‘Steadfast and immovable’

The Book of Mormon tells of Sherem, who went among the Nephites "that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ" and "labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people."

Sherem "was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil."

He sought to shake Jacob from the faith that he had "in Christ who should come." Jacob, however, "could not be shaken."

In an encounter with Sherem, Jacob bore powerful testimony as "the Lord God poured in his Spirit into (his) soul" with the result that Jacob confounded Sherem in all his words. Eventually, before he died, Sherem "confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels" and told the Nephites that he "had been deceived by the power of the devil….

"And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man." (See Jacob 7:1-23.)

Sherem was able to deceive many of the Nephites because they lacked knowledge of the scriptures.

By contrast, Jacob, after he had faced this powerful adversary, declared, "I could not be shaken."

How might we gain a testimony as strong as Jacob's?

One way is by knowing the scriptures, coming to an understanding of their messages and following their teachings.

Jacob's feet were so firmly placed on the ground of faith that he remained unshaken in his testimony. As we turn the pages of the Book of Mormon we find others who remained "steadfast and immovable." We find them also in the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, and in the lives of faithful members in our own time, especially leaders in the Church.

Such a one was President James E. Faust, who passed away last August after having served 12 years as a counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley. While a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he delivered in 1979 an address at the Canadian Area Conference in which he encouraged members to remain "unshaken" in their testimonies, to stand up and be counted fully, completely and openly for what the Church should represent in their lives.

"The church to which we belong now has a worldwide identity," he said. "It stands for many things, including integrity, honesty, and high moral purpose. The Church as an institution stands for something different from the standards and morals of the day.

"We as individual members of the Church also have identity of our own. Each of us stands for something, either strong or not strong; either good or not so good."

He spoke of having applied for officers' school during World War II, and facing a Board of Inquiry. He said he had put on his application that he had been a missionary. The questions took a surprising turn; nearly all centered upon his missionary service and beliefs. He was questioned about the Word of Wisdom and was asked if he prayed. He said he pondered whether his answers would give offense, but decided not to equivocate.

"'In times of war should not the moral code be relaxed?' one high-ranking officer asked. 'Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things that they would not do when at home under normal situations?"'

Elder Faust said he thought that equivocating might help him make some points "and be really broad-minded" before men who most likely did not hold his own beliefs. However, he said, "I knew perfectly well what the scriptures say about fornication and adultery… and (said) simply, 'I do not believe there is a double standard of morality."'

He was among the first group accepted for officers' school.

Elder Faust said that was one of the most critical crossroads of his life, one of the many times when he had to stand up, search his soul and be identified. "From that and many other experiences, I learned that even though others do not share your beliefs, in fact may be hostile to them, they will respect you if you are willing to stand up and be counted."