ARTICLE 9-We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Revelation and Inspiration-In a theological sense the term revelation signifies the making known of divine truth by communication from the heavens. The Greek word, apocalypsis, which in meaning closely corresponds with our word revelation, expresses an uncovering or a disclosure of that which had been wholly or in part hidden-the drawing aside of a veil. An Anglicized form of the Greek term-Apocalypse-is sometimes used to designate the particular Revelation given to John upon the Isle of Patmos, the record of which forms the last book of the New Testament. Divine revelation, as illustrated by numerous examples in scripture, may consist of disclosures or declarations concerning the attributes of Deity, or of an expression of the will of God regarding the affairs of men.
The word inspiration is sometimes invested with a signification almost identical with that of revelation, though by origin and early usage it possessed a distinctive meaning. To inspire is literally to animate with the spirit; a man is inspired when under the influence of a power other than his own. Divine inspiration may be regarded as a lower or less directly intensive operation of spiritual influence upon man than is shown in revelation. The difference therefore is rather one of degree than of kind. By neither of these directing processes does the Lord deprive the human subject of agency or individuality, as is proved by the marked peculiarities of style and method characterizing the several books of scripture. Yet, in the giving of revelation, a more direct influence operates upon the human recipient than under the lesser, though no less truly divine, effect of inspiration.
The directness and plainness with which God may communicate with man is dependent upon the conditions of receptivity of the person. One may be susceptible to inspiration in its lower and simpler phases only; another may be so thoroughly responsive to this power as to be capable of receiving direct revelation; and this higher influence again may manifest itself in varying degrees, and with a greater or lesser shrouding of the divine personality. Consider the Lord’s words to Aaron and Miriam, who had been guilty of disrespect toward Moses the revelator: “And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold.”
We have seen that among the most conclusive proofs of the existence of a Supreme Being is that afforded by direct revelation from Him; and that some knowledge of the divine attributes and personality is essential to the rational exercise of faith in God. We can but imperfectly respect an authority whose very existence is a matter of uncertainty with us; therefore, if we are to implicitly trust and truly revere our Creator, we must know something of Him. Though the veil of mortality, with all its thick obscurity, may shut the light of the divine presence from the sinful heart, that separating curtain may be drawn aside and the heavenly light may shine into the righteous soul. By the listening ear, attuned to the celestial music, the voice of God has been heard declaring His personality and will; to the eye that is freed from the motes and beams of sin, single in its search after truth, the hand of God has been made visible; within the soul properly purified by devotion and humility the mind of God has been revealed.
Communication from God to Man-We have no record of a period of time during which an authorized minister of Christ has dwelt on earth, when the Lord did not make known to that servant the divine will concerning his appointed ministry. No man can take upon himself the honor and dignity of the ministry. To become an authorized minister of the Gospel, “a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority,” and those in authority must have been similarly called. When thus commissioned, he speaks by a power greater than his own in preaching the Gospel and in administering the ordinances thereof; he may verily become a prophet unto the people. The Lord has consistently recognized and honored His servants so appointed. He has magnified their office in proportion to their worthiness, making them living oracles of the divine will. This has been true of every dispensation of the work of God.
It is a privilege of the Holy Priesthood to commune with the heavens, and to learn the immediate will of the Lord; this communion may be effected through the medium of dreams and visions, by Urim and Thummim, through the visitation of angels, or by the higher endowment of face to face communication with the Lord. The inspired utterances of men who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost are scripture unto the people. In specific terms the promise was made in olden times that the Lord would recognize the medium of prophecy through which to make His will and purposes known unto man: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Not all men may attain the position of special revelators: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” Such men are oracles of truth, privileged counselors, friends of God.
