Testimony—Three Kinds: Hoping, Believing, Knowing

The mystery of Godliness, how great it is” (D&C 19:10). This verse of scripture infers that the rational mind of man cannot find God in the usual ways.

By the power of the rational mind man has conquered the air, sea, and space, but not the mystery of Godliness. This mystery can only be discovered by God revealing Himself—by revelation.

…no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God. Jacob 4:8

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?  even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:11

Revelations come in many ways. On occasion, mortals are dramatically exposed to God’s revelations. In the time it takes to draw a few breaths of life giving air, a man or woman’s view of life and eternity can be forever altered when God reveals Himself. Whether our revelation(s) are grand or unimposing, they are an invitation from God, an invitation to follow Him for more.

Grand Revelations

The apostle Paul while traveling with others by the light of the noon day sun is blinded by the brightness of the Saviors glory. He hears the voice of the resurrected Christ saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me” (Acts 22:7). Paul is an enemy of the church. He even consented to the death of a church leader—Stephen (Acts 22:20). An enemy of the church becomes a mighty Apostle.

Joseph Smith, a boy of fourteen, raises his voice in prayer and encounters the power of Satan and just as he is about to be overcome a light brighter than the noon day sun suddenly fills his viewGod the Father introduces His Son, Jesus Christ to Josepha boy becomes a prophet.

Alma, the son of a prophet, and the four sons of Mosiah, the sons of a Nephite King are secretly going about to destroy the church (Mosiah 27:10). They are described as the “vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4). Their church destroying ambitions are interrupted when an angel of God appears to them. Five apostates become powerful missionaries and church leaders.

These few examples reveal some things about the Lord’s dealings with the children of men. The scriptures are given to mankind to reveal the mystery of Godliness. Consider the layer of mystery that is pealed back by learning about Joseph Smith, Alma, the sons of Mosiah, and Paul. For starters we learn that some of God’s most powerful prophets come from the most unlikely circumstances: a fourteen year old farm boy, from the ranks of vile sinners, and a persecutor of the saints.

Not So Grand Revelations

As a coin has two sides, so do the stories of those who make up the Lord’s church. Everyone loves a miracle laden story, but what about those who have called on the Lord to gain a testimony, but have never received one. This is another mystery of Godliness. We’re taught that there needs to be opposition in all things, so it’s not surprising that this happens (Mark 9:24). However, I wonder if these members who hope to acquire a testimony are being “ignored”. Could the “hope” they have, that moves them to follow Christ, be a revelation? I think it is—a revelation of hope.

Average Revelations

Then there is the group that is in between the two extremes, the “average church member”. The Lord reveals Himself to them in a hundred different ways. Those who follow Christ can have various kinds of revelation that form their testimonies. Some will use the word “believe” to declare their testimony; others will use the word “know”. The important thing is that they use the word that is accurate and comfortable for them—without concern.


Regardless of the kind of testimony we’ve been given: hoping, believing, knowingit is an invitation from God, an invitation to move to the next step in His plan.

The purpose of the gospel is to bring about a “mighty change” in each person who chooses to follow Christ. The Lord revealed a grand mystery when He said that “it is my work and glory to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). From this scripture we learn that even though there are different kinds of testimonies given to mankind, the Lord’s plan is the same for each of us. Each has an invitation to the follow Christ and inherit “eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).


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