President's Pen 2-12-18 (I Know of Myself)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! “We begin with the End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya! Thanks for your goodness, for your faith, for your diligence, and for your desire to help all feel the joy and gift of repentance.  You represent the Savior, you teach, testify, and invite in His name.  Be worthy of this blessing, be grateful to serve Him, and continue to become converted to Him and His gospel and help others do the same!

Do you know?  Of all the wonderful teachings we find in the Book of Mormon, I love the assurance that Alma gives of how we can come to know the truth for ourselves.  After teaching an amazing sermon to the people of Zarahemla, he asks, “Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself?”  He then goes on to answer his own question, “Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?  Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.” (Alma 5:45-46)

Have you personally followed Alma’s pattern to gain your own witness of the truth? Has the Spirit confirmed to your heart and mind (spirit of revelation) that what we teach, preach, and live is true? Have you fasted and prayed to come to a knowledge of the truth? Have you entered into your own sacred grove and asked God if He’s there, if Jesus Christ is your Savior and Redeemer, if Joseph Smith truly is a prophet of God, if this is His Church, and if the Book of Mormon is the word of God? 

Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Seventy taught the following. “How can we know the answers? There are different methods of learning including the scientific, the analytical and the divine methods. All three methods begin the same way, with a question. Questions are important, especially the primary questions. (The primary questions are: Is there a God who is our Father? Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-­‐‑day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?)

With the scientific method a hypothesis is framed in response to a question. Experimentation is then conducted to test the hypothesis. The results are then analyzed and conclusions are drawn that either confirm, disprove or modify the hypothesis in which event the process continues.

The analytical method involves gathering, organizing and weighing the evidence relevant to a question. Based on the weight of the evidence, conclusions are drawn as to what the truth may be.

The divine method of learning incorporates elements of both the scientific and analytical methods but ultimately trumps everything else by tapping into the powers of heaven.

As for the scientific method, Alma invites us to “experiment upon (his) words” and the Lord said: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”  In regard to tithing He also said, “…prove me now herewith…if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Truth can be discovered by doing, which is faith.

The analytical method also plays a role. The Lord instructed Oliver Cowdery saying: “Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right…”  Reason, studying things out in our minds, plays a role in preparing us to know the truth.

Ultimately, however, the things of God are made known by the Spirit of God.  The Apostle Paul taught that men only know the things of men and that the things of God are known by no man except by the Spirit of God. He said: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Jesus said: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost… shall teach you all things...”  Part of the great promise of The Book of Mormon is that “…by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”  Ultimately, the things of God are made known by the Spirit of God.”

Elders & Sisters, many of us were fortunate to be raised in a home where gospel principles were taught, church attendance was the norm, and we came to believe what our parents, teachers, and leaders taught us.  This is good and it laid the foundation for our faith, but as President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Every man eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there he must make his stand.”  We will all have to come to a knowledge for ourselves, independent of the testimony of others, that what we believe is true. 

I vividly recall arriving on my mission, and for the first time in my life, I realized I had to know what I was teaching was true.  Sadly, I had waited to be in the field before I actually got down on my knees and asked if Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and Jesus Christ.  I was teaching it, I had always assumed it was true, I hoped that it was, but I hadn’t actually done what Alma taught.  For the next several weeks I asked God if Joseph Smith really was a prophet of God. 

The answer didn’t come immediately, but it did come.  I was teaching a lesson on the Restoration in our small, rented church house in Futrono, Chile.  We were showing our investigator an old film strip of Joseph Smith’s experience, his desire to know what church was true, his study in the book of James, and his journey into a grove of trees to ask of God.  I listened to Joseph’s own words as he testified of seeing a pillar of light, that descended gradually until it rested upon him.  When the words were spoken, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him”,  the Spirit witnessed to my heart and mind like never before that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  Light filled my mind and I knew without a doubt that what I was teaching, what I believed, and what I hoped for was true.  To this day I remember the feeling… it was peace, it was joy, and it was heaven sent.  I know of myself that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.

I know of myself that God lives. I have felt His love, I see His creation, I know he hears my prayers and knows me by name.  I know of myself that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer, that He lives, and that He personally atoned for me.  I have felt the enabling power of His grace, His forgiveness, His peace, and His love.  I know of myself that this is God’s Church on the earthy today.  I know this because I have experimented, weighed the evidence, and have felt the reassurance that this is the only Church that has the priesthood authority, ordinances, and God’s chosen prophet to lead and guide us.  I know of myself that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know this as I have read, pondered, and prayed and have received a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true.  I know of these things because I have done what Alma taught.  I have prayed, I have fasted, I have experimented, I have nurtured, and I continue to act in faith.  I do not doubt, I do not wonder, I know these things are true.  I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that what I have come to know is true. 

Elders & Sisters, I invite you today to ask if you know of yourself if these things are true.  Have you experimented, analyzed, but most importantly had these things made known unto you by the Spirit of God?  Have you had your own sacred grove moment where the spirit of revelation has brought the feelings to your heart and thoughts to your mind that you desire?  I am eternally grateful that my mission backed me up to the wall of faith and that I came to a knowledge for myself.  If you have had this experience, write it down, treasure it, remember what you did, and how you came to this knowledge.  If you are still working on it, good for you, keep asking, keep acting, keep believing.  I have had to continually nurture my testimony, it hasn’t been confirmed by only one experience, but by many acts of faith and continuous effort.  I believe in Alma’s words.  I testify that the Spirit will make manifest the truth of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost.  I invite you today to know of yourself.  In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.  I love ya!

President Hall