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Day 21 – Protecting Our Faith and Testimony in Jesus Christ and the Gospel

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly;
~ Colossians 3:14, CJB ~

Generally, testimony emerges over time and through life’s experiences. We can compare testimony to the process of watching a photograph develop. Powerful impressions of the Spirit come like flashes of light on receptive photographic film. Like the chemicals needed to develop the picture, certain spiritual conditions and experiences are needed in our lives for our personal testimony to develop into a certain truth and knowledge. And like a photograph, a testimony, if not carefully preserved, will fade with time.
~ Robert D. Hales: The Importance of Receiving a Personal Testimony – October 1994 ~

It is our personal duty and responsibility to not only protect our testimony and faith in Jesus Christ – it is also our duty and responsibility to maintain and grow in our testimony and faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel. The vitality of our spiritual growth, spiritual harmony and unity with others, and ability to face the challenges of this life are all founded upon our assurance of faith and testimony. Without a vibrant and growing testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ – we may become spiritually stagnant and dead. Our faith withering and fading away.

James A. Cullimore taught, “A testimony of the gospel is one of the most valued possessions of a member of the Church.” This valued possession of ours determines the influence of the Holy Spirit over our lives and the lives of those we come to worship with:

The spiritual condition of the membership of the Church is determined by the degree to which the members live the gospel and are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Spirit in giving witness of the truth of this great work. It would follow that the prosperity of the Church is also measured to a great extent by the strength of testimonies of its members as demonstrated by their worthiness and righteous living.

The Importance of a Personal Testimony – April 1972 General Conference Talk

In his BYU Devotional on January 5, 1999 – Merrill J. Bateman shares this insight:

The motivation to improve one’s lot in life is not the only earthly consequence of conversion. There are many temporal blessings that flow from a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These include protection from the swirling winds of immorality, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; a comfort and peace of mind that results from knowing one is not alone; a power to bless others and lighten their loads; the courage and strength to face adversity; an ability to cope with death, given a knowledge of its purpose and nature.

Blessings of a Testimony

Our Testimony is the armor of God the Apostle Paul references in Ephesians 6:11-17 (See also, D&C 27:15-18). And it is vital to our faith, our progress toward maturing in our faith, and going forward with meaning and purpose.

Robert D. Hales mentions the following truths about our personal testimony:

  • Our testimony comes by the gift and power of the Holy Spirit
  • A personal testimony is a spirit of prophesy whereby scriptural and personal revelation is received
  • A personal testimony is our guiding light into all truth and understanding of Christ, the Gospel, and our destiny
  • Our testimony is born out of the fruit of our obedience to the principle ordinances and gospel truths whereby we obtain peace, joy, and love
  • Our personal testimony is the very shield of faith protecting us from those fiery darts of the adversary
  • A personal testimony is a measurement of our faith in God, Jesus Christ, the infinite atonement, and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Our testimony is a tool of conversion and light to those seeking, hungering, and thirsting
  • A personal testimony is a gift from our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit
  • A personal testimony helps us come to know who we are, provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose, and helps guide us to where we are heading

Hales also provides this insight:

Testimonies often come when there is willingness to serve where we are called. They come when a decision is made to strive to be obedient. Testimonies come during efforts to help, lift, and strengthen others. They come from prayer and from studying the scriptures and applying them in our lives. Whatever our circumstances, there seem to be moments in each of our lives when we can be given the knowledge that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. There is no greater search in life that we can embark upon than the quest to gain a testimony of the truth.

Therefore, how we cultivate and grow in our faith, and thereby grow in our testimony of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, depends on our motivation and commitment to the things we are taught and those spiritual disciplines we are engaged in.

Be Realistic in Our Expectations of Faith

Our natural disposition and tendency are to overthink and overcontrol our own lives. Both of these cause us to feel anxious, worrisome, and leads to deadening our spiritual growth and faith. While our testimony is bestowed upon us as a gift through the Holy Spirit, it is up to us to put it to good use. And to put it to good use means that we ought to consider the practicality and realistic expectations of faith.

It is when we are unrealistic in our expectations that we are led toward disappointment. May even experience some form of disillusion. Prevents us from experiencing any real and genuine personal revelation. And may hinder us receiving any blessings. Furthermore, it may cause us to develop distrust in our Heavenly Father and gives the wedge the adversary needs to sow doubt and disbelief into our hearts.

