Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Study on Faith & Testimony

Hey everybody!

I've been doing some interesting studies lately for an investigator and I compiled it and thought I'd share it. This investigator has had some difficulty believing in the existence of God, and also had some questions regarding gaining a testimony and if you can get a confirming witness without the Spirit. It took me several days to compile my thoughts, and there's so much more that I could have included, but I only had a certain amount of time to study until we met with this investigator! So keep in mind this is a rough draft, but I hope you enjoy it. :)

Before I get into the study, I'll update y'all about our week…it's been a good one! We had Zone Training Thursday, lots of tracting, helping some member's move Saturday, proselyting on Labor day, and our P day (which included bowling with our Zone!) today! In the stores here they are already getting Halloween candy and decorations out, as well as coats & jackets, which I feel is way too early considering that Halloween is over a month away, and it's still super hot outside! I can't wait till the weather cools down a bit. Besides this, there's not much else to report! Hope everyone's upcoming week goes well!

Sister Griffith

A study on faith & testimony:

Gaining a testimony without the Spirit --

One cannot realistically reason out the attributes of spirituality. God works through science but in such a way that the human mind cannot comprehend. For example, Christ healing an infirmity (such as healing a blind man): doctors cannot prove, or medically sort out, how this was done mainly because it was wrought through spiritual power. And so it is with us, we cannot sort out or prove the reality of God, His Son, and the Holy Ghost with the feeble human mind and ever-changing viewpoints of modern science. To receive a confirmation of spirituality it must come about by a spiritual confirmation.

Nature, and the laws of science, directly indicate the extensive care God put into making this Earth and things it contains. The reality of His existence is found in the repetitive pull of the ocean wave, hung in the balance of the planets, and shouted to the world as new life springs from the womb. God's hand-print in found everywhere. Unfortunately we take for granted the beauty of His creations, and forget to give Him credit for the miraculous events that happen on a daily basis. For example, we know that if you plant a seed in the ground, something will come of it; but consider the miracle of that actual process--something man cannot comprehend. Man has found that certain elements help the plant to grow, they have studied the science of it as far as they could, but (scientifically) we still cannot explain the actual miracle of how life springs up. (For further study, turn to "Jesus the Christ", chapter 11 "Miracles in General", pg. 148-149)

Signs from God --

The Bible dictionary states: "Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ." God has given signs throughout history, as well as today, for everyone to recognize. We can see prophecies that have been or are being fulfilled! But for those that exercise increased faith, God has given them even deeper "signs" of spirituality (visions, angelic visitations, strong manifestations of the Spirit, etc.). For those with no faith, they are not as likely to recognize God's hand and receive direct spiritual manifestations (although there are some cases recorded in the scriptures that have been otherwise). The reason for this is because: 1. God will not cast His "pearls before swine" (Matt 7:6) 2. Testimonies are built on faith, not proof.

Those with faith
1 Nephi 11:1, pg.19 (Nephi's vision)
Alma 18:40, 19:6, pg. 256 (King Lamoni converted)
3 Nephi 7:21-22, pg. 421 (People visited by power of God)

Those with no faith
Jacob 7:12-14, pg. 134 (Sherem & Jacob)
Alma 30:43-46, pg. 283 (Korihor & Alma)
Alma 32:17-18, pg. 289 (Alma teaching)
Mormon 1:13-14, pg. 469 (miracles ceased)

Signs in general
Mosiah 3:15, pg. 153
Alma 30:44, pg. 283
Helaman 14:3, pg. 401
3 Nephi 2:1, pg. 409
3 Nephi 21:7, pg. 451

A foundation of faith --

A testimony can only flourish on a foundation of faith; it will only bud with the desires of a faithful and sincere heart. God's Gospel is built on faith, and we are expected to tune into our spirituality and turn to him with a hopeful heart. That is part of our purpose here: to have our faith tested and tried, to see if we will turn to Him. As we do so, His reality will be more fully manifested unto us. "His power is usually exercised in response to faith" and the scriptures repeatedly testify to us of the beautiful response brought to one consequently wrought from their faithful testimony and strong desire to come closer to their Father in Heaven.

