The Lord has given His saints the admonition: "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" (D&C 88:118).
Most religions only emphasize the need to learn about salvation, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also believes in gaining knowledge about everything, both spiritual and worldly. As a result, most LDS members have taken this advise to heart and have become one of the most industrious group of people who seek after all forms of knowledge. We seek for truth and wisdom in every field of human endeavor, whether it be in politics, science, business, education, family life, or any other activity.
In all that we do we are striving to become like God. Joseph Smith was given a revelation in which he was told, "The glory of God is intelligence" (D&C 93:36). Most people believe in the concept that God is all-knowing and all-wise, thus He must be a very intelligent being. We also have been taught, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come" (D&C 130:18,19).
But there is so much to learn even in this life that one person couldn't possibly learn it all in a hundred lifetimes. Furthermore, we are currently learning about things that people in the past never knew existed, and the prospect that there are thousands of things still to be discovered is becoming more obvious every day.
Yet God knows everything! How did He do it? More importantly, how can we do it, if we want to become like Him?
Before we can answer that question we need to have a better understanding of what it means to be God. The Doctrine and Covenants explains, "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36).
The word "glory", as used in this scripture, means, "Something that makes one worthy of being honored or given praise." It can also mean, "a beauty or magnificence." Therefore, to paraphrase the above quote, we could say, "The thing that makes God worthy of being honored and praised is His intelligence, or, in other words, His beautiful, magnificent light and His knowledge about truth."
The Lord equates "intelligence" with having "light and truth", and He has also explained that, "truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come" (D&C 93:24). "He that keepeth his [God's] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he [too] is glorified in truth and knoweth all things" (D&C 93:28).
As we keep God's commandments we receive truth and light and, in this way, we will eventually come to know all things. The Lord revealed, "Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence" (D&C 93:29,30).
Intelligence is defined by God as "the light of truth". Thus to have intelligence, we must have light, which is truth. The more truth we have, the greater our light. The less truth we possess, the less light there is in us. Neither truth nor intelligence was created by God. They are independent from God and are beyond God's ability to create, change, or destroy them. He merely places them into different spheres, or realms, or environments as it pleases Him, so that intelligence can therefore act for itself and grow. If He didn't do this, there would be no existence for those intelligences whose light is dim because they have so little knowledge of the truth. But when God places truth and intellegences together in different spheres, it provides the intelligences with the opportunity to grow brighter by gaining more truth, which gives them more light. In this way these intellegences not only have existence, but they also have a purpose to their exisitence.
But, if God is so glorious, so worthy of praise and honor, so magnificent a being because He is full of light (1 John 1:5) - and therefore is full of truth - how did He come to have all of this knowledge? How did He obtain and learn all the truth there is to know?
The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, "[The angels] reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before God. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's. Then the white stone mentioned in Revelations 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known. And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom" (D&C 130:7-11).
All things, both the past and the future, are present to God, because the place where God lives is like a Urim and Thummim and allows those living there to have knowledge of all lower kingdoms. And those who inherit the celestial kingdom will also be given a stone that will be their personal Urim and Thimmim to give them knowledge pertaining to things concerning higher kingdoms.
As a side note, we could ask, "What are these higher kingdoms?" If the celestial world is the highest degree of heaven, what kingdoms are higher than that for us to know about?
If we look at this scripture more closely we find that it tells us that "This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state" will become the celestial kingdom for those "who dwell thereon." According to LDS doctrine, only those who have lived their mortal life on this planet will inherit it in the resurrection. Furthermore, "this earth will be Christ's". He will be its king, its supreme ruler, its owner. This earth will belong to Christ as His eternal dwelling place. He owns it. It's His free and clear because He bought it through His perfect life and by His infinite atonement. We, on the other hand, because of Christ's mercy and love for us, will be allowed to live with Him on His planet. But, it should be realized that the earth doesn't belong to us in the same way it belongs to Christ. We are, in effect, invited guests (Matthew 22:1-14; 25:1-13).
But this is not the place where God, our eternal Father lives. This earth is Christ's, not the Father's. Our heavenly Father has never lived on this earth, therefore, He must reside somewhere else. Indeed, we know through scripture that He dwells on a planet that is closest to the great governing planet, Kolob (Abraham 3:2-3). As the father is always greater than the son, so therefore, the planet, or kingdom, where God, the Father, resides, is likewise greater than the kingdom where Christ, the Son, dwells. Furthermore, since God, our Father, likewise has a heavenly Father, (our celestial grandfather), that kingdom must be greater than that of our celestial Father's. And this pattern continues back into infinity. I believe these are the higher kingdoms of which the personal white stone gives knowledge about to its owner.
