When I was in elementary school I took a tour of Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind.
Ever since I've been enamored with the seafaring life. I read Treasure Island; I imagined exploring uncharted reaches around the globe; I fell in love with the smell of sea salt and the sound of seagulls. And all without contracting scurvy!
I felt, I realize now, the spirit of discovery.
Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe in three years between 1577 and 1580 (makes me seasick just thinking about it).
How did he navigate without satellite GPS?!
Well, Drake needed a lot of things, but let's focus on these three:
1. Map. A map is a representation of the world in which we live.
2. Compass. A compass is a tool we use to tell which direction we are traveling.
3. Sextant. A sextant is a tool that measures the distance between two objects.
But why do we need a sextant? Isn't a compass enough?
What is the difference between a compass and a sextant?
What is our "spiritual sextant?"
The Reality of Truth (or, things are about to get real)
Let's begin with the simplest definition of truth:
Truth is an expression of reality.
That's all truth is. What is.
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.
Okay, let's make a logical inference from Jacob's definition. If truth is merely representing things as they "really are," then the opposite of truth (a lie) is to portray things as they may appear to be, but in reality are not.
I mean, sure, truth manifests itself in countless ways, in various forms and endless diversity . . . but regardless of what shape truth takes, it always (yes, always) comports with reality.
Truth = Reality
That was simple, right? Well, we should ask ourselves, What is “real?”(Ah, here’s the question we maybe should have been asking all along.)
But we're not done discussing truth.
Since Truth simply "is," then we know that truth is independent of us: it doesn’t care what we think of it, or whether we agree with it, or if we fight it.
Let me repeat this, because it is important:
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.
Why is it important to know that all truth is independent?
Knowledge is NOT Independent
What's the difference between truth and knowledge?
Are truth and knowledge the same?
No, they are not the same.
Truth is universal, but knowledge is individual.
Unlike Christ, who possesses all truth, we hold broken glass shards of it in our hands, polishing them into little bits of knowledge.
Admission: our ability to perceive truth is really subjective.
It's like we're all casting our hands into the same stream and describing what we're experiencing in different ways.
The stream is the same for everyone, but each person reacts to it in a unique and personal way.
Knowledge, then, is truth filtered through experience.
This is why knowledge is not independent, because it depends upon our "knowing" something through experiencing it in a body.
It is our uniqueness that individualizes our knowledge.
Alma tried to help us understand this point:
[Christ] will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people. . . .
Now the Spirit [i.e. the Spirit of Truth] knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people.
Wait a minute. Why did Christ need to suffer "according to the flesh" (i.e., in a body) in order to perform his infinite and eternal sacrifice?
Why couldn't Christ have atoned for our sins from heaven?
What made having a body a necessary condition for him to redeem his people?
The Importance of "Flesh"
Abinadi made a big deal about God taking upon him "flesh" (see, Mosiah 15:1-5).
And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God.
What is this implying? What does it mean for the "flesh to be subject to the Spirit?"
Why did Abinadi quote from Isaiah 53 to the wicked priests of Noah?
[Christ] shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Do we see the irony?
Think about it:why would the Spirit of Truth, Christ, who knows all things, need to gain knowledge?
Christ's anguish was not just physical but was also spiritual. The atonement encompassed both spirit AND body, where he bled from every pore.
The Point: There are some things we can only "know" with a body.
A "fulness of joy," for example (see, D&C 93:33-34).
This is what is meant by "intelligence."
As I've said before, intelligence, or the light of truth, is not about knowing "facts" or the truthfulness of propositions.
Intelligence does not reward players of Trivial Pursuit.
Intelligence, or the light of truth, is about "knowing" how to do something . . . in both spirit AND body . . . how to take "reality" (what is) and shape it towards what "could be" (a new reality).
Intelligence is inherently creative.
There is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it . . . [for] I am more intelligent than they all.
(Abraham 3:17, 19)
Christ earned the title "Creator," capital "C," because His intelligence transcends all others.
He showed us how "to act" rather than be "acted upon."
The glory of God is intelligence because it fills the immensity of space with wonderful creation!
The Word of God Teaches Faith in an Unseen Reality
We've all come across this gem from our friend Alma Jr.:
If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.
Here we find a connection between faith and truth.
Faith, we see, must always be fixed to what is true, or it will fail.
But remember how we defined truth at the beginning, quoting Jacob's words, when we said Truth = Reality:
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.
So what if things as they "really will be" are different from things as they presently exist?
What does that say about truth?
What if reality could be shaped by our faith, so that what IS ("true(x) = what is now") is not the same as what WILL BE in the future ("true(y) = what will be") through the exercise of our intelligence?
When Christ asks us to "have faith," He is saying, "You can create beautiful, wonderful new realities like me. If you will rise up and follow me, I will show you how to be a creator, too."
Do you see new meaning to the Lord's words:
I am the Son of the living God, that I WAS, that I AM, and that I AM TO COME.
Christ's power of redemption extends to creating realities, or kingdoms, or "mansions" for all of us, but more importantly, with all of us, if we let Him.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
(Hebrews 11:1, 3)
How can we weave new possibilities and realities, how can we bring beauty from ashes? What is the principle upon which the "word of my power" relies?
Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
And the Lord God said unto Moses. . . By the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
(Moses 1:30, 32)
I'll skip to the main point. Of all the possible things we could learn; of all the possible things we can "know"; of all the greatest and most glorious things ― the ultimate form of Intelligencethat requires both our body AND spirtis "knowing" how to be "one" with each other.
How? My friends, the only way to become one is to "know" each other, as Christ came to "know" us when he suffered in our stead.
The only way to really "know" someone is to love them to death.