Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Levels of Learning

I have been contemplating last week’s Sunday School Lesson. It was about receiving revelation, and the class started with a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them…” (HC 3:379-80.)

In my spiritual journey I have observed with great interest this process of receiving knowledge, and the importance of knowledge. We are taught:

“1st key: Knowledge is the power of salvation. 2nd key: Make your calling and election sure.” (HC 5:403.)

“It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131:6)

So knowledge is associated with salvation, and I would suggest the knowledge we are willing to receive is directly connected to the kingdom we inherit.

“And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.” (D&C 88:38-40

Knowledge is associated with wisdom and law. What is the knowledge we are required to receive to progress? It is the Wisdom of the temple. This is the key to exaltation. Margaret Barker has pointed out a number of times in her writings that "Wisdom" is associated with an anointing, and the temple. (Barker, Temple Themes in Christian Worship - See the index for "Wisdom")

If we keep the same law as Joseph or the Twelve, the same knowledge will be revealed to us. The same ordinances will be sealed upon us, the same mysteries will show themselves, and we will be crowned with the same kingdom. God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34)

Not keeping the law is what prevents us from acquiring knowledge. We may receive the form, but not receive the law upon our hearts, hence we then lack the Holy Spirit of Promise.

In my personal journey I can look back and see things I did not know, and can usually pinpoint why I did not know them, why I was not “able to bear them.”

I suggest one reason we resist learning is because we defend what we think we know against further truth. For example the bible teaches us that Christ went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (1 Peter 3:19) While that scripture is true, it is really only true on one level. A fuller understanding of that topic is almost contrary to the original understanding:

“But unto the wicked he [Christ] did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, his voice was not raised; Neither did the rebellious who rejected the testimonies and the warnings of the ancient prophets behold his presence, nor look upon his face.” (D&C 138:20 & 21)

Sometimes by clinging to strongly to what we think we know prevents us from understanding things at a deeper level. The Zohar teaches us:

“There was a man who lived in the mountains. He knew nothing about those who lived in the city. He sowed wheat and ate kernels raw. One day he entered the city. They offered him good bread. The man asked “What is this for?”

They replied, “it’s bread, to eat” He ate, and it tasted very good. He asked, “What is it made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.” Later, they offered him thick loaves kneaded with oil. He tasted them, and asked, “And what are these made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.”

Later they offered him royal pastry kneaded with honey and oil. He asked, “And what are these made of?”

They answered, “Wheat.”

He said, “Surely I am the master of all these, since I eat the essence of all of these: wheat!”

Because of that view, he knew nothing of the delights of the world, which were lost on him. So it is with one who grasps the principles but is unaware of all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle.” (Matt, Zohar Vol. 2, pg 176)

My suggestion, let’s clear away our pathology as quickly as we can, and learn what we are able to bear as soon as we can. (Healing)


Unknown said...

You wrote:

"If we keep the same law as Joseph or the Twelve, the same knowledge will be revealed to us. The same ordinances will be sealed upon us, the same mysteries will show themselves, and we will be crowned with the same kingdom. God is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34)"

With all due respect, that's only part of the equation. Mysteries do not "show themselves." We must dig for them. We must work and study to understand them, then seek a confirmation from the spirit as to whether or not our conclusions are true.

Nowhere is this more true, as you note, than in our temples. It's vital that we understand the profound message taught there. But how many Saints do you know that can explain the meaning of the temple rituals? What is the import of the story told there? What is the meaning of the clothing? the furnishings? the icons? The convenants are easily explained. But the rituals and the symbolism of the temple is another matter. That may be one of Mormonism's deepest mysteries, one that seemingly has no explanation. Yet that, too, yields to the inquiring mind and the inquisitive spirit.

The answers do not show themselves in the temple. We must look elsewhere for them, just as Joseph looked to Egyptian papyri for answers. It is in a study of ancient history and comparative mythology, surprisingly, that we find the answers. The temple rituals are not metaphysical or mystical knowledge, as nearly all Saints suppose. It's all traditional.

So, where do we turn to learn the meaning of the temple experience? May I humbly suggest you examine the ideas here: http://mormonprophecy.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=4

In The Doghouse said...

I think one of the best examples we have of the pattern of receiving greater light and knowledge is given to us in Section 76. Oft times we are so caught up in the glorious things that Joseph and Sidney saw that we miss the pattern and teaching they give us at the beginning and the end of the vision, showing us how to receive as they did.

Through the spirit, if we abide the law, we can know all things.

David Littlefield said...

Anthony Larsen:

I did visit your site, very interesting post. Thanks for the comments.

In the Doghouse:

And thank you for your comments. And, I enjoy your site too!

There is a growing web of quality LDS web sites. It's great to see. It's a turning into a valuable resource to students of LDS theology.

Thanks for visiting and commenting!


Anonymous said...

Do you ever worry that heaven will be lonely, with just you and the five other guys who know the mysteries?

David Littlefield said...

I used the opening story about wheat in my talk on Sunday. The topic was "enduring to the end." I thought I was to young to give that talk, but I guess not in the eyes of some. I compared the four levels of the wheat, to the Jesus' "Parable of the Sower," and its four levels or degrees of enduring.


David Littlefield said...

I was visiting Doc's web site: "Mind, Soul, and Body" and found this post which describes this topic better than I did: The Whole Truth and Nothing But…. It's a good read, check it out.

David Littlefield

Anonymous said...

Gnowing the Gnostic
and knowing the truth.
Simply Saved thru Faith and Grace.
Eph4: 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Gal 2;
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the elaw: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

D&C 132:
And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are aangels of God forever and ever.

26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.


11 For what man aknoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the anatural man breceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Mormonism's "ELIAS" was
Emmanuel Swedenborg
And the ELIJAH was John Dee

Anonymous said...

Levels of learning in the 1830 s
some of the spiritual Forerunners of Joseph Smith
What was written ??

Asa Wild