Salvation consists of growing into the principle of revelation.
The Doctrine of Christ is the doctrine of revelation. When he says on this rock I will build my church, it is the rock of revelation, and specifically, the rock of the revelation of Christ to individuals. That is what his church is about. It is fulfilled by the Holy Ghost becoming a potent part of the lives of the members, and bearing record to them of who the Father and the Son are, what they are about, and what salvation means and is.
But how can they learn to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost if they believe it is wrong to do so?
The brethren have not said it is wrong to do so. As Moses put it, would that all of Israel were prophets. But there are many among us who are well intentioned, but think that it is easier to get everyone to stay in line if we insist that the measure of our words is a checklist of quotations. They intend well, but their doctrine destroys the souls of men, and the scriptures say as much, because they teach people to silence the Holy Ghost, and to never learn to judge good from evil by searching diligently in the light of Christ. They have a form of Godliness, but they deny the power thereof.
Such people do not understand that the brethren do not want to silence everyone but themselves. The brethren want to lead us to enjoy and learn from the Holy Ghost as they themselves do. The brethren want us to speak by the power of the spirit, and to learn by revelation.
That must be our doctrine. Joseph Smith said that a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge. Our fascination with worldly knowledge makes those who would be learned among us seek knowledge in academic truths about the gospel. They are missing the whole point. Joseph Smith meant that we are saved no faster than we grow into the principle of revelation and know for ourselves.
What good is a prophet who cannot receive revelation? No good at all. He is then no longer a prophet.
But to become a prophet is less than to become a son of God, for of prophets and apostles the scriptures say that God gave them power to become the sons of God. And is there a man among us that God does not want to become called a son of God? Is that not what it means to be a joint heir with Christ? To also become a son, and so to have the same inheritance?
How shall we be joint heirs of Christ without becoming the sons of God?
But now to the root of the matter. For if we are saved precisely by growing into the principle of revelation, there remains the great question of how that is to be done.
And the answer is simple. We already know it. The Holy Ghost is a God, he does not come as we will or at our whim. The whole world of apostate Christianity claims to have the Holy Ghost, yet not one of them has the principles, power, and authority to bring him into their life. No man can bend a god to his will.
The great and grand secret is the doctrine of Christ. That doctrine has a gate and a path. The gate is faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. But that gate is not the whole doctrine. The doctrine of Christ is to enter into that gate and follow the path he prescribes there.
2 Nephi 32:1 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
2 Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
Why does Nephi say that they could speak with the tongue of angels? He is saying “Look, this is the path the leads to the ministering of angels that was promised you, but first you need to learn to grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost”.
3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
By connecting these with the word “wherefore” Nephi is telling us how the two ideas are connected. He says that he told us “feast upon the words of Christ, for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” because angels speak by the power of the holy Ghost. He is again reiterating that the path he is setting us on is the path that leads to the ministering of angels.
4 Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
5 For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.
Here Nephi offers a blunt warning. If we are not following the path and feasting on the words of Christ diligently enough that we are growing into the gift of the Holy Ghost, if that light is not growing brighter and brighter until the perfect day, if we are not growing into the principle of revelation by asking, seeking, and knocking, then we will perish in the dark because by no other way can we be brought into the light.
The alternative to perishing in the dark is that we grow into the principle of revelation, and the Holy Ghost will show us all things what ye should do.
Now we frankly don’t believe in that. I am not talking about the Holy Ghost showing us how to live the minutiae of our lives. I am talking about the Holy Ghost leading us in the principles of eternal life, and bearing record of the father and the son in our lives, teaching us how to live so as to please and delight them and gain eternal life.
Let us consider how very far is Nephi’s exhortation in verse 5 is from those who would silence speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost and cut off every word written or spoken that doesn’t fit their checklist of quotations. Are the two compatible? No, they are not. They are opposites. They stand in opposition. One is a principle of salvation. The other, the one popularized by members hoping to use their checklist to keep everybody in line, cuts off the church at baptism, for there is no gift of the Holy Ghost if we won’t speak by it, there is no teaching in the church if we won’t teach by the Holy Ghost, and there is no learning in the church if we won’t learn by the Holy Ghost.
6 Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
And here we have the ultimate destination of the gift of the path Nephi has laid out. It is the vision of the tree of life that Nephi has described here, but in plainer terms. For what do we find at the end of the path, past the revelations of the spirit, past the ministering of angels? Why, God sent angels minister to the children unto the children of men to cause men to behold of his glory. And the doctrine of Christ is the doctrine that leads us back into Christ’s presence.
