THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THEIR PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH
Last night at the Provo MTC we rehearsed “Praise to the Man.” It was awesome! There were around 1,100 missionaries in the choir, which gave it added power. The Spirit testified again to my heart that this hymn is grounded in true doctrine and real experiences. The first line, “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah,” is a perfect example of that truth. It was the visit of “Jehovah” that made Joseph’s life significant to each one of us. We honor Joseph because of his communication with Jehovah and how he filled the assignment given to him by that Supreme Being.
The teaching that “Jesus anointed that prophet and seer,” is equally important. We believe that Joseph Smith was called and anointed by Heavenly Father and the Savior. I have heard my LDS friends talk about “defending Joseph Smith.” However, when we share with others our testimonies of the calling of Joseph Smith, we are defending the Father and His Son, much more than defending Joseph Smith. Joseph was THEIR prophet. THEY called him and gave him his position. THEY prepared the Book of Mormon and commanded him to be its translator. THEY sent John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John to give him THEIR priesthood. Our testimonies are not of “Joseph Smith” but that the Father and Son called him to be THEIR prophet!
Elder Holland told the missionaries at the MTC that if they were ever in trouble during a lesson and were feeling that the Spirit was not present, they should tell the story of Joseph Smith being visited by the Father and Son in the Sacred Grove. He promised them that the Spirit would come to testify of the truthfulness of that event. I have experimented on that promise and can tell you it is true. As many of our leaders have taught, “If you want to know if Joseph truly saw the Father and the Son, ask the Father, He was there.” The Angel Moroni told Joseph that his name would be had for good or evil among all people and tongues…I can’t wait to hear 1,100 missionaries unite tomorrow in having his “name for good,” knowing that all over the world other missionaries and members are doing the same!
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT QUESTIONS OR DOUBTS REGARDING THE RESTORED GOSPEL?
Over the past few months, I have had several conversations with students and friends who have questioned their testimonies of the restored gospel. Whenever the church has been on the Earth, this has been a challenge. Even in the Savior’s time, there were many who “doubted” and “turned away” from Him and his message. What can we do to help those we love that are experience a crisis of faith, to gain or regain their testimonies?
Here is where missionaries can teach regular members some great lessons. After all, the job of a missionary is to help people who “don’t know it is true” to gain a testimony of their own. That is what missionaries do all day, every day!! Instead of searching for some “new way” to do this, let’s review the method for gaining a testimony that the Lord has already given us.
Heavenly Father’s Formula for Testimony Building
The Prayer of Faith
In the scripture beloved by the LDS people, James instructs “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)” The formula seems so simple, if you have a question about Godly matters, ask God! However, if we continue to verse 6, James adds a qualifier, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” In other words, you must add to your prayer a faith that God will answer you.
The Prayer of Real Intent
The Prophet Moroni teaches a similar lesson, “…when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, …he will manifest the truth of it unto you,…” Moroni, like James, adds another qualifier, “if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent,…” It is not enough to ask, you must have “real intent.” In other words, the petitioner must actually want to know and have a plan to act on the knowledge that they receive. You cannot be searching to find out that the gospel is “not true,” the Lord will never answer the prayer that already has a foregone negative conclusion.
The Prayer of Study and Effort
The Lord himself taught Oliver Cowdery even more about receiving answers to questions, “…you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right…(D&C 9:7-8)” We must add to our Prayer of Faith and Real Intent, sincere study and effort.
Let me mention a caution on sincere study. We must remember that Moroni teaches, “when ye shall read THESE things…” I have many friends who spend all of their study and effort reading the literature of the enemies of the restoration, but refuse to give the same diligent effort to a sincere and careful study of the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. The promise is not, “when you read ANYTHING,” but “when you read THESE things.” The person who refuses to give the Book of Mormon serious study, with real intent, cannot be considered an honest investigator of the truth.
Many of our friends, and many of us, have sincere and honest questions. The Lord has given us scriptures to assist in finding answers to those questions. Additionally, He is guiding his living prophets and apostles today. What a blessing! His servants today have provided the “gospel topics” and “gospel topic essays” on LDS.org to help combat some of the falsehoods being taught by the adversary. This is a wonderful resource for aiding our study and prayer. We should encourage our friends and investigators to go there, first!
Experiment Upon the Word by Living the Teachings
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf reminded us that in addition to study and prayer the Lord will require us to experiment on the word by living it. “There is also a fourth step, given to us by the Savior: “If any man will do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17) In other words, when you are trying to verify the truth of gospel principles, you must first live them. Put gospel doctrine and Church teachings to the test in your own life. Do it with real intent and enduring faith in God.” (Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth, Oct 2014)
The prophet Lehi saw many people searching for path of truth and happiness and “they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree. And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:22-23)
Dear Elders and Sisters, these are the spiritually perilous times that the prophets foretold millennia ago. It is not enough for any of us to casually walk along the path. We cannot fathom how dark and deceiving the mist truly is. We must hold fast to the iron rod, through constant study and prayer, continually pressing forward to the Tree. If we do not, we, along with many of the others of the very elect, will be deceived.
Have a wonderful week. We are all praying for you. Relax and enjoy being in the Lord’s service. He will take care of you!
Love, Brother and Sister Eggett