“Your own testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His gospel is much stronger than you may think it is," Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy said during a worldwide devotional for young adults on May 3.
The devotional, held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square and broadcast throughout the world, brought high school seniors and other young adults age 18-30 together to hear the Church leader speak. A combined choir from the Logan Institute of Religion provided music for the event.
For young adults looking to strengthen their testimonies — as well as those questioning their faith and commitment to the gospel — Elder Robbins walked listeners through the process of developing “a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
Using a linear “faith spectrum,” Elder Robbins drew from the words of Alma in the Book of Mormon where he poses an experiment by planting a seed of faith.
Starting with atheism, the next step of faith is having a desire to believe. From there, an individual must plant a seed of faith to begin the learning process.
“Inspired questions cause one to ponder, and pondering under the influence of the Spirit takes you to the next level of learning, where study intersects with the heart,” he said. “Your pondering is nourishing the seed and it begins to sprout, and you begin to have feelings inspired by the Spirit. It is the heart, or inspired feelings, that change a thought into a belief.”
At that stage it is not a perfect knowledge but with faith, individuals are able to take another step on the spectrum. Through that study and faith, individuals are able to take their thoughts, feelings and beliefs and turn those into actions of doing and becoming converted. That nourishment moves an individual along the spectrum of faith.
“When we are ‘converted unto the Lord,’ we follow the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost,” he said. “As we ‘taste the fruits’ of the gospel we experience blessings and such joy and happiness, that we want to share it with others .”
As people are “converted unto the Lord,” they experience a mighty change of heart and a transformation of becoming more like Jesus Christ. But conversion is a lifelong pursuit and a journey of faith, he taught.
“This mighty change and conversion doesn’t mean we won’t still have questions,” he said. “However, having tasted the light, questions should instill in us a desire to continue learning, rather than causing doubts that can wither our growing faith.”
Acknowledging that questions are good, Elder Robbins explained that they cause people to ponder, search and pray. One essential element of the “faith experiment” is opposition.
“Opposition is indispensable to our education and happiness,” he said. “Without it, the truth remains hidden in plain view, like taking air for granted until the moment you are gasping for it.”
Opposition not only reveals or unveils the truth, but manifests its inherent power, joy and sweetness, he taught. Elder Robbins shared the example of going through sickness and pain — it is then that individuals most value their health.
Looking at a list of commandments and their opposites, Elder Robbins spoke of how pondering opposites helps individuals recognize “good fruit.”
“Good fruit comes with its own inherent proof and validation — its taste,” he said. “The proof is in the eating, fruit by fruit and line upon line, each with a perfect knowledge.”
By taking the faith experiment to the next level — a “celestial, or glory-of-the-sun testimony” — individuals seek “the fullness of the Father.” A greater endowment of the Light of Christ comes after baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. As individuals grow in light, they are able to see more clearly.
“I don’t need to tell you that a greater abundance of light improves vision — you know that,” he said. “The Prophet Joseph Smith said, ‘The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his view, and the greater his enjoyments.’”
Looking again at opposites — this time with eternal, celestial doctrines unique to the Church — Elder Robbins spoke of the clearer view that comes with an enhanced vision.
“It’s enlightening to contrast truth with its opposite,” he said. “It helps reveal the obvious, that which is hidden in plain view. We recognize that we know a lot more than we thought we did. It should inspire us to continue to ‘search diligently in the light of Christ [and] lay hold upon every good thing.’”
Elder Robbins spoke of the importance of believing, especially in things that “are not seen, but which are true.”
“Isn’t it interesting that true faith in Jesus Christ is ‘believing without seeing,’ when the world believes the opposite, that ‘seeing is believing,’” he said. “The natural man discovers the world through the five senses demanding signs as proof. And yet, the scriptures are full of examples of those who received manifestations of God’s presence and power through the five senses without receiving an enduring conversion.”
Sharing a few examples — Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon among them — Elder Robbins spoke of the need for a spiritual conversion.
“There are too many examples to the contrary to say that seeing is believing,” he said. “Those hoping for just one spectacular experience to help define their testimony don’t realize that the greater testimony and witness of the Spirit comes to us daily, in many small ways.”
Although a “wake-up call” or short term change in behavior may result from a manifestation through the five senses, it usually tends to be short lived. An enduring testimony comes through a study by faith, with the help from the Holy Ghost.
“There is only one way to know if the Book of Mormon and the gospel are true and it takes more than curiosity, and more than the five senses,” he said. “It takes a sincere use of one’s agency and acting on a desire to know.”
It is through the witness of the Spirit that individuals are able to have a more complete knowledge and testimony of the gospel.
“As we began I asked you to score your testimony on the faith spectrum,” he said. “I hope you have discovered that your testimony is far more advanced than you imagined. With the Holy Ghost as your teacher, you have been gaining a perfect knowledge of many fruits of the gospel, and line upon line, your testimony has been growing stronger by the day. The more one learns and lives the gospel, the more light they receive, and the more the Father’s plan becomes the gospel of common sense.”
[email protected] @marianne_holman