A Commission to Testify Lesson 23: Sections 60-62

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 45–46


Theme

When a person has a testimony of the gospel and bears witness to others, that testimony is recorded in heaven, and the angels rejoice. The Lord will cleanse and forgive the sins of those who serve in righteousness and testify of the gospel to the world.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    A testimony of the gospel is a sure witness of gospel truth from the Holy Ghost.

    1. 1.

      The Holy Ghost bears witness of gospel truths to the spirit of man.

    2. 2.

      That witness is a sure knowledge.

  • B.

    One who has a testimony is under the charge to share his witness.

    1. 1.

      We are commanded to let our light shine for others to see; this includes our testimony of the truth.

    2. 2.

      When one bears witness, that testimony is recorded in heaven for the angels of God to look upon.

    3. 3.

      A powerful, true testimony is accompanied by the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the bearer and the receiver.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 60-62; Enrichment A, “The Warning Voice”

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 60-62. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 58:47. The early elders of the Church were commanded to “preach by the way, and bear testimony of the truth in all places.”

  • D&C 84:61-62. A measure of forgiveness was promised to the early elders who would do what?

  • D&C 62:3. When one bears righteous witness of the truth, what occurs in heaven?

  • Moroni 10:4-5. How is any spiritual truth learned? Alma 5:45-46. Even though Alma had the visitation of an angel (see Mosiah 27:10-32), he had to acquire a testimony of the gospel. How did he accomplish this?

  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. What does man’s own wisdom have to do with the testimony he may rightly share with another?

Basic Library

  • Teachings, p. 29. What did Joseph Smith express about the testimony God had given him? What does he say the Holy Spirit will do?

  • Teachings, p. 160. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, how is salvation always ministered unto men?

  • Discourses, p. 429. According to President Brigham Young, a true testimony does not proceed from human sources. From whence, then, does it come, and how?

  • Discourses, p. 430. It is impossible for one human being to communicate his witness of the truth to another except in one way. What is that way?

  • Gos. Doc, p. 501. What specific knowledge had President Joseph F. Smith received from the Holy Ghost?

  • A of F, pp. 162-63. What special function does the Holy Ghost perform as described in scripture? In a word, what is the special “office” of the Holy Ghost?

Additional Sources

  • Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 785. In any gospel dispensation, a testimony consists of a man’s receiving “revelation from the Holy Ghost, of the divinity of the great latter-day work” available in that era.

  • Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World, p. 18. Through sin, one can fall “out of a testimony” just as one can fall from grace.

  • David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 427-28. We should remember that mighty testimony does not come all at once. Discusses an experience of Peter, the powerful President of the Church in the meridian of time.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

How to Obtain a Personal Witness (Discussion)

The birth of a personal witness to the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is an exciting experience if you recognize what is happening. It is helpful to remember that the things of man may be understood by the spirit of man, but the things of God can only be understood by the Spirit of God. If a man is attracted to the things of the world, he cannot discern spiritual things (see 1 Corinthians 2:11-14). If a person is unacquainted with the workings of the Spirit and with the promptings of the Holy Ghost to his own soul, he may not recognize the witness of the Spirit when he has received it. Read Doctrine and Covenants 46:13-14 with the students and discuss its implications.

Many who feel they do not have a testimony have been privileged to hear a powerful witness that has stirred them to the depths and caused them to say “I know that he knows.” If you know that someone else knows the truth of the gospel, what do you then know? How can you know when another son or daughter of God declares a true witness? (Only by the witness of the Holy Ghost.) This kind of witness, if recognized for what it really is, is a prelude to greater things, to receiving a direct or personal witness.

Responsibility of Having a Personal Witness (Chalkboard Illustration)

A summary of the foregoing reasoning and its application may be diagramed on the chalkboard as follows:

  1. 1.

    Draw two circles (person A and God) connected by arrows.

    person A and God
  2. 2.

    Person A has a great desire for a witness of gospel truths and prayerfully petitions the Lord (arrow 1). In response the Lord confirms a personal witness to his soul (arrow 2).

  3. 3.

    Add a third circle (person B) to the chalkboard illustration. When person A receives such a spiritual treasure, he has a natural desire to share it with person B (arrow 3). But more than that, he has a responsibility to do so (see D&C 82:3; Luke 12:48).

    person A, person B, and God
  4. 4

    Note that as person A bears righteous witness of the gospel truth to person B (arrow 3), it is accompanied by the witness of the Holy Ghost (arrow 4). Thus, person B knows that person A is telling the truth.

  5. 5.

    This light and knowledge causes person B to have a great desire to know for himself and not be contented with the witness of person A alone; therefore, he petitions the Lord prayerfully (arrow 5) and receives the sure witness for himself (arrow 6).

    person A, person B, person C, and God
  6. 6.

    Now that person B has his own witness, he is prepared to bear it (arrow 7) to person C (add another circle), and the process begins all over again.

    The teacher could, if desired, read the following definition of testimony by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “A testimony of the gospel is the sure knowledge, received by revelation from the Holy Ghost, of the divinity of the great latter-day work. In former dispensations a testimony was the revealed knowledge of the divinity of the work in that day. A testimony in this day automatically includes the assurance of the truth of the same gospel in all former ages when it has been on earth.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 785.)

  7. 7.

    The crucial principle is that once a person has received the witness and knows with surety the gospel truths, he is then required to testify to others. This witness qualifies a man to be a witness for Christ. (Read Smith, Teachings, p. 160, with the students.)

    Thus we see that in the sense that a man can give a sure witness of Jesus Christ, he has the spirit of prophecy and is a prophet. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained it (see Teachings, p. 269).

  8. 8.

    Why can such personal witness be considered so certain, so sure, even to a perfect knowledge? (see Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:47-48).

  9. 9.

    How serious is it to receive knowledge from God?

    1. a.

      Does it give us more freedom?

    2. b.

      Does it obligate us?

    3. c.

      Can we do nothing thereafter?

    4. d.

      What happens if we do not share it with others? (see D&C 60:2-3).

    5. e.

      Let us be strong, be watchful, and avoid temptation (see D&C 61:38-39).

    6. f.

      Let us be true to our testimony that it may be recorded in heaven (see D&C 62:3).