One of my favorite subjects in LDS studies and apologetics is the concept of learning knowledge from God. Elsewhere in this website I have a list of scriptures that I believe firmly establishes that the primary means of obtaining heavenly knowledge is by direct communication with the Holy Spirit. https://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2007/12/18/knowledge-by-the-spirit/
I wish at this time to study the first chapter of 2 Peter, which is a brilliant discourse on the role that knowledge plays in our salvation, and of which I recently realized also contains a powerful testimony about how that knowledge is gained.
The first part of the chapter begins with Peter explaining all of the blessings that one recieves simply by having “knowledge of God”. Some of these include: grace and peace (vs. 2); all things pertaining to life and godliness, glory and virtue (3); exceeding great and precious promises, be partakers of the divine nature (4).
What wonderful blessings, and all because of knowledge!! Peter basically explains that salvation, enjoying the eternal life that God enjoys, is a blessing attainable through knowledge.
But Peter does not stop there. We ought to understand why knowledge is the key, and Peter explains it. Throughout verses 5, 6, 7, & 8 Peter traces a series of attributes that all build upon each other and eventually lead to salvation. These qualities are necessary, and are only achieved through “diligence”:
After describing this chain of qualities Peter explains the outcome, “(8)For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9)But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (10)Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (11)For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
This chain of qualities leads to entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and without them a man is blind. Peter exhorts us again in verse 10 just as he did in verse 5 to be diligent in seeking after those qualities, because they are needed. I believe they are needed because salvation is not a process by which our sins are simply covered up, but a process by which we root out the desire to sin, and literally become like Jesus Christ. This is consistent with Amulek’s words in Alma 11:37:
37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.
Perhaps the most exciting part of 2 Peter chapter 1 is the last 5 verses. After explaining the extreme importance of knowledge, of understanding Christ by becoming like Christ, Peter describes how he came to know that Christ really is the Son of God and how we also might know. He testifies that he recieved a witness from the Father (versees 16-18) and even suggests that his listeners would do well to “take heed” to what he says because he has a knowledge that they need.
19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Here is how I interpret and understand this verse:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy (We, the apostles, have greate knowledge than you do)
whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, (So you better listen to us)
as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, (Our knowledge of Christ can help you)
until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:(Until the day arrives when you gain the same knowledge that we have and can fend for yourselves)
So Peter says in verse 19: “We, the apostles, have greater knowledge than you do so you better listen to us. Our knowledge of Christ can help you until the day arrives when you gain the same knowledge that we have and can fend for yourselves”
I love that Peter refers to that knowledge as a “day star aris[ing] in your hearts”. We LDS often refer to our testimonies of Christ and of the Restoration as a “feeling” in our hearts, while Protestants frequently reject that method.
In verse 19 above Peter refers to the knowledge of Christ that he has as “prophecy”. Following his command to his listeners to take heed to his words he explains something peculiar. In verse 20 he suggests that prophecy(knowledge of Christ) is found in the scriptures but is there not because man figured it out for himself, but because the Holy Ghost taught that knowledge to man.
(20)Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
(21)For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
I only recently realized the meaning of these words. I have traditionally interpreted it very differently, but I now recognize that the end of 2 Peter 1 is a continuation of the beginning of 2 Peter 1. Peter gives a masterful discourse about the role that knowledge plays in our salvation, and offers a way to gain that knowledge by the Holy Ghost. Once again I am not surprised to learn that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about the scriptures, and to learn that the scriptures reflect LDS ideas very well.