Not too long ago, I was out doing exchanges with the full-time missionaries in our area. We visited several investigators and new members. At the home of a member family, the missionaries taught a discussion to a non-member friend of one of the teenagers in the family. I was very impressed with the missionaries’ teaching skills. They had a mastery of the gospel doctrines and taught them with effectiveness to the young investigator. As the lesson was drawing to a close, I was expecting one of the missionaries to bear his testimony of the truthfulness of the principles taught, but he didn’t. Instead, he quickly wrapped up the lesson and asked for the closing prayer.
As I sat through that closing prayer, my heart burned within me. I had felt the Spirit of the Lord with power throughout the lesson, and my heart ached to have the additional witness of a verbal testimony from someone in the room. The lesson seemed incomplete without that closing testimony. The importance of bearing testimony, especially for missionaries, was reinforced to me through that experience.
Bear Testimony Frequently
In Chapter 11 of Preach My Gospel it says:
“Bear testimony often to seal the truth of the principles or doctrine you are teaching…When you testify, pray that those you are teaching will feel the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. When you testify, you help create an environment for investigators to feel the Holy Ghost confirming your witness of the truth. This prepares them to accept the commitments you will extend.”
“…Bear testimony several times in each lesson, not just at the end. Bear testimony that what your companion has taught is from God. Bear testimony that the principle you are going to teach will bless the investigators’ lives if they will follow it. Talk about how living a principle has blessed your life.”
“…Sharing your testimony often is one of the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the Spirit. It adds a current, personal witness to the truths you have taught from the scriptures. An effective missionary teaches, testifies, and invites others to do things that build faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Holy Ghost Bears Testimony of the Truth
The scriptures explain why bearing testimony is such a powerful tool in missionary work or in any gospel teaching situation. In D&C 100 verses 5 and 6 are found some very familiar missionary work related scriptures which read: ”Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” The Lord continues in verses 7 and 8 to add this statement about bearing testimony: “But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.”
Also, in John 15: 26, the Savior reiterated the role of the Holy Ghost in testifying of the truth of our message. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”
When I think of the power inherent in bearing testimony, the story of Alma the younger comes to mind. Alma gave up his political/government role as chief judge in order to devote himself to the ministry and the building up of the church. “And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19).
As Alma went about preaching, he testified that the doctrines and commandments “are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.” (Alma 5: 46)
Humble Testimony More Powerful than Eloquent Speech
Brigham Young once said: “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true” (Journal of Discourses, 1:90).
Bearing Testimony: A More Powerful Effect
Alma had learned that preaching, teaching and testifying “had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else” (see Alma 31:5). Peter, the Lord’s Apostle and leader of the Church after Christ’s ascension into Heaven, had also seen the powerful effects of testifying when on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were converted and baptized. In Acts 2: 36, Peter testifies of Jesus’ resurrection: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Then in says in verse 37, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” so Peter answered them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And “many other words did he testify.” Then, the scripture says, “they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (verse 41).
Conclusion: My Testimony
Brothers and sisters, I know that bearing testimony is a powerful way to bring the spirit of the Lord into your missionary discussions and other teaching situations. You may find that investigators will argue about points of doctrine and interpretations of scriptures, but it is difficult to argue with pure testimony, borne in humility, and carried by the Spirit of God into the hearts of men and women. So bear testimony often. Conclude your lessons with your testimony of the truthfulness of the message you shared. Doing so will make you a more powerful and effective teacher. And remember, that your testimony is recorded in heaven and you will be blessed for bearing it. D&C 62:3 “Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.”