Topic Study: Revelation

(July 2007.  Used in a Sacrament Meeting talk in the Joliet 1st Ward, July, 2007.  Updated for a talk in Woodridge 2nd Ward, July 20th 2008.)

I             Personal Revelation

The topical guide has no entry for “personal revelation.”  It has an entry for revelation.  The word “personal” simply denotes the scope of revelation we are entitled to.  We are entitled to revelation for our sphere of responsibility, our accountability.  But whether a revelation is for the president of the church or for a person struggling with a personal problem, the process of receiving revelation is the same.

Graham W. Doxey a member of the seventy said in October 1991 conference, “Even at the highest levels of responsibility in this kingdom of God, which is being built up upon the earth, the [still small] voice is still small.” (“The Voice Is Still Small,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 25, italics in the original)

II            We Must Be Sensitive

Elder Packer, June 1982 Mission President Seminar talk entitled “Candle of the Lord”, (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan 1983, 51)

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)

Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.” (1 Sam. 3:10.

The biography of President David O. McKay (David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory A Prince, Wm Robert Wright) says that in a 1956 temple meeting with the General Authorities, President McKay said:  “If we so live that our minds are free from worry, our consciences clear, and our feelings are right toward one another, the operation of the Spirit of the Lord upon our spirit is as real as when we pick up the telephone; but when they come we must be brave enough to take the suggested action.”

III           Different Means

III.A         Intelligence

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; … those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151.)

III.B         Words

President Marion G. Romney, quoting the prophet Enos, said, “While I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” 21 Enos then related what the Lord put into his mind.

“This,” President Romney said, “is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one’s mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 124. as quoted by Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 59)

III.C         Feeling

The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a “still small voice.” (D&C 85:6) And while we speak of “listening” to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, “I had a feeling …”

Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear. Nephi told his wayward brothers, who were visited by an angel, “Ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (1 Ne. 17:45; emphasis added) (Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 59)

IV          Opposites

IV.A         Divine Remembering

26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

IV.B         Divine Forgetting

9  But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

D&C 9:9

Perhaps the brethren could do more divine remembering, the sisters more divine forgetting.

V           Obedience

V.A          Into the Darkness

President Harold B. Lee said: “Walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you” (as quoted by Boyd K. Packer, in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower [1995], 138).

V.B          Careful with Communications

I heard President Marion G. Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, “I do not tell all I know; I have never told my wife all I know, for I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me.”  (Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov 1994)

VI          Example

The experience of Ammon is interesting.  Ammon received very direct revelation, in words.

Because of the careful nature of this communication, at times we may infer more than is meant.  Listen to this verse:

2  And the voice of the Lord came to Ammon, saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi, for behold, the king will seek thy life; but thou shalt go to the land of Middoni; for behold, thy brother Aaron, and also Muloki and Ammah are in prison.

Alma 20:2

Now, upon first reading, we might think that this means that if Ammon doesn’t go to the land of Nephi, he won’t run into King Lamoni’s father, who will seek his life.  But what happens?

8  And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying [to Middoni], they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.

Alma 20:8

Was Ammon confused when this happened?  Did he think he had received the message wrong?  I don’t get that sense.  He had tremendous confidence in his ability to hear the spirit.  It was important for him to know what the King’s reaction would be, so he was prepared.  It was a very different response than when he entered King Lamoni’s home.

16  Now when his father had heard these words, he was angry with him, and he drew his sword that he might smite him to the earth.

17  But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved.

Alma 20:16 – 17

20  And he stretched forth his hand to slay Ammon.  But Ammon withstood his blows, and also smote his arm that he could not use it.

21  Now when the king saw that Ammon could slay him, he began to plead with Ammon that he would spare his life.

Alma 20:20 – 21

Other scriptures recommended by Stake President:

5  For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

6  Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

7  And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

8  Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

9  And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

10  For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

D&C 76:5 – 10


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