Would it be fair for someone to be expected to become a skilled wood carver if he has never even touched a knife, let alone a block of wood? Probably not. The same goes for learning the teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ—it takes practice, it takes work! Believe me, I know! There are times that I feel like I know a lot about Christ’s gospel, but time after time I realize that I still have a lot to learn! Like when I intentionally ignore helping someone in need because I am “too busy.” I may “know” in my mind that I am supposed to serve others, but I may not “know” in my heart—at least not all of the time. But as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church”) I believe wholeheartedly that we can learn His ways, we can gain spiritual knowledge (knowledge in both the heart and mind)—this knowledge can only come through experience.
In a book titled, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, written by Randall J. Brown, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc. (pp 1-2) Brown gives an example of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet who restored the primitive Church of Jesus Christ in these modern times, and how he gained his experiential knowledge:
All the prophets since Adam are examples of how to know God. Each dispensation has been led by a prophet who knew the Lord intimately. We can look to the head of this last dispensation for the perfect example of knowing God. Never has a mortal being experienced the Savior Jesus Christ as did the Prophet Joseph Smith. No man has received greater revelations, and no man has attained a more perfect knowledge of the Savior’s presence or His mysteries. Joseph Smith attained a deeply intimate relationship with the Savior of the World.
Joseph Smith knew the experience of standing in His presence. He knew the experience of receiving His words, and he came to know, by his own experience, the roles that opposition, adversity, and affliction would play in this sacred process. Joseph Smith also knew, by his own experience, what it was like to feel alone and forsaken, as he cried out to the Lord for deliverance. While imprisoned at Liberty Jail, he cried unto the Lord, “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-3).
Joseph Smith knew the experience of having the Lord speak to him in the midst of afflictions. The Lord told him, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment” (D&C 121:7). Joseph was being tutored by the Lord, through adversity and affliction. Yet, in the midst of his trial, the Lord spoke peace to his soul and counseled him that while the afflictions were necessary, they were also temporary. While Joseph was pleading for deliverance in Liberty Jail, the Lord again spoke to him: “If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?” (D&C 122:7–8).
We cannot come to know the Savior the way Joseph Smith, Enoch, Moses, or any other prophet knew Him just by intellectual knowledge. Knowing the Savior is a gift that is only received through experience.
This is where the role of opposition comes into play. It is only after we have experienced illness that we comprehend our need for a physician. It is only after we have experienced bondage that we understand our need for deliverance, and it is only by experiencing spiritual and physical death that we can know the glory of eternal life. As we experience “opposition in all things,” we finally become aware of our need to be saved.
I know and believe that every person who walks this earth can gain spiritual knowledge—if they seek it. God will always encourage us to progress in knowledge, and He will teach us with “hands on” learning. After all, He is the Master Teacher. We simply need to have a willing heart. I invite you to learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by meeting with Mormon missionaries. As the Mormon Apostle, Elder Russell M. Nelson, said,
“…if you want to know more about life after death, about heaven, about God’s plan for you; if you want to know more about the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and the Restoration of His Church as it was originally established, ask the missionaries! They can help you!” (“Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You!,” Ensign, Nov. 2012).
Mormon missionaries are called of God to teach Christ’s doctrine, and they can help you to learn all of the truths that your heart desires to know
This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints..
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.