I have been struggling trying to obtain the greater portion of the word and obtaining great knowledge and understanding of the gospel. I am conflicted. I am unsure as to the worth of books written of doctrinal teachings of latter-day Prophets and apostles after Joseph Smith, or if I should just delve into the scriptures and focus solely on them? I don't have time to do both. The Lord tells us to rely on the things which are written, but then we are told a living prophet is more valuable then the scriptures. Why do I need their interpretations and insights, especially when many of them aren't all correct? Is not scriptural interpretation and understanding given by the Holy Ghost? Is the Prophet the only one to interpret scripture? Seems false to me. I have learned the most from the scriptures when I have gone outside of our leaders books and teachings. None of them seem to understand Isaiah for example. Even Nephi said that in order to understand Isaiah one needed the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Maybe I am answering my own question, but just wondering what you think. Thanks!*******
Here is my thoughts.
To write the words of Eternal Life requires one who has the promise of Eternal life. They can be mortal but they must have received and been sealed up by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Can you elevate those if you are not on higher ground? Can you lift someone up a mountain at the bottom of it? Can you know how to get to a destination you have never been to without a guide? Where would I spend my time? In the book of Mormon. The LDS church was put under condemnation because they took lightly that book (See D&C 84:55). Now, today, that book is hardly mentioned, hardly understood, and the mysteries contained therein are still "sealed". If I was told that it contains the fulness of the gospel. If I was told and believe it to be true; that it contains the covenants of the fathers that we may not be utterly wasted at His coming than I would spend my time understanding that book. (See the title page https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/bofm-title). That book is sufficient for our day. I value the Words of Joseph Smith because he has expounded those scriptures to us in such a way that it hard to error. The Lord also vouched for Joseph Smith and what was give to us through him. Don't learn from others opinions of what he said. Go to the source. For if they are wrong and you believe it, it could hinder your progression.
Here is my thought process. Joseph calimed to be a witness of the Father and the Son. The book of Mormon gives us witness after witness of those who have also seen and heard Him. I just read 3 nephi 27 today here is what the Lords disciples teach. "The disciples of Jesus were journeying and were preaching the things which they had both heard and seen". (vs 1). The duty of a "high priest' is to do one thing. They teach. Don't confuse this with the office in the LDS church. That office is not found therein. They used to have an office of Church Patriarch which Jospeh declared to be the "highest office". It was put into Emeritus status in 1979 and with the passing of Eldred G Smith it has been abandoned. Now I'm getting side tracked :).
Alma 13 tells us what High Priests after the Holy Order of the Son do, "priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption." (vs 2). They have received a "a preparatory redemption for such." They "teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—" (vs 6). This is what Moses did as seen in D&C 84:23-25.
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might [also] behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his angerwas kindled against them, swore that they should notenter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25 Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;
It is a struggle. I struggle daily. I have my own doubts and weaknesses. But I have learned to know that my weaknesses were given to me by Him. I have begun to learn to accept them as gifts. THEY will NOT prevent you from rising up. Ask Him to remove that anvil from you, and in his time He will do it after you learn what is required. Whatever place you are at in your progression he can lift you and succor you and give you the knowledge you need to remove those doubts. What I used to doubt has now been replaced by things I didn't think were issues (because the Lord has replaced doubt with knowledge but also showing me "what lack I yet?" causing other doubts). I don't doubt the truths of the book of mormon, the restoration, or whats happening here and now. In our day. The signs are before us and the people can't even see the scriptures being fulfilled before their eyes. It makes my heart ache. I do struggle to determine what was given by God and what was given by Men however, including the voices that come daily to me in my heart/head, thus you need the holy ghost to guide you.
The doctrine of Christ is as follows.
"20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day." (3 Nephi 27)
The Holy Ghosts job is to sanctify you and make you clean. It will manifest the truth of all things unto you (2 Nehi 32:1-7). Trust in it. Even if it contradicts what others have "stated". You must learn to distinguish between "good and evil". You must learn how to govern yourself. For only the "righteous can deliver their own souls" (See Ezekial 14). You may choose wrong. But if you continue to call upon God, he can teach you through it and you can eventually learn truth from error in all things. He will correct you if you allow him to in due time.
The Lords servants teach you to rise up that you may receive the Holy Ghost and eventually enter into the rest of the Lord. They point TO Christ. NOT to themselves. I would avoid anyone who claims you should follow them. The Holy Ghost will lead you to eternal life. Sometimes we need a messenger to teach us how to "walk" but once we learn that we cannot "depend upon the prophet" else our minds will be darkened. You must learn to walk and walk the path. You do that by relying upon God and He alone. For He will guide you. The Israelites failed because they wanted Moses to talk to God, give them good doctrine, know whats right and wrong, etc... Theres a story of Laman and Lemuel going to nephi and they ask him a question regarding God. Nephi says, why are you asking me? Go ask God! Than he answers them. It shows the pattern. While he was willing to answer, to help them learn of God, that hopefully the light in the words would allow them to go to God and get their own answers, he really wanted them to stop asking him and go straight to God. So a messenger will teach you to gain your own relationship with God.
Measure everything against the Book of Mormon. Its sufficient for our day. When the Lord "added" the Law of moses he did not fulfill it until the dispensation had ended and a new one had ushered in. The Lord at this time is willing to usher something in again, anew, but first we must remember what he has already given us. Interesting how one of the few commandments given out of the saviors own mouth was to study the words of Isaiah. Like you said few understand it. I certainly don't understand it. Isaiah used old revelation to tell "new revelation" of what was about to happen to us today.
If you want to understand God, you will have to accomplish that in the same way as all who went before. Take Enoch and Abraham as examples. They studied everything they could find before asking God to show them more. God refused to move their intelligence upward until after they had first obtained a sound understanding, by study and by faith, of what He had previously revealed to the fathers. (See Abr. 1: 28, D&C 107: 57, for example.) These past saved men were not merely simpletons like us, surfing the web and looking to the blogosphere to provide them shortcuts, or waiting for some "president" to reveal whats required for them. It requires sacrifice, service, and the timing of the Lord. Wait upon Him to teach you, he knows when we are prepared. Trust in Him.
There is a great lecture by Joseph Smith. I would read it even if you have before. Heres the link to the Joseph Smith papers. I copied an excerpt at the bottom.
" I may believe that Enoch walked with God <and by faith was translated. And I may [believe] that Noah was a perfect man in his generation & also walked with God.> I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels and heard the word of his Maker. that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses I may believe that the [p. 231] saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face aft er his resurection I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God the Heaven ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries, as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner they did or is he a respecter of persons?"