There are a few important ideas that define my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. These are the ideas that make the Gospel whole, and not just a group of disconnected thoughts. Until these were part of the core of my understanding, I was left with disconnected dots and no overall harmony from which to orient myself.
First and foremost is that we are not to follow any man or men. No man is worthy of discipleship. Not me, not another. There is only one who is worth following. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14: 16). Beside Him there is no other person who can save you (Mosiah 3: 17).
This first principle is what has motivated all I have written. It is a mistake to think there is a departure in Passing the Heavenly Gift from the topic begun in The Second Comforter: Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. They are both necessary. They do not reflect a change in my testimony or commitment to the truth, only an elaboration on the essential core principle that we are not going to be saved by following men. Rather, you will become “darkened in your mind” if you do so. (TPJS p. 237.)
Second and equally important, it is not the depth of your study that matters, but the quality of your connection with heaven that matters. Expounding doctrine is not only insufficient, it is oftentimes a distraction from what matters. We go from unbelief to belief when we learn truth. Not every source, including institutional sources, can be trusted to tell you the truth. Only the light of Christ, followed by the Holy Ghost is a reliable guide to distinguish between unbelief and belief. We go from belief to faith as we take action consistent with belief in truth. Faith is a principle of power. It will lead you to receive angels who still minister to those of a sound mind, not given to flights of fantasy or unstable behavior (Moroni 7: 30). We are brought from faith to knowledge as angels prepare us through their ministry. (Moroni 7: 31; Moroni 7: 25; Alma 32: 23.) Knowledge comes from contact with Jesus Christ. (Ether 3: 19.) This is the knowledge that saves, and nothing else. (John 17: 3.) The idea that knowledge of Christ through His personal appearance to you is now unavailable is an old sectarian notion and is false. (John 14: 23; D&C 130: 3.)
Third, there is no written record, including the scriptures, which are able to tell you all you must know. You can only know the truth by having it revealed to you from heaven itself. (D&C 76: 114-118.) This is the reason Joseph said if you could gaze into heaven for five minutes you would know more than you would by reading everything that has ever been written on the subject. (TPJS p. 324.) Either you do as James says, and ask of God, or you will forever remain ignorant of the only knowledge which can save a man. (JS-H 1: 13, referring to James 1: 5.)
Fourth, the truth is intended to save us. We should welcome corrections. Too often, however, we are offended and think the truth is a hard thing to endure. (1 Ne. 16: 1-3.) That is a product of pride and arrogance. It is impossible to learn what must be learned unless we are willing to be corrected. (Mosiah 3: 19.) Therefore, only the qualified will arrive at the gates, because the rest are unwilling to take the trip required of them.
Fifth, this is a personal journey which each must take for themselves. It cannot be shared. You must approach the Throne yourself. Joseph was alone when he met the Father and Son. Moses was alone when he ascended the Mount to meet the Lord. Enoch was alone when he was caught up to heaven. Elijah was alone on the mountain when the whirlwind, lightning and earthquake preceded the Lord’s own voice. Daniel alone saw the vision of the Lord. Paul alone saw the light. Nephi alone saw his father’s vision. Enos was alone in the wilderness in his encounter with God. Abraham was alone when the Lord spoke to him. Jacob slept alone when the ladder to heaven descended for him. You will also be alone should the Lord come to visit you. This cannot be borrowed from another.
These are the core. This core is what faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost are meant to bring about. The religion of heaven always involves heaven. It does not involve men and administration and popularity. It is solitary, between you and God. The proud, however, are content to proclaim their righteousness and sit in judgment of others. They live without God in the world (Mormon 5: 16), and their end will be destruction. They think their own imagination is revelation, and they foolishly value only their conceit. (Proverbs 26: 11-12.)
I will never flatter you. But I will never lie to you, either. My faith in the Gospel is stronger now than the day I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My fidelity to the church is greater now than it has ever been. It offered me baptism and I gladly accepted. If offered me scriptures, and I gladly accepted. It offered me ordination, laying on hands, washings, anointings, covenants and sacraments, and I gladly accepted them all. It gives me fellowship, and I value it. But my faith is in Christ alone.