What is a complete testimony?
One that is active, cared for, whole, and complete. One that will carry us, and protect us, through ALL of life’s difficulties. We came down to this earth to prove to God that we would choose Him over and over again in spite of ups and downs, struggles, fear, etc. A testimony is proof that we are overcoming again and again and again.
Speaking in the Saturday afternoon session of conference in October 1972, Loren C. Dunn reminded us what a complete testimony looks like. These seven key points are vital for a testimony to withstand the mists of darkness:
- To know that God, our Father, lives.
- To know that Jesus Christ, our Savior, lives and gave up His life on the cross that we might live.
- To know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet; that he saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, and that he was called to restore the kingdom of God to the earth.
- To know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that kingdom of God on the earth.
- To know that in order to gain entrance to that kingdom we must have faith, gain baptism, seek repentance, and receive the Holy Ghost.
- To know that the Book of Mormon is true.
- To know that God has called a prophet, who stands at the head of this the Lord’s church upon the earth.
You may be interested to learn that the number seven, in Hebrew, “means ‘whole, complete, or perfect.’ By using the number seven the Lord emphasized that if Israel wholly kept His commandments and their covenants with Him, they would be successful” (Old Testament Seminary Manual). Likewise, we will remain strong, and spiritually intact, by knowing and protecting these seven keys in our own testimonies.
Similarly, the Armor of God can only protect us completely if we use all seven of its key parts.
As recently as our last conference, we have seen people deny pieces of their testimonies as they voted against sustaining the prophet of the Lord. Online, it isn’t unusual anymore to see members of the church challenge church policies and doctrine. In fact, I think it’s fair to ask if challenging the prophet is the same as denying your testimony? According to this list, when you challenge the prophet, you run the risk of having an incomplete testimony, which opens you up to losing everything.
“Starvation of a testimony usually begins with failure to keep properly in touch with divine forces, to pray. Then, desire to learn and to live the gospel law soon weakens. Sacred covenants are forgotten. Study of the gospel is set aside for some other study or activity. There is less and less participation in the life of the Church. Eyes are blurred so that the laws of life are forgotten.
There are many attacks by the evil one upon a weakening testimony. Commonly, a feeling of superiority, ending in ambition for office, overshadows all else and leads to testimony starvation. … The various cults that arise, like mushrooms, from time to time, are but variations of this manner of destroying a testimony. They can aIways be recognized, for they are in opposition to some principle or regulation of the Church.
Most frequently, however, the loss of a testimony is due to finding fault with one’s fellow believers, and with the leadership of the Church. Every action of bishop, stake president, or General Authority seems wrong, to such unfortunate people. Their vision distorts the world and all in it.
The dying testimony is easily recognized. The organizations and practices of the Church are ignored. … He has lost his most precious possession, and has found nothing to replace it” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:9)
Because Satan is fighting for our mortal souls, there are certain things we have to give up, let go of, or scrape off our spirits on a regular basis. It must be an excruciating process as we each must define our place in the kingdom of God. As we complete our testing successfully, we will discover our testimonies shine bright and free of corrosion.
“The gospel must be woven into the pattern of life. It must be tested in practice. The gospel must be used in life. That is the ultimate test in the winning of a testimony.” (John Widtsoe, 1:2)
Those who would speak against the prophet, may insist that they still have a testimony, but what of those who follow their example of bitterness and go even farther astray. This is the caution that has become shockingly personal, as we see friends and family leave the church because doubts begin to surface and press upon the minds of those whose testimonies may not have been that strong in the first place.
Many use doubt, questioning, and concern over unwarranted judgment as a reason to hold back their testimony. Elder John A. Widtsoe said,
“The strong man is not afraid to say, “I do not know;” the weak man
simpers and answers, “I doubt.” Doubt, unless transmuted into inquiry, has no
value or worth in the world. Of itself it has never lifted a brick, driven a
nail, or turned a furrow. To take pride in being a doubter, without earnestly
seeking to remove the doubt, is to reveal shallowness of thought and purpose.” (1:7)
Each one of us are accountable in gaining an unwavering testimony of the complete truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we are each accountable for sharing this testimony with our friends and family, as together we resist the evil that would destroy our happiness. A complete testimony is our only true protection from the adversary.
In conclusion, I offer my own testimony:
I know that I am a child of my God. He has given me everything I need to return back into His presence, including the most precious gift of all: His Son, Jesus Christ, who made it possible for me to repent of my sins and imperfections. I know He lives today to welcome me back into the kingdom of God. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. I am grateful for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and my faith grows stronger as I continually practice listening to the Holy Ghost and keeping my covenants in the temple. The Book of Mormon is the true word of God, and as I continually read it, I regain an abiding faith and love for these inspired words. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, called of God, who leads this church to safety from worldly pitfalls and dangers. My testimony strengthens me when I have questions and holds me together as I traverse this wonderful life I live.
You can read other General Conference Odyssey posts here:
All Things Work for Good, Even Detours Nathaniel Givens
Doing the Will of the Lord Daniel Ortner
Saints Securely Dwell Ralph Hancock
Creatures of Habit Walker Wright
“Thy Will on Earth” SilverRain
Being the Ballast Chastity Wilson
Power in the ideal Marilyn Nielson