The Lord defines truth as “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.” (D&C 93:24)
I suggest that “things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” refers to those things from God’s perspective, not necessarily man’s.
I suspect that an incorrect understanding of these scriptures has been used to justify all kinds of apostasy.
When I was very young, I believed that an old man named Santa brought gifts to my house, came down my chimney, and left the gifts under our Christmas tree and in a stocking.
When I was very young, my parents believed that they received an income, went to the store to buy gifts, wrapped them and hid them up, and then placed them under the tree while they thought the kids were sleeping.
These are two very different perspectives, but to each they appear to be things as they really are.
As innocent and sincere as parents may be, because of a child’s instilled belief in something that is not true from the parent’s perspective, a child may be set up for strong disappointment when the parent’s perception of truth is finally revealed.
Even worse, children may have reason to doubt the other truths they’ve been taught. If trusted adults will “lie” to children about this, what other “truths” will they lie about?
Now consider it with a comparison between man’s perspective and God’s.
When we believe that “things as they are” pertains to things as we imperfect and relatively ignorant humans perceive them or to things pertaining specifically to mortality and not to eternity, we are set up for strong disappointment, we are set up for doubt and disbelief, and we may eventually distort or abandon the truth.
Accepting as true only that which can be theorized according to man’s perspective and limited understanding instead of things as they really are from God’s perspective is hazardous.
Because when we trust in the precepts of men instead of God’s revealed truth, we justify breaking God’s commandments. And, in addition to separating us from God, breaking God’s commandments has another serious consequence in regards to whether or not we’ll be able to know truth.
“And no man receiveth a fulness [of truth] unless he keepeth [God’s] commandments.” (D&C 93:27)
Knowledge of Eternal truth is not fully discoverable by man’s curiosity alone. It is a gift given by God to the faithful and obedient.
Knowledge brings power, and God isn’t willing to trust just anybody with His power, knowing full well how men tend to pervert truth for wicked purposes.
God is, however, willing to give truth abundantly to those who develop Christlike attributes, because people with Christlike attributes use knowledge and power righteously.
Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.
Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.
The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.
Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.
Text: John Jaques, 1827-1900
Music: Ellen Knowles Melling, 1820-1905
When you encounter something in your life’s learning that is in opposition to an eternal truth God has revealed, consider trusting God, keeping His commandments, and allowing time for your learning to catch up to God’s revealed truth.