Archive for February, 2008
This is the talk that I gave at our Ward Conference Fireside tonight. I really enjoyed putting this talk together and learning from President Kimball, Elder Bednar and President Hinckley.
Seek Learning, Even By Study and Also By Faith
Doctrine and Covenants 109:7-9
President Spencer W. Kimball quoted D&C 93:36 which says “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” And then quoted D&C 121:42 “Pure knowledge … shall greatly enlarge the soul.” And then asked three questions:
1. What is this knowledge, intelligence, and light and truth that our Heavenly Father would have us receive?
2. Does it consist solely of the truths God has revealed through His prophets?
3. What place does knowledge gleaned from secular sources and with secular means have in the scheme of eternal progression?
Define Secular: of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred.
He then answered these questions by saying, “In considering these questions, we must recognize that secular knowledge alone can never save a soul nor open the celestial kingdom to anyone.”
He gives the examples of the Apostles Peter and John and how they were termed ignorant. They knew the vital things of life, they knew that Jesus was their Redeemer and is the Son of God. This knowledge, however, does not excuse us from going to school and gaining a secular education. On the contrary, President Kimball goes on to say that “Secular knowledge can be most helpful to the children of our Father in Heaven who, having placed first things first, have found and are living those truths which lead one to eternal life. These are they who have the balance and perspective to seek all knowledge – revealed and secular – as a tool and servant for the blessing of themselves and others.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 109:7 it says…
There are two different types of learning identified in this phrase:
1. Learning by study
2. Learning by faith
I think it’s safe to say that we know what it means to seek learning by study. If you study, you’ll learn. That’s what text books and curriculums were developed for.
More importantly, it’s also the reason that we have the scriptures. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin has said, “The more we study the scriptures and pray, the more likely we can enthusiastically share our testimonies of the gospel with others.”
On the Church website, under the topic of testimony, it says:
“Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the sacred opportunity and responsibility to obtain their own testimonies. Having obtained a testimony, each member has a duty to nurture it throughout life.”
I have found that the words of Nephi in 1 Nephi 3:7 are all too true in this instance:
“…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
If we, as Latter-day Saints have a responsibility and a duty to gain, nurture and share our own testimonies of the gospel, then it only makes sense that the Lord would provide the resources to do so.
It’s interesting that we’re taught to seek learning by faith. It almost seems backwards. Shouldn’t we study something and then believe in it, rather than learning something because we believe in it?
There was an excellent address given by Elder Bednar to the Church Educational System educators in Feb. 2006 entitled “Seek Learning by Faith” that I will be pulling the majority of the rest of my comments from. It was printed in the September 2007 Ensign in case you’re interested in going back and learning more.
He suggests that learning by faith is to act and not to be acted upon and gives two examples.
The first example is that of Adam in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3:9 it says “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Don’t think for a second that the Lord didn’t already know where Adam was. So why then did he ask the question? “A wise and loving Father enabled His child to act in the learning process and not merely be acted upon. There was no one-way lecture to a disobedient child…. Rather, the Father helped Adam as a learner to act as an agent and appropriately exercise his agency.”
The second example is that of Nephi’s desire to know about the things his father, Lehi, had seen in the vision of the tree of life. If we look in 1 Nephi 11:2 we see that the Spirit said unto Nephi, “Behold, what desirest thou?” “Clearly the Spirit knew what Nephi desired. So why ask the question? The Holy Ghost was helping Nephi to act in the learning process and not simply be acted upon.” All throughout chapters 11-14 “the Spirit both asked questions and encouraged Nephi to look as active elements in the learning process.”
“A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost. Thus, learning by faith involves the exercise of moral agency to act upon the assurance of things hoped for and invites the evidence of things not seen from the only true teacher, the Spirit of the Lord.”
“The learning I am describing reaches far beyond mere cognitive comprehension and the retaining and recalling of information. The type of learning to which I am referring causes us to put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change our hearts (see Mosiah 5:2), to be converted unto the Lord, and to never fall away (see Alma 23:6). Learning by faith requires both “the heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Learning by faith is the result of the Holy Ghost carrying the power of the word of God both unto and into the heart. Learning by faith cannot be transferred from an instructor to a student through a lecture, a demonstration, or an experiential exercise; rather, a student must exercise faith and act in order to obtain the knowledge for himself or herself.”
In James 2:17-18 we read …
We are taught here that faith without works is dead. The way that we show our faith is by our works. Put it all together and we learn that to seek learning by faith is to DO the things which the Lord will have us do so that the Spirit of the Lord will be our constant companion and teacher. The Bible Dictionary teaches us that the Holy Ghost “Gives one a testimony of Jesus Christ and of his work and the works of his servants upon the earth.” To have the direction, guidance, comfort and wisdom of the Spirit with us as a constant companion is a blessing that the Lord has given us. President Hinckley instructed us to Be Smart.
In January 2002, he said the following:
”You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.
“you beling to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, ‘Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgements which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms – that ye may be prepared in all things.”
“Mind you, these are not my words. These are the words of the Lord who loves you. He wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship. Be smart. Don’t be foolish. You cannon bluff or cheat others without bluffing or cheating yourselves.”
In a nutshell, to seek learning, even by study and also by faith means that we are to study the words of God and then apply them and put them into action in our lives so that He can continue to teach us through the Spirit.
I would like to close with one more quote from President Kimball:
“And let us remember that it is not so much what we know that is important, as what we do and what we are. The Master’s plan is a program of doing, of living, not merely knowing. Knowledge itself is not the end. It is how we righteously live and apply that knowledge in our own lives and how we apply it to help others that describes our character.”