The Power of Personal Revelation
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The Power of Personal Revelation

S&I Annual Training Broadcast for 2019 • June 12, 2019 • Church Office Building Main Floor Auditorium

Before I begin my remarks today, I want to express my gratitude and love. It is a joy to be engaged with you in the great work of helping the rising generation deeply learn the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you, and I pray the Lord’s blessings on you and your families.

I want to speak today about three patterns of personal revelation in the Book of Mormon.

The first is sacred records that testify of Jesus Christ and the Father’s plan. The second is the witness of the Holy Ghost, which strengthens faith in Jesus Christ and deepens conversion unto Him. The third is living prophets who testify of Jesus Christ and stand against evil.

These patterns are vividly and powerfully presented in the Book of Mormon because they are essential—even crucial—to increased faith in Jesus Christ and deeper conversion unto Him in our day.1

We live in a time when wicked and misguided men and women are doing everything they can to convince the rising generation that good is evil and evil is good. They use methods from the likes of Sherem, Nehor, and Korihor in the Book of Mormon—cunning arguments, flattering ideas, and carefully crafted labels and images—to create false doctrines about our relationship to God, love, tolerance, marriage, eternal identity, family, and much else. Many of these ideologies and doctrines of men have “a form of godliness, but they [all] deny the power thereof.”2

Our students are bombarded every minute of every day with messages like this, and they need personal revelation to strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and deepen their conversion to Him. I hope and pray that you will do everything in your power to help our students deeply learn these patterns of personal revelation.

Sacred Records Which Testify of Jesus Christ

I begin with sacred records which testify of Jesus Christ. This is a theme that runs all throughout the Book of Mormon. It started with the brass plates.3

Nephi’s experience with Laban was a seminal event in his life. Nephi learned how important those records were for him and for his family: “It is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers; … and the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.”4

The brass plates had a profound influence on the spiritual, religious, and social development of the Nephite people. They became a source of personal revelation and glorious prophecies of the coming of the Son of God, the Holy One of Israel. They also bore powerful witness of the Father’s marvelous plan of salvation. The holy prophets quoted in the brass plates testified that the Messiah would atone for the sins of the world, suffer and die, and rise again triumphant over sin and death.5

The brass plates also contained the covenants of the Father with Abraham and all the house of Israel. Lehi discovered that he was a descendant of Joseph and that his posterity would be children of the covenant, heirs to all the promises God made to Abraham, including the gathering of Israel in the last days.

Lehi used the brass plates to teach his children of the Savior and the covenants the Father made with the house of Israel. Nephi and his brother Jacob continued that practice and later added their own records under commandment from the Lord.6 Nephi was truly converted to the importance of keeping permanent records, especially of that which was sacred.7

From the foundation of those early days in the promised land, the Nephites developed a culture that enshrined sacred record keeping, reading, and teaching as high and holy responsibilities. With faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to cherish and preserve His word, the Nephites became a society of sacred record keepers, readers, and teachers.8 The official records were kept on plates, but over time, the Nephites developed a publishing system so that the sacred records could be copied and written on lighter materials and disseminated widely.9

The wide dissemination of sacred records made it possible for parents to teach their children the commandments of the Lord and for their children to teach their children and so on down through the centuries.10 Missionaries, like the sons of Mosiah, could take the records with them and use them to teach the Lamanites with wonderful consequences.11 As Alma taught Helaman, the sacred records create a revelatory experience that “enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and … brought [many thousands of the Lamanites] to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.”12

This rejoicing reached a crescendo when the resurrected Savior appeared to the people at the temple in Bountiful.13 We have this marvelous, compelling witness of the atoning sacrifice and glorious resurrection of the living Christ in the Book of Mormon today through the mercy, gift, and power of God.14 Like the Nephites, and because of them, we have sacred records that testify of Jesus Christ and the Father’s plan of salvation. As Alma prophesied to his son Helaman long ago, the Lord has “preserve[d] these things for a wise purpose in him, that he might show forth his power unto future generations.”15

That future is now. The Lord is showing forth His power to the rising generation in a marvelous way. When we teach the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, our students can feel that power. As our students seek personal revelation through feasting on the Book of Mormon, it will become for them what the brass plates were for the people of Nephi—a witness of Jesus Christ and His redeeming power and a source of personal revelation and joy.

