Learn by faith: Be humble, repent

"In the scriptures, the Lord has specified how we learn by faith," Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve said in his address at the April 1989 general conference. "We must be humble, cultivate faith, repent of our sins, serve our fellowmen, and keep the commandments of God. (See Ether 12:27; D&C 1:28; 12:8; 50:28; 63:23; 136:32-33.) As the Book of Mormon says, `Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing - unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God.' (Alma 26:22.)

"I have seen some persons attempt to understand or undertake to criticize the gospel or the Church by the method of reason alone, unaccompanied by the use or recognition of revelation. When reason is adopted as the only - or even the principal - method of judging the gospel, the outcome is predetermined. One cannot find God or understand His doctrines and ordinances by closing the door on the means He has prescribed for receiving the truths of his gospel. That is why gospel truths have been corrupted and gospel ordinances have been lost when left to the interpretation and sponsorship of scholars who lack the authority and reject the revelations of God."That is what the Savior told His professional critics, as recorded in the eleventh chapter of Luke. He was confronted by a group who had hypocritically built monuments to the prophets their predecessors had murdered, while personally rejecting the living prophets God was sending them. (See Luke 11:47-49.) In what I understand to be a condemnation of their rejection of revelation, the Savior pronounced woe upon these worldly professionals: `For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.' (Luke 11:52.)

"The early leaders of the restored church had to learn that same truth. In several revelations the Lord rebuked Joseph Smith, David Whitmer, and others for not having their minds on the things of God, for yielding to the persuasions of men' (D&C 3:6; 5:21), and for beingpersuaded by those whom I have not commanded' (D&C 30:2).

"The correct relationship between study and faith in the receipt of sacred knowledge is illustrated in Oliver Cowdery's attempt to translate ancient records. He failed because he took no thought,' but only asked God. (D&C 9:7.) The Lord told him he should havestud[ied] it out in [his] mind' and then asked if it was right. (9:8.) Only then would the Lord reveal whether the translation was correct or not. And only on receiving that revelation could the text be written, because `you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.' (9:9.) In the acquisition of sacred knowledge, scholarship and reason are not alternatives to revelation. They are a means to an end, and the end is revelation from God.

"God has promised that if we ask Him, we will `receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that [we may] know the mysteries and peaceable things - that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.' (D&C 42:61.)

"In our day we are experiencing an explosion of knowledge about the world and its people. But the people of the world are not experiencing a comparable expansion of knowledge about God and His plan for His children. On that subject, what the world needs is not more scholarship and technology but more righteousness and revelation."

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