Have you ever been confronted with the question, “How do I strengthen my testimony?” or heard the admonition in a Church classroom, “You need to nourish your testimony to remain strong”?
Obtaining a testimony and keeping it as a living witness of what we know to be true is of vital importance for our spiritual growth during this journey in mortality. Therefore, we need to understand what a testimony is, how we obtain one, and what things we need to do to nourish and strengthen it.
Let’s begin by seeking a deeper understanding of what a testimony is. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true.”1
The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Saviour's true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all the principles of the gospel.
The Guide to the Scriptures defines knowledge as “understanding and comprehension, especially of truth as taught or confirmed by the Spirit.”2 When we say we know something to be true in the gospel, we are really saying we have felt that it is true. We cannot know something to be true without feeling in our hearts it is true!
The Guide to the Scriptures also tells us that understanding means “to gain a knowledge of or to perceive the meaning of some truth, including its application to life.”3 To understand or comprehend those things we have felt to be true, we must live them and put them into practice in our lives. Only then will our knowledge be full and complete.
For example, I can know that the law of tithing is a true principle and divine law of our Heavenly Father. That knowledge can come by reading, pondering, and praying about the principle of tithing or by hearing someone teach about tithing and receiving a confirmation of its truthfulness from the Holy Ghost. But if I never pay tithing after having that witness, how much can I say that I truly understand what tithing is?
A testimony of a law or principle of the gospel is a declaration both of knowledge revealed to us by the Holy Ghost and an understanding that we gain of that knowledge by constantly living that law or principle.
One of the greatest ways we can cultivate and strengthen our testimonies is to attend the temple. The temple is for us, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a symbol of our faith and testimony. There is no better way to increase both our knowledge and our understanding of the gospel than to attend the temple. The things we must do to qualify to enter the house of the Lord and the things we learn once we are there continually feed and strengthen our testimonies.
We have been blessed with many temples in our area. Let us make the temple a symbol of our devotion by attending as often as we can. As we do so we will continue to gain knowledge and understanding that will strengthen our testimonies and fill our lives with joy and peace.
1 Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” Ensign, May 2008, 26.
2 Guide to the Scriptures, “Knowledge,” scriptures.lds.org.
3 Guide to the Scriptures, “Understanding,” scriptures.lds.org.