Personal Revelation (Pt 2/5): Types of Personal Revelation

“Sunday Sermon”

A wonderful distinctive feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the belief in continuing personal revelation.  Baptized members of the church receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  This gift entitles every member to receive the constant guidance of the Holy Ghost and personal revelation.

There are different types of personal revelation

The types of personal revelation include spiritual promptings, dreams or visions, voices, and heavenly visitations

Dallin H. Oaks: “Revelation is communication from God to man.  It can occur in many different ways.  Some prophets like Moses and Joseph Smith have talked with God face to face.  Some personal have had personal communication with angels.  Other revelations have come, as Elder James Talmage described, “through the dreams of sleep or in waking visions of the mind. “In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind, by sudden enlightenment, by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action.”(The New Ear, Sep 1982, p 38) 

Bruce R. McConkie: “Now I say that we are entitled to revelation.  I say that every member of the Church, independent and irrespective of any position he may hold, is entitled to get revelation from the Holy Ghost; he is entitled to entertain angels; he is entitled to view the visions of eternity; and if we would like to go the full measure, he is entitled to see God the same way that any prophet in literal and actual reality has seen the face of Deity.” (BYU Speeches, Oct 11, 1966)

Most personal revelation comes through the promptings and still small voice of the Spirit

Boyd K. Packer: “The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth’ (1 Sam. 3:10.)” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53)

Dallin H. Oaks: “Visions do happen. Voices are heard from beyond the veil. I know this. But these experiences are exceptional. … Most of the revelation that comes to leaders and members of the Church comes by the still, small voice or by a feeling rather than by a vision or a voice that speaks specific words we can hear. I testify to the reality of that kind of revelation, which I have come to know as a familiar, even daily, experience to guide me in the work of the Lord.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 14).

Thomas S. Monson: “In the performance of our responsibilities, I have learned that when we heed a silent prompting and act upon it without delay, our Heavenly Father will guide our footsteps and bless our lives and the lives of others. I know of no experience more sweet or feelings more precious than to heed a prompting, only to discover that the Lord has answered another’s prayer through you.” (Thomas S. Monson, Gen. Conf., October 5, 2002

Personal revelation comes through thoughts accompanied by feelings

D&C 8: 2-3 : “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation . . ..” 

One feeling that often accompanies revelation is a growing enthusiasm within.  The word “enthusiasm” is of Greek origin, and literally means “God within us.”

Personal revelation comes as a confirmatory “burning” in our bosom.

D&C 9:8:  “Behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” 

I have often felt strong powerful feelings in my chest as I have pondered the impressions of the Spirit.  Most often these feelings have been enthusiastic, comforting, or peaceful.   However, I have never felt an actual “burning,” or what anti-Mormon’s mockingly refer to as “Mormon heartburn.” 

Thus, I was reassured to find quotes about this “burning” from two experts on revelation. 

Boyd K. Packer: “This burning in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm light shining within your being.” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60).

Dallin H. Oaks: “I have met persons who told me they have never had a witness from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt their bosom ‘burn within’ them. What does a ‘burning in the bosom’ mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity.” (Ensign, Mar. 1997,13).

Personal revelation comes through peace of mind and comfort of heart

Sometimes the Prince of Peace speaks peace to our minds, and the Comforter enfolds us in comfort. 

D&C 6:23: “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?  What greater witness can you have than from God?” 

I have personally received this type of revelation most frequently in the temple, the House of the Lord.

Personal revelation comes through enlightenment

Another source of revelation is intellectual or spiritual enlightenment.

D&C 6:15: “Behold, thou knowest that thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and now I tell thee these things that thou mayest know that you has been enlightened by the Spirit of truth.”  

D&C 11:12-14: “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good – yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit which shall enlighten your mind and which shall fill your soul with joy.”

Joseph Smith: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas; so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; those things that were presented unto you minds by the Spirit of God  will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the  principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”  (TPJS p. 324)

Occasionally, while studying the scriptures, pondering the gospel, or giving a talk or lesson, a sudden insight comes to my mind.  The more I become impressed with the idea, the more certain I am that is came from the Lord, not from me.  When I receive such revelatory insights, I find myself in the unusual position of taking notes during my own lessons.  This is a wonderful gift.

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