Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week of March 1 - More Thoughts on Testimony, Knowledge, and Conversion

I plan on being the type of member who can be relied upon to do all things that people ask. Speaking about the priest quorum (the 16-18 age young men), the youth over here seem so much more enthusiastic about the church and even seem to be more closely bonded together for some reason.  That was not always what I experienced back home, which is really sad. I have been trying to pinpoint what the difference is and I just think it comes down to the general desire to know the truth and then act on it. I think here in Australia the kids have to really rely on their own testimonies at an earlier age since there aren't a ton of members (i.e., they need to be personally stronger to stand against the opposition). I think that the trick is to teach them (the youth) how to rely on themselves (at an early age) as opposed to just looking to others and the past as the basis of their testimonies. Elder Bednar said he absolutely doesn't like it when people bear their testimonies on something that happened years ago. He said that you should bear testimony on things that you learn/experience each week and even day by day.  Building (and bearing) one's testimony should be a constant, renewing process.

In regards to the "truth of all things" I just look at some people in the past that have been given loads of knowledge such as the Brother of Jared, Nephi, John the Beloved, Ezekiel, Moses, and Abraham. These men had truth and knowledge shown unto them, and it was something that was undeniable. Modern prophets, too, have been able to have experiences where there is no longer opportunity to question what is truth - it is a sure knowledge. I don't expect to necessarily have miraculous experiences, but I want a testimony that cannot be questioned or shaken. I have heard stories of people who have had their calling and election made sure in this life and I guess that I kind of desire to get to that level of trust between me and God. Elder Bednar kind of said something in regards to this. He said that that knowledge will come as we continue to (seek and) receive revelation every single day actively and then we will learn line upon line of the absolute truth of those things. In relation to Alma's discourse on faith, in Hebrews we learn that you start with an assurance, then Alma says it goes to a belief, then to hope, and finally to a pure knowledge. I just want to be able to say that I don't have to rely on faith anymore in regards to the simple truths of the gospel, but that I will have graduated to having a sure knowledge of those truths. 

In Joseph Smith's discourses, he says that there are three baptisms - one of water, fire, and the Holy Ghost. I believe that equates to the initial desire to exercise faith and the preparatory cleansing, the continuation of exercising faith until you are purified, and then you are ready to be sanctified and receive that pure witness by the Holy ghost. He also said that there is "another Comforter" besides the Holy Ghost which he described as the testimony received through the Savior himself and not through the Holy Ghost. I want to eventually get to that level of conversion.

Week of Feb. 22, 2015 - Thoughts of Gaining a Testimony, Pure Knowledge, and Conversion

(In response to Adam's dad's questions related to conversion vs. testimony)

Conversion is a process.  In the end, once you have made a sacrifice to the Lord and it is acceptable to Him, you should be entitled/promised to receive a confirmation of that truth until it becomes a pure knowledge (line upon line).  I guess that is more or less where I am at - I have learned a lot and know many things to be true, but there is a lot more I need to do in order to get to the point of being ready and worthy of such a gift (a pure knowledge of things, where faith is no longer needed...for that bit of truth). 

Even though I have been blessed to have many spiritual experiences, I don't think that they caused a true change of heart due to the fact that I wasn't really looking for one. I guess what really has made me seek for that true conversion and not being satisfied with simply having a testimony of things is realizing that my life hinges on knowing this truth. I was challenged by people a couple of times early on in my mission and I didn't feel that my testimony was adequate enough (where I only hoped and believed that something was true but wasn't absolutely sure of it). I have felt the truth of the Gospel many times throughout my life and while on my mission I have felt it many more times, but they mean a lot more now that I can anchor my testimony on them and realize that I have to anchor it to them for my spiritual survival. I don't think that it has to or should take being forced to question things in order to seek after them intently, but it is definitely a catalyst. 

[In speaking about how to influence the youth to make the choice to serve a mission]...I have no idea how you are supposed to do it, but somehow you need to drive the kids to understand that a testimony is as important as you know it to be. That can be difficult, as youth don't tend to listen or to care too much about those things at that stage in their lives. Elder Badnar is coming this Saturday to the mission and speaking to us and he gave all the missionaries some talks to read and one of them which is super good is "learning in Faith" which he gave at a CES fireside in 2006. In it, he asserts that learning is not only an act of faith, but more importantly that learning is an act of agency. If you don't want to be taught, you can't be. It is amazing that God respects our agency even when it comes to learning spiritual truths.