I’ve recently been pondering a couple of questions:
What do I really know in regards to God’s will for me?
How can we answer the question about religion?
What is the truth?
The common thread between these questions is our desire to know what is real. We all seek to grasp something that is unwavering, something that we can hold on to, something firm to build ourselves upon, something absolute. We yearn for truth.
Our thirst for truth, and the burning desire to find is part of our eternal nature.
Each time as I contemplate this and the plausible answers to these questions, my mind continuously is led to and finds rest on the idea of “The Word of God.“
We find in scripture several analogies and synonyms for the Word of God. In this article I will touch on only a few of them.
The Word as a Double-Edged Sword
In the New Testament the apostle Paul admonishes the Ephesian saints and tells them to put on the whole armor of God. He says,
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
To the Hebrews he also wrote:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The author of Revelation in the New Testament writes:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw…one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. (Revelation 1:10-16)
In modern-day revelation, the Lord spoke this through the prophet Joseph Smith:
Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word. (Doctrine & Covenants 14:2)
Finally, the ancient prophet and historian, Mormon, who compiled the Book of Mormon, makes this observation
And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Alma 31:5)
So we see from this final example how the Word of God was more powerful than the sword, for when we hear truth and receive it through the Holy Ghost, it peirces to the core of our soul, which has a greater and deeper influence on us than the threat or intimidation of the “sword.”
But what does the two-edge part mean?
If we contemplate Christ’s ministry, He being a perfect man who preached the Word of God, we see how it had the effect of bringing peace, comfort, and joy to those who were righteous, yet that same word pricked the hearts of those who had the need to repent and change. This is what it means. This is how God’s Word is as a double-edged sword, that will ultimately be the salvation of those who abide by it, and the condemnation of those who reject it.
The Word as the Iron Rod
Lehi, an ancient American prophet found in the Book of Mormon, told his family about a vision he had:
And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood.
And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree. (1 Nephi 8:10-24)
Lehi’s son, Nephi, later received the same vision and the interpretation thereof, of which he wrote this:
And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God. (1 Nephi 11:25)
Just as in their time, we need something to hold on to, even to cling to, to get us through mortality; through the dark mists of the enticing philosophies of men, and back to our heavenly home. The Word of God is that thing that we must cling to; the thing that keeps us on the straight and narrow path.
The Word as Revelation
The prophet Joseph Smith taught:
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. (Articles of Faith)
It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation.
Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. … No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy (see Revelation 19:10).
Jesus in His teachings says, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:18.) What rock? Revelation.
I solemnly declare as with the voice of a trump, that God still speaks to mankind, the same way He did with those of old or the way that He always has—through a living prophet and by the voice of His Spirit, or the Holy Ghost.
Consider how many different interpretations there are of the Bible, for example, and thus the vast amount of churches that exist. Which doctrine is right? And how can we know it? Again, referring back to the prophet Joseph Smith who had precisely these questions in his youth, found the truthfulness of this scripture by his own experience:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
Furthermore, the scriptures alone do not address specifically the issues and challenges that we face collectively in today’s world. For this we need continued Revelation from God, through a prophet as He has declared:
For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.
And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.
But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. (Doctrine & Covenants 43:2-4)
We also receive personal revelation, or the Word of God to us, through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost bares witness to us personally and individually of the reality of Jesus Christ, and of the veracity of His Atonement. He also testifies of all truth to our hearts and minds as we openly receive it. In these moments our spiritual eyes are opened, and our minds expanded to understand things as they really are. Doubt is completely relinquished by light and we feel a great sense of peace and joy, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
The Word is the gospel of Jesus Christ
This is where we come full circle.
In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made.
In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men;
And the light shineth in the world, and the world perceiveth it not. (John 1:1-5)
After His death and resurrection, Jesus visited His disciples and others according to the will of the Father. On the occasion that he visited some of His “other sheep” He declared this:
Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;
Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:13-22)
And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.
For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept. (Doctrine &a Covenants 98:11-13)
The Word of God is truth; much of it absolute to all of us, and partially relative to each of us. We indeed can rely upon the word of God, with confidence that by it He will guide us to the our greatest potential and to the happiness that we seek, and that persists. May we take courage to cleave unto it, to embrace it, and to live according to it!