Knowledge plays a critical role in all of our lives. The Bible Dictionary states, “knowledge of divine and spiritual things is essential for salvation.” The scriptures and living prophets, it continues, are given so that we can have this essential knowledge.
The need for and value of knowledge is made clear many times in scripture. Abraham sought for and received one of the greatest covenant blessings known to men on Earth after he desired to be “one who possessed great knowledge… and to possess a greater knowledge.” Joseph Smith’s vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ came after a yearning prayer for knowledge. Abraham and Joseph Smith both gained the knowledge they sought, as can we if we seek for it.
There are many other scriptural references to knowledge and our need for knowledge. Though there are many treasures in these other references, perhaps there is no place that says so much about knowledge in so few verses as the first three verses of the Book of Mormon. In these familiar verses, Nephi writes:
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.
Careful review of these versus shows the value of knowledge in our daily life and our need for knowledge in the eternities. For example, Nephi explains that his parents were ‘goodly’ because they taught him all they knew—they gave him knowledge. We are also commanded to share our knowledge with our children; as we teach them all we know, we can also be ‘goodly’ parents.
As with his earthly parents, the favor of our Heavenly Father also comes in the form of knowledge and mysteries. Mysteries in the scriptures are defined in the Bible Dictionary as revealed spiritual truth—new knowledge. The Lord gives knowledge line upon line, precept upon precept, to those favored few who keep His commandments, like Abraham, Joseph Smith and Nephi.
Nephi makes his record because he has received knowledge from his earthly father, Lehi, and from his Heavenly Father, who is God. It makes sense, then, that the record of Nephi is made “according to my knowledge,” which Nephi knows is true.
In three short verses, we see that knowledge is good for all things, earthly and heavenly. Knowledge can help us be better parents and more successful in life. Knowledge is also an essential gift from God necessary for salvation.