Revelation in Ancient Times-Unto Adam, the patriarch of the race, to whom were committed the keys of the first dispensation, God revealed His will and gave commandments. While living in a state of innocence prior to the fall, Adam had direct communication with the Lord; then, through transgression the man was driven from Eden, but he took with him some remembrance of his former happy state, including a personal knowledge of the existence and attributes of his Creator. While sweating under the penalty foretold and fulfilled upon him, tilling the earth in a struggle for food, he continued to call upon the Lord. As Adam and his wife, Eve, prayed and toiled, “they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence. And he gave unto them commandments.”
The patriarchs who succeeded Adam were blessed with the gift of revelation in varying degrees. Enoch, the seventh in the line of descent, was particularly endowed. We learn from Genesis that Enoch “walked with God,” and that when he had reached the age of three hundred and sixty-five years “he was not; for God took him.” From the New Testament we learn something more regarding his ministry; and the Writings of Moses furnish us a yet fuller account of the Lord’s dealings with this richly endowed seer. Unto him were made known the plan of redemption, and the prospective history of the race down to the meridian of time, thence to the Millennium and the final judgment. Unto Noah the Lord revealed His intentions regarding the impending deluge; by this prophetic voice the people were warned and urged to repent; disregarding it and rejecting the message, they were destroyed in their iniquity. With Abraham God’s covenant was established; unto him was revealed the course of creative events; and this covenant was confirmed unto Isaac and Jacob.
Through revelation God commissioned Moses to lead Israel from bondage. From the burning bush on Horeb the Lord declared to the man thus chosen: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In all the troublous scenes between Moses and Pharaoh the Lord continued His communications unto His servant, who appeared amidst the glory of the divine endowment as a veritable god unto the heathen king. And throughout the wearisome journey of four decades in the wilderness, the Lord ceased not to honor His prophet. So may we trace the line of revelators-men who have stood, each in his time, as the medium between God and the people, receiving instruction from the heavens and transmitting it to the masses-from Moses to Joshua, and on through the Judges to David and Solomon, thence to John, who was the immediate forerunner of the Messiah.
Christ Himself was a Revelator-Notwithstanding His personal authority, God though He had been and was, while Jesus Christ lived as a man among men He declared His work to be that of One greater than Himself, by whom He had been sent and from whom He received instructions. Note His words: “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” Further: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” And again: “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. And as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.”
The Apostles Likewise, left to bear the burden of the Church after the departure of the Master, looked to heaven for guidance, expected and received the word of revelation to direct them in their exalted ministry. Paul writing to the Corinthians said: “But God hath revealed them [divine truths] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”
John affirms that the book known specifically as The Revelation was not written of his own wisdom, but that it is: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.
Current Revelation Necessary-The scriptures are conclusive as to the fact that, from Adam to John the Revelator, God directed the affairs of His people by personal communication through commissioned servants. As the written word-the record of revelation previously given-grew with time, it became a law unto the people, but in no period was that deemed sufficient. While the revelations of the past are indispensable as guides to the people, showing forth, as they do, the plan and purpose of God’s dealings under particular conditions, they may not be universally and directly applicable to the circumstances of succeeding times. Many of the revealed laws are of general application to all men in all ages; e.g., the commandments-Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not bear false witness-and other injunctions regarding the duty of man toward his fellows, most of which are so plainly just as to be approved by the human conscience even without the direct word of divine command. Other laws may be equally general in application, yet they derive their validity as God-given ordinances from the fact that they have been authoritatively instituted as such. As examples of this class we may consider the requirements concerning the sanctity of the Sabbath, the necessity of baptism as a means of securing forgiveness of sins, the ordinances of confirmation, the sacrament, and others. Revelations of yet another kind are of record, such as have been given to meet the conditions of particular times, and these may be regarded as special, or circumstantial revelations, e.g., the instructions to Noah regarding the building of the ark and the warning of the people; the requirement made of Abraham that he leave the land of his nativity and sojourn in a strange country; the command to Moses, and through him to Israel, relative to the exodus from Egypt; the revelations given to Lehi directing the departure of his company from Jerusalem, their journeying in the wilderness, the building of a ship and the voyage on the great waters to another hemisphere.