Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lifelong Learning

                We lived in heaven before we came to earth.  While in our pre-mortal existence, we listened as our Heavenly Father present his plan for us to become like Him and to receive a fullness of joy.  This plan is known in the scriptures as “the plan of salvation.”  The plan of salvation – also known as the plan of happiness and the plan of mercy - is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and includes the Creation of the earth, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel.  Moral agency, the ability to make choices and to act for ourselves, is an essential part of the plan. 

                As part of His plan, Heavenly Father arranged for His children to come to earth in order to gain knowledge and be tested to see if we would be obedient in all things.  He wanted us to have the opportunity to learn and become more like Him.  He did not just send us away and forget about us.  He is very near to us, and He will teach us what we need to know if we will be obedient and teachable.  He will teach us line upon line, precept upon precept, throughout our lives.  He also expects us to use the knowledge we gain to bless others and to build up His kingdom on earth.

                As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in education.  We believe that we should gain knowledge by study and also by seeking knowledge from the Holy Ghost.  We believe that our education should begin while we are very young and should continue throughout our lives.   Alma, another ancient American prophet, taught his sons to “learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 37:35).

                The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the following counsel to the youth of the Church:  “The Lord wants you to educate your mind and improve your skills and abilities.  Education will help you to be an influence for good in the world.  It will help you better provide for yourself, your loved ones, and those in need.
                “Be willing to work diligently and make sacrifices to obtain learning.  Education is an investment that brings great rewards.  You live in a competitive world where a good education opens the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed to you.
                “Maintain an enthusiasm for learning throughout your life.  Find joy in continuing to learn about yourself, other people, and the world around you.  Study the words of the Lord, and continue learning about your Heavenly Father’s plan.  Make seminary an important part of your total education.”

                Heavenly Father expects us to continue learning throughout our lives on earth, and He included the need for continual learning as part of His plan of happiness for His children.  Through His prophets, God has given the following counsel about the importance of learning.

                Nephi, an ancient American prophet, wrote the following:  “Wo be unto him that shall say:  We have received the word of God and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough!
                “For behold, thus saith the Lord God:  I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts , and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 28:29-30).

                The Lord’s promise to teach us “line upon line” as we study and live what we learn was repeated in modern days:  “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; and I will try you and prove you herewith” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:11-12).

                Alma also taught, “It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
                “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.
                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” (Book of Mormon, Alma 12:9-11).

                The counsel to be obedient, teachable, and continually learning throughout our lives was repeated in our day:  “Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:40).

                God wants us to learn all that we can in order that we will be prepared to magnify our callings and do our part to build His kingdom:  “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
                “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.
                “Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms –
                “That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:77-80).

                President Brigham Young taught, “[Our] religion … prompts [us] to search diligently after knowledge.  There is no other people in existence more eager to see, hear, learn and understand truth.”

                Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated, “Our quest for truth should be as broad as our life’s activities and as deep as our circumstances permit.  A learned Latter-day Saint should seek to understand the important religious, physical, social, and political problems of the day.  The more knowledge we have of heavenly laws and earthly things, the greater influence we can exert for good on those around us and the safer we will be from scurrilous and evil influences that may confuse and destroy us.”

                As you can see from the above quotes, Latter-day Saints believe in education and continual learning until the end of our lives on earth.  We believe that we can take all the knowledge and experience with us when we leave this earth and that we will be blessed for our education.  I know that we can bless our families and our associates by gaining knowledge of both temporal and spiritual matters.  I know that we should all become lifelong learners.

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