From Faith to Conviction

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by Kathryn Skaggs

I love writing and I really love being a Mormon blogger. I am passionate about my faith and have always found Mormonism to be incredibly fascinating. I love Mormon doctrine, and I love to teach it. Throughout my life I’ve often expressed that to do so is my favorite thing.

When I first became active in the Church, at 17, I read Bruce R. McConkie’s “Mormon Doctrine” from cover to cover — like a novel. (I’m kind of a dork in that way.) I was like this huge sponge; soaking up every ounce of gospel truth I could get my hands on, and loved every minute of it. That was the beginning of my love to study the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the years have gone by, my time, and passion, to deeply study the gospel have been intermittent.

Early in my journey of faith, I was blessed with a powerful witness to the truthfulness of The Book of Mormonbecause I asked. However, it wasn’t until after my fifth child was born that I began a serious study of its content, that included more than just a daily investment of my time. That child is now almost 21. I did so upon the challenge of my then Stake President. I had been called to serve as the education counselor (Do they even call it that anymore?) in our Stake Relief Society Presidency and felt the weight of my call to teach and train with power.

I can’t stress enough the importance of developing our testimony of the gospel upon the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Not just upon the content of the book, but upon its truthfulness. My experience has taught me that there is a significant difference. In fact, I believe, it is the difference that has the power to enable us to withstand the very real and inevitable buffetings of the adversary.

I have always found it significant to acknowledge the point in my relationship with The Book of Mormon, at which I came to know that it is true. It was not after years of deep study of its pages. Rather, it was during my initial contact and deep desire to know, for myself, of its truth. The results of which, no question, changed the course of my life. I knew it would, and that’s why I had to know for sure — it is true?

It is not a light thing to profess that a testimony of the authenticity of The Book of Mormon, come from God, produces, as its byproduct, a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. Period. God, in His masterful way, intended this to be so. And it is precisely this faith based and Spirit-testified testimony, that has the power to save us, literally!

I know this is true. I know this power in my own life. I know this truth is my own personal lifesaver — because it saves me every single day.

All around us we see our brothers and sisters in the gospel, fall by the wayside. Each casualty has a personal story as to what has caused him or her to choose to leave the path. Unfortunately, and far too often, it is due to a lack of conviction. And here is where the importance of a testimony based on the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, in my experience, applies its incredible power.

Because I know, by the Power of the Holy Ghost, that The Book of Mormon is a true record, brought forth by the Gift and Power of God — I also KNOW (Think of how many people today, even some within the Church, detest and even mock that phrase) that Joseph Smith was, and is, a true prophet of God.

Said Gordon B. Hinckley, in one of my all-time favorite General Conference addresses, about The Book of Mormon:

“The Book of Mormon is the only book ever published, of which I know, that carries in it a promise that one who reads it prayerfully and asks concerning it in prayer will have revealed to him by the power of the Holy Ghost a knowledge that it is true (see Moroni 10:4).”

Because of my own experience, in acquiring this specific knowledge, President Hinckley’s testimony has remained with me — in understanding how profound this promise, from God, is intended to be for each of His children.  It is real, and available to all willing to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His words. And, it is that which develops unfaltering conviction.

I love the word CONVICTION. President Uchtdorf taught this about conviction and testimony:

“A testimony is the sure knowledge or assurance from the Holy Ghost of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work in these latter days. A testimony is the “abiding, living, [and] moving conviction of the truths revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Marion G. Romney, “How to Gain a Testimony,” New Era, May 1976, 8; emphasis added).

When we bear testimony, we declare the absolute truth of the gospel message. In a time when many perceive truth as relative, a declaration of absolute truth is not very popular, nor does it seem politically correct or opportune. Testimonies of things how “they really are” (Jacob 4:13) are bold, true, and vital because they have eternal consequences for mankind. Satan wouldn’t mind if we declared the message of our faith and gospel doctrine as negotiable according to circumstances. Our firm conviction of gospel truth is an anchor in our lives; it is steady and reliable as the North Star. A testimony is very personal and may be a little different for each of us, because everyone is a unique person.

