because God has not given us a clear, definitive revelation on this subject.
An individual may think they know the answer to these and other perplexing questions, and they ultimately may be proven right, but unless the Church has made an official statement on the subject, all other ideas are merely someone's opinion, and that includes those made by apostles and prophets. Therefore, to argue over a point of doctrine that God Himself has not seen fit to reveal to His own church, is worse than foolish; it is dangerous because it plays into the hands of Satan who looks for opportunities to cause dissension, through which he seeks to instill hatred instead of love in the hearts of men.
The Lord has revealed that "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance" (D&C 131:6) and some have interpreted this to mean that unless we gain a knowledge of the mysteries of God, we can't be fully saved, however, that is not a doctrine taught by the church. The stated purpose of the church "is to lead us to eternal life" (Handbook of Instruction II, 1.1.2 ). The mysteries of God may be interesting and fascinating to know but they do nothing to save us into the kingdom of God. Satan and his angels definitely believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world and there is little doubt that they have a greater understanding of some of those things that are mysteries to us, but none of that knowledge will ever save them.
Jesus told Nicodemus that except a man be born of the water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Therefore, baptism, properly performed by someone with the proper divine authority, saves us. Not just believing in Christ but keeping His commandments and being faithful to the sacred covenants we've made are also necessary for our salvation. Repenting of our sins and loving our neighbor as ourselves is likewise necessary for salvation.
But knowing how God created the world, or who exactly does and does not go to paradise, or whether or not people can progress from one kingdom to another after the resurrection has no saving effect upon us. Such knowledge is interesting but meaningless trivia that does nothing to help us achieve eternal life. All of us will die and go to the spirit world and when we get there we will discover the truth of who goes where, what it's like, and a million other things we might now wonder about.
When we are resurrected we will find out if we become exalted immediately or whether there is more we have to do to become exalted. Therefore, it isn't necessary for us to know these things now because all of us are going to discover the answers to these and many, many other questions as we experience the afterlife.
On the last day, when we stand before the judgment bar of Christ, He's not going to test our knowledge about the mysteries of God. Instead, He is going to examine our life to see how well we lived it. As such, we are taking our entrance exam into heaven right now, and what we will be tested on is how much we put Christ first in our life, how well we've lived the principles of righteousness, how well we kept our covenants with God, how well we strove to build up the kingdom of God, and, most importantly, how well we learned to live the law of the celestial kingdom. It is when we have passed that test and entered into the rest of our Lord that we will finally learn all the mysteries of God.
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