It is more important, a thousand times over, to have a knowledge of God and his laws, so that we can do the things which bring salvation, than it is to have all the worldly knowledge that can be obtained.Address at the Logan Utah Institute of Religion, Jan. 10, 1971, 1–2, Church History Library; unpublished manuscript.
It is far more important to know that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, that he has given unto us the principles of eternal life, than it is to know all that can be obtained in secular education.President Smith is emphasizing that, though all knowledge is important, some knowledge is far more important to us than other knowledge. As important as it is to know what the world has learned, it is more important to learn what the Lord has to teach us. The opening quote of this lesson tells us that we are “required” to familiarize ourselves with what the Lord has revealed. Why? Because if we do not it will be all that easier for someone to lead us astray in spiritual things. We need to know the laws and doctrines we have been required to live by so that we can live them correctly. The acquisition or gaining of knowledge in spiritual matters is not a matter of just learning facts and figures. Once we have learned the whys and wherefores about the gospel we are required to study what we have learned in our minds and in our hearts, take our new information to the Lord, and ask for understanding as to how the Lord would have us use this knowledge in His service. In other words, we need to gain knowledge then seek for the wisdom to use it. The rate at which revelation is being received is increasing. We are gaining worldly and spiritual knowledge faster now than at any other time in the history of the world. What are we doing to keep up? As quickly as the Lord reveals truth in any field of understanding, Satan is there to pervert its use and interpretation. It is also our responsibility to be putting to the test every word that comes from our Church leaders. The principle is simple and clear. When we seek the Lord with purity of heart, and test His word, he will reveal its truthfulness to us. This is how we gain our testimonies. When the prophet tells us that we need to do a certain thing between now and next Conference, for example, we will not have a witness that this is the will of God unless we go and do what the prophet directs us to do, and we get on our knees and plead with the Lord to receive a witness of the divinity of the prophet’s counsel. That witness will come to us either through the heartfelt prayer of the righteous or through putting into practice what the Lord’s servant commanded us to do. The point of this lesson is that our temporal (earthly) salvation, as well as our spiritual (eternal) salvation depends on our personal pursuit of knowledge. We cannot be saved in ignorance (spiritual darkness). We need to have the Lord reveal himself and his works to us through prayer and study. This is the only way we can hope for eventual exaltation. If you are one who does not like learning new things or studying then you have a challenge ahead of you, for you will have to learn to love to study the things of God. The more you do it the more you will come to appreciate and love what it does for you.
In Conference Report, Apr. 1955, 51.