Jacob 4:12-13 — LeGrand Baker — Truth and Freedom

Jacob 4:12-13 — LeGrand Baker — Truth and Freedom

When Pilate asked the Saviour, “What is truth?” he either did not wait for an answer, or, observing the expression on Jesus’ face, chose not to pursue the question. Asking that question to Jesus could evoke only one correct answer: “I Am.” If that answer had been given, it would have been both the name/title of Jesus as Jehovah, and also the most complete possible answer to Pilate’s question, for the Saviour is the very personification of Truth. Perhaps Jesus did not reply because his answer would have been too big for Pilate to recognize, never mind, to comprehend.

Jacob addressed the same question when he wrote:

12   And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?
13   Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old. (Jacob 4:12-13 )

Within Jacob’s words, bracketed between “attain to a perfect knowledge” and “these things are manifested unto us plainly” is a definition of “truth.” The definition he gives is that the Spirit speaks “of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be.” Twenty-five hundred years later, in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph, the Lord reiterated that same concept by saying, “truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.” (D&C 93:21-28)

As far as I can tell, what both Jacob and the Lord are saying is “truth” is the knowledge of the constancy of reality – as it was, is, will be. One can have a knowledge of things which are not real – like the non-science of alchemy, the principles of a perverse philosophy, or the details of an historical event as it did not happen – without that knowledge being anything like truth.

The Lord uses the word “truth” differently from the way the dictionary defines it, so if one is to understand what the Lord says, one must understand the difference. The dictionary I just picked up defines “true” as “being in accordance with the actual state or condition, conforming to reality.” It defines “truth” as “true or actual state of matter.” Thus “true” and “truth” are virtually synonymous. But the Lord uses “truth” quite differently from that. And if Jacob is using the word in the same way the Lord used it, then that adds enormous depth to the concept Jacob is trying to convey.

The Lord does not define “truth” as reality, but as the “knowledge” of reality. That distinction is important in the statement, “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” ( D&C 93: 30)

If one reads that statement the way the dictionary uses “truth” it says, “All things in the actual tate of matter are independent….” But if one reads it as the Lord has just defined the word, it says “All knowledge of reality, as things were, are, will be, is independent…” In which case it is not the state of matter which is independent, but the knowledge of the state of matter.

The revelation continues, “…is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it…” The dictionary’s “actual state of matter” might reside in a place, but knowledge of reality can not reside anywhere except within the cognizance of an intelligent, living being. So the “sphere in which God has placed it” must be a living sphere, either an intelligence, a person, or a “sphere” (multi-dimensional circle) of persons.

The revelation continues: “All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” I presume that means that since knowledge of reality is immutable, the knowledge itself carries with it an unalterable consequence. I can think of one overriding example. If one were to kneel before the resurrected Saviour and experienced the reality of both his person and his love, that experience would become an integral part of one’s own person. The “truth” of the Saviour — the knowledge of him — is independent of the person in whom the knowledge resides, and acts upon the very existence of that person who experiences the truth.

D&C 88 says “truth shines,” and elsewhere in section 93 we learn that “intelligence is the light of truth.” Then 88 tells us that the Light of Christ is the source of our life, and of our ability to think. So it all seems to come together in an equation which looks like this: Intelligence + the knowledge of reality = light = life = greater intelligence + greater knowledge of reality = more light = more life + greater knowledge of eternal reality = freedom + charity = eternal life. If that didn’t make sense, let me try to say it differently. The Saviour’s promise, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” is one of the most profound promises in the scriptures. If “truth” simply means the actual state of matter, the Saviour’s statement is itself a profound truth. But if “truth” means a knowledge of reality — eternal reality — then the Saviour’s statement is the key to eternal life. Knowing knowledge is not a redundancy. Knowing reality is one thing, but knowing that what you know is true, is something altogether different. It is power. It is also peace, therefore, it is the indispensable key to freedom. Therefore, “you shall know the truth and the truth [one’s knowledge of “things as they are (in this life), as they were (at the Council in Heaven), and as they are to come ( in the eternities to come) .”] shall make you free.”

There are three necessary conditions prerequisite to freedom. They are:

1. One must not be for sale. If there is a price for which one will sell oneself (money, fame, power, or anything else this world might offer), then when that price is met, one sells one’s freedom and becomes a slave. But one may also not be free if he seeks to obtain that price, and sells himself in anticipation of receiving it.

2. One must not be intimidateable. If one fears, he is not free, but is restrained to act within the limits of his perceived safety.

3. One must have sufficient accurate knowledge to make correct decisions. Otherwise he may be free to guess, based on what he knows or thinks he knows, but he is not free to choose, based on “truth” as God defines truth. The kind of freedom I am discussing is the power to be oneself. It is the freedom Joseph exercised while he was in prison. (That works whether one refers to the biblical Joseph or to Parley P. Pratt’s description of the Prophet Joseph in Liberty Jail.) It is the freedom Abinadi exercised throughout his trial and execution.

The first two conditions prerequisite to freedom are entirely personal – as weak or as powerful as one’s own integrity. But however strong they may be, they are entirely inadequate, by themselves, to make one free in this life — but certainly not in the next. One can be (after the fashion of Anne Rand’s Fountainhead) unintimadateable and not for sell, but if one’s sense of truth is flawed, then such integrity can turn into heartless, meaningless, useless pride — self gratification and self-aggrandizement. Thus to be free, a person of integrity must know the truth – must have a knowledge that his knowledge of things past, present, and future consists perfectly with reality.

If what I have put together here is correct, then knowing truth, being free, and being an heir to eternal life are, or may become, equivalents.

The Saviour promised,

13   Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
14    He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
15   All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
16   A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. (John 16:7-16)

Jacob, I believe, is teaching the same thing: “…for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. ”

It is a fact that God reigns in the heavens and that Christ, his Son, is our Saviour, but that fact is not a truth (as the Lord defined the word “truth”) to any individual until that individual has a knowledge of its reality. Jacob and the other prophets testify that such truth is available only to those to whom the Spirit reveals it. But, like all other truth, when the knowledge of the Saviour becomes as sure as one’s knowledge of the light of the sun, then that truth becomes independent within the person in whom God has placed it, then the truth within the person, and the person also, shines.

Jacob understands this, so he does not stop with the admonition that one should come to the truth of Christ, but urges one to continue, that by knowing Christ one may come also to the truth of oneself. Jacob wrote, “…beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?” He does not say of “the resurrection” meaning the resurrection of the Saviour, rather he says of “a resurrection” which, I take it, means one’s own resurrection. In which case he is saying, “…why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a [one’s own ] resurrection and the world to come?”

Thus Jacob’s admonition is to come to the truth (knowledge of past, present and future reality) of oneself by coming to the truth (knowledge of past, present and future reality) of Christ. Let me show how I think Jacob’s statement should be understood.

12   And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge [ ‘truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.’ ] of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection [ this time the knowledge he recommends is a truth of oneself — a knowledge of oneself as one will be in the resurrection ] and the world to come?
13   Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth [ reaching the whole scope of the eternities, for “truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.” ] and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things [ the “knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come.” ] are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. [ That we may know the eternal truth of oneself.] But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old. (Jacob 4:12-13 )

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