My Witness

Thank you so much for visiting this blog in which I look at topics in religious studies that I find exciting and worthwhile.  I believe it is very important for us to heed the Lord’s counsel to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118). I hope this site is a place where this type of exchange can take place–and I’m sure I learn more from you than you learn from me. Although I find this type of learning so important, and have recently dedicated much of my life to it, I know that there is a type of learning that is much more important and beneficial to our souls.

I wish to speak of the type of learning that comes not from books and conferences, but directly from God. The only true knowledge that we can obtain about the things of God and Heaven is directly from the source–from the Father and the Son, through the Holy Ghost. This is how it has always been. This is how the first Christians gained their knowledge. I use 1 Corinthians 2:9–14 as but one example:

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I highly respect those who do research in the field of religious studies. There are brilliant minds that are bringing constantly new and exciting developments. I know, however, that in order for me to know God and His works on a personal level, I must learn it through the Spirit of God. In order to know the truth, and not just theories, I need to learn it from God Himself.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My parents were both members of the Church when I was born and I was raised a “Mormon.” It is a credit to my parents and other family members that I was well taught in the religion of my fathers. I grew up enjoying participating in church and learned to love the doctrines I was taught.  Among the many lessons I learned, I was taught that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in a vision in 1820 and was called to be a modern-day prophet. He received revelations and translated ancient texts, such as the Book of Mormon, by the power of God, and thus declared that the heavens were open once again, and that God was giving us further truth to accompany the Bible. I learned that we have, as in biblical times, a prophet today who guides our church. I also learned that we have, as in ancient times, the priesthood — the authority to act in God’s name, and also a temple to worship him in. I learned that through the sealing power of the priesthood in ordinances performed in the Temple, my family could be sealed together for eternity. I learned that God was truly our Father and that Jesus Christ, his literal Son, was my Savior and that they love me. This is what I learned in my youth.

As I got older, I continued to believe firmly in the Church, but the goal of “learning for myself” and receiving my own witness of the truthfulness of the Church was important to me. I knew that I could not simply continue to depend on the testimony of others — I had to know for myself, through some spiritual experience of my own, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. I wanted God to tell me that it was true. This is how the great men of God from the Scriptures and how modern witnesses had come to know the truth — directly from God himself.

I studied as much as I possibly could about Joseph Smith, the Church, and about religion in general. A visit to Israel when I was 16 strengthened me spiritually and gave me more motivation to pursue the witness I desired. However, it wasn’t until I was 19 and had entered the Missionary Training Center in preparation for serving a full-time mission to Brazil that I really decided that I needed God to answer my prayers and tell me that the Church was true. If I was going to teach other people about my faith, I needed to have a clear testimony that what I was teaching was of God.

It was at that point that I really began praying for my Heavenly Father to help me to know whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet and if the Book of Mormon was true. I prayed a number of times, but didn’t feel that I had received any answer. On one particular night, however, when I was kneeling at my bed and praying with all the sincerity that I could, truly desiring to know, I felt something different. Again, I asked God about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon — as soon as I asked, I felt an incredibly strong, warm feeling fill my body. It was a feeling of love and peace so intense that I knew it was from God. I knew that my Heavenly Father was answering my prayer and that He was telling me that the Church was true, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that he translated the revelations and scriptures that he gave us were from God. I now knew this not by the wisdom of men and books, but because God had revealed it to me by His Spirit.

This witness became an anchor to me while I was in Brazil teaching people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I knew, without a doubt, that what I was teaching was true. My mission only further reinforced my testimony. When we would sit down with people and teach them about Joseph Smith, his First Vision, and the Restoration of Christ’s Church, I would feel that intense feeling of the Spirit again. This feeling would fill the room, and I knew that the people we were teaching could feel it as well, because we would ask them and they would acknowledge the feeling. This was pretty much a daily experience on my mission. I came to recognize, by the Spirit, that God is very aware and mindful of his children — that whether rich or poor, saint or sinner, God loves each one and is very willing to share his blessings with all of them.

There is an unmistakable feeling that accompanies the truth that can only come from God.  It is not a feeling of simple excitement, of adrenaline, or of any other feeling that the world can produce. It comes from God alone and is felt when truth is being communicated. Because I have recognized this feeling of the Spirit in conjunction with hearing or speaking of the prophet Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I know these things are true and of God.  Some may question the reliability of our own feelings in determining the truth of any thing, but I would say that I know that this was not a feeling that I could produce in myself. The feelings of the Spirit are too distinct to be produced internally or by any worldly source — when you have felt and recognized the Spirit of God, you know that it can come from no other source than from Him. If this seems to be “foolishness” to you, I would encourage you to ask God about it. As we read in James 1:5:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Having this testimony has strengthened me and given me confidence to further pursue religious studies. Because of my testimony of the truthfulness of the doctrines of this Church, I have dedicated my life to the study of religion, with the firm conviction that Joseph Smith’s claims will hold true no matter how deeply I dig.  And although I love to study the works of great researchers and share them with others, I also felt that I would be doing both God and you a disservice if I did not share my own witness that I have received from God. Because of the witness of the Holy Spirit, I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, that he restored the ancient Church of Jesus Christ and His Gospel in its fulness, that the Book of Mormon and other modern scriptures are true, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s church on the Earth, guided by Jesus Christ Himself.

