When I first became active in the Church, at 17, I read Bruce R. McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" from cover to cover -- like a novel. (I'm kind of a dork like that;) I was like this huge sponge, soaking up every ounce of truth I could get my hands on, and loved every minute of it. That was the beginnings of my love to study the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the years have gone by my time, and passion, to deeply study the gospel have been intermittent.
Early on I was blessed with a powerful witness to the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon -- because I asked. However, it wasn't until after my fifth child was born that I began a serious study of its content. That child is now 20. This took me beyond my previous, habitual reading. I did so upon the challenge of my Stake President. I had been called to serve as the education counselor in our Stake Relief Society Presidency and felt the weight of my call to teach and train, with power, in that capacity.
I can't stress enough the importance of developing our testimony of the gospel upon the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Not just upon the book, but upon its truthfulness. My experience has taught me that there is a significant difference. In fact, it is the difference that has the power to enable us to withstand the very real and inevitable buffetings of the adversary.
I have always found it powerful to acknowledge the point, in my relationship with The Book of Mormon, at which I came to know that it is true. It was not after years of deep study of its content. Rather, it was during my initial contact and deep desire to know for myself. The results of which, no question, changed the course of my life.
It is not a light thing to profess that a testimony of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon produces, as its byproduct, a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. Period. God, in His masterful way, intended this to be so. And it is precisely this faith based and Spirit-testified testimony, that has the power to save us, literally!
I know this is true. I know this power in my own life. I know this truth is my own personal lifesaver -- because it saves me every single day.
All around us we see our brothers and sisters, in the gospel, fall by the wayside. Each casualty has a personal story as to what has caused them to choose to leave the path. Unfortunately, and far too often, it is due to a lack of conviction. And here is where the importance of a testimony based on the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, in my experience, applies its incredible power.
Because I know, by the Power of the Holy Ghost, that The Book of Mormon is a true record, brought forth by the Gift and Power of God -- I also KNOW (think of how many people today, even some within the Church, detest and even mock that phrase) that Joseph Smith was, and is, a true prophet of God.
Said Gordon B. Hinckley, in one of my all-time favorite General Conference addresses (link below) about The Book of Mormon:
"The Book of Mormon is the only book ever published, of which I know, that carries in it a promise that one who reads it prayerfully and asks concerning it in prayer will have revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true (see Moroni 10:4)."
Because of my own experience, in acquiring this specific knowledge, President Hinckley's testimony has remained with me -- in understanding how profound this promise, from God, is intended to be for each of His children. It is real, and available to all willing to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His words. And, it is that which develops unfaltering conviction.
I love the word CONVICTION. President Uchtdorf taught this about conviction and testimony:
"A testimony is the sure knowledge or assurance from the Holy Ghost of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work in these latter days. A testimony is the “abiding, living, [and] moving conviction of the truths revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Marion G. Romney, “How to Gain a Testimony,” New Era, May 1976, 8; emphasis added).
When we bear testimony, we declare the absolute truth of the gospel message. In a time when many perceive truth as relative, a declaration of absolute truth is not very popular, nor does it seem politically correct or opportune. Testimonies of things how “they really are” (Jacob 4:13) are bold, true, and vital because they have eternal consequences for mankind. Satan wouldn’t mind if we declared the message of our faith and gospel doctrine as negotiable according to circumstances. Our firm conviction of gospel truth is an anchor in our lives; it is steady and reliable as the North Star. A testimony is very personal and may be a little different for each of us, because everyone is a unique person. However, a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include these clear and simple truths:
Read entire talk here.
- God lives. He is our loving Father in Heaven, and we are His children.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.
- Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days.
- The Book of Mormon is the word of God.
- President [Thomas S. Monson], his counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the prophets, seers, and revelators in our day."
On a daily basis we are confronted with multiple assaults against what we believe, how we believe it -- and even how what we believe, came to be. The fiery darts of the adversary are relentless and will continue to be so. If we are not careful we can find ourselves feeling the need to make choices, daily, to either allow or ignore these challenges to our faith.
The great blessing of acquiring a testimony, based on the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, as promised by God, is a conviction of such power that it enables us to not be shaken out of our place, under any circumstance -- and the knowledge that we already have the truth.
Consider the many darts that lose all ability to injure, when we know without a shadow of a doubt, that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God -- or that we truly have living prophets upon the earth, today, who speak the mind and will of the Lord. This verse of scripture, which I love, comes to mind...
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27
I am so grateful for my personal testimony of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. I have come to understand that it is the keystone of our religion and what that means. I am in awe of God's grand design in establishing His entire work, in these latter-days, upon its foundation. It is God's word and He freely will verify that to anyone who will sincerely pray to know it for themselves.
Video: The Book of Mormon - Keystone of Our Religion
Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson: The Book of Mormon— Keystone of Our Religion
"My beloved brethren and sisters, today I would like to speak about one of the most significant gifts given to the world in modern times. The gift I am thinking of is more important than any of the inventions that have come out of the industrial and technological revolutions. This is a gift of greater value to mankind than even the many wonderful advances we have seen in modern medicine. It is of greater worth to mankind than the development of flight or space travel. I speak of the gift of the Book of Mormon, given to mankind 156 years ago.
This gift was prepared by the hand of the Lord over a period of more than a thousand years, then hidden up by Him so that it would be preserved in its purity for our generation. Perhaps there is nothing that testifies more clearly of the importance of this modern book of scripture than what the Lord Himself has said about it."
Mormon.org: What is the Book of Mormon?
"The Book of Mormon is another witness that Jesus Christ really lived, that He was and is God’s Son. It contains the writings of ancient prophets. One of these, Lehi, lived in Jerusalem around 600 B.C. God commanded Lehi to lead a small group of people to the American continent. There they became a great civilization.
God continued to call prophets among these people. The Book of Mormon is a collection of the writings of their prophets and record keepers. It is named after Mormon, one of the last of these ancient prophets.
These prophets knew about Heavenly Father’s plan for His children and the mission of Jesus Christ. They recorded that Christ appeared, after His Resurrection, to the people in America, taught them His gospel, and formed His Church among them. The book contains the teachings of Jesus Christ, testifying of His Atonement and His love. It supports and verifies the Bible.
The Book of Mormon concludes with a great promise that those who read it and sincerely pray about it can know by the Holy Ghost that it is true (Moroni 10:4)."
The Book of Mormon: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."
Gordon B. Hinckley: The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain