Today I was assigned to give a talk in our Ward…the subject was “Testimony as a Process” — based on a talk from general conference earlier this year. I figure that this blog is about me, and my thoughts, and this talk was something I devoted several hours of study and prayer to, so I’ll put it up here as a post. This is what I had written, not exactly what was said…
“A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.” This definition of what a testimony is, is found from the Church’s website, lds.org.
It’s this last sentence I will speak more on today; “…with this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the Gospel.” You’ll see that once we have the foundation of our testimony firmly rooted in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith, and other principles of the restoration, we should not — and cannot — stop there. The term ‘grows’ is used to describe a testimony. The principles I will speak of today will show how a testimony is not something that we obtain once, have to it’s fullest immediately, and no longer need to maintain once obtained; but how it is a process — a life-long, and eternal process.
Elder Carlos A. Godoy, of the Seventy, gave a talk in the last General Conference entitiled ‘Testimony as a Process.’ He related an experience that illustrated the fact that our testimonies need not be built upon a single, magnificent, spiritual experience — though sometimes that is how they are started; but that testimonies are built upon many smaller, but special — intimate — teachings from the Holy Ghost. I quote some of his talk now ”
As a young man in Porto Alegre, Brazil, learning about the Church from two sister missionaries, I remember looking for an answer to my prayers—something big and unquestionable. It never happened. That does not mean that I did not develop enough certainty to join the restored Church.
Alma teaches this process of nurturing a testimony: “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe [and I think that was my case as an investigator], let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27).
Since those days, for me as an investigator of the Church, and later as a missionary, and then as a father and a leader, all of these experiences together formed a set of experiences and feelings, most often small, that leave no doubt that the seed “is a good seed” (Alma 32:30).
I must say for me, this is the case with my testimony — that there is not one event that defines the testimony I have of our Heavenly Father, His son, Jesus Christ, and the restoration of the Gospel. My testimony is composed of many mostly small (and probably unnoticeable to others) events and spiritual awakenings throughout my life.
If we go back to the words of Alma “…Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28).”
Take notice of one of the first phrases in that verse “if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart.” We need to actively make room in our hearts for this seed; whether it be a seed of the truthfulness of Jesus Christ, or the Godhead being three distinct individuals (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost), of Joseph Smith being the first prophet in the Latter-Days, or of tithing, or of fast offerings; we must make room for it, otherwise we will never have a place to develop that testimony.
- We don’t need to have a sudden impactful event to have a strong testimony, in fact, those types of events don’t guarantee a strong (or everlasting) testimony
- Sincere testimony
- The Spirit whispers, caresses so gently
- say in our manner and expression … “speak Lord for thy servant heareth” (like Samuel of old)
- Alma 32 – faith as a seed
- leave no doubt that this seed is a good seed
- if ye give place that a seed may be planted in your heart … we need to actively make room in our hearts for this seed; whether it be a seed of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith, or of tithing, or of fast offerings; we must make room for it, otherwise we will never have a place to develop that testimony.
- if our hearts are too hard….there will be no space for a seed
- we must be clean to hear the quiet whisperings of the spirit
- for the vast majority of us, we won’t have magnificent angelic ministries proclaiming Jesus Christ is the Son of God. — which might be a good thing, because quite often the people we read about having those type of life-changing events were pretty wicked to start off with.
- 2 Corinthians 1:12 – (Paul and Timothy writing to a gathering of saints at Corinth and Achaia(which took in most of greece back then)) – “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world…” —– I LOVE the ‘simplicity and godly sicerity’