Personal Revelation

On the 13th of November, 1835, Joseph was instructing, and made the following comment (which has been often repeated:

“[I]f God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves.”  (JS Papers; Journals Vol. 1, p. 98.)

This statement has been quoted as a basis to support the position that any person’s revelation should NEVER be shared with another person; other than of course a revelation given to the church president.  The statement needs to be understood, however, in light of later statements recorded by Joseph in the same volume of the JS Papers.


On page 170 Joseph recorded that “angels ministered unto them, as well as myself.”  A little further down on the same page:  “My scribe …saw in a vision the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion.”  Still on the same page: “The vision of heaven was opened to these also, some of them saw the face of the Savior; and others were ministered unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophesy and revelation was poured out in mighty power.”


On page 171 Joseph recorded that those who were present “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired on the preceding evening, while attending to the ordinance of the holy anointing.”


On page 174 Joseph recorded that his brother, William, “saw the heavens opened and the Lord’s host protecting the Lord’s anointed.”


On page 182 Joseph recorded that Zebedee Coltrin “saw a vision of the Lord’s House– and others were filled with the spirit and spake in tongues and prophesied.”  Later on that same page, in footnote 361, this is included:  “Oliver Cowdery also recorded that ‘many saw visions, many prophesied, and many spake in tongues.'” citing to Oliver’s Diary for 6 Feb. 1836.


It is apparent that Joseph’s comment did not result in these early Saints not speaking of the manifestations they received.  Nor did Joseph exhibit any disapproval or concern about hearing of others speaking of their spiritual manifestations.  His comment, therefore, needs to be understood in the context of the overall manner in which spiritual experiences were experienced and shared among the early church, even within a couple of months of the statement used to justify criticism of any person saying anything about any manifestation they received.


Oddly, I do not think anyone should share anything with anyone else unless the Lord, who gives manifestations, directs.  When He does, then I think objections are made at the peril of disrespecting the Lord’s command.  (See e.g., Alma 8: 25; 3 Ne. 23: 9–where the Lord required some of what Samuel had said to be added to their scriptures which the Nephites had neglected to record.)

6 Responses to “Personal Revelation

  • Knowing how busy you must be, I try to limit my questions (and am appreciative of the ones you answer). That said, I have a question for you.

    You have mentioned having a scale of how important things are and that sometimes you move things from one place to another on that scale. Some things are essential to our exaltation while others are not. Could you give us an idea of the things you feel are of the utmost importance as far as our exaltation is concerned? Obviously we should know most of these things, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

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  • DK: Thanks for pointing out the typo. It’s been corrected.

    Russ:
    1. Faith
    2. Repentance
    3. Baptism
    4. Gift of the Holy Ghost
    5. Second Comforter which then leads to:
    6. Fullness of Gospel

  • “Oddly, I do not think anyone should share anything with anyone else unless the Lord, who gives manifestations, directs.”

    My understanding and experience is just the opposite. Whatever the Lord tells us can be freely shared with anyone (Matt. 10: 8), unless He commands us otherwise (Alma 12: 9). Without a command to withhold information, the Lord leaves it up to us to decide whether it is wisdom to share or not. There are other times, though, in which information is communicated to us and we are commanded to share it.

    I have had experiences in the latter (being commanded to share) and in the first (it being my decision whether or not to impart the information), but never have I been put under a commandment not to share, except as it pertains to the things of the temple.

    Personally, I wouldn’t give advice to people not to share what the Lord has told them if they haven’t been told by Him to keep their mouths shut. Each person on their own can make the determination of the wisdom of sharing, based upon their own, personal situation. A general rule, such as the one you recommend, if followed, may actually work against the work of the Lord. These days are, after all, those in which sons and daughters are supposed to be prophesying, etc. (Joel 2: 28).

    LDS Anarchist

  • LDS Anarchist (a name I like, by the way), the line I draw relates to what someone has received. Once they have crossed a point involving things which are “most sacred” (as I define in Beloved Enos) then the rule I suggest is appropriate. Bearing testimony about truths learned for the most part would be appropriate as you suggest.

  • Nice to see you here ldsanarchist! Your post “LDS Weep Not For Zion” is one of the first things I read that woke me up! Thanks!

    Click his name in his post to see his website.