This is the Sacrament talk I delivered on April 24, 2016 in my home ward. I tried to show that testimony is more than knowing and in all its forms it should be honored. I end bearing my testimony to show this nuance in action.
Outline of the Talk
In our faith we value our testimonies. We value them so much that we set aside 1 week a month as sacred time to express those testimonies.
How do we define a testimony and what is an acceptable testimony to have?
concede up front that I am limited by the weakness of my own language as D&C 1 points out God speaks to us in the weakness of our own language
What is a testimony?
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.
A Testimony Is a Conviction, Knowledge, or Belief in a Truth
“Pure testimony” (Alma 4:19) begins with pure belief. Your testimony is a spiritual witness of what you believe or know to be true (see D&C 80:4). When you share your testimony, the purest and most powerful parts will come from words like know, believe, and testify. Even if you don’t know right now if everything about the Church is true, Heavenly Father will bless you and help you learn as long as you have a righteous desire to know and you sincerely try to learn.
Notice how much softer more inclusive the newer definition is
knowing – D&C 46 – to some it is given to know that Jesus is the christ
There are many examples of those who know through out the scriptures. To know is a gift from God. Knowing is certainty and it is to have overwhelming evidence to back up
alma begins to preach about the value of faith vs knowing and he begins to speculate that Faith is actually greater than knowing
“blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.”….. is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.”
26 ¶And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Hope – Hope is to continue on in spite of worry and concern pressing against such.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Christ seems to honor those who take a ” leap of faith” without knowing. For those who don’t know and “only believe” Christ seems to be saying that such is praiseworthy and is to be honored.
some go from feeling they have a “knowing” testimony to one of these other types and others start at hope and find themselves one day knowing. our faith journies are individual and each stage is a gift from God not to be cast aside by ourselves or mocked by others
whether one’s testimony is knowing, or faith, or belief, or perhaps hope it should be honored as a gift from god and we should spend little time gauging which is superior.
A 14-year-old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, “Brother Holland, I can’t say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is.” I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out. I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for “only believing.” I told him that Christ Himself said, “Be not afraid, only believe,” – There are many in our faith who don’t know. I add my heartfelt assurance to that of Elder hollands. Belief is precious. And Hope is precious too
If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope. If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start.
some quotes within our faith have taught where there is faith there can be no doubt. May I offer the thought that for some of us doubt is the other side of the coin of faith. to have faith is to move forward towards Christ in spite of doubt. In spite of troubling thoughts, worries, and questions.
While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?
36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.
Testimony displaying all 4 in in application
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true in that applying its principles bear fruit in my life and the lives of others
with an almost certainty in God as a loving heavenly father
In the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not know if he was historical or not but I can witness that I have been changed by his grace and cleansed by his mercy.
in his atonement
in the Book of Mormon as scripture in that applying its principles have and continue to bless my life
in the restoration
the Church is true
that joseph smith was a prophet
that families are together forever