Question: Are we prepared to receive the advanced spiritual truths the Savior would like us to hear?
Answer: The Savior would like us to receive more light and truth, but it is up to us to be ready to receive it. We can be ready by studying our scriptures and living our lives in harmony with the teachings they contain.
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During the months that Paul spent in Corinth, “many of the Corinthians hearing [him] believed, and were baptized.” So it must have been heartbreaking for Paul to hear, just a few years later, that there were “divisions” and “contentions” among the Corinthian Saints. Paul seemed disappointed that the Saints were not ready to receive all the doctrine he wanted to give them.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual (I can’t yet speak to you as I would to spiritually mature members), but as unto carnal (rather, as to converts who are yet caught up much in worldly thinking and behaving), even as unto babes in Christ (in fact, I must speak to you as brand new in the gospel of Christ).
2 I have fed you with milk (I have given you the very basics of the gospel), and not with meat (not with advanced doctrines): for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3 For ye are yet carnal (you are still too worldly): for whereas there is among you envying (jealousy), and strife (contention, arguing, bickering), and divisions apostasy), are ye not carnal, and walk as men (still worldly like other men)?
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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency:
As an airline pilot, I flew numerous hours across continents and oceans during the darkness of night. Watching the night sky out of my cockpit window, especially the Milky Way, often made me marvel at the vastness and depth of God’s creations—what the scriptures describe as “worlds without number.”
It was less than a century ago that most astronomers assumed that our Milky Way galaxy was the only galaxy in the universe. They supposed all that lay beyond our galaxy was an immense nothingness, an infinite void—empty, cold, and devoid of stars, light, and life...
In a very short period of time, our understanding of the universe changed forever. Today we can see some of these distant galaxies. We know that they are there. They have been there for a very long time. But before mankind had instruments powerful enough to gather celestial light and bring these galaxies into visibility, we did not believe such a thing was possible.
The immensity of the universe didn’t suddenly change, but our ability to see and understand this truth changed dramatically. And with that greater light, mankind was introduced to glorious vistas we had never before imagined.
It Is Hard for Us to Believe What We Cannot See
Suppose you were able to travel back in time and have a conversation with people who lived a thousand or even a hundred years ago. Imagine trying to describe to them some of the modern technologies that you and I take for granted today. For example, what might these people think of us if we told them stories of jumbo jets, microwave ovens, handheld devices that contain vast digital libraries, and videos of our grandchildren that we instantly share with millions of people around the world?
Some might believe us. Most would ridicule, oppose, or perhaps even seek to silence or harm us. Some might attempt to apply logic, reason, and facts as they know them to show that we are misguided, foolish, or even dangerous. They might condemn us for attempting to mislead others.
But of course, these people would be completely mistaken. They might be well-meaning and sincere. They might feel absolutely positive of their opinion. But they simply would not be able to see clearly because they had not yet received the more complete light of truth.
The Promise of Light
It seems to be a trait of humanity to assume that we are right even when we are wrong. And if that is the case, what hope is there for any of us? Are we destined to drift aimlessly on an ocean of conflicting information, stranded on a raft we have poorly pieced together from our own biases? Is it possible to find truth?
The purpose of my remarks is to proclaim the joyful message that God Himself—the Lord of Hosts who knows all truth—has given His children the promise that they can know truth for themselves. Please consider the magnitude of this promise:
The Everlasting and Almighty God, the Creator of this vast universe, will speak to those who approach Him with a sincere heart and real intent. He will speak to them in dreams, visions, thoughts, and feelings. He will speak in a way that is unmistakable and that transcends human experience. He will give them divine direction and answers for their personal lives.
Of course, there will be those who scoff and say such a thing is impossible, that if there were a God, He would have better things to do than hear and answer a single person’s prayer.
But I tell you this: God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice. God wants you to find your way back to Him, and the Savior is the way. God wants you to learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, and experience the profound peace and joy that come from following the path of divine discipleship.
My dear friends, here is a fairly straightforward experiment, with a guarantee from God, found in a book of ancient scripture available to every man, woman, and child willing to put it to the test:
First, you must search the word of God. That means reading the scriptures and studying the words of the ancient as well as modern prophets regarding the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—not with an intent to doubt or criticize but with a sincere desire to discover truth. Ponder upon the things you will feel, and prepare your minds to receive the truth...
Second, you must consider, ponder, fearlessly strive to believe, and be grateful for how merciful the Lord has been to His children from the time of Adam to our day by providing prophets, seers, and revelators to lead His Church and help us find the way back to Him.
Third, you must ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto you. Ask with a sincere heart and with real intent, having faith in Christ.
There is also a fourth step, given to us by the Savior: “If any man will do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In other words, when you are trying to verify the truth of gospel principles, you must first live them. Put gospel doctrine and Church teachings to the test in your own life. Do it with real intent and enduring faith in God.
If you will do these things, you have a promise from God—who is bound by His word—that He will manifest the truth to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. He will grant you greater light that will allow you to look through the darkness and witness unimaginably glorious vistas incomprehensible to mortal sight...
The Things of the Spirit Can Be Understood Only by the Spirit
Scientists were struggling to understand the breadth of the universe until instruments became sophisticated enough to gather in greater light so they could understand a more complete truth.
The Apostle Paul taught a parallel principle regarding spiritual knowledge. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
In other words, if you want to recognize spiritual truth, you have to use the right instruments. You can’t come to an understanding of spiritual truth with instruments that are unable to detect it. The Savior has told us in our day, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”
The more we incline our hearts and minds toward God, the more heavenly light distills upon our souls. And each time we willingly and earnestly seek that light, we indicate to God our readiness to receive more light. Gradually, things that before seemed hazy, dark, and remote become clear, bright, and familiar to us...
I testify that this is true. If you seek God’s truth, that which now may appear dim, out of focus, and distant will gradually be revealed and clarified and become close to your heart by the light of God’s grace. Glorious spiritual vistas, unimaginable to the human eye, will be revealed to you...
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 130; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 130; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2014, “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth,” By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.