The other day my 10-year-old son was studying about the human brain on the Internet. He wants to be a surgeon one day. It’s not difficult to note that he is a lot smarter than I am.
We like the Internet. At home we communicate with family and friends through social media, by email, and in other ways. My children do much of their schoolwork through the Internet.
Whatever the question is, if we need more information, we search it online. In seconds we have a lot of material. This is marvelous.
The Internet provides many opportunities for learning. However, Satan wants us to be miserable, and he distorts the real purpose of things. He uses this great tool to promote doubt and fear and to destroy faith and hope.
With so much available on the Internet, we must carefully consider where to apply our efforts. Satan can keep us busy, distracted, and infected by sifting through information, much of which can be pure garbage.
One should not roam through garbage.
Listen to this guidance, provided by the scriptures: “The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know … it is of God.”1
In a real sense, we face the same dilemma that Joseph Smith faced in his youth. We too often find ourselves lacking wisdom.
In the kingdom of God, the search for truth is appreciated, encouraged, and in no way repressed or feared. Church members are strongly counseled by the Lord Himself to seek for knowledge.2 He said, “Seek ye diligently … ; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”3 However, how can we recognize truth in a world that is increasingly blunt in its attacks on the things pertaining to God?
The scriptures teach us how:
First, we can know the truth by observing its fruits.
During His great Sermon on the Mount, the Lord said:
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. …
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”4
The prophet Mormon taught this same principle when he said, “By their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”5
We invite all to study the fruits and the works of this Church.
Those who are interested in the truth will be able to recognize the difference that the Church and its members make in the communities where they are established. They will also note the improvement in the lives of those who follow its teachings. Those who examine these fruits will discover that the fruits of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are delicious and desirable.
Second, we can find truth by experimenting on the word ourselves.
The prophet Alma taught:
“We will compare the word unto a seed. … If ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, [and] … if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, … behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and … ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must … be that this is a good seed, … for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. …
“… And now, … will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith. …
“… For every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.”6
What a superb invitation by a prophet of the Lord! This could be compared to a scientific experiment. We are invited to test the word, we are given parameters, and we are told the outcome of the test if we follow the instructions.
Thus the scriptures teach us that we can know the truth by observing its fruits or by experimenting with it personally, giving place for the word in our hearts and cultivating it like unto a seed.
However, there is yet a third way to know the truth, and that is by personal revelation.
And the Lord tells us how we will receive this revelation. He says, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”8
Thus we are taught that revelation can be obtained by asking in faith, with an honest heart, and believing we will receive.
But notice that the Lord made it very clear when He warned, “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith.”9 Faith requires work, such as studying it out in your mind, then asking in prayer if it is right.
The Lord said:
“If it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
“But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.”10
I have a friend, not of our faith, who indicated to me that he is not a spiritual person. He will not study the scriptures or pray because he says he cannot understand the words of God, nor is he sure that God exists. This attitude explains his lack of spirituality and will lead to the opposite of revelation, as explained by Alma. He said, “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word.”
But, Alma added, “he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.”13
Alma and the sons of Mosiah are examples of the principle that faith requires works. In the Book of Mormon we read:
“They had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
“But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation.”14
Asking with an honest heart is equally important in this process. If we are sincerely seeking the truth, we will do all in our power to find it, which can include reading the scriptures, going to church, and doing our best to keep the commandments of God. It also means that we are willing to do God’s will when we find it.
Joseph Smith’s actions when he was seeking for wisdom are a perfect example of what it means to have an honest heart. He said he wanted to know which of the sects was true so “that [he] might know which to join.”15 Even before he prayed, he was ready to act upon the answer he would receive.
We must ask in faith and with an honest heart. But that is not all. We must also believe that we will receive the revelation. We must trust the Lord and have hope in His promises. Remember what is written: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”16 What a wonderful promise!
I invite all to seek truth from any of these methods but especially from God through personal revelation. God will reveal truth to those who seek for it as prescribed in the scriptures. It requires more effort than to just search the Internet, but it is worth it.
I bear my testimony that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. I have seen its fruits in communities and in the lives of many thousands, including family members; thus I know it is true. I have also tried the word in my life for many years, and I have felt its effects on my soul; thus I know it is true. But most important, I have learned of its truthfulness for myself by revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost; thus I know it is true. I invite all of you to do the same. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.