We don’t need more substitutes for the scriptures. We need to read our scriptures. We need all of them. We have all but rejected the Old Testament, the very book of scripture that Christ loved and quoted so frequently.
We no longer need the doctrine of the scriptures, we have the manual.
We no longer need the Holy Ghost, we have a handbook.
Or at least, that is how we act in practice.
How much better if we were to listen to the prophet Joseph’s revealed words to Brigham Young “Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the Kingdom. … Tell the brethren that if they will follow the spirit of the Lord, they will go right’” (JH)”
The Holy Ghost will yield the fruits of the kingdom in the lives of individuals. We have forgotten that. We don’t even know he is supposed to do that. We know he can warn us, and prompt us with a service to do from time to time. But we do not believe the Holy Ghost needs to teach us what to do and where to go and will yield the fruits of the kingdom.
Harold B Lee taught: Now, when does a person speak as a prophet? Do you recall that oft-repeated revelation in which the Lord said:
Behold. . . this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood [and he is talking of General Authorities], whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth
. . . they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (D&C 68:2-4.)
This is when that Authority is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. I think as someone has rightly said, it is not to be thought that every word spoken by our leaders is inspired. The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote in his personal diary: “This morning I . . . visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (Teachings, p. 278.) It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they read and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator-please note that one exception-you may immediately say, “Well, that is his own idea.” And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard church works (I think that is why we call them “standard”-it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it. We can know, or have the assurance that they are speaking under inspiration if we so live that we can have a witness that what they are speaking is the word of the Lord. There is only one safety, and that is that we shall live to have the witness to know.
What do these have in common?
We have taken up a principle of bureaucracy instead of the gospel. We want every word said in conference to be scripture rather than discerning by the spirit of the Lord and the scriptures as Harold B Lee thought that we ought.
We want something more reliable than the Holy Ghost. We think our doctrine is our manual and our handbooks. That seems more reliable to us that the Holy Ghost. We believe every word of general conference is scripture, which is nothing more than a plain faced rejection of Harold B Lee’s teaching.
But these substitutes serve us so poorly. What we need is to live so that we have the Holy Ghost.
We do not need more “official references” like “True to the Faith” or another “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” or more topics articles (as horribly inaccurate as they are). These days the last thing we need is another “official” reference. The “official” ones seem to be the poorest around. I expect it is because the Lord wants us to learn to read the scriptures by the light of the Holy Ghost instead.
Brigham Young taught “Now do not let the power of the devil deceive you. You may ask, ‘How shall we know, brother Brigham, whether you are telling us the truth or not?’ Get the spirit of revelation, then you will know, and not without. Will you take my counsel? (though you may do as you please with regard to that) if you will, I can tell you what to do, and what all the Latter-day Saints—whom I have preached to from the first of my preaching, from the first of my testimony that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true—would have done if they had followed my counsel, and that is, to seek unto the Lord your God until He opens the visions of your minds, and lets the rays of eternity shine within you.”
Brigham Young: “To be correct in our reasonings, in our doctrines, in faith towards God, and clear in our understandings of his plan of salvation, nothing short of Divine revelation can convince of and fasten upon the understanding the truth that God has revealed from heaven for the salvation of his children.”
Brigham Young: “Brethren and sisters, it is your privilege to enjoy the spirit of revelation as much as any person or people that ever lived on the face of this earth. As it was observed here last Sabbath, you see men and women falter and depart from their God and religion: but does God first forsake them? No; they forsake their God: they take such a course that the Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell with them; consequently they are left in darkness and uncertainty, and do not know what truth is. How can you know what truth is? You can only know by the spirit of revelation. This knowledge is not obtained in any other way.
How can you know the Latter-day Work to be true? You can know it only by the spirit of revelation direct from heaven. How can people prove that it is not true in any other way than by the revelations of Jesus? Can you hear of any person’s railing about it being untrue, and convincing a congregation that it is untrue by the spirit of revelation? No. All arguments, conversations, sermons, discourses, and lectures delivered against it are delivered in darkness—are not delivered in the Spirit of the great God who organized the Latter-day Work. What proved this work true to you in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, the United States, &c.? Was it not the spirit of revelation that rested upon you? Then why should you lose the spirit? You should add to it day by day; you should add as the Lord gives—a little here and a little there, and treasure up truth in your faith and understanding, until you become perfect before the Lord and are prepared to receive the further things of the kingdom of God.
You must have the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to the knowledge of the truth and teach you things as they are. Let every man and woman, without exception, obtain that Spirit through an exemplary life; and if they do not adhere to the spirit of revelation that is felt by all who are partakers of this work, they will fear and fall; for the Prophet has said that the Lord would work a great work and a wonder in the last days, —that the report thereof would make all nations tremble and fill them with fear.
Is it darkness? No. Is it ignorance? No. Is it weakness? No. What is it? It is light, intelligence, the power of God that makes the wicked tremble and wish “Mormonism” out of the way. If it were a false doctrine or a false theory, the Devil would not endeavor to disturb it, wicked men would not fear it, Heaven would not smile upon it, nor give a revelation to any man or woman to believe it, and we should have poor success; and Heaven forbid that we should have success or gain influence upon any other principle than the revelations of Jesus Christ.”
We know that we have to be built upon the rock. But we have no idea what that rock is.
Joseph Smith explained it: “Jesus in His teachings says, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ What rock? Revelation.”
You may object, and say the rock is Christ. And it is. But it is the revelation of Christ, which we are hardly ready for until we can learn to come to know him through the revelation of the Holy Ghost.