Although I rely quite heavily on the instruction I am given by those who have priesthood authority over me, I also realize that they are men, and as such have imperfections just like me. I try to follow the admonition of Paul as he wrote to the Saints in the church of the Thessalonians, with the instruction to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Personal revelation allows us, as children of Heavenly parents, to receive an answer for ourselves, concerning the truthfulness of any instruction given. In fact, it is our responsibility to individually gain a testimony of “all things” we are taught.
Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Many people have a hard time understanding this concept. There have been many occasions where, because of the fallibility of man, many have judged The Church unjustly as an institution because of statements made by men.
One of my favorite stories to illustrate the point I am trying to make is found in History of the Church, Vol. 5, Page 323. It is an incident told by Joseph Smith regarding a sermon given by Orson Hyde, who was one of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time. It states:
At ten a. m. went to meeting. Heard Elder Orson Hyde preach, comparing the sectarian preachers to crows living on carrion, as they were more fond of lies about the Saints than the truth. Alluding to the coming of the Savior, he said, "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, &c. He will appear on a white horse as a warrior, and maybe we shall have some of the same spirit. Our God is a warrior. (John xiv, 23.) It is our privilege to have
the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c."
the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c."
We dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, "They shall be thankfully received."
I believe this incident shows that our leaders can only teach us on a subject, with the understanding they have received up to that point, and continuing revelation allows for those teachings to be verified or corrected. I love the humility that Orson Hyde showed by his willingness to be taught. To me, his ability to receive correction illustrates he truly was a chosen servant of the Lord.
As a result of the incorrect teaching given by Elder Hyde the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, gave us the instruction now contained in Section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
Further information about the Godhead is also then expounded on:
Section 130:14 I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following:
15 Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.
16 I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face.
But more importantly than when the Savior will come is understanding:
Section 130:1 When the Savior shall appear we shall see him as he is. We shall see that he is a man like ourselves.
2 And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.
22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
I believe that these important truths were revealed as a result of further instruction given to Orson Hyde, who at the time did not have this full understanding, and was teaching what he knew on the subject up to this point. Thankfully we have become the recipient of these great truths too, through the power of continuing revelation.
There have been many incidences in our Church history where our leaders have given instruction according to what they had received as truth up to a certain point. Personal revelation has allowed for further instruction to be given and some of those teachings have been corrected in the same way that Joseph corrected Orson. For me, this is the beauty of a living Church, one that grows and progresses just like the individuals that belong to it; consequently I embrace our history and look steadfastly toward the future of receiving further light and knowledge.