During the October 2022 general conference, Church President Russell M. Nelson extended a plea to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he had previously given to young adults of the Church in May.
“I urged them then — and plead with you now — to take charge of your own testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel,” he said in his Sunday morning address from the pulpit in the Conference Center.
“Work for it. Nurture it so that it will grow. Feed it truth. Don’t pollute it with false philosophies of unbelieving men and women.
“As you make the continual strengthening of your testimony of Jesus Christ your highest priority, watch for miracles to happen in your life,” he promised.
The Prophet was one of many Church leaders over the weekend of Oct. 1-2 who encouraged Latter-day Saints to gain, grow and keep their testimonies.
The living Prophet is teaching individuals how to become more spiritually self-reliant, President Ballard commented and quoted another invitation of President Nelson to increase the ability to receive personal revelation. “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
On Sunday afternoon, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the necessity for each individual to gain their own testimony. He related how Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, then both Apostles, had the responsibility of overseeing the evacuation of the persecuted Saints in Missouri while Joseph Smith was incarcerated in Liberty Jail.
In later years, Heber taught: “To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not until you attain it. … If you don’t have it you will not stand; therefore seek for the testimony of Jesus and cleave to it, that when the trying time comes you may not stumble and fall.”
To which Elder Cook declared, “We each need a personal testimony of God’s work and the seminal role of Jesus Christ.”
Similarly, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on Saturday evening of how as evil increases in the world, Latter-day Saints will not be able to survive spiritually unless they strengthen the roots of their faith in Jesus Christ.
How can individuals deepen and strengthen commitment to the Savior? he asked.
“First, we can immerse ourselves more completely into Jesus’ life, His teachings, His majesty, His power and His atoning sacrifice.”
Second, “we make covenants with Him.”
Making and keeping covenants allow the love of the Savior to sink more deeply into one’s heart, he said.
Third, “in this sacred quest, we treasure, protect, defend and safeguard the gift of the Holy Ghost with all our heart. … It is a gift beyond price.”
Elder Andersen promised, “As you allow your love for the Savior, and His love for you to sink deep into your heart, I promise you added confidence, peace, and joy in meeting the challenges of your life.”
- “Do I know and understand what a testimony is?
- “Do I know how to bear my testimony?
- “What are the obstacles in sharing my testimony?
- “How do I keep my testimony?”
“Each time you bear vocal witness or demonstrate through your actions your commitment to follow Jesus Christ, you invite others to ‘come unto Christ,’” he said.
Opportunities in the digital universe to share are endless, Elder Stevenson said. “Your tweets, direct messages and posts will take on a higher, holier purpose when you also use social media to show how the gospel of Jesus Christ shapes your life.”
A testimony must be nourished with much care, he noted. Nourish a testimony through the word of God, prayer, obedience to commandments and participating in temple and family history work.
“I promise that as you more fully understand what a testimony is, and as you share it, you will overcome obstacles of uncertainty and fear enabling you to nurture and keep this most precious possession, your testimony.”
Experiences such as FSY conferences, camps, sacrament meetings and missions can burnish testimonies, noted Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, “taking us through arcs of growth and spiritual discovery to places of relative peace. But what must we do to stay there, and continue to ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ’ (2 Nephi 31:20) rather than slipping backward?” he asked.
“We must continue to do those things that brought us there in the first place like praying often, drenching ourselves in scripture, and serving sincerely.”
Speaking of the parable of the 10 virgins, Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy, asked about the five foolish virgins whose lamps of testimony went out. “Why were they unwilling to carry a vessel of spiritual oil? Did they simply procrastinate? Were they, perhaps, too casual because it was inconvenient or seemed unnecessary? Whatever the reason, they were deceived about the crucial role of Christ. This has been Satan’s fundamental deception from the very beginning, and why their lamps of testimony eventually went out for lack of spiritual oil.”
This parable is a metaphor for our time, Elder Pearson said. “Many leave the Savior and their covenants long before they leave His Church.”
One of the most powerful spiritual influences for a child is the example of a loving parent or grandparent. “Intentional parents teach their children faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so that they too ‘may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins’ and can carry their own lamps of testimony filled with spiritual oil,” Elder Pearson said.
General Authority Seventy Elder Jonathan S. Schmitt taught that great spiritual strength comes from small and simple things — such as daily prayer, repentance, scripture study — while Elder Jorge F. Zeballos, another General Authority Seventy, testified that fasting provides spiritual strength and prepares individuals to be resistant to the trials of this life.
There is virtue, or power, in the words of ancient or modern prophets, said Elder Mark D. Eddy, because their words are the Lord’s words. “My dear friends, accepting this eternal truth is critical to our spiritual survival in the latter days when, as prophesied, there is ‘a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’ (Amos 8:11),” the General Authority Seventy said.
In her first general conference address since being called last April, Sister Tracy Y. Browning of the Primary general presidency recalled how people were curious about why she did the things she did after joining the Church. These questions helped her “put on a pair of spiritual lenses” to clarify, focus and solidify her testimony.
“What was the source of my testimony? Was I only carrying out ‘outward performances’ without allowing those practices connected to God’s laws to ‘strengthen [my] faith in Christ,’ or demonstrate understanding that Jesus Christ is the only source of power in my observances? Through rigorous effort to look to and for Jesus Christ in my every thought and deed, my eyes were enlightened, and my understanding quickened to recognize that Jesus Christ was calling for me to ‘come unto Him,’” she said.