On February 27, 1833, the Lord promised that those who obey His commandments will “find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19).
A week and a half later, He instructed Joseph Smith not to produce a translation of the Apocrypha. Joseph had been studying the King James Version of the Bible and making clarifying edits to the text. (See “Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,” on churchofjesuschrist.org.) The Apocrypha are a set of books which are sometimes included in Bibles but are generally excluded. The word comes from the Greek word apokruphos (ἀπόκρυφος), which means “hidden away.” The Lord told Joseph that these books contain many things that are true and many things that are not true. He wanted each reader to take responsibility for distinguishing truth from error:
Whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;
And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom.Doctrine and Covenants 91:4-5
Multiple times during His mortal ministry, the Savior emphasized the effort required by His listeners to understand Him correctly. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” He said (Matthew 11:15, Matthew 13:9, 43, Mark 4:9, 23, Mark 7:16, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35). And when Matthew relates the Savior’s prophecy of His Second Coming, he inserts the parenthetical phrase “whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15).
After describing the destruction which preceded the Savior’s visit to the American continent, Mormon gave the same directive to his readers: “Whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them” (3 Nephi 10:14). After sharing some of the Savior’s teachings, Mormon indicated that what he had written was only the beginning of what his readers could learn:
When they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.3 Nephi 26:9
And Mormon’s son Moroni gave the same promise to his readers. Quoting the Savior, he said:
Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.
Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.Ether 4:13-14
Today, I will strive to have “ears to hear” what God wants me to understand. I will strive to fulfill my responsibility as a learner by paying close attention, following the guidance of the Spirit, and being willing to believe.