This post is part of the ongoing General Conference Odyssey.
One of my favorite classes at BYU Law School was from an individual who was active in reaching out to those struggling with testimony concerns. One of the things he would tell his class again and again was “there were gold plates.” In other words, he was acknowledging the genuine concerns that those who struggle have. However, he articulated that no problem with the Church could change what he considers fact: that Joseph Smith, Jr. translated gold plates that contained a record of the Nephite civilization.
Now, to be sure, this isn’t the only aspect of a testimony that is important. We learn both in the Bible and the Book of Mormon that the “fruits” of the Gospel are an additional source of verifying its validity. The Gospel is a Gospel of peace and comfort, and produces many other positive outcomes during mortality that are too numerous to cite here.
But these fruits surely do not prevent hard times, even “trials of our faith.” As the hymn “How Firm A Foundation” and the third verse of the hymn “The Lord is my Shepherd” emphasize that the gospel’s very design is for travel “through the deep waters,” “through fiery trials” and “in the midst of affliction.”
These fights of affliction are surely one reason hearing testimonies of the restored gospel is so important. Being reminded by the Holy Ghost and our peers of the truthfulness and value of the restored gospel encourages us amidst the trials that confront us.
In light of the importance of bearing testimony, for this week’s contribution to the General Conference Odyssey, I want to share a testimony by President Joseph Fielding Smith from the Tuesday Afternoon Session of the April 1971 General Conference:
To all that has been said, may I now add my personal testimony of the truth and divinity of this great work and leave with the faithful Saints in all the world my blessing.
I say to you, and to the whole Church, and, for that matter, to the whole world, that a gracious and loving Father has in these last days spoken again from heaven to his servants the prophets.
His voice has been one inviting all men to come to his Beloved Son, to learn of him, to partake of his goodness, to take his yoke upon them, and to work out their salvation by obedience to the laws of his gospel. His voice has been one of glory and honor, of peace in this life, and of eternal life in the world to come.
I know that God lives and that he sent his Only Begotten Son into the world to work out the infinite and eternal atonement.
I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he received from his Father the power to ransom men from the spiritual and temporal death brought into the world by the fall of Adam.
I know that the Lord has set up his church and kingdom on earth for the last time; that in this latter-day kingdom are found the power and authority of the holy priesthood; and that this church administers the gospel and makes its blessings available to all who will believe and obey.
I am not unmindful that there are good and devout people among all sects, parties, and denominations, and they will be blessed and rewarded for all the good they do. But the fact remains that we alone have the fullness of those laws and ordinances which prepare men for the fullness of reward in the mansions above. And so we say to the good and noble, the upright and devout people everywhere: Keep all the good you have; cleave unto every true principle which is now yours; but come and partake of the further light and knowledge which that God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever is again pouring out upon his people.
I add my testimony to that of President Smith’s. Jesus Christ died for our sins, and lives today. Joseph Smith was properly authorized to restore his church, and there were gold plates. We are led by living prophets today who communicate with God. This church is true.
As always, these thoughts are my own, are intended to help, but do not reflect the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Thanks for reading,
This post also appears on Michael’s Thoughts and Ideas. Other General Conference Odyssey posts for this week include:
- The Path Out of Shadows (Nathaniel Givens at Difficult Run)
- The Shaded Areas of Our Testimony (Daniel Ortner at Symphony of Dissent)
- A People Blessed by Revelation (Ralph Hancock at The Soul and The City)
- Liminality and Shaded Areas (Silver Rain at Rains Came Down)