One meaning of “the mysteries of God” is secret things that God has revealed through prophets. The Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary points out that this is the usual meaning of the term in the New Testament. “Mysteries,” it explains, “denotes in the New Testament a spiritual truth that was once hidden but now is revealed and that without special revelation would have remained unknown. It is generally used along with words denoting revelation or publication . . . . The modern meaning of something incomprehensible forms no part of the significance of the word as it occurs in the New Testament. “
What “mysteries of God” have been revealed?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Among the most important mysteries that has been revealed is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament apostle Paul was a strict Pharisee in his early days and had read scriptures that point to Christ. But he did not understand them or their broad application. His conversion and the guidance of the Spirit helped him at last comprehend what he called “the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4) or “the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19).
Speaking in the meridian of time, Paul declared that the mystery of Christ “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:5). In other words, fellow Israelites in earlier days did not understand the gospel of Christ as he came to understand it by revelation, including the idea that God could save all mankind, including Gentiles, through His Son Jesus Christ.
Today, the third Article of Faith puts the same idea this way: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
It is one thing to know of Christ intellectually. It is quite another to understand and believe. The latter requires a spiritual manifestation, or revelation. Yet that is a gift God offers to all. As Nephi explained, “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come” (1 Nephi 10:19).
The Gathering of Other Sheep
Related to this mystery is the idea that God will gather not only his sheep in the Old World but also his “other sheep.” In Doctrine and Covenants 10, the Lord says, “I am he who said—Other sheep have I which are not of this fold—unto my disciples, and many there were that understood me not. And I will show unto this people that I had other sheep, and that they were a branch of the house of Jacob; and I will bring to light their marvelous works, which they did in my name; yea, and I will also bring to light my gospel which was ministered unto them, and, behold, they shall not deny that which you have received, but they shall build it up, and shall bring to light the true points of my doctrine, yea, and the only doctrine which is in me.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:59‒62.)
“Therefore,” the Lord said, “I will unfold unto them this great mystery; for, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:64‒66.)
Another mystery of God has to do with the resurrection. As Alma explained to his son Corianton in Alma 40:3, “Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; . . . I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection.” Alma then went on to give one of the most complete explanations of the resurrection in holy writ.
Of the great vision experienced by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on February 16, 1832, they testified, “Great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:114). This revealed set of mysteries opened human understanding of the afterlife. For more about these mysteries, click here.
More than two years before this great vision, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith and Martin Harris a mystery that section 76 later made even clearer.
In Doctrine and Covenants 19, while describing the “weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth” experienced by those who end up on the Lord’s left hand in the final judgment, the Lord clarified, “Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment” (verses 5‒6). The Lord explained that the terms “endless torment” and “eternal damnation” are designed to “work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory” (verse 7).
The Lord went on to “explain . . . this mystery” to Joseph and Martin because they needed to “know . . . as mine apostles” (verse 8). He described how the atonement of Christ makes it possible for the repentant to avoid excruciating punishment, a topic section 76 later described more fully.
The Blessings of the Temple
Doctrine and Covenants 84, which includes the oath and covenant of the priesthood, explains that the “greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God” (verse 19). The revelation explains how Moses “sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God” through priesthood ordinances. “But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his danger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.” (Verses 21‒24.)
An 1841 revelation to Joseph Smith commanded the Saints to build a temple, “a house unto me” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:31), in which God could “restore again . . . the fulness of the priesthood” (verse 28). Moses hoped to bring his people to the ancient mount, or temple, to see the face of God. Modern temple ordinances make it possible for Latter-day Saints to pass through the veil into the presence of God.
Many revelations to prophets, including in the last days, have revealed “mysteries of God.” As Elder David A. Bednar has said, “Revelation is communication from Heavenly Father to His children on earth. As we ask in faith, we can receive revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge and come to know the mysteries and peaceable things that bring joy and eternal life (see D&C 42:61). The mysteries are those matters that can only be known and understood by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World , 211).”
Photo credit for image at top of page: Stock photo from depositphotos.com.