However, a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include these clear and simple truths:

•   God lives. He is our loving Father in Heaven, and we are His children.

•   Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.

•   Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days.

•   The Book of Mormon is the word of God.

•   President [Thomas S. Monson], his counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the prophets, seers, and revelators in our day.”

On a daily basis we are confronted with multiple assaults against what we believe, how we believe it, and even how what we believe came to be. The fiery darts of the adversary are relentless and will continue to be so. If we are not careful we can find ourselves feeling the need to make choices, daily, to either allow or ignore these challenges to our faith.

The great blessing of acquiring a testimony, based on the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, as promised by God, is a conviction of such power that it enables us to not be shaken out of our place under any circumstance.

Consider the many darts that lose all ability to injure, when we personally come to know, with deep conviction, that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God — or that we truly have living prophets upon the earth, today, who speak the mind and will of the Lord. This verse of scripture comes to mind…

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

I am so grateful for my personal testimony of the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. I have come to understand that, indeed, it is the keystone of our religion — and what that means to my personal testimony of the gospel. I am in awe of God’s grand design in establishing His entire work, in these latter-days, upon its foundation. It is God’s word, and as promised He will verify such to anyone willing to sincerely, with real intent, study and pray for that testimony.

  • How has your personal testimony of The Book of Mormon, enabled you to remain convicted to your faith that the Church is true?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

About Kathryn Skaggs

Also writes as A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman -- is a Mormon blogger who is passionate about family. Married to her best friend and eternal companion of 34 years, she is mother of five, Nana to 10; living a life filled with hard-earned joy! As a SAHM Kathryn found her passion while raising her children and serving in the LDS Church — studying the gospel. Her blogging career began in 2008, during a time when she felt more credible information about the Church was desperately needed online. So, as a recently released seminary teacher, with nothing better to do, she began writing. This commitment to share her faith online, eventually led to a, twice now, invitation to contribute as a Guest Voice on the Washington Post “On Faith” Blog. A lover of using social media to share the gospel, you can find Kathryn, a.k.a. @LDSNana, sharing General Conference, in realtime, via Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.

15 Responses to From Faith to Conviction

  1. Jan says:

    I just bought myself a new set of scriptures–the set with larger type. It was a huge decision for me, because I was giving up my older, well-worn, marked-up, I-can-only-find-stuff-in-my-own-scriptures scriptures. As I began at the beginning with the idea of transferring everything over from one to the other, I realized I was enjoying too much reading and discovering anew. I have my older scriptures still at the ready, but I am enjoying so much my new journey as I read, once again, this beloved book. My old favorite friends (verses) are still there, but new friends are coming to the forefront. My conviction grows as my heart fills with my faith that I too KNOW this book is true. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Kathleen S Dempsey says:

      That sounds like the very thing , I need to do. … thank you Jan

    • What a beautiful testimony of personal revelation, Jan. When I was teaching seminary a few years back, we were trained to begin each year with new scriptures, unmarked,to allow the Spirit to teach us anew. I know that thought makes many uncomfortable, because we tend to get comfortable with the notes we’ve made from previous study — thinking we’ve got it. But I will join in with your personal testimony that the Lord has so much to teach us if we will remove all doubt (notes) and allow Him to show Himself to us.

  2. MSKeller says:

    I’m so with you Jan! I’m having a very difficult time tossing my old ones, though I have found that it is possible to use the electric ones, which are ‘fresh’. So I figure that counts.
    My old favorite friends (verses) are still there, but new friends are coming to the forefront. Loved that!

    I love the word CONVICTION. Me too. Well said and a lovely way to being this morning with that wonderful inner burn.

  3. Rebbecca Brown says:

    Thank you for such wonderful reading. I love the Gospel and have found so much strength in my convictions to stand by my beliefs and covenants.

  4. Paul says:

    I appreciate this sentence: “It is not a light thing to profess that a testimony of the authenticity of The Book of Mormon, come from God, produces, as its byproduct, a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith.”

