- My message focuses upon the relationship between receiving a testimony that Jesus is the Christ and becoming converted to Him and His gospel. Typically, we treat the topics of testimony and conversion separately and independently. However, we gain precious perspective and greater spiritual conviction as we consider these two important subjects together.
Elder Bednar speaks about testimony:
- A testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation. A testimony is a gift from God and is available to all of His children. Any honest seeker of truth can obtain a testimony by exercising the necessary “particle of faith” in Jesus Christ to “experiment upon” and “try the virtue of the word”, to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”, and to awaken unto God. Testimony brings increased personal accountability and is a source of purpose, assurance, and joy.
- Seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truth requires asking, seeking, and knocking with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in the Savior. Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days.
Elder Bednar speaks about conversion:
- The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.
- Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Any honest seeker of truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God. As we honor the ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation, “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ”, and endure in faith to the end, we become new creatures in Christ. Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.
He explains that the power of the Holy Ghost is important but not sufficient to see us through the trials of life.
- Knowing by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ is important and necessary. But earnestly coming unto Him and giving our whole souls as an offering requires much more than merely knowing. Conversion requires all of our heart, all of our might, and all of our mind and strength.
The key characteristics of conversion will change us on the inside and not just our actions on the outside.
- Accepting the words spoken, gaining a testimony of their truthfulness, and exercising faith in Christ produced a mighty change of heart and a firm determination to improve and become better. The key characteristics associated with conversion are experiencing a mighty change in our hearts, having a disposition to do good continually, going forward in the path of duty, walking circumspectly before God, keeping the commandments, and serving with unwearied diligence.
- For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.
Elder Bednar using the scriptural account of Samuel the Lamanite to outline 5 key basic elements in becoming converted unto the Lord:
- (1) believing in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as they are recorded in the scriptures.
- (2) exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- (3) repenting.
- (4) experiencing a mighty change of heart.
- (5) becoming “firm and steadfast in the faith”.
Our testimonies are not a final item we should seek to obtain in life. It is the beginning of a path that should lead us to true conversion.
- Testimony is a point of departure; it is not an ultimate destination. Strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established. Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need.
- A testimony is spiritual knowledge of truth obtained by the power of the Holy Ghost. Continuing conversion is constant devotion to the revealed truth we have received—with a heart that is willing and for righteous reasons. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.
What great insight into what we should be striving for in our everyday lives. Much emphasis is made in this talk about the change that comes as we exercise our faith. Elder Bednar talks about how, without us really noticing the change day to day, we have our hearts changed, our actions brought more inline with the gospel, and our desire to do good continually is strengthened. The key to having this change is to gain a testimony and then put our actions in line with the Savior's teachings. The Lord has asked us to experiment upon his word. This is a perfect experiment to undertake. If we know the gospel is true, we should put our actions in line with living it. This will result in true conversion and that might change of heart that is spoken about. The change will happen gradually, slowly, and almost unnoticeably. But be assured, it will happen.