Personal revelation is surely the word of God in its purest and simplest form: unfiltered, unedited, untranslated, pure, intimate, specific, and direct. It is the essence of faith, hope, charity, and prophecy. Even in its least significant forms, it unerringly points to the true north of light and truth, and leads us away from evil and darkness.
Any person who grasps hold of personal revelation as their rod of iron, never letting go, obeying every prompting, will walk unerringly through the mists of satanic darkness and arrive at and dine upon the fruits of the tree of life.
They will also recognize and rejoice in all other sources of the “word of God.”
This has always been true, and always will be. It will never fail – indeed it cannot fail. It is the spiritual rod of iron that withstands the buffetings of everything Satan can muster against it, and still it guides those who cling to it to the precious fruits, without fail. Additionally, all whose lives are guided by personal revelation are led to fall down and glorify God, as Nephi indicated they would.
We know personal revelation is essential to our exaltation, and all true seekers struggle to receive it. At times, however, it seems as if the heavens are made of stone, and the silence is deafening. We struggle with prayer and satisfy ourselves that the silence means “no,” when in reality it means we have not learned to receive answers to our prayers. We wade through life’s trials seemingly alone, desperately needing divine guidance, and failing to pierce the heavens, we content ourselves by assuming that only the prophets do it differently. We puzzle out our problems in our minds, arrive at a conclusion, and pray for confirmation. When we hear nothing, we take it for divine indifference and permission to proceed with our plans. We pride ourselves on having received guidance, when in fact we have not, and are only groping in the darkness, pursuing our own agenda instead of the Lord’s.
The truth of the matter is that the Lord wants to guide us in our lives, and actually does so. The problem is we fail to hear most of what He says. Only an occasional shout from the heavens gets through, while the quiet whisperings of truth remain unheard.
Personal revelation is mother’s milk to the spiritual, and manna to the righteous. To those spiritually reborn it is as natural as speech, and as beautiful as choirs of angels. It is neither difficult nor sporadic, and is available to every man, woman, and child who lives.
Personal revelation begins as our conscience, and if we learn to give heed to it, it expands greatly after the gift of the Holy Ghost is given. It is neither reserved for the perfected, nor is it only for times of great crisis.
Revelation is, however, very demanding. Even the most seemingly insignificant communication from the Lord must be acted upon courageously, and without complaint, or the heavens remain silent for a time. The Lord does not take revelation lightly, and neither must we. If we attain unto this precious gift and follow it meticulously, it will lead us to the precious fruits of the tree of life and far beyond. If we fail to do so, we shall forever remain in spiritual mediocrity.
The purpose of this book is to help us recognize revelation, and how to make it grow into a life-giving force in our lives. It is essential that we first learn to recognize and obey that which we already have before we can expect to be given anything greater. We will discuss how to do all these things after we finish discovering what the remainder of the vision of the tree of life symbolizes.
Perhaps the hardest thing to learn about personal revelation is that it begins as the voice of the conscience. Every person knows what it is like to be prompted by their conscience to not do something. Fewer ever recognize the promptings to do something. It is the positive promptings which are the beginnings, the seeds of revelation. Just like the conscience, they come without fanfare or heralding trumpets. No angels sing, no glorious lights from heaven, no burning in the bosom, or visions of eternity occur; just a still small voice. The only way you know it is actually revelation is that it prompts you to do something good, such as to say your prayers, to do some kindness, to share, to give, to expand and grow.
John Taylor related this exchange with the prophet Joseph Smith:
I well remember a remark Joseph Smith made to me upwards of forty years ago. Said he, “Elder Taylor, you have been baptized, you have had hands laid upon your head for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and you have been ordained to the holy Priesthood. Now, if you will continue to follow the leadings of that spirit, it will always lead you right. Sometimes it might be contrary to your judgment; never mind that, follow its dictates; and if you be true to its whisperings it will in time become in you a principle of revelation, so that you will know all things.” (Journal of Discourses, 19:153-54)
Hearing and obeying the voice of the conscience/Holy Spirit is the most important and powerful step you can take toward beginning your spiritual journey in earnest.
— John Pontius, “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence”