10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:10-11.)
Notice that the “greater portion” is enshrined within the mysteries, and the lesser portion is to know nothing of the mysteries. This is not to say those individuals know nothing of the truth, or nothing of the gospel, or do not have a testimony; it is merely to know nothing beyond that. The grand dividing line is that those with the greater portion have not hardened their hearts. Those who harden their hearts eventually know nothing of the mysteries until they are in fact “taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction,” after which they find themselves bound by “the chains of hell.”
The scriptures inform us that there is one great hallmark of those who harden their hearts, which is that they shut out the voice of the Master.
And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7)
And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom. (Doctrine and Covenants 38:6)
Anyone who inhibits the revelatory voice, or even who filters it through incorrect beliefs, is by definition “hardening their hearts”. In this condition they cannot even see, much less understand, the exalting “mysteries” of godliness. They who are caught in this hardened condition, who do not repent, cannot become the “elect of God”. They will never learn the exalting mysteries, reach their fullest potential, or become a part of the latter-day Zion.
These unfortunate folks are left with the non-mysterious, the saving but less-exalting, the commonly known, the oft-spoken and commonly understood “portion of the word.” All of us begin there, but must not remain throughout our lives. As a matter of divine law, the “lesser portion of the word” is the only portion that is spoken out loud; it is the portion which God grants “unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.” (Alma 12:9) This is the gospel portion which we have been taught all of our lives. Very little of the “greater portion” has entered our ears, and if it did, we most probably were unprepared to comprehend it.
There must be an evolution toward spiritual maturity, and the promised blessings flowing from the “greater portion” of the gospel. We all start as spiritual babes, performing our labors and services for service’s sake. We naturally believe what we see and feel, and enjoy the fellowship and rewards of membership. These are glorious things, true things; saving things! Nothing being observed here is meant to denigrate or lessen the power of these things. However, it is not the purpose of the gospel that we should remain in an infant state. We are to become god-like men and women, to company with angels, to have miracles and visions and godly powers commonplace among us. Clearly, we must catch the vision of who we can truly become, the vision of Zion, and pray with all fervency that we can evolve beyond the “lesser portion of the word,” or we shall ever remain outside of the embrace of the vast blessings.
As the latter-day holy scriptures sadly accuse, our minds are (not were—are) darkened by unbelief (which means, among other things, that we have not yet begun to believe in our greater potential), and hence, we are not seeking and finding the greater portion of the word, which is to say, the mysteries of Godliness.
Without these mysteries, these great blessings cannot come, miracles are haphazardly received, the heavens do not open, angels do not descend, the higher ordinances and promises are seen through a glass darkly, and relative darkness settles upon the minds of mankind. It is “relative” because there is the full light of the “lesser portion”, but in the absence of the greater light and glory that is being rejected because of unbelief, that which remains is only a dusky portion of the brighter light that should have been.
Tomorrow we will consider the Greater Portion of the Word, for there is a glorious and greater portion which is readily available to enlighten every part of our pathway, bestowing every hoped for blessing we can imagine – and many we cannot without actually experiencing them.