“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The message of the gospel is the message of peace on earth, and good will toward men.
Yet we do not comprehend the message of the gospel peace, nor its message of joy. We cannot possibly, for we do not fathom Zion.
For Zion is built on doctrine. And we have no great interest in doctrine and scriptures, because we misunderstand their purpose. We think that the doctrine can all be found in the manual or that it can found somewhere in a filing cabinet at the church office building, and that is good enough for us.
But the doctrine of the atonement is the least understood of all our revealed truths, and the doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation, as Elder Bruce R McConkie observed:
“Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths.
Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life.
But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.
May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.
We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.
We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation.”
as well as
“This doctrine, this doctrine of the priesthood—unknown in the world and but little known even in the Church—cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. It is not set forth in the sermons and teachings of the prophets and Apostles, except in small measure.
The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength.”
Apparently, if the doctrine of the priesthood is in a filing cabinet at the church office building, then it is one that is kept locked. For “the doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation”.
And apparently the lesson on the atonement found in our manual and in our Sunday School classes only demonstrates that it is “the least understood of all our revealed truths”.
And apparently the doctrine matters.
Because we cannot have faith like Enoch and Elijah without believing what they believed, knowing what they knew, and living as they lived.
Even with a sentence as plain as that one laying it out before us I don’t think we understand why the doctrine matters.
We think “ya, I have been a member for many years, I know the doctrine”, or we think “the doctrine doesn’t matter, only behavior matters”.
And both of those hollow rationalizations tremble, and burn away into ash before the light of the truth: “we cannot have faith like Enoch and Elijah without believing what they believed, knowing what they knew, and living as they lived”.
Zion is built on doctrine. It is built on doctrine revealed into the hearts and minds of individuals by the Holy Ghost because they kept the commandments diligently and feasted on the scriptures.
If we do not value truth as a pearl of great price, we will have no more power to build Zion than the gentiles and apostate churches do. Zion is a pearl of great price itself. We cannot build it without knowing how to prize truth to the point that we have begun learning to learn by the Holy Ghost. We cannot build Zion if we do not comprehend it.
We cannot have that peace which passeth all understanding without understanding vastly more than what is found in any lesson manual. Such peace comes only by revelation, by the spirit of God, as does eternal truth. Peace which surpasseth all understanding will only come to the soul who has learned to receive, independently, truth that surpasseth all the understanding of men by the same spirit.