17 And now, whether they were mortal or immortal, from the day of their transfiguration, I know not;
18 But this much I know, according to the record which hath been given–they did go forth upon the face of the land, and did minister unto all the people, uniting as many to the church as would believe in their preaching; baptizing them, and as many as were baptized did receive the Holy Ghost.
(3 Nephi 28:17-18)
Just as the first step of repentance is recognizing that we’ve done something wrong, the first step in learning is recognizing what we don’t yet know. I appreciate Mormon’s example in the passage above. He begins by admitting something he doesn’t know: when the Savior promised three of the Nephite disciples that they would not taste of death, did they immediately become immortal beings? Or were they still mortal: technically able to die but protected from death by God’s power?
I’m impressed with Mormon’s candor in acknowledging what he doesn’t know. I’m also impressed that he follows immediately with something he does know for sure: that those Nephite disciples worked hard from that time forth and were very successful missionaries. He tells us later in the chapter that he has met those disciples and they have ministered to him (3 Nephi 28:25-26). He also later tells us later in the chapter that, after writing the passage above, he prayed and learned the answer to his question: the bodies of these Nephites were changed, not into glorified, resurrected bodies, but into bodies which could not die (3 Nephi 28:36-40). But at the moment of writing the passage above, he demonstrates an important principle: we need to be honest about what we don’t know while also being true to what we do know. In the words of Jeffrey R. Holland: “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” (“Lord, I Believe,” General Conference, April 2013).
Today, I will strive to follow Mormon’s example by honestly acknowledging what I don’t know while being true to the things I do know. I will trust that additional knowledge will come over time, and I will seek that knowledge diligently through study, through prayer, and through faith.