Why I Believe by Steve

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August 6, 2014 by FHElessons

This post is part of my Why I Believe series.  To find all the essays in this series, please click on the “Why I Believe” tab at the top of the page.

To read Questions and Answers About Gaining a Testimony, go HERE.

To find out how to write your own Why I Believe essay, go HERE.  If you would like to contribute your essay to my series, I would love to publish it for you!  You can send it to me by e-mail at FHElessons {at} aol {dot} com.

 

Why I Believe by Steve

As I am sitting here early in the morning, pondering the events in my life that led me to be who I am, and also to believe as I believe, I am grateful for the opportunity to put in writing those things which are sacred and dear to my heart, which hopefully may be of benefit to you and to those of my posterity who may read this document.

When I was growing up as a young man, my parents were very active in the church. My dad was a converted Catholic, who sacrificed much, including the affection of his mother and affiliation with friends, to join a church, which to me seemed significantly demanding of time and commitment. At one time in my life, I challenged my dad and asked him why he spent so much time home teaching, preparing lessons, etc. when he could be engaging in recreational activity and self-serving events. He, knowing I did not have a testimony at that time, stated that even if the principles he believed were not true, that living the lifestyle and tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave him the most joy in life, the most security, and led to prosperity, health, and well-being. He then reiterated that the principles of fidelity in marriage, the Word of Wisdom, and quest for education all helped him to be who he was. He challenged me to gain a testimony of my own, again confirming that a mental or intellectual commitment to the gospel would never be long lasting or permanent.

The events that I now describe have indelibly imprinted in my mind the permanency of my conviction to the doctrine of Christ, his atoning sacrifice, and where I find my place in this amazing universe.

While I was in college I was excited to learn and was thrilled to have the opportunity to embark on a career path. Unknowingly, I had the attitude that whatever I believed was what was true, and that which I did not recognize or believe must therefore be false. Most of us, due to this innate pride, believe this way.

I ran across a book written by Orson Pratt on “truth.” I have not been able to find the source since because I cannot recall the title of the book. Perhaps it matters not, however, since the written word or the influence of a human can make a difference, but it is the power of the Holy Ghost that bore witness to my soul about my quest for truth that changed my life. Orson Pratt stated that there are two types of truth. There is relative truth and absolute truth. He encouraged us to not confuse relative truth for absolute truth. Relative truth refers to our opinions and beliefs and our perceptions of life. It is the belief, as I stated, that what we believe is true, and what we don’t believe is not. He declared that there are certain absolute truths that no one’s opinion, and no turn of events in time, will ever change. He stated that the fact there is a Heavenly Father, the great Elohim, and his son, Jesus Christ who created the earth, is an absolute truth. If we choose to believe evolution, if we choose to believe the big bang theory, if we choose to be agnostic or atheist, this will not ever change this absolute truth. It is either true or it is not; that is absolute truth. He also claimed that the vision of God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, to Joseph Smith either happened or it did not. There is no in between. He claimed this is an absolute truth, and it is our obligation to find out for ourselves whether it is true or not. Joseph Smith made a bold claim indeed, and it cannot be dealt with trivially. If it is true, which Orson Pratt claimed to be an absolute truth, it should and did change the course of humanity and history. The fact that our older brother, Jesus Christ, somehow atoned for our misdeeds and sins in a loving manner because of his abiding commitment to his brothers and sisters, also is an absolute truth. If this is true, that meant that I had an obligation to not make a mockery of the atonement and repent of all my sins so that I could take advantage of a loving Brother’s sacrifice, paid in advance for me.

So after reading that, I had some work to do. I needed to find out for myself whether or not all the things I had been taught throughout my life were true or simply relative beliefs and a good way of life. I was happy with the communion I had with many wonderful people in the church, but I knew if I were to serve a mission and try to preach something that wasn’t imbedded deep into my heart that I would neither be successful nor be congruous and honest with myself. I therefore made it a matter of prayer and study as I read the Book of Mormon.

