Sunday, June 08, 2008

How to Understand Prophecy

I am currently reading The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was sustained as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. He held this office from October 1972 until his death on April 19, 1985.

Elder McConkie outlines what it takes to understand prophecy on page 44:

But in the final analysis, there is no way—absolutely none (and this cannot be stated too strongly!)—to understand any Messianic prophecy, or any other scripture, except to have the same spirit of prophecy that rested upon the one who uttered the truth in its original form. Scripture comes from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. It does not originate with man. It means only what the Holy Ghost thinks it means. To interpret it, we must be enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Peter said, “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Truly, it takes a prophet to understand a prophet, and every faithful member of the Church should have “the testimony of Jesus” which “is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelations 19:10). Thus as Nephi says, “The words of Isaiah”—and the principle applies to all scripture, all inspired writing, all Messianic Prophecies—“are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (2 Nephi 25:4). This is the sum and substance of the whole matter and an end to all controversy where discovering the mind and will of the Lord is concerned.

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