Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why I Believe: Evidence Twenty-four: Joseph Smith and Knowledge

101 Reasons Why I Believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet


Evidence Twenty-four: 
Joseph Smith and Knowledge© 

Joseph Smith made at least fifteen important statements about knowledge and its place in the theology of Mormonism. His successors and many others have added volumes on this subject over that past 180 years, but no one has offered more profound thoughts, exceeded his insights, or plumbed the depths of his statements on this vital topic. These fifteen statements, when studied and pondered, are their own best witnesses to the intricacy and depth of the mind of Joseph Smith and bear witness of his inspiration and divine calling. It is particularly vital to notice how frequently the Prophet speaks of the role which spiritual knowledge plays in the salvation of man.

I have added some emphasis at places which I think are particularly important. I have written each title with the intent of capturing what I believe is the salient point of each. There are, of course, other important concepts in many of these quotations.

GOD CREATED MAN WITH A MIND CAPABLE OF INSTRUCTION


We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. ...it is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it; we mean the celestial glory.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 51.

WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE MAN WILL BE BROUGHT INTO CAPTIVITY BY AN EVIL POWER

A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth.  Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 217.
Howard W. Hunter: “...he had reference not to the temporal knowledge flowing from research, but to the eternal knowledge coming by revelation.  ‘Hence it needs revelation to assist us,’ he continued, and gives us knowledge of the things of God.’”(1)

KNOWLEDGE DOES AWAY WITH DARKNESS, SUSPENSE AND DOUBT

If we get puffed by thinking that we have much knowledge, we are apt to get a contentious spirit, and correct knowledge is necessary to cast out that spirit. The evil of being puffed up with correct (though useless) knowledge is not so great as the evil of contention. Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), pp. 287-288.


IN KNOWLEDGE THERE IS POWER

In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because he has greater knowledge; and hence he knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 288.


THE PRINCIPLE OF KNOWLEDGE IS THE PRINCIPLE OF SALVATION; IT IS GIVEN TO US THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST

It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. ... Add to your faith knowledge, etc.  The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 297.

KNOWLEDGE IS THE GRAND KEY TO UNLOCK THE GLORIES AND MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 298.


NOTHING GIVEN PERTAINING TO LIFE AND GODLINESS WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE

Another point, after having all these qualifications, he lays this injunction upon the people ‘to make your calling and election sure.’ ... What is the secret–the starting point” ‘According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.’ How did he obtain all things? Through the knowledge of Him who hath called him. There could not anything be given, pertaining to life and godliness, without knowledge.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 305.


MANY AMONG US TOO WISE TO BE TAUGHT; THEY WILL DIE IN THEIR IGNORANCE

There are a great many wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, So far God may reveal and I will believe.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 309.


WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING REQUIRED TO LEAD

A man of God should be endowed with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in order to teach and lead the people of God.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 311.

WILLFUL IGNORANCE LEADS TO DAMNATION

When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 322.


DIFFICULT FOR SAINTS TO GIVE UP THEIR TRADITIONS

But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand.  
I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 331.


YOU HAVE GOT TO LEARN HOW TO BE GODS

Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory....

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), pp. 346-347.


KNOWLEDGE IS ONE REQUISITE IN ORDER TO BE SAVED

God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 354.


KNOWLEDGE SAVES A MAN AND ENABLES HIS EXALTATION

Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge. So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. If a man has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for them. But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 357.


SEALING UP THE GATE OF KNOWLEDGE

Search the Scriptures, for they testify of things that these apostates would gravely pronounce blasphemy. Paul, if Joseph Smith is a blasphemer, you are. ... Hath he beheld the eternal world, and is he authorized to say that there is only one God? He makes himself a fool if he thinks or says so, and there is an end of his career or progress in knowledge.  He cannot obtain all knowledge, for he has sealed up the gate to it.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, edited by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1967), p. 371.


Thank God for Joseph Smith.

Lets think together again, soon.

Notes:  

1. Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), p. 181.

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