3 Nephi 8-10,
Testimony will come to you in pieces as parts of the whole truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ are confirmed. For instance, as you read and ponder the Book of Mormon, verses you have read before will appear new to you and bring new ideas. Your testimony will grow in breadth and in depth as the Holy Ghost confirms that they are true. Your living testimony will expand as you study, pray, and ponder in the scriptures.
The best description for me of how to gain and keep this living testimony has already been referred to. It is in the 32nd chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon. You may have read it many times. I find new light in it every time I read it. Let’s review the lesson it teaches once again tonight.
We are taught in those inspired passages to begin our quest for testimony with “a particle of faith” and with desire for it to grow. Tonight you have felt faith and that desire as you listened to stirring talks of the Savior’s kindness, His honesty, and of the purity His commandments and Atonement made possible for us.
So a seed of faith is already planted in your heart. You may even have felt some of the expansion of your heart promised in Alma. I did.
But, like a growing plant, it must be nurtured or it will wither. Frequent and heartfelt prayers of faith are crucial and needed nutrients. Obedience to the truth you have received will keep the testimony alive and strengthen it. Obedience to the commandments is part of the nourishment you must provide for your testimony.
You remember the promise of the Savior: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
That has worked for me, as it will for you. One of the doctrines of the gospel I was taught when I was young is that the greatest of all the gifts of God is eternal life.6 I learned that part of eternal life is to live together in love in families forever.
From the first time that I heard those truths and they were confirmed to my heart, I felt obligated to make every choice I could to avoid contention and seek peace in my family and in my home.
Now, only after this life can I enjoy the fulness of that greatest of all blessings, eternal life. But amidst the challenges of this life, I have been given at least glimpses of what my family in heaven can be like. From those experiences my testimony of the reality of the sealing power exercised in temples has grown and been strengthened.
Watching my two daughters be baptized in the temple for their ancestors has drawn my heart to them and to those ancestors whose names we found. The promise of Elijah that hearts would be turned to each other in families has been granted to us. So faith for me has become certain knowledge, as we are promised in the book of Alma.
I have experienced at least some of the joy which my ancestors felt when the Savior came into the spirit world after His mortal ministry. Here is the description in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell.
“Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.”
My feeling of their joy came from acting on my testimony that the Lord’s promise of eternal life is real. That testimony was strengthened by my choosing to act upon it, as the Savior promised that it would be.
He has also taught us that, in addition to choosing to be obedient, we must ask in prayer for testimony of truth. The Lord taught that to us in His command to pray about the Book of Mormon. He said through His prophet Moroni:
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
I hope that you all have proved that promise for yourself or that you will do it soon. The answer may not come in a single and powerful spiritual experience. For me it came quietly at first. But it comes ever more forcefully each time I have read and prayed over the Book of Mormon.
I do not depend on what has happened in the past. To keep my living testimony of the Book of Mormon secure, I receive the promise of Moroni often. I don’t take that blessing of a testimony for granted as a perpetual entitlement. (“A Living Testimony,” Ensign, May 2011)