Learning for oneself that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true can be one of the greatest and most joyful experiences in life, Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy said in his priesthood session address.
“We may have to begin by relying on the testimonies of others — saying, as the stripling warriors did, ‘We do not doubt our mothers knew it,’ ” Elder Christensen said, referring to the account in Alma 56. “This is a good place to start, but we must build from there. To be strong in living the gospel, there is nothing more important than receiving and strengthening our own testimony.”
Addressing his remarks primarily to young Aaronic Priesthood holders, Elder Christensen spoke of Alma and Nephi, who each came to know the truth for himself.
“Similar to Nephi, the Prophet Joseph Smith was also ‘exceedingly young’ when his ‘mind was called up to serious reflection’ about spiritual truths,” Elder Christensen observed.
“Do you see in Joseph’s experience a pattern you could apply in gaining or strengthening your own testimony?” he asked. “Joseph allowed the scriptures to penetrate his heart. He pondered them deeply and applied them to his own situation. He then acted on what he had learned. The result was the glorious First Vision — and everything that came after it. This Church quite literally was founded on the principle that anyone — including a 14-year-old farm boy — can ‘ask of God’ and receive an answer to his prayers.”
Elder Christensen said some people speak of a testimony as though it were a light switch that is either on or off. “In reality, a testimony is more like a tree that passes through various stages of growth and development. Although they may begin with a single experience, they grow and develop over time through constant nourishment and frequent spiritual encounters.”
He added that, in most cases, a testimony will grow as a tree grows: “gradually, almost imperceptibly, as a result of our constant care and diligent efforts.”
He said his own testimony began as he studied and pondered the teachings found in the Book of Mormon. “Since that day, I have had many sacred experiences with the Holy Ghost that have reaffirmed to me that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the restored gospel is true. With Alma, I can say with certainty that I know of these things of myself.”