Tuesday, September 8, 2009
A Testimony of Salvation
"Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you." [emphasis added]
In this section, Joseph Smith was speaking to "a group of elders." These men were later identified by Reynolds Cahoon as being Hyrum Smith, John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock, and David Whitmer.
Not a bad group to meet up with. Men who left their mark on the early church, with Hyrum being a co-sealer of the truth of the Gospel when he was martyred on the same day as his brother. So is it any surprise, really, that the Prophet Joseph should inform them that God had forgiven their sins?
And yet, once more, I have to apply this to myself as well (after all, why bother giving us scripture if we were not to use them? God would be a bit of a ninny if that were the case). And in so doing, I have to think that this is probably one of the most joyous of all the scriptures we have in our possession today.
Think of it... to have the angels of heaven "rejoice over you." To have your words recorded there perhaps for all your progenitors to view throughout the eternities, a monument to your following of the Savior.
For, you see, this is contingent upon bearing testimony. And a testimony cannot be borne which is false. That is to say, these men to whom the Prophet was speaking, they had borne real testimonies.
And what is a testimony? Ask yourself that question...
Seriously, ask yourself. And put the answer in your mind.
It is something that we know.
That's it. It is something that we have experienced for ourselves, and can then describe to others. No more, no less.
Thus, in a courtroom, it is not generally permitted to say what someone told you about someone else (though there are exceptions), but your testimony is generally confined to those things you saw, heard, tasted, touched... or felt.
And so these men were given this great blessing from the Lord through the Prophet: for the bearing of their testimonies - for telling others what they knew about the Gospel - the angels rejoiced and their sins were forgiven them.
This, then brings up an interesting question. To wit: what exactly did they know? By this I do not mean to inquire into the depth of these men's souls. But rather, I again apply this scripture to myself. Would I like the angels to rejoice over me? Most certainly. Would I like my words to be recorded in heaven? Of course.
Would I like my sins forgiven? Yes, yes, most indisbutably yes!
So what must I do? Bear testimony, it would seem. The Prophet did not confine these blessings to only these men, and I must therefore assume (reasonably, I think), that if I then bear testimony as they did, I too will reap the benefits they received. It is as easy (and as difficult) as that.
But we do not have to bear testimony that we have seen Christ or that we have witnessed a burning bush in order to receive these blessings - I find nowhere in scripture that confines the blessings of bearing testimony to those who bear it on that scale.
But we are asked to share what we know. What we know can be great as the First Vision - there are those in this dispensation who have seen the Father and the Son.
But it can also be something as simple and sincere as being able to say to someone, "I know the Gospel is true because when I read the Book of Mormon it makes me feel good." This is a true testimony: it is a factual declaration backed up by personal experience. It is the same with something like, "I know that tithing is a true principle because as long as I have paid tithing, I have never wanted for my daily bread." Ditto something like, "I know this is the true Church because, even though I argue with Brother So-and-so, and even though I find Sister Thus-and-such to be a tad on the irritating side, still I love them, and they are my family, and I would die for them if push came to shove."
All of these are testimonies.
How about this one: "I know the Church is true because when I do what the prophets say to do I am happier than when I do not follow them."
A testimony does not have to include an angel. It does not have to be a travelogue. It might not even be a story.
But it must be true. It must be something you know. It must be from your own experience. And then it must be shared.
For in the sharing, the angels rejoice.
In the sharing, our words are recorded for eternity, and will serve us well at the judgment bar of God.
In the sharing, we find salvation.
In the sharing, we are free.