    But that’s not quite how it worked for me. While I understand the theory that a testimony of the book leads to a testimony of its translator (“by their fruits…”), my testimony grew differently.

    In my case, my testimony of the First Vision came first. Then my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and a much-strengthened testimony of the Savior came next. For me, the power of the Book of Mormon to teach Christ was and is incredible. (In fact, it was the Savior’s appearance recorded in Third Nephi that is at the beginning of my testimony of that book — a witness that I gained when I was 15.)

    Next for me was a testimony of the restoration of Christ’s church.

    Only years later did my testimony of the Prophet Joseph finally mature. It is firm today, and its firmness allows me to study his history with a confidence and excitement that I could not do without. But it did not come easily after the testimony of that book.

    Great thoughts on the power of testimony. Thanks.

  5. Kathleen S Dempsey says:

    That is so similar to my own testimony . I asked about the truth of the Book of Mormon at the age of 18 , after completing the assignments to read it from the missionaries. I found that , that same revelation has been the one that protects me to this day.
    While , my testimony of principles of the Gospel grow . The assurance of the Book of Mormon never has wavered, it has been the bedrock of my faith. It testifies of the Lord. It is power. Thank you Kathryn … :D

  6. Julia says:

    “When my children turn 12, I will give them a Book if Mormon, marked specially for them.” I have no idea how many times I promised myself, and them, that I would do it. On days when a verse or two was a gigantic thing, that promise kept me sane. This year my oldest turned 12. On his 11th birthday I got a missionary copy of the Book of Mormon. I read it three times during that year, marking scriptures, writing notes in the margins, thinking and praying about my son and what I wanted to give to him.

    When I gave it to him, along with a gift certificate to his favorite book store, I got a huge hug. A few weeks later, his new deacon’s quorum leader called me to tell me how much my son’s testimony, that he was like the Army of Helamen, had impacted the lesson that day. My son held up the missionary copy of the Book if Mormon and said, “My mom had a tough time when she was married to my dad. When I was baptized, she was not a member of the church. Later that year I got to give the talk when she was rebaptized. Even when she wasn’t a member of the church, I knew she had a testimony because I saw her reading her scriptures by herself and not just with our family. When I turned 12, my mom gave me this Book of Mormon, and everytime I read it, I see her testimony, marked in red and green and blue. Just like the Lamanites sons, my mom taught me that the gospel is true, everyday.”

    I don’t talk a lot about the year I wasn’t a member of the church. The right decision was made to excommunicate me, and to have me be rebaptized a year later. I don’t need to say much more for my testimony. I am grateful that I didn’t try to hide the experience from my children. They will always be able to say that they know the testimony of their mother has been constant. During a lesson that was supposed to focus on the mechanics of repentance, one Sunday my son made it about how life changing the Atonement is. It makes me proud to know that he gets it, and that he can explain my testimony just as well as I can.

    • Cheryl says:

      Julia, I think that is fantastic! Hiding things from our kids –even the hard things –doesn’t help. I have a family member who hides everything, even when it’s actually out in the open. It would be a hilarious joke if it wasn’t so miserably depressing. It’s crazy and has taught this person’s children to hide things, too. I’m impressed that you’ve shared your journey and testimony so well with your kids!

    • Julia, what a wonderful treasure you created for your son, and clearly it has been a great blessing of strength to him. I remember when I was raising my own children and the adversary would sneak in impressions that because of my own weaknesses I could not parent with power. Through experience I came to understand that it was precisely my experiences and weaknesses, placed before God, which gave me the ultimate power to parent with power.

      Good for you for listening to the Spirit on how to use your own personal trials to parent with power and for basing your testimony in The Book of Mormon.

  7. [...] The choice to sustain prophets requires trust. However, contrary to what some may surmise, this is not blind trust. For many Mormons, myself included, the trust to follow living prophets comes as a byproduct of our testimony of The Book of Mormon. For many outside of our faith this may seem quite odd. I addressed how we obtain that willingness to follow those whom we believe to be living prophets in my previous post From Faith to Conviction. [...]

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