A thread on testimony

Following is a thread that ran on CompuServe's religion forum late in 1993. I've saved it and post it now as a collection of testimonies borne in response to an inquiry from a woman considering membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fm: Susan 75260,1470

To: Anyone

I am thinking and praying about being baptized and joining the LDS church. I have been investigating for some time now but remain confused. I realize the only way to know it is true is to ask of God. I have done that and at times I feel good about it but it seems to be fleeting. Can anyone give food for thought?

There are 8 Replies.

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Fm: Keith Irwin 75415,1756

Susan:

Welcome to the Latter-Day Saints section. I'm sure you will receive a number of thoughtful replies to your inquiry.

Keith

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Fm: Dale Crockett 73404,1475

Susan: I appreciate your post.

I've served as a stake missionary for the Church for two years. I think that the key to obtaining personal answers to prayer about the Church is to focus your prayer on specific matters about the Church.

Ask: Is the Book of Mormon the word of God? The following is not a helpful prayer: "Show me the right way."

Read the Book of Mormon, stop, and contemplate whether such a book would be a fiction or revealed by God. Pray about what you read. Attend Church, and your answer will come very soon.

Answers to prayer about the Church don't come in manners perceived by the five senses. It comes, usually, in a whisper to your soul.

I know the Church was established by God in these latter-days, and know this by prayer and study. Good luck, and God bless.

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Fm: Robb Cundick 72113,1651

Dear Susan,

Welcome! -- it's good to hear from you. Here are some of my ideas about the subject of developing a testimony of the Gospel.

I'm a lifelong member -- even so, there have been times when I have felt confused. Having received much training in science I naturally seem to want an explanation for everything. However, experience has taught me that this is not always possible, especially in the area of religion.

It seems that no matter what one chooses to believe there are people waiting in the wings to shoot holes in it. I believe this is what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of "being blown about by every wind of doctrine" (or words to that effect). So when it comes to things I don't understand about the Church, I've found there are times when I must simply put them "on the shelf" until a time when everything will be explained more fully.

What I _know_ in my heart is that the Lord is actively guiding and leading this Church. I have seen His hand influence my life and those of my loved ones. I have seen the many miracles -- most of them small, but wondrous just the same -- which have come about from honestly striving to live the teachings of the Gospel and "hold fast to the rod".

As I have said here before, I believe the concept of not "hardening one's heart" as discussed in the Book of Mormon is very important. Hardening my heart, IMHO, would be allowing those subtle, precious truths which I feel so fervently deep down inside to be clouded by my desire for certainty about all the details.

Don't be afraid to let go of that desire for "certainty in all things" as you plant the seed of faith in your heart, nurture it, and allow it to grow. I promise that you will, as Alma (BOM ch. 34 or thereabouts) says, find that it is indeed such a wonderful thing that you will want to continue cultivating it because it is so _good_ and brings so much joy.

Robb

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Fm: Hyrum A Hall 70363,645

I have read the other responses to your inquiry in this forum. My only addition is that once you receive a confirmation of your inquiry about the Church then inaction on your part will cause confusion. In my experience, God will not give you additional "light" if you don't act upon the "light" He has already given. We learn godliness a little at a time. As we learn one principle of truth then we are tested to see if we will abide by it. Once we prove, mostly to ourselves, that we will be true to that principle than we are given another bit of truth. Faith and spirituality were compared to a seed by the Savior. The seed grows as it receives nourishment BUT it doesn't spring into a full plant all at once.

As I have mentioned before in this forum, I received my confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon when I was sixteen. This knowledge has been a great blessing to me. I pray you will be as fortunate and blessed as me.

HYRUM

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Fm: Larry Beck 75300,1172

Susan,

I assume you are still taking the discussions? If so, after a discussion pray about the principle the missionaries teach you. Look for specific verses of scripture that deal with the questions you are having. "Line upon line, precept upon precept", answers will come to you. Bring up your questions in the Gospel Principles class at church. Thanks for becoming a part of the online CIS 1st Ward!

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Fm: Craig Anderson 75730,614

Susan,

I would echo the statements by Dale and Robb. When you pray sincerely and ponder the Book of Mormon, and other aspects of the gospel, and receive those good feelings, you can be certain that the spirit is communicating with you.

It may be fleeting, but that is due to doubt and wonder. When you are baptized, you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means, simply, the privilege of having the spirit with you at all times as you live righteously enough to receive it.

Each experience builds upon the last, and gradually you can come to feel that you are being led by the spirit in virtually all that you do. This takes time and effort. The important thing for now is to recognize the promptings of the spirit as you receive them, and strive to be in a prayerful attitude so as to receive those promptings more and more.

As was mentioned by others, pray in specifics and not in generalities. When you do, you will receive specific answers.

I know for myself through prayer and the feelings of the spirit that God the Father and His son Jesus Christ live and are real. God knows you by name, and loves you, and watches over you. I know that God and Christ did in reality appear to Joseph Smith in a grove of trees, and that Joseph Smith was a real prophet. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by power from God and that it is true. I know that there is a real prophet guiding the church today, and that he is directed by Christ himself. You can know these things too. Strive to keep the commandments, and pray with your whole soul to know whether these things are true, in faith and sincerity, and the Lord will answer your prayers.

Please keep in touch and let us know how things are progressing for you.

Craig

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Fm: Thom Duncan 75300,1234

Susan,

Do not expect to receive (necessarily) a blatant manifestation of the truth of the Gospel. It can happen, and has to many people, but my own conversion was different. I was 14 and joined the church because my family did. I was already abiding by the Word of Wisdom, and it seemed like a neat thing to do. A year later, I actually became converted when I started attending Seminary as a youth. Conversion to the truth happens differently for different people.

Thom

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Fm: Randy G. 70761,417

Susan:

Welcome! I understand how you feel because I was a convert to the church when I was 18. As a journalist, I always "want the facts in full", so I can relate to your fleeting doubts.

However, as someone else has mentioned, those doubts will come by those wishing to deceive you. Don't worry about them; they are natural feelings. Remember that Satan and his hosts work the hardest on those who would seek to follow the teachings and plan of our Heavenly Father. You are about to take a huge step in your eternal progression, so naturally doubts are whispered to your mind by those who do not want to see you join on the side of the Lord.

I can testify that this is the Lord's church, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Even when I've had struggles with this or that, there has never been any doubt about the truthfulness of the Gospel or the authority of the Lord's leaders. As Moroni said in his writings, ask God with a sincere heart and contrite spirit.

Keep us posted and may the Lord bless you.

Randy G.


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