A “precept of men” we may have heard is that we should not search out mysteries. As if seeking the truths of God for ourselves is prohibited! In a day when “all things shall be revealed” (2 Nephi 27:11, 22; cf. Doctrine & Covenants 101:32—and indeed are beginning to be revealed—won’t seeking the truth save us from falling prey to the deceptions that were predicted and are now appearing (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:11)? And yet when confronted with it, many “tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God” (2 Nephi 28:28).
As Nephi discovered from personal experience, “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). As with Laman and Lemuel, the alternative is to “harden your hearts,” which Nephi equates with not searching God’s word and not inquiring of him for oneself (1 Nephi 15:8–12). On that point alone takes place a great “everlasting” end-time separation (1 Nephi 14:7).
Alma equates the mysteries of God with “the greater portion of his word,” while those who harden their hearts “know nothing concerning his mysteries.” Even as it is given to many who don’t harden their hearts “to know the mysteries of God until [they] know them in full,” those who harden their hearts are “taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction” (Alma 12:9–11). Isaiah teaches that people who live solely by the “line-upon-line” principle of God’s word will ultimately be “ensnared and taken captive” (Isaiah 28:13).
Alma goes on to give the key to knowing the mysteries of God: “What natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance” (Alma 26:21–22).
The claim, therefore, that only one man can reveal the truth of God to the world constitutes another “precept of men” as God reveals things to whomever he will (2 Nephi 29:11–12). Says Paul, “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10–11). In other words, by the Spirit of God we may know all things.
One mystery concerns God’s “arm”—his end-time servant—who has been hidden from the world (Isaiah 48:1–2) but who restores Israel’s natural lineages, the Jews, Ten Tribes, and Lamanites to God’s covenant. Says Nephi, “Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel. Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance” (1 Nephi 22:11).
The prophet Joseph Smith anticipated that day: “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (Doctrine & Covenants 123:17). And yet, many who cling to “precepts of men” in the end reject even Jesus himself: “For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me” (2 Nephi 28:22). Such is the gravity of whether or not we search out the truths of God!