While you’re pondering that, here's a brief history of radio:
As early as 1802, scientists were proposing that electricity and magnetism were linked. This led to the discovery of the electromagnetic field, which is one of the fundamental forces of the universe, along with nuclear forces and the gravitational force.
The discovery of the electromagnetic field led to two key inventions: the telegraph in 1809 and the telephone in 1871.
By the late 19th Century, it became clear to scientists that wireless communication was possible through electromagnetism.
Nikola Tesla, the scientist credited with the discovery of the radio in 1893, wrote:
“The idea presented itself to me that it might be possible, under observance of proper conditions of resonance, to transmit electric energy thru the earth, thus dispensing with all artificial conductors.”This idea led to numerous experiments and the development of an apparatus that became the radio.
In 1919, the first human speech was broadcast to the public. FM radio was patented in 1933, and the first FM radio stations appeared in the late 1930’s.
Here’s my point about the radio: Scientists did not create radio waves. Radio waves have always existed; scientists simply found ways to tap into and harness them.
Joseph Smith Taps Into God's Signals
Joseph Smith discovered something similar in 1820, after reading the famous scripture in James that states clearly that God answers prayers.
The impact of Joseph’s First Vision is incalculable. In a brief visit with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Joseph discovered truths that had been hidden, corrupted, and debated for centuries.
He discovered that the Godhead consists of three separate Beings. He discovered that God and Jesus Christ have physical bodies.
After he had received priesthood authority and the Church was established, continuous revelation clarified doctrine, dissipated darkness, and eliminated confusion. We learned that there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.
Furthermore, we learned that God is always transmitting messages to His children.
Just as Tesla and Marconi did not create radio waves, Joseph Smith did not create personal revelation; he simply tuned into signals that have always and are always being transmitted from God.
The Need for Continuous Revelation
During the Apostasy, it was commonly taught that revelation from God to man had ceased and that we were to rely solely upon the Bible to know God’s will. This, of course, was a recipe for confusion, bickering, and disunity even to the point of bloodshed.
Without authoritative revelation, it was impossible for mankind to unite around definitive doctrines. But as we learn in 2 Nephi 29:9,
“…I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and…I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.”Radio waves existed at the time of Adam and Eve, but we did not discover how to tune into them until the late 19th Century. Similarly, God has always and will always transmit revelation to man.
The only variable is whether or not we choose to tune into His revelations through personal worthiness.
As we learn from Moroni,
“…remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.”How to Receive Personal Revelation
The same elements that led to Joseph Smith’s revelations are the same elements that are required for us to receive personal revelation. The two most important factors are humility and purity.
We must obey the truths we know at any given time. We must be willing to lay our perceptions and desires upon the altar of sacrifice.
As we humble ourselves and strive for purity and righteousness, God replaces our false perceptions and impure and misguided desires with His light and truth, His desires, and His will.
In an essay entitled The True Wireless, published in May of 1919, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the radio, wrote,
“The history of science shows that theories are perishable. With every new truth that is revealed we get a better understanding of Nature and our conceptions and views are modified.”So it is with spiritual truths. Through personal revelation, then by obedience to our revelations, we begin to see things as God sees them. We act as He would have us act. We do what He would have us do. We become what He would have us become.
We are purified and elevated. In other words, we become one with God. Our will is united with His.
Jesus Christ spoke of this unity in what is known as the “Great Intercessory Prayer” found in John chapter 17:
“Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one…”Personal Revelation Leads to Unity
Think of the question we started with: What is the connection between personal revelation and unity within our families and the Church?
The connection is that when one person tunes into the mind and will of God, personal revelation occurs. When numerous people tune into God’s will, unity among those people occurs. They become unified around and through God’s perfect knowledge and perfect love.
So how can we achieve unity within our families and within the Church? By having access to the mind of God, through revelation, by being pure and humble. Unity is a function of righteousness.
If a radio station transmits on the frequency 92.5, we must tune our radio to that precise frequency if we want to receive a clear signal. If we’re just one decimal point off, the signal will be fuzzy.
In the same way, sinning is like turning our spiritual sensors to the wrong frequencies. As we sin, signals from God become “fuzzy” and distant, and will fade altogether unless we repent. The purer our lives, the purer the signals we receive from God.
Not only do we become more attuned to a direct connection with God, but we also become more in tune with the counsel we receive through His servants, the prophets. In Mosiah we read a perfect example of this process:
“And they were called the church of…Christ… And…whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church…And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets…he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.The unifying process is this:
"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”
- God transmits His will through the words of His prophets and through direct, personal revelation through the Holy Ghost.
- As we become pure and submissive, the signals that God is always transmitting become increasingly clear.
- As we obey the revelations we receive, we become one with God. Unity within our families occurs as each member of the family submits to this process. Unity within the Church is achieved in the same way.
“The joy of unity…is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others….God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity. We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve.”Elder Eyring also taught that,
“Revelation is the only way we can know how to follow the will of the Lord together. It requires light from above. The Holy Ghost will testify to our hearts, and the hearts of those gathered around with us, what He would have us do. And it is by keeping His commandments that we can have our hearts knit together as one.”Staying Unified Daily
What can we do on a daily, practical basis to increase unity within our families and the Church? Live worthy to receive personal revelation, and seek it constantly.
If we’re offended by a family or Church member, we can pray for the ability to judge righteously and the strength to forgive. Through revelation, our minds and hearts will find greater opportunities to serve. Through the humility that revelation requires, we can overcome pride and selfishness.
President David O. McKay taught,
“As I think of the future of this Church and of the welfare of the young men and women, as well as of the mothers and fathers, I feel impressed that there is no more important message to give than ‘to be one,’ and avoid things that may cause a rift among members.Just as Tesla tuned into radio waves in 1893 and Joseph Smith tuned into God’s will in 1820, may we also tune into the revelation that God is transmitting through purity and humility, then live in strict obedience to the revelation we receive.
"I know that the adversary has no stronger weapon against any group of men or women in this Church than the weapon of thrusting in a wedge of disunity, doubt, and enmity…Unity of purpose, with all working in harmony within the structure of Church organization as revealed by the Lord, is to be our objective.”
As we do so we will enjoy peace, harmony, joy, love, and unity within our families and within the church.