Probably the most common form of unrealistic expectations associated with this is the expectation of overdoing things. Think of someone who desires to lose weight. If their expectation of losing weight is going to happen with a few exercises and over a short period of time – a person is going to become frustrated and give up losing weight. However, if our mindset, our focus, and our attitude is to take one day at a time and do all that we are able to do to start out eating simple healthy meals, introduce simple stretching exercises, and then work ourselves up to adapting and adopting new lifestyle habits – we eventually may reach our weight loss goal. And it does not stop there – we have to do all that we are capable of doing to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight loss.

Similarly, someone who decides to run a marathon will do more harm if they get up and go run a marathon. Most people who run marathons train for them. This requires dedication, discipline, motivation, and commitment.

Our testimony and faith are the same thing. We can’t possess an expectation of being spiritually mature if we first do not learn how to discipline ourselves through prayer, fasting, scripture reading, and committing ourselves over to developing a real relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Sure, faith does move mountains (. Yes, we do need to bring a shovel. However, if we expect to shove the shovel into the base of the mountain and expect to lift the entire mountain up in one scoop to move it – we may end up straining ourselves for naught. Instead, we may need to take the time to familiarize ourselves with the basic disciplines. From there, as our faith and testimony grow, we also grow and increase in our expectations. This is the reason our Heavenly Father shares that those who are adequate in small things will then be able to manage and obtain greater things (Luke 16:10).

Elder Evan A. Schmutz shared a story from his youth about using a shovel and wheelbarrow to move dirt (How to Move Your Mountains). In sharing this story, he remarks how his perspective changed and how it relates to our faith and testimony:

The scriptures teach us that if we have “faith as a grain of mustard seed” (Matthew 17:20), we can move mountains. There are times when mountains are moved by our faith in Christ, by His power alone. But most of the time, the exercise of our faith requires a great deal of work and persistence on our part. I learned that summer that faith and a willingness to persist can overcome challenges and obstacles that seem like mountains in our lives.

One basic truth I have come to notice is the simplicity of our Heavenly Father. In one scripture, the truth is simple: Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8). All of this requires action on our part. If we come to our Heavenly Father in prayer, having faith and confidence he will hear us and answer us – we shall receive of our request. If we prayerfully, and mindfully seek – our Heavenly Father will guide us and show us the way and thereby we shall find what we are seeking. And if we come to the door and knock – our Heavenly Father is faithful enough to open up the door of possibilities for each of us.

And it is sad that many do not understand this simple truth of the Gospel. Yet we see it in action throughout the Gospels. The woman with a blood condition had to take the necessary steps to push through the crowd, stretched forth her hand in expectation and faith for healing. The men who brought the paraplegic to the house and ended up cutting a hole in the roof to lower the individual down. The man with a deformed armed merely needed to stretch forth his hand. The command to take up thy bed and walk. Numerous actions were required on the part of the individual who sought blessings, healings, and answers to their questions. Sometimes – they received more than what they expected. Other times, they received responses that caused them to turn from the Savior.

When we are practical, realistic, and exercising the smallest amount of faith – we are led to increase in greater faith and thereby producing a greater and stronger testimony. Much like the individual weightlifting. They start out small and as their muscle strength increases, so to do they increase the amount of weight to lift.

Focus on what matters most to increase in testimony and faith

As we go forward with faith and purpose this year – our focus ought to be centered on what matters most in order to increase in our faith and testimony. This is the reason our faith and testimony are personal and a spirit of prophecy. If we are struggling with finances and desire to have better stewardship over our finances, then we focus on what matters most. And central to this is: are you faithfully and obediently engaged in giving over tithes and offerings? And is it done in a manner where there is no murmuring or complaining? Is it done with realistic expectations – putting aside any doubts, worries, or without anxiety?

How about having relationships restored? Are you focused on what matters the most? Being a servant, striving to be selfless without any expectation and reward in return? This includes the attitude and perception of well I am doing this for us? or, I am doing this for me?

No matter the circumstances – as we go forward with faith and purpose, our testimony will increase when we have the right focus and attitude toward those things that matter most. And what matters most is this: are we seeking after the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness? What does this pursuit consist of?

