The Spirit, the Witness

I was told recently that my faith is blind. My belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. My belief that the Book of Mormon, alongside the Bible, is scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ. My belief in the entire set of doctrines outlined in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of this… all that I hold dear to me and believe with every fiber of my being… is blind following.

And why is it blind? According to my accuser, because…

1. There is an apparent lack of archeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, and…

2. The teachings of the Book of Mormon are obviously, according to my accuser’s opinion, in contradiction to the Bible’s doctrine.

Both of these arguments are, in my opinion, weak excuses. I bore my testimony to this man, but his heart wasn’t sufficiently softened to receive it. Honestly, that’s fine. I told him straight up that I didn’t expect to convince him, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. But to accuse me of blind faith? No, I won’t have it. Heck, he even insinuated that what I believed to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit confirming my beliefs was in reality a trick of Satan.

Last time I checked, Satan doesn’t have influence over my spirit. Yes, he can make evil appear good, and he is a grand master manipulator. He can deceive us by affecting our carnal senses. Our sight. Our hearing. Our physical sense of feeling. These are often what he attacks, but our spirits? No, that’s God’s territory. Satan can make sin seem appealing, but only God’s Spirit can touch my own spirit and manifest truth. If Satan could manipulate the very spirit within us, how awful our circumstances would be! You couldn’t trust anything! You wouldn’t be able to trust any thought or feeling you have, no matter how righteous and peaceful it feels.

But now I’m rambling, and perhaps that particular topic should be given its own blog post, just like how Venom should’ve been the spotlight of Spiderman 3.

I’m going to just focus on the first reason now. No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon? Anyone that has ever honestly looked into this topic knows that such a claim is complete nonsense. However, evidence for the Book of Mormon is not what helps an individual gain a testimony and a spiritual witness of its divinity. It is through a witness of the Holy Spirit that that is accomplished. For the sake of those who might be curious though, here’s a great link to a website dedicated to phyiscal evidences of the Book of Mormon.

http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/

Concerning the Spirit, the apostle Paul teaches us,

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath preparedfor them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

It is through the Holy Spirit that the things of God are revealed to man. Indeed, studious research is beneficial, but without a firm testimony from the Spirit, an unshakable conviction in any particular truth will never stand up to persecution and the storms of life. I marvelled somewhat that despite the fact that my accuser was a strong Christian man (and I had no reason to doubt this of him), he denied my testimony of the Spirit and claimed I was blindly following my beliefs because of an apparent lack of physical evidence. He should know very well that if something is of God, it cannot be understood or known except through His spirit.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

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The Glass Table Analogy II: Broken Pieces

The Apostles and the Seventy are out spreading the teachings of the Master, Jesus Christ. The glass table can still stand with its remaining three legs: apostles/prophets, priesthood authority, and revelation. Unfortunately, things do not go well for the Christians. Just like the prophets of old, the people reject Christ’s disciples. Through persecution and eventually murder, the Apostles and other disciples are eleminated. Jesus Christ knew this would happen, and He warned His disciples,

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations formy name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

With the disciples gone, however, the priesthood authority eventually diminished. No one was left to transfer the authority by the laying on of hands. The world fell into a Great Apostasy, a time of spiritual darkness. To use a more secular term, the world entered the Dark Ages.

The Apostle Paul could see this time clearly,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The shattering of the glass table left broken pieces. In their ignorance and wickedness, people took those pieces and began to put their own ideas around them, forming philosophies and theologies that were missing important parts of Christ’s doctrine. Without revelation from prophets and apostles, there was no one to guide them. The Church of Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth. Only fragments of truth existed among the man-made religions.

This time on the earth had actually been prophecied of long ago.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the wordsof the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)

The word of the Lord would not be found because His church and His doctrine in its fullness would not be on the earth. The glass table was broken. No man could hope to repair it. Even if one could somehow find all the pieces and bring them together, the glass would still be shattered. No power on earth could restore Jesus Christ’s church. It would take the Savior Himself to bring His gospel back in its fullness. Only He could restore the glass table to its original form.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)

By the power of the Holy Ghost, Peter knew Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, AKA Revelation. Hence, upon this rock, meaning revelation, would Christ build His church, giving Peter the keys of the kindgom, AKA priesthood authority. And the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it, for The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored in these latter days. This is where a young farmboy named Joseph Smith comes into play…

Ask of God

This last weekend was amazing. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear from a living prophet of God, apostles, and other church leaders called of God. Of course, the things they say are not to be taken by their word. We must search and study their words and listen to the Holy Spirit of God to know that they are true. As I watched and listened to conference, I can testify that the Spirit was present. Two hours is a long time to sit… and I’m somewhat of a fidgety person. When one session is over, I’ll admit I’m slightly relieved. However, it is also, for a moment, a depressing feeling.

