In part 1 on Testimony, I discussed that oft heard phrase, “I know the Church is True.” In this 2nd part, I’d like to focus on what a Testimony is supposed to be. In part 3, we’ll have some fun as I relate some of the more memorable testimonies I have heard. I am sure you will be able to share some of yours as well at that time.
According to LDS.org under the topical guide for Testimony:
“A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.”
To summarize, a fundamental testimony is:
2. Jesus Christ Lives, He is the Son of God and carried out an Infinite Atonement for us
3. Joseph Smith was a Prophet who was called to restore the true Gospel to this earth
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on this Earth
The critical aspect of a testimony is that it is given by the Holy Ghost. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) So, when members get up and bear their testimony and say that they “know” the Church is true or that Jesus is the Christ, they are, hopefully, testifying of that knowledge as received by the Holy Ghost. As members, we have received the right to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion so long as we are worthy to receive Him. In some cases, especially among the younger members, this defining testimony through the Holy Ghost may not yet have happened to them. I would also suspect that some members, while bearing testimony that they “know” the Church is true, may also have not received this witness by the Holy Ghost.
A testimony is not a sermon, a scripture reading, or an admonishment of the congregation. A testimony is not a “thankimony”, “gratimony”, “travelimony”, “Medical reportimony,”or a “jokimony.” It is the opportunity to share what we know to be true with our friends. We can all be touched and edified by a deeply felt and expressed testimony. Or we can be frustrated and bored as one member after another preaches, thanks, jokes, and travels their way through their “testimony. “
Also important is the close of our testimony, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” One of my pet peeves is that often it sounds like “indanamojesCHRISTamen.” One of the most sacred names is butchered in an effort to get it over with quick. The other one that bothers me is: “I close in the name of THY Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.” This bothers me less than the mashed up sentence of the first example. But, really, we should know we are talking to the congregation and not to Heavenly Father at that point. I guess for some people, it is a traumatic experience to get up there and so they just forget and say “Thy Son.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring said this about a testimony:
“Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won’t need to be reminded how to bear testimony should they feel impressed to do it in the meeting. They won’t give sermons or exhortations or travel reports or try to entertain as they bear witness. Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly. Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language nor to go on at length.
A testimony is a simple expression of what we feel. The member who has fasted both for the blessing of the poor and for the companionship of the Spirit will be feeling gratitude for the love of God and the certainty of eternal truth. Even a child can feel such things, which may be why sometimes the testimony of a child so moves us and why our preparation of fasting and prayer produces in us childlike feelings.”
-Henry B. Eyring, “Witnesses for God,” Ensign, Nov 1996, 30
Many of us have sat through both great testimony meetings and so-so testimony meetings where someone leads off on a tangent and it just continues on that course. But, a wonderful testimony meeting is, in fact, a testimony builder and can be a very moving and spiritual experience.
And now a word at closing on silence. Sometimes, there are pauses in the testimony bearing where no one gets up. I enjoy that time as I reflect on my own testimony and what I might say if I get up to bear it. I can usually feel many folks doing the same thing. Inevitably, someone will get up and say, “I just couldn’t let the time go by without getting up here,” or “I just couldn’t stand the silence.” You don’t often get a high quality testimony at that point. Or, when the time is right, someone will get up and bear a very sweet testimony. And the silence will have done its intended job.