Saturday, February 5, 2011

Is There More Truth?

As keeping with what I've been focusing on with The Armor of God, I wanted to talk about what our Helmet of Salvation can do for us with revelation. One of the thirteen Articles of Faith that define what we believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." This is very important because this means that we can still receive revelation from our Heavenly Father concerning the important matters of our day. I know and have a testimony that the Bible and the Book of Mormon have the basics of what we need to get through this life successfully, but there are always going to be concerns that come up that the scriptures don't answer. As time moves on, and as our people become more advanced in technology and knowledge about their surroundings, there needs to be more said about the things that could potentially destroy our lives.
I first want to bear my testimony that I know that we have living prophets today, and that they speak with our Heavenly Father so that we can know His will for us so that we can live happy lives, have successful marriages and families, and come back into His presence and live with Him again some day.

According to a dictionary definition, revelation is "communication of knowledge to man by a divine agency." That Divine Agency is God, our Heavenly Father. What's great is some of the things that we have in the scriptures that indicate that revelation is still going on. For example, in Psalms 33:11 it says, "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever..." and in Moses 1:4, "...for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease" as well as the many answers to prayers we receive that tell us He is still speaking and that He loves us. There are many faithful members of many churches who, out of their sincere love of their heart for the Bible, believe that there can be no more words from Heavenly Father beyond the Bible. Fortunately, nowhere in the Bible does it say that revelation would be done away with, I have looked. There are several scriptures that may indicate that adding to scripture, or taking scripture away is not good, as in Revelations 22:18-19. However, if that was applying to the whole Bible, you would have to take away the entire New Testament and most of the Old Testament because Deuteronomy 4:2 and Proverbs 30:5-6 say the same thing, so any more words after those scriptures would defeat the rest of the Bible beyond them. We also know that the Bible, as we have it today, was not put in order from when the individual books were written. For example, the book of Revelations was not the last book written. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude, with the possibility of the entire Gospel of John, were all written after Revelations. The reason they were put in the order they are in is because the Bible is put together in the order of chronological events. The book of Revelations talks about what is going to happen at the end of the world, so it would not make sense to put it at the beginning, but at the end.

Another supporting factor for continuing revelation in our day is that the prophets of old kept on adding scripture after their predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient for how the people should live their lives, then why did the prophets Isaiah, and Jeremiah who followed him, to say nothing of Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, and Amos, and others, write so many more words. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and … my words … never cease.”

One Protestant scholar, Lee M. McDonald, has inquired into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He wrote: “On what Biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?” I testify that the same Spirit that spoke to those men to write the Bible, currently speaks in that church which has the listening ears to hear its promptings.

Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Thus, one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. "This is written," an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, "for the intent that ye may believe that," speaking of the Bible. And as more and more revelation keeps coming in, it testifies more and more that which the Bible and Book of Mormon testify of best: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, and that He loves us and wants the best for us.

In a sense, Joseph Smith and his prophetic successors in this Church answer the challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson put to the students of the Harvard Divinity School 172 years ago this coming summer. To that group of the Protestant best and brightest, the great sage of Concord pled that they teach "that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake."

In declaring new scripture and continuing revelation, we pray we will never be arrogant or insensitive. But after a sacred vision in a now sacred grove answered in the affirmative the question “Does God exist?” What Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints force us to face is the next big question which follows: “Does He speak?” We bring the Good News that He does and that He has. With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since Biblical times and is saying even now.

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