The Witness of the Holy Ghost That Strengthens Faith in Jesus Christ and Deepens Conversion unto Him

We now turn to the Holy Ghost. Lehi’s journey to the promised land was a journey of spiritual power. It was a time in which the Lord taught, guided, and comforted Lehi, Sariah, and all their children by the power of the Holy Ghost through inspiration, dreams, and visions; His own voice; and the appearance of heavenly messengers. Nephi declared that these blessings of spiritual power came “by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him.”16

Nephi truly sought the Lord and received great revelations through the Holy Ghost. His quest to know for himself set a pattern that we see all throughout the Book of Mormon. Nephi had “great desires to know of the mysteries of God.”17 That desire worked in him, and he “did cry unto the Lord”18 in prayer with real intent. Of his quest, the Lord said to Nephi, “Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.”19

So this is the pattern: a desire to know, fervent prayer from the heart, diligent searching with humility and faith in Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.20 We see this pattern in the lives of Enos, Alma, the sons of Mosiah, King Lamoni and his father, the people of Ammon, Helaman and his stripling warriors, and many others.21 Indeed, in times of righteousness among the Nephites and the Lamanites, personal revelation through the Holy Ghost was widespread among them.22

As the faithful Nephites and Lamanites acted on—and wrote down—what the Holy Ghost revealed to them, the Lord blessed them with even more. Because they treasured up23 what He gave them, the Lord blessed them with increased faith in Him, deeper conversion, and the spirit of revelation. They grew in their capacity to receive revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Alma’s experience is a beautiful example of this pattern. You remember, he saw angels and received remarkable visions, and yet, he continued to seek the witness of the Spirit from the Lord. “Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

“Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”24

The witness of the Holy Ghost had a significant effect on the Nephite people and the society in which they lived.25 There is no better example than the mission of the sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites 91 years before the birth of the Savior. Through diligent searching of the scriptures, fasting, and prayer, these great missionaries “had the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of revelation.”26

Their work among the Lamanites had a profound influence on the course of Nephite and Lamanite history. For the first time in 500 years, “thousands [of Lamanites] were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, … and they were taught the records and prophecies.”27 Mormon’s description of this experience is a prophetic promise of what can happen to any of God’s children who follow the pattern of personal revelation through the Holy Ghost: “As many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them … were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.”28

Brothers and sisters, this is the witness and power of the Holy Ghost that strengthens faith in Jesus Christ and deepens conversion unto Him.

Prophets Who Testify of Jesus Christ and Stand Against Evil

The third pattern of personal revelation is living prophets who are endowed with power and authority to say, “thus saith the Lord,” in real time to all the people. This is the great prophetic pattern we see all throughout the Book of Mormon: prophets bear witness of Jesus Christ, teach His gospel, call the people to repentance, and warn and stand against evil in their day.29 Through revelation, especially from angels, the Book of Mormon prophets have given us tremendous depth and marvelous insight about Jesus Christ, His doctrine, and His Atonement.30

The prophets were bold and forthright in calling the people to repentance. Thus, we have in the Book of Mormon the marvelous teachings on repentance of Nephi, Jacob, King Benjamin, Alma, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, Captain Moroni, Mormon, and Moroni.31 These great prophets taught with clarity, directness, love, and hope. Their teachings still ring in our ears by the power of the Holy Ghost:

  • “Have ye spiritually been born of God?”32

  • “If ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can ye feel so now?”33

  • “Behold, are ye stripped of pride?”34

  • “Repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it! … he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.”35

The prophets of the Book of Mormon stood up against evil men who sought to draw people away from Jesus Christ and destroy His Church. Men like Sherem, Nehor, Amlici, Korihor, Amalickiah, and many others were led by the adversary to confuse and deceive with great skill.36 They had significant knowledge of the language and used cunning devices or arguments to make good seem evil and evil seem good.

