The scriptures talk about the prophet Nephi (the son of Helaman) as being one “mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works;” (Helaman 10:5). As I read this, it struck me that a testimony can be demonstrated in both what is said as well as, and perhaps even more importantly, in what what we are found doing. “.. not only to say, but to do according to that which [He has] written” (D&C 84:57).
Now that I am a father (and a grandfather), one of my current pet peeves is when a older child (or grandchild) responds “Yes, I know” to a any question like, 'you need to finish doing the dishes' or 'you need to be cleaning your room'. “Yes, I know”. So, if you know, why are you not doing it? Thinking back, I suppose that I may have been one of 'those' children. We tend to be much more forgiving of our own actions and give much more credit for intentions vs actual effort. I spent most of my yesterday cutting grass and moving sprinklers about. My daughter asked why we have not invested in a ride on mower which would make the job go much faster. I responded that my $100 electric mower did the job, eventually, and that I could not justify the expense for the bigger machine. However, I should have suggested, that if I purchased two more $100 mowers and had two helpers helping me, I could complete the job in 1/3 of the time with only 1/10th of the cost .. The importance of a neatly cut lawn can be debated at a later time, but for now I was able to get a full day workout and end up with most of the lawns cut. I was able to move the sprinkler to sections of the lawn somewhat brown and crusty and now have a softer, greener lawn surrounding my home.
When it comes to more spiritual matters, take scripture study for instance, do we need an expensive electronic device to accomplish that goal? Have you ever heard this: “I can't read my scriptures right now, the WIFI is down or my phone is broken.” Yes, the Gospel Library app is impressive – quick and convenient. Fortunately, we have paper copy backups of the standard works available in our home. Being able to quickly search the scriptures electronically by topic and keyword are impressive, but that ability by itself does not make us scriptorians. Knowing what is written is nice to know, a first step, but living and doing what is written is so much more important. We need to incorporate the teachings of the scriptures into our lives by investing the time required to let those teachings soak into our souls and to take root, much like my previously brown crusty lawn.
President Benson asked us to 'flood the world' with the Book of Mormon. But just making the book available to the world in a large one time event is not exactly what he had in mind. It is the teachings comprised in that volume of scripture that is important. To be sure, it must be read first, for one to learn of the teachings, but the intent is that those teachings grow in us by our living and doing what is taught. Knowing and doing what is true, I believe, is the basis for a true testimony .. again .. not only to say, but to do according to that which [He has] written” (D&C 84:57).
A google search for the phrase “what is truth” results 373,000,000 pages of information, definitions, philosophies, best guesses. I did not have time to read a third of a billion pages, so I added “lds what is truth” and narrowed my search to 492,000 pages .. now only a half a million pages to read. But as I had a bunch of grass to cut, I selected the first listed option – a talk by Elder Uchdorf from 2013 aptly entitled 'what is truth' .. a good start, I felt.
In his talk, he addressed three questions; The first question was “What is truth?” The second, “Is it really possible to know the truth?” And third, “How should we react to things that contradict truths which we have learned previously?”
He says that truth is true whether we believe it or not: “The thing about truth is that it exists beyond belief. It is true even if nobody believes it.” and “Part of the reason for poor judgment comes from the tendency of mankind to blur the line between belief and truth. We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth or reject it—because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong. Often, truth is rejected because it doesn’t appear to be consistent with previous experiences.”
“.. there is indeed such a thing as absolute truth—unassailable, unchangeable truth. This truth is different from belief. It is different from hope. Absolute truth is not dependent upon public opinion or popularity. Polls cannot sway it. Not even the inexhaustible authority of celebrity endorsement can change it.”
Truth comes from God. So how can we find truth?
“Our loving Heavenly Father offers His truth to us, His mortal children. Now, what is this truth? It is His gospel. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is 'the way, the truth, and the life.' If we will only have enough courage and faith to walk in His path, it will lead us to peace of heart and mind, to lasting meaning in life, to happiness in this world, and to joy in the world to come. The Savior is 'not far from every one of us.' We have His promise that if we seek Him diligently, we will find Him."
“Latter-day Saints are not asked to blindly accept everything they hear. We are encouraged to think and discover truth for ourselves. We are expected to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to a personal knowledge of the truth. Brigham Young said: “I am … afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security. … Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates.”
“.. we do have the fulness of the everlasting gospel, but that does not mean that we know everything. In fact, one principle of the restored gospel is our belief that God “will yet reveal many great and important things.”
“.. we [must] continually seek truth from all good books and other wholesome sources. 'If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.' In this manner we can resist the deceit of the evil one. In this manner we learn the truth 'precept upon precept; line upon line.' And we will learn that intelligence cleaves unto intelligence, and wisdom receives wisdom, and truth embraces truth.
And as a final note, Elder Uchdorf concludes: “As disciples of Jesus Christ, we know that [any] contention is completely inconsistent with the Spirit upon whom we depend in our search for truth. As the Savior warned the Nephites, 'For verily … I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention'. If you follow the Spirit, your personal search for the truth inevitably leads you to the Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, for He is 'the way, the truth, and the life.' This may not be the most convenient way; it will probably also be the road less travelled, and it will be the path with mountains to climb, swift rivers to cross, but it will be His way—the Savior’s redeeming way."
I testify of the truth of the gospel and this church and of the scriptures, that God loves us and wants us to grow and learn truth and become more like him. His spirit is available to teach us the way we should go, the things we need to know and just as importantly the things we need to do.