Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How do you know the answers you have given are true?

This is part nine of a ten-part post. Elder Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy suggested ten questions which members of any church might ask our missionaries or any other member of the Church.

Question number nine: How do you know the answers you have given are true?

 
Elder Cuthbert’s answer:

I know because of my testimony, which comes from deep inside me and yet is from a divine source. The wonderful missionaries brought a special gift, which I received following baptism.

“A gift, you say? What did they buy for you that has made you so happy and made you so sure that God and Jesus live and that they speak to us in these days through prophets?”

No, it was not a gift purchased, except by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. He promised that he would send a Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, to guide and bless and comfort and testify of truth.

“You mean you have the gift of the Holy Ghost as was promised and bestowed in the early Church?”

Yes. After I had come up out of the water, hands were laid upon my head by one having authority from Jesus Christ himself, and I received the Holy Ghost to be my constant companion. The Holy Ghost testifies of truth; he bears witness of the Father and the Son.

My testimony:

We read in the scriptures of miraculous conversions of prophets such as Moses and Samuel who heard the voice of the Lord; later Moses even spoke to God face to face. Others have visitations of the spirit, angelic messengers who appear to them and teach them in person such as Saul of Tarsus and Alma the younger. And the scriptures are full of stories of others who had a foundation of faith and then saw angels and visions and heard the voice of the Lord.

Those of us who have never seen visions or angels may wonder how we can know that Jesus is the Christ, that He and His Father called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and restored Their Church through him, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

I will tell you how I know.

I have never seen an angel or a vision of spiritual things. I have never heard the voice of Jehovah in a burning bush or called down fire from the heavens upon my enemies. I have never even spoken with someone who told me that any of those things have happened to them. I have not even had one specific, overwhelming, confirming witness that the Book of Mormon is true when I have read it through and followed the exhortations of Moroni at the end. No, nothing so "miraculous" has ever happened to me.

Indeed, I often say that I was born with a testimony; I have never doubted the faith of my parents or that the standards and principles I was taught in my home and at church are correct principles. I have never doubted that the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a living prophet or that the Book of Mormon is true. I was baptized at age eight because I was taught that was the right thing to do, the thing that Jesus Christ wanted me to do. Some may argue that eight is too young to make decisions of such eternal significance but I have never looked back. I do not have one big "conversion story;" instead, I have hundreds of small conversion stories.

I know how I felt when my father and a handful of other worthy priesthood holders put their hands on my head and gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost. Although I was barely eight years old, I still recall the immense feeling of warmth that started in my chest and spread until it filled my extremities. I feel that same way when I hear the prophet of the Lord and the apostles speak. I feel that same way when I read the Book of Mormon, when I pray for insights and help with problems and questions in my life, and when I find answers to those problems and questions in the scriptures. I feel that same way when anyone talks about the prophet Joseph Smith and his experience with God the Father and Jesus Christ in the grove of trees near his house now known as the Sacred Grove. I feel that same way when I partake of the sacrament each Sunday and when my peers share their own testimonies.
I felt that way when I was twelve years old and my younger brother who had barely spent a week on this earth died in my mother's arms. My whole family knew that because my parents were married in the temple and we are sealed as a family that we would see him again and be together as a family. I felt that same way when my brothers left on missions, when my niece was born, and when I saw two of my best friends, my younger brother, and my roommate each marry their sweethearts and make eternal covenants in the house of the Lord. I felt that way every time I spoke of Christ and His restored gospel on the frozen or sweltering streets of Ukraine and when I heard the pure testimonies of members there who sacrifice so much because they know that Jesus is the Christ and that they can become cleansed and ultimately eternally happy through the miracle of His Atonement.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because I have read it many times, I have searched its pages for answers to specific, pressing, and personal questions and each time found an answer. I have seen so many lives transformed by the power of the Book of Mormon as people read the words of the Lord contained therein, feel the Spirit, and decide to change their lives. The power of the Book of Mormon is miraculous and transforming, I know because I have experienced it.

I know that the Word of Wisdom helps keep me healthy and in control of my decisions, that I receive immense blessings from living the Law of Tithing, that I am truly happier when we live the Law of Chastity, that keeping the Sabbath day holy adds a heightened spirit to my week, and that a life of service-loving our neighbors as ourselves-enables me to feel closer to God and keep an eternal perspective. I know these things because I strive to live them everyday. At times I do not succeed but at times I do and I recognize the difference in my life each time.

Making mistakes and repenting-striving to do better and be better-has taught me of the sweet and incredible healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is the master healer. I have seen His healing in the scriptures, in the lives of people all around me, and I have experienced it in my own life many, many times.

Yes friends, I know that the answers I have given you are true because too many things have happened in my life for them not to be true. Of course, none of my testimony came by default, each experience upon which I have touched required a degree of faith, a degree of stepping into the darkness with the hope that all would work out. But each time I make a choice to live the commandments of my Heavenly Father I have received a witness through the Holy Ghost after the trial of my faith.

And so it is with each of you! Exercise a particle of faith-begin with even a desire to believe and you, too, can know. More on how you can know personally in the tenth and final part of this series.

This is my testimony.

Jeremy

See also:
Topic: Testimony on LDS.org
Elder David A. Bednar, "The Spirit of Revelation," Ensign, May 2011