They flattered the people, appealing to their vanity, pride, lust for power, and desire to satisfy their appetites. The scriptures say that they had “much power of speech, according to the power of the devil”37 and “did rise up in great swelling words.”38 Though these teachings, arguments, and promises were all false, they were very attractive to the natural man, and many people dissented from the Church and lost their way until the prophets stood to rebuke and oppose evil.39

Now, when words were not enough, evil men resorted to terror, murder, and robbery and created secret combinations to hide their evil deeds.40

Prophets stood against these forms of evil with the plain and simple word of God, with their testimonies born by the power of the Holy Ghost, and by miracles wrought by the hand of the Lord. As Jacob said of his encounter with Sherem, “The Lord God poured … his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words.”41

Living prophets speak for the Lord in our day. When we hear their words with the Spirit, we receive direct personal revelation, including confirming revelation that what the prophet has said is true.42 When we teach our students to seek out the words of the living prophets to answer their questions, we guide them to a powerful source of revealed truth. Our students learn that personal revelation flows into their lives when they follow living prophets who testify of Jesus Christ and stand against evil.43

Deeply Learning the Principle of Personal Revelation

Brothers and sisters, we have considered together personal revelation through sacred records, the witness of the Holy Ghost, and living prophets presented so powerfully in the Book of Mormon.44 We have considered them separately, but they are deeply connected. Indeed, they are part of the great “gather[ing] together in one all things in Christ”45 in this dispensation.

Together, these patterns of personal revelation testify of, strengthen faith in, and deepen conversion unto Jesus Christ. Our students need to deeply learn the principle of personal revelation to know and understand it in their minds and hearts. They need to know how to take effective righteous action to obtain it, and they need to grow into the principle of revelation and become more and more like their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now, may I suggest a few things I hope you will teach your students as they seek to deeply learn the eternal principle of personal revelation?

First, personal revelation is personal.

If our students will focus their hearts and minds on Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, they will feel His love, rejoice in His Gospel, and draw closer to Him. A desire to hear His voice and receive His light will grow in them. Personal revelation is personal. The Lord knows our students intimately and personally. He will speak to them personally with perfect love, empathy, and knowledge of what they need. Revelation comes through the Holy Ghost, but it is the word of the Lord. He loves. He speaks. He guides. He protects. It is personal.

Second, all of our students have the capacity to receive personal revelation.

Personal revelation occurs Spirit to spirit; it is divine communication from the Holy Ghost to the eternal spirits of our students.46 Every one of our students has a built-in capacity to receive personal revelation from God. It works according to divine law. It takes work—diligently seeking revelation in prayer, fasting, study, listening, writing, and acting with faith in Jesus Christ. It is this work—and personal righteousness—that opens the channel of personal revelation which they all have.

Third, our students’ capacity to receive revelation can and must grow.

The capacity of our students to receive personal revelation can grow. Indeed, it must grow if they are to survive spiritually and receive eternal life. That is true for us too. This is why President Nelson has urged them and pleaded with them (and us) to “increase [their] spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”47 The Prophet Joseph taught, “By learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, [our students] may grow into the principle of revelation, until [they] become perfect in Christ Jesus.”48

Finally, never, ever underestimate the revelatory power of following the prophet.

Our students live in a wonderful and yet challenging time. They will be protected and blessed and revelation will flow into their lives if they will follow the counsel and the invitations of the prophet of the Lord. The prophet speaks for the Lord. Here is a current example. Addressing our students, President Russell M. Nelson wrote, “Your ability to have more impact on the world than any previous generation is completely dependent upon the level of your devotion to Jesus Christ. Each of you is responsible to help teach the gospel in your home to those with whom you live. Seminary and institute will help you remodel your home to become a sanctuary of faith—a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught, learned, lived, and loved.”49

Brothers and sisters, please help our students follow the prophet. Teach them to support their parents in making their homes centers of gospel learning. Teach them to share their love of the Lord and His gospel with their family and friends. As they do, they will receive “revelation upon revelation … that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”50 They will be like the army of Helaman, an inspiration to all who know them, especially to those in their own homes.

Witness

My dear brothers and sisters, I bear witness of our loving Heavenly Father. He lives. Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I know He lives. The Holy Ghost works in our lives. The heavens are open. This is a day of miracles, a day of revelation by the power of “the Spirit … sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.”51 I know that is true. May each of us seek revelation from the Lord to help each student, every one, deeply learn this glorious principle and receive personal revelation in their lives now and forever.

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.