In contrast with this, we can compare someone's desire to first receive proof, then their "testimony" will be made sure. But this is set up for failure from the start. To have "proof", whether it be a sign, to behold something with one's own eyes, or to have God speak directly to you, will not spark a testimony. If one does not start with faith, it is unlikely that one will ever eventually achieve that in different circumstances.There have been some cases where a sign, proof, or manifestation woke someone up to their spirituality, but for the majority of us and in most cases, God tests our faith.

We can understand fairly well why God doesn't just allow us to see into the Heavens, or to manifest Himself plainly to the world, since as people we take for granted what we have now; and for those without a sincere testimony they will disregard it anyway (think about when Christ was on the Earth and working so many miracles, people saw the Son of God and still disregarded Him). If God showed the world the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon sprung forth, people would still not accept or be satisfied with that "proof". They would doubt the authenticity of the records and exclaim that the church manufactured them. Thus God does not "cast His pearls before swine." In contrast with that, those who show forth their faith can have greater things manifest to them, which in turn will strengthen their testimony, not develop it.

Testimony built on faith + greater things manifest
3 Nephi 11:32-33 (Christ's doctrine is to believe in Him)
Mosiah 21:30 (Alma had faith in another person's testimony)
Alma 18:35 (Faith brings the Spirit, knowledge, & power)
Alma 26:22 (Those who exercise faith will come to know the mysteries of God)
Alma 32:21 (Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge)
3 Nephi 7:18 (Nephi's faith was so great that angels ministered to him daily)
3 Nephi 17:8 (The people's faith was strong enough that Christ healed them)
3 Nephi 26:9-11 (God gave us an "ounce" of Christ's ministry; if we have faith, more will be revealed to us)

Concerning faith, we come to understand that it does not mean having a perfect knowledge; for it is impossible to have a complete knowledge or possess a "perfect" testimony, at least in our current state. Christ has asked us to have "child-like faith", which means us not knowing all the answers and putting our trust in Him. In turn that does not mean that we shouldn't strive to continue learning and to strengthen our testimony. We are expected to increase in our knowledge, to progress spiritually. No matter how small our knowledge or testimony of the Gospel is, you will be able to see the positive impact in makes on your life. You will strengthen your testimony as you put faith into action--as you live by what you believe. God will see that you have real intent in your hope, that you trust in Him. Consequently, you will more fully recognize His hand in your life.

You can receive a witness and testimony of the Gospel and the Author of it, but only through faith. And as Ether 12:6 so eloquently declares, "faith is things hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

Receiving a testimony through the Spirit --

It is only in and through the Spirit that we will receive a testimony of the reality and power of God. The Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit, is the third member of the Godhead (which is made up of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit). They are separate Beings but united in purpose, each with different roles. The Holy Ghost has many roles, one of which is to testify of truth--to give us a confirming witness. "And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and Me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of Me." (3 Nephi 28:11) It is through the Holy Ghost that you can come to know spiritual truths.

You can gain a testimony by:
1. Having a sincere desire
2. Having faith & trust in God
3. Studying the scriptures & increasing your knowledge
4. Praying for answers & the Spirit to be with you
5. Striving to recognize God's hand (blessings) in your life

Along with the gentle caresses and whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we can recognize God in the beauty of the Earth, in melodic prayer sung on the Sabbath, and in the innocent laughter of a child. Those things are good, and God is good. God is love. And God is great.

The Spirit will be your closest companion; Jesus Christ your strongest advocate; God your most loving Heavenly Father; and the Gospel a safe haven as you combat the storms of life.

After Zone training, all of us Sisters ate at "Mellow Mushroom", a cute pizza place!

The sunrise we have every morning!

Beautiful Wetumpka :)

Bowling today!

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