As we strive to seek after the things of our Heavenly Father, to conform our lives and will over to His, and to strive to become more like Jesus Christ – we are promised spiritual growth and maturation. We are able to increase in knowledge, understanding, and spiritual truths. Our faith matures and our testimony strengthens over time.

Our Faith and Testimony is to Encourage and Inspire Others

It is much easier to stand on the sidelines and watch than to take ourselves off the bench and enter into the game of life. As we cultivate our faith and testimony of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, we are able to become powerful witnesses in sharing what we know and understand so that others are comforted, encouraged, and uplifted by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, many of us do not realize the power our testimonies have – even unto conversion.

This is what the Savior meant when he taught Ye are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Our testimony preserves us during seasons of temptation, seasons of adversity, and seasons where there may be periods of our own wilderness travel. It also is a light that guides us and others to the truths and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the simplistic way our testimony may encourage, inspire, and uplift others is simply sharing our own story of conversion.

Secondly, our testimony is a powerful tool that encourages, inspires, and uplifts others because it is proof that our Heavenly Father is alive and actively involved in our affairs. It is a testimony of His love and concern for our own welfare and personal well-being. It is founded, cultivated, and sustained on the Love of our Heavenly Father toward us as well as our love and devotion toward our Heavenly Father.

Third, our testimony is designed to challenge and grow in order to build bold and resilient faith. How this inspires and encourages others is to challenge them to grow in spirit and truth. To come to a knowledge of who Christ is. To share in the promised blessings of an abundant life. To experience the joy that surpasses all understanding.

Finally, our testimony is a powerful tool to encourage, uplift, and inspire others because it is tested and proven true – when placed on the foundation of Jesus Christ. It is resilient as it helps us overcome and endure. It helps us have that eternal perspective on what matters most. It is the heart and soul of our confidence and assurance of faith in Jesus Christ.

Importance of Protecting our Faith and Testimony of Christ and the Gospel Message

As we go forward with purpose and faith – it behooves us to follow the admonition of Jesus Christ and those who are called to lead His Church in these last days. The Savior’s council to the 12 is the very same council spoken to us today: Be not terrified (Luke 21:9). With our testimony firmly staked on our faith in Jesus Christ – we are able to stand without fear, without worry, and without anxiety. Because of this – we are to always be protective of our faith and testimony and the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How do we protect and strengthen our testimony?

  • Strive to be perfected in Christ daily (Moroni 10:32)
  • Be faithful stewards of our callings and duties:
    • Faithful in serving and fulfilling our callings
    • Faithful in our relationships to family, spouses, and children
    • Faithful in our service within the community
    • Faithful in our respective places of employment
    • Faithful in maintaining personal integrity
  • Live out the principle truths of the Gospel
  • Walk in faithful obedience to the ordinances and principles of the Gospel

As we commit ourselves over to maintaining and sustaining our testimony of Jesus Christ, the hope within the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to serve our Heavenly Father and others: We shall receive those promised blessings in this life and in the life to come. And it is this we are tasked with being sober and vigilant because our adversary is likened to a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Knowing that our adversary is hard at work to bring us down into the gulf of misery (2 Nephi 1:13 and Helaman 5:12) we must hearken unto the wisdom and teachings of scripture, the power and influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and surround ourselves with those who encourage, speak truth and love into our hearts, minds, and souls, and so that we can build and strengthen our faith and testimony on the sure foundation that is Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation.

Key Point

Our testimony, and faith, is built upon the foundation of Christ and the Plan of Salvation. It is a vibrant and active role in our spiritual journey, our spiritual growth, and the means by which we receive personal revelation, blessings, and divine guidance. It is our anchor of hope and assurance in our Heavenly Father’s plan. It is a powerful too that inspires, encourages, and uplift others while protecting us from the temptations and adversities we shall endure in this life. It is the core of our bold and resilient faith that is tested and proven time and again.

Meditate and Ponder

As you go forward in faith and purpose, focus on building a testimony of Jesus Christ. Develop a heart and attitude to walk with faithful obedience to the principle truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When reflecting on what concerns you, what anxieties you have, what worries keep you occupied, ask, seek, and knock – knowing our Heavenly Father is ready to provide those answers, guide you into all truth and understanding, and open up the door of possibilities for you. So long as you commit to denying your own will and submit to walk in obedience to His will.