The Compass of Testimony in a Sea of Perspectives

Human Excellence

The Compass of TestimonyThere exist today some truly remarkable examples of human knowledge and accomplishment.  For example, a polyglot is someone who is fluent in several different languages.  How many languages do you speak?  How many languages would someone need to know to impress you?  Three?  Four?  Ten?  Some of the most accomplished polyglots throughout history have claimed to speak fifty or sixty languages.  That certainly is quite an accomplishment!

Additionally, we give a Nobel Prize to people who can make groundbreaking discoveries in physics or science.  These are people who have discovered or explained some property or phenomenon that was previously unknown or not understood.  That sounds pretty amazing.  The expertise that takes is very impressive.

Divine Omniscience

If we shift our focus from the human achievements to the divine, our perspective transforms in a major way.  The Lord knows every word of every language ever to have existed.  He also knows all properties, functions, and forms of all types of matter and energy that there are.  This includes discoveries not yet made by humans.  He is literally the only pure source of absolute truth.  What is there to know about the Universe that He does not know?  What truth has He not mastered?

How does the Lord convey that knowledge to mankind?  Typically, this is done through his prophet.  Of the many roles of a prophet, one of the most common is to reveal the counsel and will of the Lord.  As members of the Church, this happens every April and October at General Conference.  Once we have received the message, it is then our obligation and responsibility to gain a testimony of what the Lord has declared.  We can do this through pondering, prayer, and fasting (See Alma 17:3).

There are countless polarizing views available on a host of controversial topics.  For each of these issues, our first question should be, “What has the Lord said regarding this matter?”  If He has spoken on the topic, the authentic seeker of truth will want to know what He has said.  Once we do, it should become our primary goal to gain a personal testimony of that truth.

Spiritual Conviction

One common misconception is that spiritual truth can be fully declared and established using only logic and thought.  This is not the way it works.  Logic and thought fit into the process at the beginning, but the final conviction comes as testimony through personal revelation.  This is why it is critical to gain your own testimony of what the prophet and apostles declare from the pulpit as the mind and will of the Lord.

Because many people believe that spiritual truth comes from logic and argument, they can both weaponize this approach and also become victims of it.  They provide expert after expert on a topic who contradicts what the Lord has said.  They seek out the science that backs their views.  Or, they are persuaded by those who take this approach.  This is what is meant when the Lord says that people are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (See Ephesians 4:14)

The Natural Man

Another problem that can arise is that people will attempt to promote a position that is contrary to what the Lord says by appealing to the natural man.  When we talk about the “natural man,” we are referring to our earthly, mortal tendencies that are often contrary to the will of the Lord.  These are the parts of us that are more inclined to follow our own desires, to be prideful, quick to anger, or to seek after worldly things rather than spiritual ones.  The “natural man” represents the unrefined, unspiritual aspects of our nature, the parts that can lead us away from the Lord if we let them.

In the scriptures, we can find a number of examples of men who tried to do this.  In Jacob 7, we read about Sherem.  In verse two, we can see that “he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.”  In verse four, we read that “he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil.”  This kind of thing happens all around us on a daily basis at work, at school, in social media, and in many other places.

Like Sherem, a lot of these people are masters of persuasion using language, speech, and vocabulary.  Be careful though.  We’ve already seen that the understanding of even the most proficient of experts pales in comparison to the unlimited knowledge and vast wisdom of the Lord.

The Power of Testimony

Do you have a question about a point of view or something you heard?  Research what has been revealed on that topic.  Gain a testimony of what the Lord has said through His prophet about that topic.  Then be unwavering in following it.  Use it as your compass.  Stay the course, keep the faith, and live by example.  Stay on the strait and narrow path, as we read in 3 Nephi 27:33:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death,”

Ask yourself why he says it this way.  There are many, many reasons people leave the path.  A very frequent one today is that people intellectualize themselves right off it!  They rely on “science” and “experts” rather than clinging to the light they’ve already received.

And if you accidentally step off it, return to it as soon as possible!

Choosing Love Over Judgment

Many people will not agree with you.  That is ok.  They have the same power of choice that you have.  Rather than judging, we should do our best to show love, respect, and kindness.  Judgment belongs to the Lord.  He has explicitly reserved that for himself.  What he has asked of us is that we follow the example of the Savior who reached out to those who were often judged or marginalized by society.  We should live in such a way that our lives become a testament to the joy and peace that come from following Christ.

Establishing connections with others through love is crucial. It doesn’t mean we have to compromise our values or beliefs. Instead, it’s about showing genuine care and interest in the lives of others, regardless of their choices or beliefs. It’s about building bridges of understanding and friendship, rather than walls of judgment and separation.

Conclusion

To summarize, there are countless opinions  about a vast array of things.  The Lord has a method in place for letting us know what is true and correct.  Seek out what He has revealed on important issues.  Do your part to gain a testimony of those revelations.  Resist appealing arguments and stick with revealed truth.  Perhaps most importantly, love others who do not believe or live as you do.  Follow these guidelines and you’ll stay on the proper course.

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