Christ said to the Nephites:
3 Nephi 17:2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
It is interesting to put these words of the Savior with an incident Brigham Young recounted about the prophet Joseph Smith. Brigham Young recounted:
Brother Kimball and myself were never ordained High Priests. How wonderful! I was going to say how little some of the brethren understood the Priesthood, after the Twelve were called. In our early career in this Church, on one occasion, in one of our Councils, we were telling about some of the Twelve wanting to ordain us High Priests, and what I said to brother Patten when he wanted to ordain me in York State: said I, brother Patten, wait until I can lift my hand to heaven and say, I have magnified the office of an Elder. After our conversation was over in the Council, some of the brethren began to query, and said we ought to be ordained High Priests; at the same time I did not consider that an Apostle needed to be ordained a High Priest, an Elder, or a Teacher. I did not express my views on the subject, at that time, but thought I would hear what brother Joseph would say about it. It was William E. McLellin who told Joseph, that I and Heber were not ordained High Priests, and wanted to know if it should not be done. Said Joseph, “Will you insult the Priesthood? Is that all the knowledge you have of the office of an Apostle? Do you not know that the man who receives the Apostleship, receives all the keys that ever were, or that can be, conferred upon mortal man? What are you talking about? I am astonished!” Nothing more was said about it.
There was no quotation William E McLellin could have resorted to in order to know that. There was no verse that said what Joseph Smith expected the apostles to already know. That is because we are expected to come to the Lord with 10 talents when the Lord gives us 5. We are expected to do what Christ commanded the Nephites to do. If all we can do is echo back the 5 talents he gave us, then we are failing to understand the whole point.
We tragically think that we are being “the faithful” if we have learned to echo back exactly every quotation made in general conference. That is utter bologna.
We are not faithful when we come to the Lord with only the 5 talents he gave us. We are required to invest them and return him five more. That is the only faithful thing to do with the light he has given us. If we aren’t doing that, there is no point in giving us the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator. There is no “growing brighter and brighter until the perfect day” if we haven’t learned to find light for ourselves.
Christ spoke to the Nephites. But merely being able to recite his words back to him would have been completely insufficient. He spake to them, but if all they could do was repeat it back, then they were missing the point. He required them to “go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father in my name, that ye may understand”. He considered that necessary before he could teach them more.
There is nothing faithful, in fact, it is faithless, to silence revelation by the Holy Ghost in favor of a rote list of quotations that we consider “official doctrine”. How is that faith? I remember a man once asserting, in passing, that the Holy Ghost was one of Heavenly Father’s sons. This fits. It tastes good. It makes sense. As far as I could tell, it was doctrine the Holy Ghost smiled on.
After all, the Holy Ghost is subject to the Father just as the Son is. Anyone who knows five cents about eternity and family knows that heavenly government is family government. Good grief, that is why we pray to “heavenly father” not “heavenly president” or “the all knowing, all powerful god”.
Nevertheless, someone wanted to point out that is not “official church doctrine”.
What total crap.
That is precisely the ignorance that Joseph Smith was upset about. He expected the twelve to know far, far more than what the scriptures directly stated verbatim, or in their general conference talks, about the priesthood. He was indignant that they did Not know far more about the priesthood than what was stated verbatim. Recall his words
“Will you insult the Priesthood? Is that all the knowledge you have of the office of an Apostle? Do you not know that the man who receives the Apostleship, receives all the keys that ever were, or that can be, conferred upon mortal man? What are you talking about? I am astonished!”
More words from the prophet Joseph seem fitting:
Every man lives for himself. Adam was made to open the way of the world, and for dressing the garden. Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood; and the Son of God came into the world to redeem it from the fall. But except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all men’s religion. A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God, without being born of water and the Spirit. He may receive a glory like unto the moon, [i.e., of which the light of the moon is typical], or a star, [i.e., of which the light of the stars is typical], but he can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, unless he becomes as a little child, and is taught by the Spirit of God. Wherefore, we again say, search the revelations of God; study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to heaven; they saw the stone cut out of the mountain, which filled the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on earth; they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; they saw the glory of the Lord when he showed the transfiguration of the earth on the mount; they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven in the last days, before the Lord came the second time to gather his elect; they saw the end of wickedness on earth, and the Sabbath of creation crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when Satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day of judgment when all men received according to their works, and they saw the heaven and the earth flee away to make room for the city of God, when the righteous receive an inheritance in eternity. And, fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves and come up to the same glory, and see for yourselves, and know for yourselves. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.–E&MS August, 1832. DHC 1:282-284.