Chapter 2: Revelation: Avenue to Truth

“Chapter 2: Revelation: Avenue to Truth,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000), 4–5

“2: Revelation,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, 4–5

Chapter 2

Revelation: Avenue to Truth


The Apostle Paul testified that no one can know that Jesus is the Christ except through the power of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 12:3). This process, called revelation, is the means chosen by God to communicate with His mortal children.

Doctrinal Outline

  1. God gives truth to His children through revelation.

    1. Revelation is communication from God to His children (see Exodus 4:15–16; D&C 8:2–3; 76:5–10; Moses 5:58).

    2. The things of God are known only by revelation (see 1 Corinthians 2:9–16; Jacob 4:8).

    3. God has given revelation to His children from the beginning and will continue to do so (see 1 Nephi 10:19; Amos 3:7; Articles of Faith 1:9).

    4. Living prophets are guided by revelation and thus can lead us to truth (see 1 Nephi 22:2; Numbers 12:6; Ephesians 3:3–5).

    5. The four standard works contain revelations to God’s prophets and other chosen leaders (see 2 Peter 1:20–21; 2 Timothy 3:16; D&C 1:37–39).

    6. Within their individual spheres of authority, righteous people may receive revelation for their needs (see James 1:5; 3 Nephi 18:20; D&C 28:1–7).

  2. God reveals truth in a variety of ways.

    1. Through the voice of the Spirit, the word of God is revealed to the heart and mind of individuals (see D&C 8:2–3; 1 Kings 19:12; 1 Corinthians 2:9–11; Enos 1:9–10).

    2. Revelation sometimes comes through dreams (see Genesis 28:10–16; 37:5, 9; Matthew 1:20; 1 Nephi 2:2).

    3. Revelations can be received through the Urim and Thummim (see headnotes to D&C 3; 6; 11; 14; 17; see also Abraham 3:1–4).

    4. Truth may be revealed by an audible voice from heaven (see 2 Peter 1:17–18; Matthew 3:16–17; John 12:28–29; Helaman 5:20–33; D&C 130:13–15).

    5. Angels are sometimes sent with messages for the children of God (see Joseph Smith—History 1:30–33; Luke 1:11–13, 19, 26–28; Mosiah 27:11, 14, 17; Acts 10:3–4).

    6. Revelation may come by vision (see Ezekiel 40:2; Acts 10:9–17; 26:13–19; D&C 76:12–14).

  3. We must be worthy in order to receive revelation.

    1. We must trust in God rather than in the wisdom of man (see 2 Nephi 9:28; 28:31).

    2. If we will diligently seek, the mysteries of God will be unfolded to us (see D&C 11:7; 1 Nephi 10:19; D&C 42:61, 65, 68).

    3. If we seek and obey the truth we are given, God will reveal more truth to us (see 2 Nephi 28:30; Alma 12:9–11; D&C 93:28).

    4. The Lord reveals truth to us if we study and ponder the scriptures (see D&C 76:15, 19; 138:1–6, 11; 2 Timothy 3:14–17; Alma 37:1–8).

    5. Fasting and prayer will help prepare us to receive revelation (see Alma 5:45–46; 17:3).

    6. Personal righteousness is a prerequisite for receiving revelation (see D&C 50:29; 121:45–46).

Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith

Supporting Statements

  1. God gives truth to His children through revelation.

    • “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27).

    • “One great reason why men have stumbled so frequently in many of their researches after philosophical truth is that they have sought them with their own wisdom, and gloried in their own intelligence, and have not sought unto God for that wisdom that fills and governs the universe and regulates all things. That is one great difficulty with the philosophers of the world, as it now exists, that man claims to himself to be the inventor of everything he discovers. Any new law and principle which he happens to discover he claims to himself instead of giving glory to God” (John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, 47).

    • “It is also the privilege of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates to his particular calling and duty in the Church” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 111).

    • “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest” (Smith, Teachings, 149).

    • “All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed … to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies” (Smith, Teachings, 355).

    • “In giving revelations our Savior speaks at times for himself; at other times for the Father, and in the Father’s name, as though he were the Father, and yet it is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer who gives the message” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27).

    • “It is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom” (Smith, Teachings, 21).

  2. God reveals truth in a variety of ways.

    • “I have had the administration of angels in my day and time, though I never prayed for an angel. I have had, in several instances, the administration of holy messengers. …

      “… As a general thing, angels do not administer to anybody on the earth unless it is to preserve the lives of good men, or to bring the gospel, or perform a work that men cannot do for themselves” (Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, 286–87).

    • Inspiration is a form and degree of revelation. It is revelation that comes from the still small voice, from the whisperings of the Spirit, from the promptings of the Holy Ghost. All inspiration is revelation” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 383).

    • “The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. 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; (i.e.) 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” (Smith, Teachings, 151).

    Young man reading scriptures
  3. We must be worthy in order to receive revelation.

    • “Revelation is promised us through our faithfulness. … The Lord withholds much that he would otherwise reveal if the members of the Church were prepared to receive it. …

      “We have little occasion to clamor for more revelation when we refuse to heed what the Lord has revealed for our salvation” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:283).

    • “If you will follow the doctrines, and be guided by the precepts of that book [the Bible], it will direct you where you may see as you are seen, where you may converse with Jesus Christ, have the visitation of angels, have dreams, visions, and revelations, and understand and know God for yourselves” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, 126).

    • “Search the scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit” (Smith, Teachings, 11).

    • “A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart!” (Smith, Teachings, 137).