2 Cor. 1: 12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2 Comments

  1. Cindy Davis
    Posted August 17, 2008 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    David,

    Sarah Hinze shared with me the article you wrote on her. It is wonderful.

    Your testimony is beautiful, thank you for sharing it.

    I would like to share my testimony with you as well. It, along with Heavenly Father, is what brought Sarah and I together.

    I can promise you, I KNOW Joseph Smith was, is, and shall forever be a prophet of God.

    Most sincerely,

    Cindy

    My Testimony

    My testimony actually began before this life and has continued to grow as the years have passed. What I wish to share with you, now, are my pearls…given to me by my Father in Heaven and my Brother Jesus.

    As far back as I can remember, I knew that I had lived in heaven with Father and Jesus, my sweet Elder Brother. From my youth I spoke of my memories to family and friends. Unfortunately, I was looked upon as touched in the head because I believed so fervently and literally in these memories. My family knew nothing about Mormons or their beliefs, so in retrospect I can understand why no one believed me.

    My life was filled with horrible events, ones that caused me to have a great desire to return to the safety of my heavenly home. Thus, my search for answers began at the tender age of nine. In my search I asked all who might know, “How will I know when Jesus is returning?” I wanted to be ready, so I did not miss Him. The answers I received, I rejected, because they did not fit with my memories of my dear Father and Brother. So I decided to ask Father myself, although I wondered why the thought to do so had not occurred to me sooner, since it was always Father and Jesus who had told me things, especially concerning things eternal and about Them.

    It was after inquiring of Father concerning this matter, that I began having a reoccurring dream. In this dream I was walking to my Sunday school class at the church we sometimes attended. A man, wearing a funny looking brown suit and shoes, came up to me. Instantly I knew he was from heaven, and even thought he might be Jesus in disguise. He told me, “I am sent by your Father in Heaven to bring you these words, and when you have learned these words, you are to teach the people, so that when Jesus returns, they can go back home to heaven, too.”

    I just looked at him in disbelief. I said, “ No one will listen to me, I am just a kid!” He said, “The time will come when you have learned these words, that all people will hear you, but only God’s people will believe.”

    In his hands were golden plates, bound by wire, sort of like a spiral notebook….

    I didn’t understand what the dream meant. Yet, I hated waking up from it because I felt safe and knew this man truly was sent by my Father in Heaven. I trusted him and truly felt him to be my friend.

    In May 1984, Father told me to write down my dream. I told Him I did not need to because it was still fresh in my mind. He said, “Just do it!” So I did. At that time in my life, I was extremely unhappy and all I could think about was returning to my heavenly home again. I cried to Father one night, telling Him that He must have dropped me off on the wrong planet, because there were no others here that believed like me, and I could never be happy here. I ended my plea by saying that if I were wrong, and He had not dropped me off on the wrong planet, and there actually were others here who believed like me, to please send them to me, so that I might get my life in order and finally be happy. I added my request that He please hurry, because I did not know how much longer I could hold on.

    Two weeks later, two young men from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to my door. Normally I would not even listen to any person from a church, because none that I had attended taught the things I had learned at the knee of Jesus before I came to this life. Yet something told me to listen to these men. As they asked me questions about what I believed, I thought my answers might send them running, or at least elicit looks of disbelief on their faces. That did not happen though. Instead, I heard Father tell me to go and get the book I had written my dream in and let them read it. As they read, tears flowed from their eyes. One of them opened his backpack, pulled out a binder and flipped through it. He came to a page and then turned it to me asking, “Is this the man in your dream?”

    My knees turned to jell-o, and Father’s Spirit filled me so powerfully, that I felt as if I would lift right off of the porch. There he was! My friend! And he had on that same funny looking brown suit and shoes and had those same golden plates in his hand!

    So this is my story, of how I became a member of the Church, a Mormon, if you will. There is a lot more I could share, but this will do for now , I think. I was baptized July 1, 1984, one month to the day after the missionaries were sent to me by Father. In that time I read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.

    It is my testimony, my sure knowledge, given to me by my Father in Heaven, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church upon the earth that He claims as His. No man told this to me; my Father in Heaven did. This I promise you, with all of my love for Father and Jesus, and I do so in the precious name of my Brother, Jesus Christ…Amen.

    This testimony was shared with you by Cynthia (Cindy) Davis. My prayer as you read this is that Father will tell you of its truth. As I know it is His greatest desire for all of His children to return to Him. His love and our Brother Jesus’s love for us is beyond measure and even our comprehension. It is the most priceless gift of all. When a small, scared, heavenly-homesick daughter went to Them for answers, They felt to include the rest of Father’s children, in the answer to her sincere prayer.

    Love Eternally, Your Sister in Christ,

    Cindy

  2. Posted August 20, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Dear Cindy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and sincere testimony here. I am grateful and honored that you would see fit to post it on my blog. Your experience is truly amazing and you have a wonderful story to share with others. I hope you are able to publish your experiences–I look forward to reviewing your writing here on Heavenly Ascents.
    Again, thank you so much for sharing.

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