There has been a great deal of discussion that has been generated by the Internet and social media regarding the history of the Church.
Some people have asked questions.
I don’t know the answers to some of these questions, but it has caused me to wonder if the Lord is watching to see where we will go for the answers to our questions about truth. Will we go to the Internet or social media to find out what others have to say about it, or will we go to the source of all truth — our Heavenly Father, who is anxious to have us come to Him?
Doesn’t He say to us, “Come unto me. Learn from me. I am the author of all truth. I know all of the answers. I will give you understanding, peace and rest.”
There are times when things do not make sense to our mortal minds.
The Lord has testified to us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
Perhaps, like you, I have been reflecting upon my own testimony. May I share one of my own experiences?
Years ago, when I was a college student, I felt driven to read several books written by apostles about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I also read the book, The History of Joseph Smith by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith. In it, Mother Smith shares with us the depth of the despair, sorrow and emotional pain that the Smith family and particularly Joseph, experienced after discovering that Martin Harris had lost the 116 pages of manuscript that Joseph had translated from the Book of Lehi (as part of the translation of the Book of Mormon).
Joseph had previously petitioned the Lord on three different occasions, at Martin’s insistence, before the Lord gave permission for Joseph to allow Martin to take them. Joseph had Martin sign a solemn oath with the strictest of instructions. Within days of letting the manuscript go, Joseph and Emma lost their firstborn son to death and Emma sank down into a deep emotional depression. After three weeks, Emma’s spirits began to lift and Joseph went to Palmyra to recover the manuscript, as Martin had not yet returned it as promised.
A week later, Joseph discovered that Martin had defied the oath and lost the manuscript through recklessness. As Mother Smith described the depth of remorse, desperation and fear of the Lord’s wrath that Joseph and each member of the Smith family felt, I was deeply touched and something happened inside of me. I cannot explain my feelings, except to say that as I read Lucy Mack Smith’s words, the Holy Ghost witnessed to me that Joseph Smith WAS a prophet of God. I had already known this through my own past study and prayer, but I knew it with a greater assurance than ever before.
In Section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph was sorely reprimanded by the Lord for fearing “man more than God” and told, “Remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of man” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:3, 6; also see Doctrine and Covenants 10). The Spirit testified to me of the promise that the gospel will never again be taken from the earth, but that it will roll forth “until it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear, till the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church 4:540).
Each of us has our own experience in gaining a testimony of Joseph Smith and the truths of the gospel. How have you come to know? How are you strengthening your testimony? Brothers and sisters, it is tempting to go to the Internet and even social media for answers to our questions, but this way of searching for truth can be dangerous. As Elder Neil L. Andersen stated in the October 2014 general conference, “Internet information does not have a ‘truth’ filter.” By contrast, going to the Lord for our answers is never risky. As one wise mission president advised regarding the truth of the First Vision, “If you want to know the truth, ask God. He knows; He was there!”
Elder Andersen also asked, “Why does the Lord allow the evil speaking to chase after the good? One reason is that opposition against the things of God sends seekers of truth to their knees for answers.” In this same conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave us the formula for seeking truth. We might summarize: search the word of God; read, study and ponder the scriptures and words of prophets, desiring to believe and discover truth, then ask our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ with a sincere heart and real intent, being willing to do what He asks of us.
My dear friends, I don’t understand everything that has happened in the Church or that is reported to have happened, but I do know where to go for answers and for peace and understanding. I know our Father knows all the answers. He has promised that one day all will be revealed to us. I know that He is anxious to have us humbly bow before Him in prayer, asking in faith. I know that we must also daily feed our spirits through studying the scriptures, prayer, honoring our temple and baptismal covenants and keeping ourselves virtuous and clean in order to receive the knowledge and the answers that we want to receive from Him.
I hope that each of us has diligently come to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I hope that this knowledge swells within our hearts each time we ponder the covenants and the doctrines that were revealed by Joseph Smith that daily bless our lives. I hope that as we feel the undeniable joy and glorious relief that comes when our sins, sorrow or pain is lifted from us through the redeeming love and Atoning sacrifice of our Savior that this causes us to proclaim, “Yes! Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of God!”
I honor him as we celebrate the 209th anniversary of his birth on Dec. 23. I praise and thank my Heavenly Father and my Savior for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith, the Prophet!