Light, Truth, and Grace: Three Interrelated Principles Necessary for Exaltation | Richard Draper

What is the relationship between light, truth, and grace? Richard Draper teaches how they're related in a scriptural context.

This speech was given on July 7, 2009

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"I have found over the years that as I read the scriptures closely, some are baffling. Some I have read over and over, and I still don’t understand what they are saying. However, studying, pondering, praying, and meditating has, on occasion, brought insight and understanding. For example, two scriptures I initially found quite baffling were verses 6 and 7 of section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Speaking of the Savior, the scriptures state that “he descended below all things . . . that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; which truth shineth.” That seems to say that Jesus’ descent below all things allowed Him to illuminate the truth; however, the second phrase doesn’t seem to make sense. Just how does truth shine? In another scripture, D&C 93:42, the Lord castigates Frederick G. Williams for “not [having] taught [his] children light and truth.” I feel comfortable teaching my children truth, but how do I teach them light?

What is light, anyway? When I took an astronomy class my sophomore year here, I learned that light has the properties of a particle and a wave but was not technically either. Instead, it was a wavicle. I have no idea what that is; therefore, I’m even more baffled as to what exactly I am to teach to my children or why it should matter.

It was in my junior year here that I ran into the above scriptures and first pondered them. I must confess that I simply could not get my mind around them. Then one day some years later, understanding came.

I was one of a number of Church Educational System faculty to make presentations in a weeklong symposium held in Tempe, Arizona. That particular day I had gone to a nearby Laundromat to do some much-needed washing. As I was waiting for my clothes to dry, I read Doctrine and Covenants 93. Once again I was brought up against light and truth, but this time something happened. A number of scriptures slotted themselves into place and I understood. It is this understanding that I have chosen to share with you today.

We begin with a scripture well known to those who attend BYU: “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). Quite frankly, that one also baffled me, but I liked the idea of God having glory.

The Glory of God

The concept of glory is very prominent in the scriptures, especially as something bestowed on the faithful as part of their final reward. But what is glory? A modern dictionary gives us definitions such as “praise, honor, or distinction, . . . renown.”1 Over the centuries many Christian theologians such as Milton, Johnson, Thomas Aquinas, and C. S. Lewis have felt that this was the sense of the scriptural use. Specifically, glory denoted appreciation or approval from God. Thus the glory of God was the favor and respect He granted those who met with His divine approbation.

The definition given in section 93 does not quite fit such a definition, at least so far as the glory associated with God is concerned. His glory, as defined under inspiration, is something associated with His very nature, not just something He bestows upon others. For example, Moses not only shared in the glory of God but also saw it. The account in Moses 1:2 states, “And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.” There is no doubt that Moses was under God’s favor, but this revelation shows that God’s glory was a capacitating agent that made it possible for Moses to bear God’s actual presence. That, however, was not all. Through that power, Moses was endowed with sufficient intellect to understand to a degree the nature of God’s work. The Lord stated that He would show Moses the workmanship of His hands, “but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease” (Moses 1:4). He then explained why He would not show Moses all His works: “No man can behold all my works,” He said, “except he behold all my glory; . . . and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth” (Moses 1:5)..."