If you’re an active Mormon who loves and studies the scriptures, then you live in a paradox of contradictions in the church as disconcerting and bewildering as any enigma or oxymoron in life can be— On the one hand, you see in scripture the entreaties of God spoken through His holy prophets to search out the mysteries contained in The Word of God. On the other hand, you have the leaders of the church from the president on down through the ranks of priesthood telling you to leave the mysteries alone. Do you follow God or do you follow men?
Why would men, who claim to be living prophets and apostles called of God, declare things counter to the Holy Scriptures and create a culture of fear and obedience to their dictates and precepts rather than obedience to God’s Holy Word? The paradox, contradictions, enigma, and oxymorons of the situation become readily apparent to the students of scripture in the Mormon faith. IF you happen to have grown up in the church, then you were bombarded with this caustic conundrum, especially if you served a proselyting mission. Missionaries are encouraged to read their scriptures daily and many Mormons develop a lifelong love of The Word of God as missionaries. Yet they hear again and again from mission presidents and later in life from stake presidents, bishops, elder’s quorum presidents, and even their indoctrinated parents to leave the mysteries alone. It’s one of the most misguided mantras of Mormonism.
At this point, I’m inspired to tell the story of a friend who ignored the counsel he was given as a young man. After his mission, he began a systematic study of the Holy Scriptures along with an in-depth study of Mormon history and became the greatest scriptorian of his generation. Because of his faith and diligence, he was granted the gift of three tremendous visions of the coming Great and Marvelous Work and attributed those blessings to his diligent study of The Word of God. My friend knew that our study of scripture as a church is woefully lacking in understanding because of the rote lessons and rote answers “programmed” into the Mormon study curriculum. This leaves the seekers of truth bewildered and unsatisfied because they are told what to believe, how to live, and what to ignore. This is the conundrum Mormons face as they step out into the unknown by opening their scriptures, and taking God’s hand in order to learn for themselves what they will never learn in the church.
In this blog, we invite you to have your scriptures open as you read our posts where we present scripture as the heart of everything we discuss. Our personal journeys with the Holy Scriptures unveiled layers of truth and meaning we never saw or heard at church. In fact, the Bible and Book of Mormon agree so precisely on the doctrine of Christ and the work of God, that it’s paramount for you the reader to trust in the scriptures only and set aside the commentaries and precepts of men as you embark on this journey of discovery. Our intent is to present what the scriptures have to say about the coming Great and Marvelous Work and not our opinions. In order to be successful, we must all square our shoulders and believe what the scriptures tell us about searching the mysteries of God and searching the scriptures diligently. Please join this adventure and explore The Great and Marvelous Work with your hearts and minds open. The scriptures will amaze and surprise you with the mysteries they contain that you’ve never heard before. This is not a journey for the faint of heart!
With that much of an introduction, let’s proceed with the words of the holy prophets regarding the study of the mysteries and of searching the scriptures diligently. It’s the most important work you will ever do in your life.
1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. (1Nep 1:1)
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. (1Nep 2:16)
10 And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel, my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning. (1Nep 5:10)
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. 18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. 19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round. (1Nep 10:17-19)
6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea. (Jacob 4:6)
23 And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man. (Jacob 7:23)
1 And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days. 2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord. 3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. 4 For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time. 5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct. 6 O my sons, I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contain the records and the sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true; and we can know of their surety because we have them before our eyes. 7 And now, my sons, I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers. (Msh 1:1-7)
9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. (Msh 2:9)
19 And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men. 20 O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them! 21 Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest. (Msh 8:19-21)
9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. 10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. 11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)
1 And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures. (Alma 14:1)
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they 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. 3 But this is 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 power and authority of God. 4 And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him. (Alma 17:2-4)
22 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; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance. (Alma 26:22)
2 And Alma said unto them: Behold, ye have said that ye could not worship your God because ye are cast out of your synagogues. But behold, I say unto you, if ye suppose that ye cannot worship God, ye do greatly err, and ye ought to search the scriptures; if ye suppose that they have taught you this, ye do not understand them. (Alma 33:2)
14 And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets. (3Nep 10:14)
11 Ye remember that I spake unto you, and said that when the words of Isaiah should be fulfilled—behold they are written, ye have them before you, therefore search them— (3Nep 20:11)
1 And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah. 2 For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles. 3 And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. 4 Therefore give heed to my words; write the things which I have told you; and according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles. 5 And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved. Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things. (3Nep 23:1-5)
23 Search the prophecies of Isaiah. Behold, I cannot write them. Yea, behold I say unto you, that those saints who have gone before me, who have possessed this land, shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord; and as the Lord liveth he will remember the covenant which he hath made with them. (Morm 8:23)
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias (Isaiah), which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Matt 13:10-16)
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39)
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:2, 11)
It is our choice! The scriptures are before us and we must choose to open our minds and BELIEVE in the mysteries of God or suffer the condemnation that follows as a result. The following verse is an indictment of not searching the mysteries:
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be. (2Nep 32:7)
Understanding the mysteries of God is at the core of understanding The Great and Marvelous Work also known as the Isaiah Story. Without a knowledge of the mysteries of God, we’ll never be able to understand the scriptures so let’s proceed together and see what great surprises are in store!
…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)