Testimony in the Mormon Church
Testimony is an important word to Mormons. It refers to a conviction or sure knowledge of things that are holy. When a Mormon says that he has a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it means that he has a very strong belief in it; he has a deep personal understanding of its truthfulness and validity; he has felt the Holy Ghost testify to him that Jesus Christ’s teachings are correct, and he wants, in turn, to testify to others and help them feel that same spirit of truth.
In developing strong testimonies of the truth, Mormons believe in the importance of praying together, studying the scriptures together, encouraging each other to keep the commandments of God, and actually bearing testimony (or sharing convictions) in group settings. On the first Sunday of each month, customarily assigned sermons offered by a few are replaced with an opportunity for anyone in a Mormon congregation to stand and bear his or her testimony of the truths of the gospel. Mormons share personal experiences, they express gratitude for particular blessings sent from God, and they express special feelings and realizations they have had, thanks to the Holy Ghost, which have increased their faith and knowledge and determination to follow Christ.
A strong testimony is built upon a few key principles which Mormons hold as fundamental to their religion. One is the very fact that God lives. He is our spiritual Father and He loves us as His children. He has prepared a plan that allows us to come to earth, gain physical bodies and also great experience and development, and then, depending on how well we have striven to keep His commandments and exercise faith in Him, we can return to His presence as beings who have become more like their Heavenly Father.
A second principle of which we need to gain a conviction is that Jesus Christ was sent by the Father as the central figure in the great plan of happiness and salvation for all God’s children. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we can be resurrected as was He, overcoming death as our bodies and spirits are reunited in a perfected and immortal form. We also have the chance to practice repentance and receive forgiveness because of Christ’s suffering for our sins. If we exercise faith and follow Him, observing all His teachings and ordinances (such as baptism), we will indeed have kept the commandments of the Father and will be admitted into his Kingdom.
Third, in the world’s history God has frequently called and sent prophets to testify to people of the foregoing principles. Prophets frequently speak directly about Christ, or at least provide teachings which are integral to His gospel and the plan of salvation. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the twelve Apostles, and many others have been instruments in the hands of God, inviting people into a world of faith, peace, selflessness, love, and purity.
Fourth, in 1820 a new prophet of the Lord began to receive revelations from Heaven. Joseph Smith gained his own testimony of the goodness of God, and he brought forth new scriptures which, like the Old and New Testaments, bear witness of the Savior’s gospel. This is why the Book of Mormon carries the subscript, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Besides revealing new scripture, Joseph Smith was entrusted with the work of restoring the true Church of God, known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church.
Finally, the divine calling of prophets continues today. Mormons believe each President of the LDS Church since Joseph Smith to have been a prophet, seer, and revelator. Besides the President, there are also two counselors and twelve Apostles, and even Seventies, mirroring the organization that Jesus established some 2,000 years ago. These good men continually labor to bring people unto Christ, to encourage and strengthen people in their resolve to follow Christ’s teachings and example. Our Heavenly Father is actively engaged in the work of salvation for His children, using His prophets and His Church to further that cause.
To become and remain convinced of these facts, through the power of the Holy Ghost, is what every member of the Mormon Church is strongly encouraged to do. People of other faiths are also all invited to put Mormonism to the test and see if they will not gain their own testimony of Christ and his true Church and gospel. For any honest and diligent seekers of truth, the test is not overly difficult. It involves heartfelt prayer and faith, study of the scriptures, and obedience to the commandments. Heavenly Father will hear the plea for truth and will answer in His own time and way.