The Book of Mormon teaches that those who diligently seek shall have “the mysteries of God … unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (1 Ne. 10:19; see also 1 Cor. 2:4–16; Alma 18:35; D&C 121:26.) The prophet Jacob declared the impossibility of uninspired man’s understanding God: “No man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.” (Jacob 4:8.)
The Lord’s prescribed methods of acquiring sacred knowledge are very different from the methods used by those who acquire learning exclusively by study. For example, a frequent technique of scholarship is debate or adversarial discussion, a method with which I have had considerable personal experience. But the Lord has instructed us in ancient and modern scriptures that we should not contend over the points of his doctrine. (See 3 Ne. 11:28–30; D&C 10:63.) Those who teach the gospel are instructed not to preach with “wrath” or “strife” (D&C 60:14; see also 2 Tim. 2:23–25), but in “mildness and in meekness” (D&C 38:41), “reviling not against revilers” (D&C 19:30). Similarly, techniques devised for adversary debate or to search out differences and work out compromises are not effective in acquiring gospel knowledge. Gospel truths and testimony are received from the Holy Ghost through reverent personal study and quiet contemplation.
In the scriptures, the Lord has specified how we learn by faith. We must be humble, cultivate faith, repent of our sins, serve our fellowmen, and keep the commandments of God. (See Ether 12:27; D&C 1:28; D&C 12:8; D&C 50:28; D&C 63:23; D&C 136:32–33.) As the Book of Mormon says, “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God.” (Alma 26:22.) (Dallin H. Oaks, “Alternative Voices”, April 1989 LDS General Conference)