The Saturday Priesthood “revelatory experience” was indeed that, an opportunity to learn and receive revelation at the hands of an Apostle.  Some of the purposes of revelation are to receive divine truth, answers to prayers, or even having your thoughts directed in a certain way. 

In this vein, Elder Bednar conducted a question and answer service, but explained that some questions were better than others.  The questions that don’t have as much to offer in a revelatory manner were not ones he wished to entertain.  So, I will be having a series of posts that deal with these questions and answers, along with some insight, revelation, and in a couple of cases, understanding I received.

Before I begin, I wish to expound on this term “understanding”.  During the course of answering a question, Elder Bednar addressed this term, and had a couple of interesting things to say about it. 

First, he said that the word “understand” in the scriptures does not mean cognitive learning.  It is, rather, related to revelation and sealing of testimony in the heart and mind.  Knowing about the gospel does not mean “understanding” the gospel, or any virtually any principle within it.  There are many people in the world who know scripture inside and out, and can make a serious effort toward claiming they know, understand and live the gospel.   But true understanding is dependent on the Holy Ghost sealing testimony, and the person being converted to the gospel.  I will discuss conversion in another article.

Several passages of scripture stand out in my mind that deal with “understanding”.  The first one that I wish to address is Doctrine and Covenants 9:7.  In this passage, Oliver Cowdery has attempted to translate from the gold plates, but has not been able to.  In answer to his question as to why, the Lord says:

“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”

The message is twofold.  Oliver did not understand the actual principle of how the translation worked.  This is an obvious conclusion.  But I think, in light of Elder Bednar’s remarks, that Oliver also did not understand because the testimony of the ancient record had not been sealed in his heart.  He was not converted.  Joseph, at this point having many visitations from heavenly messengers, was very likely fully committed to the will of God, even though the church had not yet been restored, nor the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It is quite possible this occurred before the Aaronic Priesthood had been restored. 

Stepping back to Section 8, the Lord describes what revelation is in verses 2 and 3:

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.”

The Lord tells us exactly what revelation is and how it occurs.  I submit that this is the essence of “understanding”, the testimony being given by the Holy Ghost, and sealed in the mind and heart, just as Elder Bednar told us.

How do we get this understanding?  It is not just some thing that comes over us at random or just because it’s nice to have.  Alma 17:2-3 gives us a great example of how that happens.  In these verses, Alma was traveling from Gideon to Manti when he met the sons of Mosiah, who had been prophesying and preaching for 14 years among the Lamanites.  Starting in the middle of verse  2:

“…yea, and they (the Sons of Mosiah) had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

But this was not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with the power and authority of God.”

They had learned the word of God by “searching” the scriptures, not just reading or scanning.  They had fasted and prayed much.  They had been active in teaching the gospel, in this case, for 14 years.  The results of these actions was a “sound understanding”.  They had been converted and the testimony had been sealed in their hearts and minds, to the point of being filled with the spirits of prophecy and revelation, and teaching with the power and authority of God.  Could the sons of Mosiah have been able to do these things if they had merely been knowledgeable about the scriptures?  No.  The evidence of this was manifest by Elder Bednar himself, as he taught in the spirit of revelation and prophecy, teaching with the power and authority of God.  Elder Bednar is no different than Alma and the sons of Mosiah in this respect.  The biggest difference is Elder Bednar’s ability to travel a lot faster to a lot more places.

So, with all of this understanding, and ability to have these blessings, do men such as these have room to grow and things to learn?  Absolutely, as evidenced in Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  In this section, President Joseph F. Smith received this vision, apparently one among many, and in verse 11, says:

“As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.”

He continues in this section to describe what he saw concerning the dead, the preaching of the gospel, and the resurrection.  What I wish to focus on is his language regarding how he saw this revelation…”the eyes of my understanding were opened”.  President Smith was the prophet, one who communicates and received revelation from the Lord.  His understanding of the gospel had to be what Elder Bednar was describing.  Yet, his eyes of understanding had to be opened to see the revelation the Lord had for him.  In so doing, the Holy Ghost would have sealed those things in his heart and mind, just as has been described.

Doing a search of the word “understand”, there are many references in the scriptures that provide great examples of this subject, spread among all of the standard works.  Indeed, the Apostles, both ancient and modern, are not covering new material, but are clarifying and expounding on a gospel principle that has existed since the beginning of man.

Now, realize that Elder Bednar did not say all of this.  In fact, he said very little about “understanding”.  However, as I have said, he taught by the spirit of revelation, and with the authority of God.  The meaning of this subject was made clear in the few moments he spent on it before moving on to other things.  When Elder Bednar promised that we would have things revealed to us, he was right.  I realize I have a long way to go to reach this level of understanding, and I never knew exactly what it meant. 

My testimony is that this principle is true.  We need to have this kind of understanding.  The next article is about ministering, and in the course of that discussion, we will see that true ministering and understanding are very related

This entry was posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008 at 6:38 pm and is filed under Church Meetings, Elder Bednar, Older Posts, Scriptures. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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