“The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”[1]

If we are to become like the Savior, then we must do what He did and fulfill the purpose He served. Jesus came into the world to do many things, but He Himself explains his principal aim: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.[2]

Our Mission Is to Bear Testimony

If the great purpose of Jesus Christ is to bear witness to truth, and we are called to do His works, then it follows our great mission is to testify of Him and of His Father in this telestial world. There is, of course, no guarantee that our witness will be accepted, but this makes no difference. Jesus said, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.”[3]  We are still under the obligation to testify of Him wherever and whenever we can.

When Paul was taken by the mob in Jerusalem, the Roman guard allowed him to speak to the mob. He did not preach to them. He did not talk of principles or doctrines. He bore his testimony, describing in simple terms what had happened to him on the road to Damascus.

“As I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.”[4]

The mob rejected his testimony, but Paul was undaunted. Again, when brought before King Agrippa and the Roman governor Festus, Paul did no preaching. He merely recounted his testimony.

“As I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.”[5]

Paul’s testimony was so strong that it nearly converted the haughty King Agrippa, who said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”[6]

Pure Testimony Consists of What We Know to Be True

Pure testimony is the only power that has ever brought about true conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ. People might be swayed by reason or influenced by principle, but the only thing that converts the heart is testimony — the simple, honest “I know.”  Testimony is the great antidote to evil when accompanied by the witness of the Holy Ghost.

When Alma went among his people to “reclaim” them, he knew there was no other way to do so than by bearing his testimony to them. His aim was “to pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.”[7]

“Pure testimony” consists of what we know to be true. It is not the same as teaching, although testimony is essential to teaching. Alma knew that all the teaching and preaching he could do was not sufficient to “pull down” the pride and contentiousness among his people. More than that was needed.

Testimony is an antidote to pride because the Holy Ghost accompanies our witness. The Holy Ghost sheds forth a meek and gentle influence. Testimony is an antidote to contention because the Holy Ghost inspires love. Arrogance and argumentation never convert; only the witness of the Holy Ghost converts. Alma knew this; so did Paul.

The most distinctive evidence of the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith was his simple, pure testimony: “I know … I saw … I heard.” Just like Paul, Joseph beheld the light, saw the Lord, heard the voice. Throughout his life, Joseph bore his testimony continually and simply, as Paul did. Unsurprisingly, Joseph was treated as Paul was treated:

 “However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, it was true.”[8]

How Do We Know?

Although we may not see visions or hear voices, we can have a testimony just as strong as the testimony of Paul or Joseph Smith. Elder Robert D. Hales provides a sweet and profound pattern for gaining that kind of testimony:

“People often ask me, ‘How do you know?’ ‘How can you know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ?’ While there seems to be no exact formula by which each of us receives a testimony, there does seem to be a discernible pattern….




“Have a sincere desire to know the truth and express that desire in humble prayer to our Heavenly Father. ‘If ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you’ (Alma 32:27).

“Search the scriptures. Continue to pray. The scriptures are filled with the testimonies of those who have gone before. Even they, though long dead, can reach your heart and bring peace to your mind and direction to your life.

“Search and ponder upon the truths you are learning about gospel principles. Think about them. Test them with further prayer. Relate them to what you know and feel. All the truths you will learn can eventually fit together into a fervent, undoubting testimony.

“Be humble and receptive. Have ears to hear when Heavenly Father leads us to someone who can teach us about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This may be a teacher, family member, neighbor, friend, or acquaintance. It might be a missionary …. But know that once we pray, study, and have faith with a desire to learn spiritual matters, the Lord will provide a way for us to gain further light and knowledge.

“Live our testimony. We must obediently follow the Savior’s teachings and the prophets’ examples. Our testimony and example will assist others who are searching for the truth.

“Share our testimony. ‘O that I were an angel,’ proclaimed Alma, ‘and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God’ (Alma 29:1). Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.

“Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?”[9]

Testimony comes through the heart, not necessarily through the head. When Paul testified of Christ to the Jews of Rome, they “had great reasoning among themselves”[10] but only some of them believed the things he told them. Of those who did not accept his testimony, Paul said:

“Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”[11]

Bear Pure Testimonies

To follow the example of the Savior, of Paul and of Joseph Smith, we must be testifiers. We need to be able to say “I know,” for our own sake and for the sake of our brothers and sisters and our children. Elder M. Russell Ballard cautions:

“My experience throughout the Church leads me to worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on ‘I am thankful’ and ‘I love,’ and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, ‘I know.’ As a result, our meetings sometimes lack the testimony-rich, spiritual underpinnings that stir the soul and have meaningful, positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them.

“Our testimony meetings need to be more centered on the Savior, the doctrines of the gospel, the blessings of the Restoration, and the teachings of the scriptures. We need to replace stories, travelogues, and lectures with pure testimonies.”[12]

Those who truly love the Savior and want to be like Him will follow his command to the Apostle Paul: “Rise, and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness.”[13]

As a minister and witness, I would like to bear my testimony to anyone reading this lesson. I know God lives and that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. The Spirit has made these things clear to me, and I am thankful above all my other blessings for this one.


[1] Acts 23:11.

[2] John 18:37.

[3] John 3:11.

[4] Acts 21:6-10.

[5] Acts 26:12-16.

[6] Acts 26:28.

[7] Alma 4:19.

[8] JS-History 1:24-25.

[9] Robert D. Hales, “The Importance of Receiving a Personal Testimony,” Ensign, Nov 1994,  20

[10] Acts 28:29.

[11] Acts 28:25-27.

[12] M. Russell Ballard, “Pure Testimony,” Liahona, Nov 2004,  40–43

[13] Acts 26:16.