Gaining a testimony of the Prophet

This is for a talk I gave today in the Belen Ward, Los Lunas Stake. I tried something a little different. Instead of writing everything out and reading the talk, I wrote short sentences and just used them as a guide. It worked out okay I guess, although lacked polish, and, unfortunately is very incomplete for this post.

EQ lesson shortly after baptism – how to gain a testimony of the prophet. I didn’t feel I needed it since I’d already accepted the fact that the church was true.

Some people have trouble transitioning from one prophet ot the next

Some question the prophet’s divine authority when they see his human frailties. Dissension has been an issue throughout history, dating back to Adam

Take the case of Oliver Cowdery, close friend and confidant of the Prophet Jos Smith,…. Had some serious disagreements with the prophet in 1838 – was excommunicated. But 10 years he had a change of heart and asked to be readmitted to the church.

Let’s suppose that you or someone you know lacks a testimony of the prophet. What can you do? Obvious answers include prayer and fasting – Humbly seeking answers from the spirit.

This scripture comes to mind – 15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.  (Matt 7)

I believe that anyone who seriously studies the lives of any of the Prophets of the Latter-days will discover that they are all genuinely good men — not perfect mind, but exceptionally good men nevertheless. Most have had incredible struggles in their lives.

Except in very rare instances, I have never felt that one of our leaders has behaved poorly or asked us to do anything questionable.

Let’s suppose you have a testimony of the prophet. What’s next? We’re asked to raise our hands to show our support. Are we voting for him? No. This isn’t a democracy. We’re acknowledging that the Lord has called him to be our prophet. It’s called sustaining.

What does it mean to sustain someone? To support, encourage, respect, follow.

By the way, it’s not just the prophet we’re asked to sustain. We’re asked to sustain all of our church leaders from the Prophet and quorum of 12 on down to the bishop, etc. Do we treat them with the same respect that we give the prophet? Should we?

What’s difference between sustaining the prophet and sustaining, let’s say a Primary Teacher? Well, obviously the prophet had more responsibility than a primary teacher. But how are those two calling similar? They both come from God. Do we really believe that?

Think about this – when we raise our hand, we already mentioned that we’re not voting for them. Are we showing them our support? Yes. What else? We’re showing our support for the priesthood leader who called them to the position.

If you’ve been called to be primary teacher, do you raise your hand along with everyone else? You should. Are you sustaining yourself? No, your sustaining the Priesthood leader or leaders called you to the position. who felt you were the best for the job. You’re saying to those priesthood leaders “I believe that the Lord has given you the ability – no the authority — to act on his behalf.

Everyone who has a calling in this church, from the prophet and quorum of the 12 on down has been called by God. How many of us really believe that?

The issuing and acceptance of callings is another subject for another time. Now I want to turn my attention to testimonies in general?

Why do we talk so much about testimonies? I don’t know of another church that talks as much about Testimonies. We even have Testimony meeting.

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Gordon B. Hinckley:

This thing which we call testimony is the great strength of the Church. It is the wellspring of faith and activity. It is difficult to explain. It is difficult to quantify. It is an elusive and mysterious thing, and yet it is as real and powerful as any force on the earth. The Lord described it when He spoke to Nicodemus and said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). This thing which we call testimony is difficult to define, but its fruits are plainly evident. It is the Holy Spirit testifying through us.

Personal testimony is the factor which turns people around in their living as they come into this Church. This is the element which motivates the membership to forsake all in the service of the Lord. This is the quiet, encouraging voice which sustains without pause those who walk in faith down to the last days of their lives.

It is this element, weak and somewhat feeble at first, which moves every investigator in the direction of conversion. It pushes every convert toward security in the faith. This is the thing which caused our forebears to leave England and the lands of Europe, to cross the seas with harrowing experiences, to walk what seemed endlessly beside plodding oxen or frail handcarts in the direction of these mountains of the West. They struggled, they worked, they died by the thousands on that fateful journey. That spirit of testimony has come down to us, who are the inheritors of their precious faith.

Relate conversion story

Heber J Grant”

Many years ago, a young man (he was only 23 years old) was called to be the new stake president in Tooele, Utah. In those days, stake conferences had two sessions, and at lunch between the sessions, Joseph F. Smith, one of the General Authorities attending, said to the new stake president, “You said you believe the gospel with all your heart, and propose to live it, but you did not bear your testimony that you know it is true. Don’t you know absolutely that this gospel is true?”

“I do not,” answered the young man.

“President Taylor,” said Elder Smith to the President of the Church, John Taylor, who was also in attendance, “I am in favor of undoing this afternoon what we did this morning. I do not think any man should preside over a stake who has not a perfect and abiding knowledge of the divinity of this work.”

President Taylor just laughed and said, “Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, he knows it just as well as you do. The only thing that he does not know is that he does know it.”

That story brings up a very interesting question: Is it possible to know that the Church is true, but not know that you know? Is a testimony that hard to detect? This story is even more interesting when you learn the identity of the new stake president. His name was Heber J. Grant. Yes, the same Heber J. Grant who later became the President of the Church.

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David Bednar – receiving revelation – like flashes of light for some, but for most like a gradually rising sun.

I invite you to consider two experiences most of us have had with light.

The first experience occurred as we entered a dark room and turned on a light switch. Remember how in an instant a bright flood of illumination filled the room and caused the darkness to disappear. What previously had been unseen and uncertain became clear and recognizable. This experience was characterized by immediate and intense recognition of light.

The second experience took place as we watched night turn into morning. Do you recall the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon? In contrast to turning on a light in a dark room, the light from the rising sun did not immediately burst forth. Rather, gradually and steadily the intensity of the light increased, and the darkness of night was replaced by the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun did dawn over the skyline. But the visual evidence of the sun’s impending arrival was apparent hours before the sun actually appeared over the horizon. This experience was characterized by subtle and gradual discernment of light.

 

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