As I pondered the events surrounding the translation of the Book of Mormon, I also had intellectual challenges due to the claim that they were translated from golden plates and then delivered up to an angel. Why the Lord didn’t keep the plates to prove to the world the story seemed preposterous to someone who was seeking an intellectual testimony. I ploughed forward, however, with a twinge of sincere desire and intent to know of the truth. I prayed for an answer, but more with the intent of a child wanting a popsicle, rather than with a burning, deep need to know the truth of these things. I read all the way to chapter 8 of the book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon. In chapter 8, Moroni, who was sealing up the records, spoke directly to those of our generation. He stated that he had seen our day that we should not be critical of the faults or deficiencies in the Book of Mormon. He also stated that we should not judge unrighteously this work because we will know again at the last day that this is an absolute truth. In my heart I began to worry that I was trying to counsel the Lord on how to interact with his children. Moroni went on to state that we all walk in the pride of our hearts, and that pride was one of the downfalls prohibiting us from knowing of the truth of the Book of Mormon and also to believe in miracles and the other amazing claims that Joseph Smith did claim. When I came to verse 35 in Mormon chapter 8 which states, “Behold, I speak unto you as if you were present and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me and I know your doing. I know that you do walk in the pride of your hearts.” At that moment, I knew for a surety that Moroni did in fact see our day and perhaps even saw me, who was being critical and judgmental of sacred things. I also felt an amazing feeling, which only those who have felt can elucidate. Despite the stern warning to me about my deficiencies of intellectual pride, I felt an overwhelming love and acceptance and peace. I felt a warmth come over my entire body and an illumination of my mind, which has changed me forever. In subsequent times when I again have felt the power of the Holy Ghost, it has always been accompanied by a feeling that, despite my weaknesses, I am loved and accepted just the way I am. I don’t know how the Spirit communicates this to us, but it always has throughout my life.

Since that time, I have had a personal witness and do here, at this time, testify to any and all who may read this document that Jesus is the Christ, our elder brother, and has atoned in some miraculous way I do not understand, for all the sins that mankind has, did, and will commit in order to appease the law of justice. I am grateful that there is a law of justice in the universe, so that good can prevail over evil, so that order can prevail over disarray, and so that peace can prevail over angst and turmoil. The Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of peace, love, security, and comfort. I know that Christ suffered these things to appease the demands of justice, which at this point appears to be an immutable law governing the universe. I know that Elohim is the father of my spirit and that we indeed do have a spirit that dictates and controls an amazing, organic being we call our human body. Only a divine creator could make such an amazing body in which we house our spirit. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and when following its dictates and principles, it will lead us to happiness, security, and peace. Knowing these, I also know that the institution of the church, which we call organized religion, is important to allow us to continue to build our testimony and to keep us in remembrance of the things that we have learned. Today, Satan tries to make us believe that organized religion is not necessary, but we as humans always forget. Organized religion, in my opinion, is there to help us remember, to remember the feelings we had, to remember the commitments and covenants we have made.

In summary, I am grateful for the personal communication my Heavenly Father had with me, knowing my deficiencies and the things I needed to overcome in order to prepare myself to feel the Spirit, to know of the things which I have testified. I will ever be grateful that I had an inkling of belief and hope to take the steps I have delineated that allowed me to have, at this point, the amazing peace and serenity that I feel, knowing the absolute truth of these things.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

********

To download a printable (but condensed) copy of Steve’s testimony that is just the right size to fit in the front of a Book of Mormon, go HERE.

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Hi! I'm Laura. I started this blog to continue to teach FHE lessons to my children who are grown and living away from home. I also hope to serve my six sisters by preparing FHE lessons that they can use with their younger children, and I hope the lessons will be helpful to you as well! If you would like to contact me, please e-mail me at FHElessons@aol.com.

What is FHE?

FHE stands for Family Home Evening and is a night set aside each week (usually Monday) by families who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FHE is a chance for parents to teach lessons to their children about the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as other important topics. The lesson is frequently accompanied by a fun activity together as a family and a yummy treat.
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