My personal motto has long been: “Education is the key.” I believe that education, or the acquisition of truth and knowledge, is the key to any positive change, healthy growth, or legitimate progress, in the life of an individual, a group, or a nation. Without knowledge, what is life but mental bondage? Without the light of truth, our spirits wither and life is darkness.
In the Book of Amos, in the Old Testament, the Lord foretold:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
A lack of truth, in this analogy, is the equivalent of a famine, or a dearth of water. The person lacking spiritual truth is as a wanderer with no water, no food, and no compass; and hopelessly lost in a scorched and barren wasteland.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul likewise forewarned of “perilous times” when people would be “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1,7).
Anciently, a proverb chastised its hearer in these words:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
In the same vein, the Lord reproved Israel through His prophet Hosea:
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. . . .
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hosea 4:1,6).
Why is it so damaging to reject knowledge and forsake truth? Why is a lack of learning and knowledge likened to famine, death, apostasy, and peril? To answer these questions, perhaps it is wise to define truth, and to discuss the origin of light.
Modern revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith defines truth thus:
“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24).
Logically, this is the only definition truth can have. Truth just is. It is eternal. It is unchanging. It is accurate and faithful, resolute and unbending. Truth stretches both directions into eternity. Truth is a knowledge and comprehension of things in their true state.
Truth is in no way subjective. It is not subject to personal interpretation. It is not biased, and it has no agenda other than to declare itself in its pure, unadulterated form. Truth is truth.
What about light? What is light and where does it originate? Again, we turn to modern revelation:
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36).
“He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
“Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ” (D&C 88:6-7).
Light is intelligence. Light is also truth. This intelligence, this truth, is Christ’s power. Light and truth are always coupled, and they always come from the Lord. The Lord confirmed this numerous times during His ministry. We read:
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Light, truth, and intelligence, then, are attributes of Deity. The followers of Christ become, in the words of Paul, “the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Christ further taught that it is in the doing that we learn the most. Said He:
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
Jumping forward to modern scripture, we find additional confirmation that obedience (i.e. the doing of which our Lord spoke) is a key to gaining knowledge:
“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers” (D&C 93:39).
Of the Devil, the father of lies, the mortal Messiah explained, “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). Satan, though masquerading under his title Lucifer, meaning “light bearer,” is wholly devoid of light and truth. He is filled with the blackest darkness. He has not only openly rejected the light, and its true source, but has declared unremitting war against it.
How does Satan persuade mankind to disobey Heavenly laws? He deceives. He lies. He tricks. Deception is his chief tool, and his most effective weapon. The revelation’s counsel that “Light and truth forsake that evil one” (D&C 93:37) is poignant.
What conclusions can we draw from these points? First, it is obvious that education is vital to mankind. Without it, we perish spiritually and wander aimlessly to and fro. Next, the above scriptures demonstrate that the goal of any good education is the acquisition of truth and light. Truth, remember, is not the opinions of professors, the hypotheses of scholars, or the theories of men. Rather, truth has one source – God. A textbook can point you in the right direction, but, in the end, all truth comes to mankind via the Holy Spirit, whose mission it is to testify of truth. When light and intelligence pour into us, we know we have found truth.
Let us each strive to be “children of light” and to follow Christ that we may always walk in the “light of life.” To gain an education, one does not need to attend college, lavish money on tutors, or have any formal training. Rather, truth is revealed to the sincere in heart, and to those who cling to, walk in, and obey the Lord’s commands. Ironic as it may seem, Freedom comes through obedience, and learning through submission. Let us all forsake the evil one, and learn to love the Light.
May 30, 2017