Therefore, it seems that God knows all things because He lives on a planet that is a huge Urim and Thummim which provides Him with easy and complete access to all truth. But if those who are worthy to inherit the celestial kingdom will also have this same advantage, then why have we been told to, "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" (D&C 88:118)?
Why should we seek diligently by study and hard learning to acquire knowledge and wisdom now when, after the resurrection, it will almost be given to us without any effort?
There are two reasons. First, it should be noted that we were in the process of gaining knowledge before we came to earth, and we will continue to gain knowledge once we pass through the veil of death and enter the spirit world. Since we don't enter the celestial kingdom until after the resurrection, it becomes clear that gaining knowledge is an ongoing quest for us and isn't something meant to be given us at some future date.
If we look at people born into this life, we see that many have certain "natural" talents. For example, when someone is able to beautifully play a musical instrument with very little effort, we say it comes naturally to them. Some people seem to have a natural "green thumb" for gardening, or can design, build, cook, or do other things easily that others have great difficulty accomplishing, no matter how hard they try.
The reason for this is that we developed these talents in our pre-mortal existence. We didn't just sit around back then, doing nothing, waiting for the opportunity to experience mortality before being able to gain knowledge. From the writings of Latter-day prophets and LDS people who've had visions of the post-mortal world, we know that there is a beehive of activity in that realm. There are buildings that need to be designed and built, there are flowers and trees that need to be taken care of, and there is sewing for the clothing which people wear.
But knowledge is just the gaining of facts. Wisdom, on the other hand, is the ability to properly use facts. The dictionary defines wisdom as, "Knowledge of what is true or right coupled with good judgment." A person who doesn't know how to use facts wisely cannot be truly classified as being intelligent.
Just learning facts isn't enough. We must also learn how to properly apply them. The scriptures tells us, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7). Too often, wisdom comes, not from studying, but from putting into practice what we've studied. We gain wisdom by learning from our mistakes.
It must be understood that our life on this earth is not completely foreign to us. It was patterned after the world we came from and into which we will go at death. Although this world is inferior and imperfect, it is still very similar to our heavenly home. We were engaged in the pursuit of learning before we came here, and will continue that goal after we leave this mortal world. Gaining knowledge and wisdom isn't something that's unique to our life on this earth, but rather is a continuation of what we have been doing for countless ages.
It may be slower to learn this way than it would be in a celestial environment, but that's doesn't give us the excuse to interrupt our pursuit of gaining knowledge and wisdom. We learn wisdom little by little, precept upon precept, line upon line. The more we learn, the more intelligent questions we can ask to help us learn even more things of a higher nature. Thus, "if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."
But there is a second, and more important reason for seeking knowledge. Notice that the Lord starts His advise with the words, "And as all have not faith..." Not everyone has faith, and not everyone has the same amount of faith. Each of us has faith in varying degrees. How do we then develop that faith? The Lord explained, "seek ye diligently, and teach one another words of wisdom"
There are two things we must do. The first is for us to diligently seek for wisdom. We are instructed to do this by reading words of wisdom out of the best books. We are further counseled to actively seek to learn this wisdom "by study and also by faith." It goes without saying, that we must then take the wisdom we've learned by book studying, and apply it in our life so we can also learn applied wisdom through the study of practical experience.
But once we have gained this knowledge, what do we do then? The second part of the Lord's admonition is "to teach one another." The purpose of gaining wisdom isn't for our own glorification. The purpose for us gaining wisdom is so we are better able to teach and help others whose faith, abilities, talents, skills, knowledge, etc, are not as great as ours.
For knowledge to be effective, it must be used for the benefit of others. For example, if Thomas Edison learned how to make a light bulb but kept that knowledge to himself, we wouldn't be enjoying the benefits of his invention. If Henry Ford didn't share his knowledge of how to make a combustible engine, we wouldn't have the benefits of the automobile. If just one person, or one small group of people gains knowledge of something and shares it, then millions of others are able to benefit from what just a few have learned.
Knowledge and wisdom are meant to be shared for the express purpose of helping others. That goes for spiritual things as well as temporal. God, our Father, uses His knowledge to help bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. Without that knowledge He wouldn't be able to accomplish this goal. It is an eternal principle that we gain knowledge for the purpose of helping others.
It therefore follows that the more knowledge we have the more help we can be to others. Knowledgeable, wise parents are able to help their children develop much better than parents who are not as learned. People who are knowledgeable in the world of science, agriculture, business, music and a host of other areas are better able to teach and provide benefits to others than those who don't possess this wisdom.
The simple truth of why we should diligently seek to acquire all forms of knowledge and learn to become wise in that knowledge, isn't for the purpose of becoming all-knowing as our Father in Heaven is. The real reason should be to increase our ability and talents so that we can be of greater benefit to others. And, after all, isn't that what being Christ-like is really all about?