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Power of knowledge

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Knowledge, it is often said, is power.

Power, in some ways, is synonymous with strength.

True gospel knowledge — not just a collection of information, but a literal understanding and application of eternal principles — gives one the power and the strength to live so centered in Christ that sin and error become a foreign notion.

This is, perhaps, best described by King Benjamin.

Following his eloquent and pointed oration, those who took time to listen to him "cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou has spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth. . . ."

They then testified that the Spirit had worked upon their hearts and "wrought a mighty change . . . that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (See Mosiah 5:2.)

What, a non-believer might ask, could King Benjamin have said to so completely change the souls of his listeners?

A look at his words provides some answers.

". . . if you have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, . . ." begins part of the king's message. The literary technique — using "if" to foreshawdow that there's more — leaves today's Book of Mormon readers, and yesterday's Nephite listeners, collectively looking for that sure-to-follow "then." (See Mosiah 4:6.)

But before either reader or listener finds the "then," he or she must first navigate a virtual ocean of insightful counsel and essential doctrine — much of which offers enabling principles that we must both learn and do if we are to become like the Nephites who had no more disposition to do evil.

As part of that "if" phrase, King Benjamin advises that we must come also to a knowledge — and it can be assuredly assumed that he doesn't mean a scratch-the-surface acknowledgement — of God's matchless power, wisdom, patience, long-suffering, glory, goodness and love. (See Mosiah 4:6-11.)

King Benjamin's advice, of course, is not unlike Moroni's promise given to those who would seek to know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Moroni's first exhortation is that we "remember how merciful the Lord hath been." (See Moroni 10:3.)

These principles, it seems, are prerequisites to further knowledge — as they foster humility and gratitude, thus preparing our hearts to more readily accept the doctrinal essentials that follow.

Then, of course, these prerequisite principles are followed by actual doctrine — simple and straight forward, also presented in the "if" format.

Those "ifs" include that we "continue in faith even unto the end of [our lives,]" "trust in the Lord," and "be diligent in keeping his commandments." (Mosiah 4:6.)

Then King Benjamin gives us the "then."

"I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind. . . ." (Mosiah 4:7.)

The Atonement, of course, is the singular most-important event in human history. It is the process whereby our Savior, through suffering beyond our comprehension, paid the full price for the sins and misdeeds that we've committed. Through that atonement the laws of mercy and justice are fully satisfied, allowing us the opportunity to live eternally with our families and loved ones in the presence of God and Christ.

Hence, anything — and everything — we can honestly and sincerely do to take full advantage of the Atonement is, it stands to reason, of the highest importance.

After teaching these truths, King Benjamin offers two final "ifs."

First, he suggests that if we believe all the principles that he taught we should live them, or, in short, ". . . if you believe all these things see that ye do them." (See Mosiah 4:10.)

And, finally, he promises that if we do as he has taught — if we apply the teaching so that knowledge is action — then we "shall always rejoice and be filled with the love of God"— and grow in our "knowledge of that which is just and true."

The process, then, is one eternal round, allowing good things to continually build upon good things — until we achieve all that God has in store for us.