If there is something that is characteristic of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is the belief in personal revelation. The church was restored by a young boy named Joseph Smith received personal revelations. Inspired by James in the New Testament Joseph came to the realization that he did not have to go to different churches to get answers to their existential issues, but could turn directly to God in prayer.
”If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and he will get it."(Jak 1: 5)
Now that we have an established church of Christ on earth with prophets and apostles, what does the personal revelation of the role? Personal revelation is the personal knowledge of God's will in your life. Of course you can not get the revelation concerning standards and the theology we should have in the church, nor can you get a personal revelation involving more than yourself and maybe your immediate family.
I can take an example of a so-called personal revelation went really wrong. Many years ago now, it was a brother in the Church of Sweden, which reported that he had received revelation that the Church would reinstate polygamy. He was absolutely convinced of their case and contacted several members, including me, where he presented his case. It was all very sad for this are examples of misuse of personal revelation. You can not get personal revelation that changes the prevailing theology of the Church, nor personal revelation involving all church members. In his case led his persistence that he was expelled from the church.
But if I have a personal revelation and church leaders say anything else to me, what is right? The answer is that it is always your personal revelation that goes first. Personal revelation in your life and as long as it does not involve doing violence to the official teachings of the Church, it is your personal revelation that apply. If a person would receive a personal revelation that said that it was good to cohabit with another person and thereby initiate an extramarital relationship, so it would not be right, but if a person would receive a personal revelation that he or she is not capable with a new office in the Church because of personal reasons, is of course the personal revelation first.
A number of years ago I spoke with a man who left the church. He was bitter that he was assigned to the responsible offices in the church against his will, although he pointed out that he needed to take care of his wife who had mental problems. He complained that you have to follow their leaders in the church and I told him that of course he would have gone to the Lord in prayer about this and followed the personal prayers answered he had received.
In the Old Testament, we have a clear example of a man who went against his personal revelation to follow a prophet's call. The judgment against the man was harsh. The consequence of that he did not follow his personal revelation was that he died as a result. (1 Kon 13: 1-32)
What gives us the personal revelations? Personal revelation is about a relationship with God and it gives us power, love, guidance, comfort, warnings. It is a witness or the committing of our faith and gives us the knowledge and understanding, and sometimes even rebuke.
Personal revelation is a kind of compilation of feeling and intellect. Below is a revelation that Joseph Smith received that were directed to Oliver Cowdery.
”See, you have not understood. You thought that I would give it unto you, when all you thought about was to ask me. But behold, I say unto you, that you have to perform it in your own mind. Then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you, therefore, you shall feel that it is right."(D & C 9: 7-9)
We can see four steps: 1) Ask something in your mind (= intellect) 2) Ask God in prayer 3) Manifestation of answered prayers (= feeling) that leads to 4) knowing that it is right. (= Knowledge)
When we receive personal revelation from God, we must be aware that the response we receive from God is not always fulfill our wishes, but of God.
”But thy word must be fulfilled. Help thy servants, that with the assistance of Thy grace to say: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not our. "(D & C 109: 44)
We know again this is also in the words of Jesus to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he expressed the will of God, not Jesus' will, could happen.
Personal revelation does not mean that God meets our needs immediately. We must also be patient. Sometimes patience also mean that we should be patient when it comes to our own faith, our hope and patience to have love.
”Be patient, was serious, was moderate, have patience, faith, hope and love."(D & C 6: 19)
Many times when we ask for something, it can be a matter of choice between two good things. Perhaps the answer from the Lord that it actually does not matter which choice you make. You will still reach the goal regardless of transport.
”But I would certainly speak to you about your trip to the area from which you came. Let build a boat, or buy one, as seemeth you good, it makes me feel the same, and start quickly your journey to the place called St. Louis."(D & C 60: 5)