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Revelation - Elder Oaks

posted Mar 17, 2017 01:07:03 by HelenPirtle
Here is an excellent talk by Elder Oaks on receiving revelation. I've included just his final points. He gave eight points about receiving revelation. The whole talk can be found at
https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/voice-my-servants/revelation


"First, we should understand what can be called the principle of “responsibility in revelation.” Our Heavenly Father’s house is a house of order, where His servants are commanded to “act in the office in which [they] appointed” (D&C 107:99). This principle applies to revelation. Only the President of the Church receives revelation to guide the entire Church. Only the stake president receives revelation for the special guidance of the stake. The person who receives revelation for the ward is the bishop. For a family, it is the priesthood leadership of the family. Leaders receive revelation for their own areas of responsibility. Individuals can receive revelation to guide their own lives.

But when one person purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own area of responsibility—such as a Church member who claims to have revelation to guide the entire Church or a person who claims to have a revelation to guide another person over whom he or she has no presiding authority according to the order of the Church—you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord. “There are counterfeit signals.” [9] Satan is a great deceiver, and he is the source of some of these spurious revelations. Others are imagined.

If a revelation is outside the limits of your specific responsibility, you know it is not from the Lord and you are not bound by it. I have heard of cases where a young man told a young woman she should marry him because he had received a revelation that she was to be his eternal companion. If this is a true revelation, it will be confirmed directly to the woman if she seeks to know. In the meantime, she is under no obligation to heed it. She should seek her own guidance and make up her own mind. The man can receive revelation to guide his own actions, but he cannot properly receive revelation to direct hers. She is outside his jurisdiction.

What about those times when we seek revelation and do not receive it? We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment. We cannot force spiritual things. It must be so. Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even in every important act. We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith.

Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answer to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. Perhaps we have asked for guidance in choosing between alternatives that are equally acceptable or equally unacceptable. I suggest that there is not a right and wrong to every question. To many questions, there are only two wrong answers or two right answers. Thus, a person who seeks guidance on which of two different ways he should pursue to get even with a person who has wronged him is not likely to receive a revelation. Neither is a person who seeks guidance on a choice he will never have to make because some future event will intervene, such as a third alternative that is clearly preferable. On one occasion, my wife and I prayed earnestly for guidance on a decision that seemed very important. No answer came. We were left to proceed on our own best judgment. We could not imagine why the Lord had not aided us with a confirming or restraining impression. But it was not long before we learned that we did not have to make a decision on that question because something else happened that made a decision unnecessary. The Lord would not guide us in a selection that made no difference.

No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord. Thus, there are times when we can serve productively in two different fields of labor. Either answer is right. Similarly, the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every question to the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. That strikes me as improper. I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence and experience He has given us to make these kinds of choices. When a member asked the Prophet Joseph Smith for advice on a particular matter, the Prophet stated: “It is a great thing to inquire at the hands

of God, or to come into His presence: and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence.” [10]

Of course, we are not always able to judge what is trivial. If a matter appears of little or no consequence, we should proceed on the basis of our own judgment. If the choice is important for reasons unknown to us, such as the speaking invitation I mentioned earlier or a choice between two cans of vegetables when one contains a hidden poison, the Lord will intervene and give us guidance. Where a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and where we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking its guidance, we can be sure that we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal. The Lord will not leave us unassisted when a choice is important to our eternal welfare."
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6 replies
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Sarah Hunter said Mar 17, 2017 03:29:26
Thanks for sharing. I remember this talk because I've struggled with defining revelation versus inspiration. I will occasionally get inspiration for someone I'm close to, and my brother said it was inappropriate because "we don't receive revelation for others."

I was trying to make sense of it, but I think it came down to a couple things.

First of all, I'm always listening, where others are not. Secondly, sometimes I could have a hand in making something come to pass. Thirdly, it has helped my testimony.

For example, I was praying about whom I needed to be praying for. A sister in my ward came into my head. I then let the spirit direct my words, and I prayed that her ancestors would help strengthen her back so she could carry her load. Then I saw them around her, and got the impression they are waiting for temple work to be done.

I still haven't told her. In fact, I went to the RS pres and told her what I saw. She asked me to come with her to the sisters house and get her set up on Family Search. It's an odd thing really, to have a lovely spiritual experience, and be scared of the source, or that I will be condemned by my brothers and sisters for breaking the commandments.
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MikeBarbS said Mar 17, 2017 03:39:35
I really like this! Thanks for sharing!
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MichaelClaridge said Mar 17, 2017 04:20:53
Sarah,
Sometimes well-meaning Mormonisms are believed to be truisms, but are actually false, authored by no other than loserfur himself. I’m going to have to disagree with your brother on this one.

What are our scriptures but stories of people who receive revelation for others? Why? Probably because the other people just aren’t listening. So who do they on the other side turn to? Those who are listening.

But where I do agree with your brother is in the appropriateness of just blurting out to the other person that you received inspiration/revelation/sudden strokes of ideas/dreams/etc. (they’re all the same in my book, the author being the Holy Spirit) on their behalf.

This is where we have to use wisdom, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, and all those other godlinesses, especially if the person is not under our domain (dominion). But since the inspiration/revelation/sudden strokes of ideas/dreams/etc. came from the Holy Spirit you can always expect an appropriate way to deliver the message will be given to you, perhaps not right away, but you can rest assured if you remain faithful, the way will be presented to you. Which is all part of the schooling you will receive as a “chosen vessel” of the Lord, when dealing with the residue (Moroni 10:29-31).

And please, always remember the most important of all the godlinesses is humility. Nothing turns off inspiration/revelation/sudden strokes of ideas/dreams/etc. faster than a person who thinks they are something special.

Elder Oaks said, “The Lord will not leave us unassisted when a choice is important to our eternal welfare." I would add, that the Lord will many times use others to do His work, because we are not paying attention, or we are too blind to see, or too deaf to hear. And thank goodness for those “chosen vessels” who the angels can trust with important inspirations/revelations/sudden strokes of ideas/dreams/etc. on our behalf!
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Sarah Hunter said Mar 17, 2017 05:06:38
Perfectly said. Thanks Michael! There were times when I couldn't constrain myself from telling the person what they were supposed to hear, but often when I have a choice, I mull over it, sometimes too long. I made a decision recently that if I needed to, I would counsel with the bishop or the RS president first.
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CindyLigouri said Mar 17, 2017 13:41:16
Once upon a time I went to the temple with a very good friend. She was praying about her stuff and I had issues that I was concerned about as well. When we got into the Celestial room we were sitting there together and she said to me "Heavenly Father wants me to tell you . . . . " She was more than a little perturbed that she got answers for me and not herself. She is very spiritually attune and I was having a hard time hearing the Spirit's voice. No judgement, just cautioning to not put the Lord into a box.
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BeckyG. said Mar 17, 2017 22:54:42
LOL -- first part reminds me of a John Bytheway talk where a young man approached a young woman and told her he had a revelation that they would be married. Her response was, "When I have the same revelation, I'll come find you."

Revelation is personal to each individual and will NEVER be given to take the right of AGENCY from another. That's just not how it works. However, I'm sure there are times revelations come and we need to intercede on behalf of another...not by force but maybe by suggestions or just comments.

I once was visiting teaching a sister and suddenly wanted to blurt out that I was so sorry about her divorce... problem was... she hadn't told anyone yet... I was hearing things that were none of my business. Not sure why I heard it and never did tell her I knew, but a month or so later it was made public.

Talk about confused mee...sometimes it's hard to know what to do with the voice that comes into my head. :'(
Faith not Fear!!
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