Advantage in the World to Come

A good education is something that everyone should aspire to. It’s a wise piece of advice that we’re told over and over again, most often by our elders (the old kind, not the white shirts and name tags kind). But what kind of education is worth our time? What knowledge should we be most aspiring to gain? Modern revelation, from the prophet Joseph Smith, gives us an insight to the role knowledge plays in the life to come,

Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19)

We can’t take our possession with us to the grave. . . . Well, I suppose we could, but they would just disintegrate with our bodies. What we can take, however, is our knowledge, what’s in our hearts and minds. The wisdom we gain through our experiences and the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ will forever remain with us.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with attaining worldly knowledge. We learn in the Book of Mormon that “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:29)

So long as we put God first and follow His commandments, our learning and education will be for our benefit, and it will rise with us when our spirits and our bodies are reunited in the resurrection. I know this is true. What we put into our hearts and minds is what will be worth the most to us, now and after we pass from this life.

Hi-De-Ho there, Neighbor!

“Hi-De-Ho there, Neighbor!” was a phrase I commonly heard during my childhood. Watching the sitcom Home Improvement was something I did a lot. If, by chance, you’re unfamiliar with this show, let me break it down for you. The plotline basically follows the life of macho man Tim Taylor, his wife Jill, and their three boys Brad, Randy, and Mark. Tim co-hosts a local tv show called Tool Time with his buddy Al. Tim is a masculine guy, a man’s man. He loves tools, wood, cars, and power.

Tim’s antics throughout the show tend to land him in trouble of one kind or another. Whether it’s with work or his wife, he always seems to have another problem to solve and a new lesson to learn each episode. The Taylor’s neighbor, Wilson, is probably the wisest, nicest guy anyone could ever meet. He’s a true friend to the Taylors, especially Tim. Whenever Tim gets into a bind, it always ends up with him calling over the fence to Wilson for some sage advice on his most recent troubles.

In our own lives, our thickheaded behaviors can often land us in difficult situations. Like Tim, we may find ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what to do about ourselves and why no seems to want to understand. And also like Tim, the problem is most often with ourselves and not others around us. So what can we do? Who can we turn to?

If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

We must turn to God. Like Wilson, He’s always out in the yard. Or I suppose it would be more like… out in… the universe. Either way, He’s there. All we need to do is be humble enough to approach Him. In the show, a lot of times Tim would try to solve the problem himself, relying on his own wisdom. Eventually though, and sometimes quickly, he would realize that he needed the help of someone wiser.

We may only be able to catch glimpses of Him in our lives (maybe only the top part of his face!), or we may not see Him at all. But He is there. He’s just on the other side of the fence.

The Restoration: Of Knowledge

A bit of wise counsel I’d like to share from Jacob, a Book of Mormon prophet.

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-19)

Pride cometh before the fall. This is true in all aspects of life, including education and knowledge. I’m sure many would agree that, today, society as a whole has shunned the wisdom of God. We have come far in such a short amount of time. Technological and scientific advances are astounding. More and more information is being discovered each day. But are these truly our advances, or are they blessings from God?

As our knowledge has moved forward, our faith in God has taken a decline. Jacob’s words are true. We no longer hearken to the counsel of God, but instead have made steps to remove Him from our societies. We think we don’t need Him, when in reality every step we’ve made has been because of His love and kindness.

In love, God the Father and Jesus Christ restored The Church of Jesus Christ to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. The heavens are wide open, and revelation is being poured out through living prophets and apostles and through ourselves. The priesthood authority that Jesus Christ personally brought during His earthly ministry is back in full force.

From the early 19th century until the present time, just look at all the advances we have made! The fact that all of the remarkable inventions and discoveries began the same time as the Restoration of Christ’s gospel is no coincidence.

I know that these blessings have sprouted because Jesus Christ’s church is once again on the earth. By recognizing God and Christ in all things, our knowledge can bring us further blessings. Let us not shun Them from society, but bring Them back, because “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God.”

Lehi’s Vision

The account in the Book of Mormon known as Lehi’s Vision or Lehi’s Dream is well-known among Latter-day Saints. In it, the prophet Lehi sees the tree of life and, with the help of an iron rod (which symbolizes the word of God) leading to the tree, approaches and eats of the fruit of the tree. When he looks around, he sees his family and beckons them to come and eat the fruit as well. All of them do except for his two oldest sons Laman and Lemuel.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, I encourage you to read the full account. Here’s a link for your convenience.

I’ll take a small section of the vision, which Lehi is giving to his children:

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.

And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.

And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.

Lehi’s son, Nephi, was an exceptional young man that grew to become the second prophet in the Book of Mormon, after his father Lehi. He knew God, he knew Jesus Christ and the power of His atonement, and he knew and recognized the Holy Spirit. Something I’d like to note, however, is that in Lehi’s vision Nephi does not take the fruit himself. It was given to him by his father.

Just like our Heavenly Father is the source of all wisdom and truth, our earthly parents are a source of wisdom. We do not gain knowledge and experience in an instant. It must be taught to us. Parents have the sacred responsibility in raising their children in righteousness and truth, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The very first verse in the Book of Mormon begins,

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;

Nephi was taught all he knew by his father and mother, and he makes sure the reader understands that fact right off the bat. I had, and still have, the great blessing of being raised by parents that taught me about Jesus Christ and His gospel. I know that the knowledge and understanding I have could not have come without their guidance, wisdom, and experience. I know that the role of a father and mother in a child’s life is a sacred commission from God.


Line Upon Line

As a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, studying the scriptures is a big part of my everyday life. In fact, I study every morning. And before I study, I pray to God that I might learn something new and grow in my understanding of Jesus Christ’s gospel. Not every morning though, do I feel like that was accomplished. Was that because I truly learned nothing from my studies? I should think not.

I’ll admit I don’t always give my studies the full attention they deserve. I sometimes space out, think about what happened the previous day, what might happen during that day, or I might be thinking about something completely unrelated to missionary work. It happens. I’m far from perfect, and I’m also an artist who is prone to frequent daydreaming. So when I finish my studies and close up whatever book I was reading, I often feel like I didn’t learn anything at all. No sudden realization, no epiphany, no vast amount of knowledge that has suddenly found place within my mind. You’ve probably had a lot of similar experiences with your own studies, of any kind.

That’s because we rarely ever learn things through sudden occurrences. We read in 2 Nephi 28:30,

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

The Lord understands our weaknesses. We often forget. We often take for granted. We often don’t care. The Lord knows that we learn better through baby steps. I know that every morning I take something from my studies. Often, I do not entirely understand or recognize what it was, but I know that piece of knowledge is there, and that in time it will build to a greater understanding. I’ve learned a great deal over the years, but is only a fraction, if that, of the things I could learn. It is simply a matter of time, and I must put trust in the Lord that He is guiding me to the things that I need to know.

I testify that the Lord can give us great knowledge and understanding, but it is through patience, diligence, and faith that we receive it, a little at a time.