Please follow along his talk as you read this post to ensure I do not in any way misrepresent his inspiring words. The talk can be accessed from this link:
In this talk Brother Samuelson correctly defines a testimony as follows; “In our Latter-day Saint context, we refer to our testimonies as our sure witness of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is obtained by revelation through the Holy Ghost.”
He then clarifies who is entitled to have a testimony; “Everyone who is willing to pay the price—meaning keeping the commandments—may have a testimony.”
This is very important to all those who investigate the church and current members who are having doubts or who have not yet obtained one. I would ask you all, have you paid the price? A testimony is available only to those who keep the commandments. We must first accept the gospel requirements (commandments), after which we will become eligible to know through revelation that the church is true.
Some may think of this as being backwards and may ask ‘why should I have to keep the rules of a church first before God will reveal to me that it is true?’ But this is how it is and the Lord does not excuse Himself.
I recently became aware of an investigator that enjoyed a glass of red wine with his meal three or four times a week. When the missionaries taught him that this was wrong he claimed that the best medical research of our day shows quite the opposite, and that this is in fact a very healthy habit. He further pointed out that men of God from Noah to Jesus partook. The missionaries explained to him that the Lords requirements for our day and age were that we should abstain from all alcoholic beverages. The man liked the missionaries and enjoyed the gospel discussions but never became eligible to receive a spiritual witness of the truth of the gospel because he was too stubborn to sincerely test the promises of the missionaries and abstain from drinking his occasional glass of wine. He never joined the church and will miss out on untold blessings because he was unwilling to pay the price for a testimony, by keeping the commandments. I should mention that he did actually abstain for one week to test a promise the missionaries had given that he would come to know for himself that this was the Lords way; but no such confirmation from the spirit came to the man and Brother Samuelson clarified why in his talk; “You must have a firm commitment to follow the answer to your prayer. If you are keeping the commandments, studying and pondering and then ask in prayer for an answer as to whether it is true, but have not committed in your heart to follow the church when the answer is confirmed then no such testimony will be accorded.”
The man in question tried out the invitation from the missionaries as a test, but had evidently never committed in his heart to actually follow the counsel given if indeed such a revelation occurred. His faith wavered and he was likely convinced that his ways were better than the Lords ways. He did not understand that God doesn’t reveal Himself to the uncommitted and insincere.
We must understand that gaining a testimony often occurs gradually, rather than instantaneously. It could take years of committed gospel living and faithful payment of tithes and offerings to obtain a firm testimony of the gospel. It is an ongoing quest which needs constant nourishment, care, and protection to thrive and prosper. Brother Samuelson made it clear that any deviance at all from the pattern of living can lead to its loss or diminishment. The scriptures warn that transgressing or breaking the commandments of God can result in the loss of the Spirit and even to one denying the testimony he or she once possessed.
We must at all costs do the little but necessary things daily and regularly. Prayers, scripture and gospel study, attendance at Church meetings, temple worship, fulfilling visiting teaching, home teaching, and other assignments all strengthen our faith and invite the Spirit into our lives. If you are neglecting any of these privileges (and yes they are privileges), you are placing your testimony in serious jeopardy. Please stay away from this danger by keeping your life in complete obedience and harmony to the gospel.
If we are uncertain of our testimonies a key thing to remember given by Brother Samuelson is that “when you share your testimony, it strengthens and increases.”
This is compatible with President Packer’s counsel who explained as follows:
It is not unusual to have a missionary say, “How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would it not be dishonest?”
Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!”
As suggested some might see it as dishonest, but since an apostle of the Lord has taught us this method there can be no dishonesty in saying that you know the church is true even if you don’t. I would plead with all readers of this blog including all current and future missionaries - if you don't yet know that the church is true please take every opportunity to tell others that you do know this. Soon you will have said it enough times that you will come to believe it. This will lead you and many others to salvation and will in time suppress all the doubt and disbelief that you have allowed Satan to put in your hearts.
In closing I would echo the words of Brother Samuelson and say that if you are struggling and have doubts you can rely on the testimonies you hear from the pulpit at general conference. In 2 Nephi 4:34 we read “for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man”. Do not put your trust in the philosophies of men but in the leaders of the church. As an authorized servant of the Lord and president of a stake in
I stand with the General Authorities and equally welcome all to rely on my testimony. Zion
If your testimony is not strong enough to stand on its own I want you to know that you can put complete trust in those of us who lead the church; for we do know of a surety that these things are true, we have reached a point where we no longer doubt and we are the true disciples of the Lord upon this Earth. Of this I bear solemn testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.