Digital Only: Young Adults
Revelation: The Key to Finding Truth
There are three ways we can find the eternal truths God has for us.
Have you ever heard someone say “Find your own truth,” or “Speak your truth”? We live in a world where many people believe that all truth is negotiable or relative to a particular circumstance and that there are no eternal, unchangeable truths.
Disagreeing about truth isn’t just a modern-day problem. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites mostly lived in peace—except for “a few contentions concerning the points of doctrine which had been laid down by the prophets” (Helaman 11:22). The contention led to “much strife,” but the missionary brothers Nephi and Lehi “knew concerning the true points of doctrine, having many revelations daily, therefore they did preach unto the people, insomuch that they did put an end to their strife in that same year” (Helaman 11:23).
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that there is “truth eternal, truth divine.”1 Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reaffirmed this, saying, “Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes.”2
Revelation is a gift from our Heavenly Father to help us find the truths that allow us to discern “good from evil” (Moroni 7:15–16) and experience personal peace even in unpeaceful times. Even today, with almost unlimited information at our fingertips, personal revelation can help us identify those consistent and reliable truths.
A System of Checks and Balances
But receiving and recognizing revelation can be difficult. For example, how do you know whether a prompting is coming from the Spirit or from some other source (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:7–8)? The Lord also warns us “that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:2). How, then, can we be assured that the revelation we feel we have received is “of God” (verse 20)?
Fortunately, there is a system to know if what you’re feeling is from God or not.
Some democracies today rely upon a system of three branches of government to prevent abuse of political power. They do so by spreading the authority and powers to different offices rather than one person or one branch of the government. This is called checks and balances.
In a similar way, we can “check and balance” any revelation we receive by using the tools the Lord has given us. These tools include personal revelation, scriptural truths, and living prophets. We are safe when we use these sources together as we seek to discern truth.
Look to Trusted Sources of Revelation
Personal revelation allows the Lord to communicate directly with us. According to His will, we can receive promptings or insights to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions. President Russell M. Nelson taught, “You don’t have to wonder about what is true. … Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness.”3
However, Satan seeks to deceive us (see Doctrine and Covenants 50:3), so we can be misled if we seek guidance only from personal impressions or feelings that may or may not be promptings from God. We can increase our ability to feel and discern inspired revelation by striving to keep the commandments, attending the temple, and doing family history work.
The scriptures contain many time-tested truths and enlightening examples of those who followed or disregarded truth and revelation. The Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that when studied collectively, the scriptures can expose false doctrine and prevent contention (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:31 [in Genesis 50:24, footnote a]).
When our personal revelation conforms to scriptural truths, our confidence in that revelation grows stronger. We must be cautious, however, because it is possible to believe that a personal revelation must be from God simply because it does not contradict scriptural teachings. To truly be safe, we must make sure that the choices we make also align with the teachings of the living prophets.
From the beginning, the Lord has called prophets to guide His people. We can always trust that the prophet’s revelation is current and applicable to our day as it comes directly from the Lord. We are assured spiritual safety as we confidently listen to and strive to follow living prophets.
Safety in These Checks
Utilizing this principle greatly blessed our family. In 2006, the United States was experiencing a strong economy, especially in real estate investing. We had successfully made some smaller investments before being given the opportunity to invest in a large business opportunity. It appeared to be without risk, but it would require that we go into debt by mortgaging our home.
As the father in the home, I knew it was my duty to provide for my family. I prayed and felt that I should be willing to use what the Lord had given me to profitably sustain us. I also consulted the scriptures and found that honest business investing was encouraged and acceptable to the Lord. As I moved forward in my decision, however, I pondered what the living prophets had warned about going into debt, particularly to invest in business speculation.
We decided to apply the “checks and balances” principle to my decision, and even though scriptural truths supported my personal revelation, the teachings of the living prophets did not. We decided not to invest. The following year, the housing market crashed, and a very long recession began. Had we borrowed the money, we may have lost not only our money but our home also.
We testify that there is safety in using all that the Lord has given us to discover His truths. Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advises us to “have the confidence to claim personal revelation for [ourselves], understanding what God has revealed, consistent with the scriptures and the commandments He has given through His appointed prophets.”4 We are blessed when we seek personal revelation, apply scriptural truths to our decisions, and use the system of checking and balancing our choices with the words of living prophets.