- Gaining a testimony and becoming converted begins with study and prayer, then living the gospel with patience and persistence and inviting and waiting upon the Spirit. The life of Joseph Smith and the pattern of the Restoration are excellent examples of this process. As you listen to my message today of the events of the Restoration, look for the steps that lead to testimony: desiring to know the truth, pondering in our hearts, then feeling and obediently following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
He speaks about Joseph Smith's experiences questioning the many religions of the world. Joseph learned through his personal experiences about the restoration and we too can learn the same way he did.
- God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, conversed with Joseph. They answered his question. They taught him that the true Church of Christ had been lost from the earth. Joseph learned that these members of the Godhead were separate and distinct beings, They knew him by name, and They were willing to answer his prayers. The heavens were opened, the night of apostasy was over, and the light of the gospel began to shine forth.
- Like Joseph, many of us find ourselves seeking the light of truth. Just as the world was prepared for the Restoration, each of us is prepared to receive the light of the gospel in our own lives. Sometimes that preparation comes through a change in our circumstances—through meeting a new friend, moving to a new community, a change of employment, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, illness, misfortune, and even tragedy.
- During these times of transition, we seek answers to the important questions of life: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here on earth? And where are we going after we die? Joseph was not born with this knowledge, and neither were we. We must find it.
- Like Joseph, we must search the scriptures and pray. For many, this means overcoming feelings of doubt and unworthiness, being humble, and learning to exercise faith.
Elder Hales mentions that many recent converts need special help strengthening them during this time when they learn of the truths of the restoration. They are learning and growing in their testimonies the same way that Joseph Smith was educated, taught, and had to wait 3 years to get the Gold Plates from the angel Moroni.
- Some newly baptized members become discouraged about their wisdom and stature in the gospel—about what they do not know. They forget the obedient effort, gospel tutoring, and spiritual maturation that were part of Joseph’s early experiences. Those who are longtime members should also remember that regular spiritual instruction and learning are required if we are to wax strong in the Spirit.
Elder Hales speaks about baptism and how Jospeh and Oliver were translating the Book of Mormon, came across passages about baptism, went to the Lord in prayer for guidance, and received answers to their prayers. This same pattern works in our lives when we have questions about what we are studying.
- Today all who want to know whether they should be baptized are invited to follow Joseph and Oliver’s example and pray. And all who are prepared and worthy for baptism may receive it from one whose authority has been passed unbroken from the hands of John the Baptist in this dispensation.
He asks us if we can see a pattern of the way God communicates to us.
- Brothers and sisters, can we see the pattern? Every major event of the Restoration—the First Vision, the appearance of Moroni and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the priesthood, and the appearance of Jesus Christ following the dedication of His holy temple—was preceded by prayer.
- Once we receive a witness of the Spirit, our testimony is strengthened through study, prayer, and living the gospel. Our growing testimony brings us increased faith in Jesus Christ and His plan of happiness. We are motivated to repent and obey the commandments, which, with a mighty change of heart, leads to our conversion. And our conversion brings divine forgiveness, healing, joy, and the desire to bear our witness to others.
Elder Hales teaches us some basic truths about the Holy Ghost, who He is, and how He communicates with us to teach us all things.
- People everywhere may feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time in their lives. But only those who have been baptized and confirmed can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by one in authority, which makes His constant companionship possible.
- Retaining that companionship requires an earnest effort on the part of Church members. If we are not obedient to the laws, principles, and ordinances of the gospel, the Holy Ghost will withdraw. He cannot be with us if we are angry in our hearts, contentious with our companions, or critical of the Lord’s anointed. He departs whenever we are rebellious, are immoral, dress or act immodestly, are unclean or profane in mind or body, are slothful in priesthood callings and duties, or commit other sins, for “the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.”
- Therefore we must continually repent, partake of the sacrament, be worthy of a temple recommend, and serve the Lord with all our “heart, might, mind and strength.”
- With the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, we feel a love for God and all His children. This love casts out fear and fills us with the desire to open our mouths. There is no greater gift we can give others than to bear our testimony to them. There is no greater joy we can have than to bring even one soul unto Christ. And there is no greater way to strengthen our own testimony than to share our witness of Him with the world. As we do, our families will be strengthened. Our wards, stakes, and communities will be filled with peace and love, and, ultimately, the earth will be prepared for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Elder Hales concludes with encouragement to seek answers for ourselves about the restoration of the gospel. If we do, in time, we will be given the answers we are seeking through the power of the Holy Ghost.
- I exhort you, I pray for you—if you do not know these things for yourself, follow the example of Joseph Smith and the pattern of the Restoration. Turn to the scriptures. Kneel in prayer. Ask in faith. Listen to the Holy Ghost. Learn that your name and needs are known by our Heavenly Father, just as Joseph’s were. Live the gospel with patience and persistence. And in the name of Jesus Christ, I promise, “If ye will … ask [Heavenly Father] in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping [the Lord’s] commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”
Using the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith to teach us how to find answers to our questions in life is the perfect example. Joseph had questions about religion, his course of actions he should take, and what path he should follow. I think we all have questions like this in our lives. Joseph showed us that we need to seriously inquire of the Lord and ask for His guidance when these questions come into our lives. Not only did he show us how to get those answers, he also showed us how God responds and answers those questions for us. How grateful I am to know that God knows me, He hears my prayers, and answers my prayers with love and compassion for one who is so unworthy at times of such blessings. Seek fo answers from the Lord and in time, I promise, they will come.