When each session ends, I can without a doubt feel the power of the Holy Spirit lessen. It is always a testimony to me of the divinity of the Prophet’s and Apostles’ callings.

When Joseph Smith was in a position of uncertainty, wanting to know which of the religious sects was right, he came across a verse in the New Testament, which reads,

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

He did so (that is, ask of God) and received his answer in a marvelous way, in which he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ.

I am certain that you and I will never have such a thing revealed to us, in that manner. But we can know truth which just as much surety as if we had seen a vision. A Book of Mormon prophet named Moroni stated simply,

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:5)

If you did not participate in General Conference, I invite you to watch it online at lds.org. Listen to the Prophet’s voice, and the voice of the Apostles and other leaders. Ask God if their words are true, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, you may know if they are truth.

We Are Christians

A few days ago, Elder Andersen and I had lunch at a member’s home. She showed us a Pentecostal magazine that a friend had given her. It had several pages talking about the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to glance through it and see what it had to say. The main point of the lengthy article, it seemed, was to declare that Mormons are not Christians, and that Mormon doctrines are corrupt and anti-Biblical, but that Mormons should be reached out to be loving Christians so they can be saved.

It was amusing, to say the least. Some of the information on the doctrine was indeed correct, but was placed in a less than pleasing light. Other portions of the article were rather deceptive and only gave certain points of information which, without the full perspective, could easily lead someone to think negatively about the Church. Some of the things I read were outright lies.

It was sad to think that this extremely one-sided article was most likely engendering equally one-sided perceptions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ultimately, all the article served to do for me was strengthen my testimony of the Church. Naturally, if this is truly Jesus Christ’s church restored to the earth again, then Satan is going to do all he can to bring it down. He’s a clever fellow, trying to tear down the fullness of Christ’s gospel with Christians on the front line of his army.

For this thought, I suppose I would just like to bear my testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and of the universe. I know He bled and died for me and all mankind. I know He was resurrected and lives today. I know He is the Only Begotten Son of the living God, our Father in Heaven. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and that Jesus Christ restored His church through him. I know the Book of Mormon is a true record. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know we have prophets and apostles today, and that the current prophet is Thomas S. Monson. I know he is an inspired man, called of God to be a prophet, seer, and revelator.

People may call us the “Mormon church”, but we are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is His church. I testify that only in this church can the fullness of Christ’s gospel be found. All these things I know, but not of myself. And I would never expect anyone to simply take my word for it. I know these things because the Holy Spirit of God has testified of them to me, and I cannot and will not deny it. Whatever the world may say, it does not matter. I know I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)

I invite you to follow the advice of the Master Himself. If you want to know if these things are true, read the Book of Mormon, then humbly pray to God, in the name of Christ, and ask Him if it is true.

The Book of Mormon

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It holds the entire doctrine of the Church together. If the Book of Mormon is not true, then Joseph Smith was a fraud, our claim to priesthood authority is void, and the Church in its entirety is perhaps the greatest hoax ever conceived.

However, if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God. If the Book of Mormon is true, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s true church restored to the Earth, containing the fullness of Jesus Christ’s gospel. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the message it contains is the single most important thing that anyone could read or know in his or her life.

So how does one come about knowing if it’s true or not? Certainly God does not expect us to believe something just because someone has told us to. The only way to know if the Book of Mormon is true is to read it, ponder about what it contains, and pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ and ask Him if the book is true

Moroni, the last prophet in the Book of Mormon and last person to write in the ancient record itself, gives us a promise. It’s found in the last book of the Book of Mormon: Moroni, chapter 10, verses 4 and 5,

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

The Spirit is the only way to know if the Book of Mormon is true. He testifies of truth and will lead us to it. We simply need to ask God with 1) a sincere heart, meaning that we truly want to know if the book is true, 2) real intent, meaning that we are willing to act upon our answer, that we will do something when the Holy Ghost testifies of the Book of Mormon’s divinity, and 3) having faith in Christ, meaning that we do this with the desire of coming closer to Jesus Christ and wanting to know if it is truly His gospel.

I have done this myself. I have read, pondered, and prayed about the Book of Mormon to know if it is true, and I testify to you that I have received my answer from my Heavenly Father, by the power of the Holy Ghost. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that it is the word of God.

I challenge you, if you have not done so, to read the Book of Mormon and pray to your Heavenly Father to know if it is true. You need not read the entire book itself. How many people believe in the Bible and yet have not read it completely? The Spirit can manifest all truth, no matter how great or small. The truth can be made known to you if you are sincere in seeking in, with the intent of coming closer to Jesus Christ.