But when it does, there is one rule above all other rules: what he says to us, that we will do. As Nephi put it: “when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.”
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.
When the Lord tells a prophet that he cannot say more, we should not assume that prophet is simply conveying precisely what we find in any Sunday School lesson on the doctrine of Christ. Nephi is laying out the vision of the tree of life in plainer terms for us. He is saying that the doctrine of Christ is the path that leads past the angels who are set there as sentinels, to guard the way of the tree of life. He is saying that it leads back to the same garden of Eden that Adam and Eve lived in, where the Father and the Son will come and teach us as personally as they taught Adam and Eve.
And he is telling us that is the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine of Christ is to feast on the words of Christ and press forward so diligently that we, over time, grow into the principle of revelation, until the Father and the Son are revealed to us. And in that there is found exaltation and eternal life.
And he adds the essential note: when we find ourselves learning from Christ himself, the things he shall say unto you, ye shall observe to do”. That was the same principle that governed Eden, and we will not return there until we have learned it.
The doctrine of Christ is that salvation consists of growing into the principle of revelation. Put differently, it is that we must both be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost, becoming as a little child, so that he may bear record to us of the Father and of the Son. Not record of their existence, but record of who they are, and of the way to live that we may please them.
No, of course we don’t try to see angels! No, of course we don’t try to see God! That is begging for deception. No, we do not try to force spiritual experiences. We could no more command such beings than we could command the Holy Ghost. When we hope for the Holy Ghost to attend us, we do good work that we know he is want to attend. We do all we can do, and god graciously dispatches his ministrations in his own way and in his own time. We do precisely what the doctrine said. We press forward diligently. We feast on the words of Christ. We have no power to grant such things to ourselves. We have no authority over Gods and angels. We simply do the work decreed to us.
But we must grow into the principle of revelation as we do so. We must learn to discern, which is really to learn to behave so well that we can discern. We must, above all else, not silence that. How can we learn to grow into the presence of the living God in eternity while trying to shut him up if he speaks to us in mortality?
Oh I wish our generation wasn’t drinking of the poison of sleaze, filth, suggestion, and innuendo in what they watch, read, and listen to and thinking that they are “big enough” or some other rationalization. For I do believe that we would be a different group altogether if we would stop rationalizing and cease to commit adultery in our hearts, even in the least degree. It doesn’t matter if you give your substance to feed the poor one hour if you offend the Holy Ghost in the next one. We must not only do good works, we must cast off that which offends and separates us from him.
For we are silencing our god by drinking in adultery and calling it a small matter of no moment because everybody watches that show, even our bishop and our stake president listens to that same station, and sure the the people in that movie committed adultery, but it didn’t “show anything”, or if it did, it wasn’t more than a bikini or underwear shows anyway and we aren’t affected by that.
And thus we silence our god.
Sure, he is still there, but what should have grown into a river is kept at a trickle, and we live on crumbs while an open feast is standing before us.
The doctrine of Christ is the doctrine that overcomes the fall. It is the doctrine that returns us to the position and place that Adam and Eve stood before the fall. It is the doctrine of redemption from the fall. It is the doctrine that leads to the place where God may in time speak to each of us the same words that he spake to the brother of Jared: “Because thou knowest these things thou art redeemed from the fall”.
It is the doctrine of a gate. And a path. The gate is faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The path is that of transformation, of becoming a new creature in Christ, by feasting diligently on his word, and pressing forward diligently. We do so in the hope that for our efforts we will, in time, obtain the Holy Ghost. As we receive him in truth, by feasting on the word and pressing forward diligently, we grow into the principle of revelation. “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations, the Holy Ghost is a revelator.” This is the path Nephi tells us leads us to the angels that guard the way of the tree of life, where we can learn to come up to their knowledge, and prepare to behold of his Glory. When we have obtained their standard of knowledge and covenants, and can pass by them, it is the path where God will speak to us as he spoke to Aaron and to Miriam, who could not behold his presence, but could hear his voice. And it is the doctrine of Christ for in time it is the path that leads back to the garden of Eden where the tree of life is found. It is the path of redemption from the fall. It is a doctrine of revelation. It is the doctrine of the revelation of Christ, and it is on this doctrine that his church is built.
Thus salvation consists of growing into the principle of revelation, until the Son reveals himself. And then, what he speaks to us, that shall we do. But until then, this is the only doctrine which is given.