Chapter 7: Personal, Abiding Testimony

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 62–70


As we live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we grow in our knowledge of the truth and our ability to serve the Lord.

From the Life of Heber J. Grant

Heber J. Grant’s testimony of the restored gospel began to take root when he was a child. Later in his life, he frequently expressed gratitude for the teachers and leaders who had nurtured his developing testimony. He was especially grateful to his mother. “I stand here today as the president of the Church,” he once said, “because I have followed the advice and counsel and the burning testimony of the divinity of the work of God, which came to me from my mother.”1

As he grew up, his testimony increased. He told of the witness he received while studying the Book of Mormon: “As a boy of about fifteen I read, carefully and prayerfully, the Book of Mormon, and there came into my heart an abiding and firm testimony of its divine authenticity. From that day to this its wonderful teachings have been a comfort, a blessing, and a guide to me.”2

President Grant continued to nurture his testimony throughout his life, praying earnestly that he would stay true to the faith.3 When he was 80 years old he declared: “I am truly and absolutely at a loss to find language to express the gratitude that fills my heart for an abiding testimony, in my very soul, of the divinity of this work. Throughout the years, I have discovered evidences, so many, so strong, so powerful, regarding the divinity of this work, that I do not have the language to express my gratitude; and I have found nothing that has lessened my faith.”4

Teachings of Heber J. Grant

Testimony comes as personal revelation from God through the Holy Ghost.

God has given to men and women all over the wide world, seeking for the light of His Spirit, in answer to humble prayers, a testimony and a knowledge that this Gospel is exactly what it purports to be—that it is the truth, that it will stand forever, and that those who live it shall be exalted eternally in the presence of our heavenly Father, and His Son, our Redeemer.5

Hundreds, yea, thousands have been pricked in their hearts, and by the inspiration of the Spirit, and the revelations of God to them, they have received a knowledge of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged. They have received the witness of the Holy Spirit to them, satisfying their souls, satisfying their very beings, causing them to cry out in joy that they know that God lives, that they know Jesus is the Christ, that they know Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the true and living God. No man on earth can say that he knows that what they say is not true. He may not believe their testimony, but he cannot rob them of the knowledge that they have. I may proclaim that I love my family, and a man may say, “I don’t believe it,” but that does not change the knowledge that I have that I do love them. When a man has received the witness of the Holy Spirit, when a man has received the knowledge that this gospel is true, and he knows it, and he proclaims it, the whole world, not believing, cannot change the knowledge that he has.6

I thank God that all the Saints are entitled to the whisperings of His holy spirit. I thank God that none of us are dependent upon others for the testimony of the gospel. I thank Him that each and all can obtain a testimony for themselves.7

It is that personal knowledge, that still, small voice of revelation coming to every honest, prayerful soul, in answer to prayer, which gives the power to this Church. Without this individual testimony, coming as it does to men and women all over the world when they hear this gospel and supplicate God for his spirit, we would not be what we are today—a united people, one in heart and soul, one with God and one with our Savior.8

I want to say right here that it is the power of God, that it is the Spirit of God that convinces men; that it is not the eloquence, it is not the education, not the fine words, or the magnificent way in which they are spoken, that finds lodgment in the hearts of the children of men to convince them of the Truth.9

I have met many people who have questioned my testimony. They have said, “Mr. Grant, you cannot know these things.” But I am ready and willing to bear testimony that I do know them, and I know them as well as I know light from darkness, warmth from cold. I know after supplicating the Lord I have received answers to my prayers. Therefore, I have a knowledge of these things, and I know them as well as I know that I love my family and my friends. This knowledge has come to me in such a way that I am ready and willing to bear testimony to all the world, and I know that I will have to face the testimony that I bear. I would not be true to myself if I did not, when occasion offered, bear testimony of the things that I do know.10

We, as Latter-day Saints, have very great cause to be thankful for the many manifestations of the goodness and mercy of our God. Let us strive, with all the ability that we possess, to obtain sufficient intelligence, light and knowledge from our heavenly Father to enable us to keep in the path of duty. Many of us feel that we are firm in the knowledge of the Gospel, and that there is very little fear of the trials of life turning us from the truth. At the same time, we should thoroughly understand that in no single day or hour of our lives would we be able to stand alone and maintain the testimony of the Gospel without the light and inspiration of the Spirit of God.11

We receive and strengthen our testimonies through prayer, study, and obedience to the Lord.

The greatest testimony we can receive is that of the voice of revelation—the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No one can get this without living for it.12

You can not transfer to others that which you get yourself. I can no more give a man a testimony of this gospel than I can eat for him. I can tell him how to get it. I can tell him of the blessings of God to me. But each and every man must live the gospel if he expects to obtain an individual testimony of the divinity of this work.

It has been tested all over the world by men and women who have been hated and abused and persecuted by their own flesh and blood, because they have joined this Church; but in answer to humble prayer, and by doing the things that God has told them to do, they have received the light and the knowledge and the testimony regarding the divinity of this work.13

My brethren and sisters, if we will study the scriptures, the plan of life and salvation, keeping the commandments of the Lord, all the promises that have been made will be fulfilled upon our heads. And we will grow and increase in light, knowledge and intelligence.14

I promise you, as a servant of the living God, that every man and woman who obeys the commandments of God shall prosper, that every promise made of God shall be fulfilled upon their heads, and that they will grow and increase in wisdom, light, knowledge, intelligence, and, above all, in the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.15

Our testimonies grow stronger as we share them.

No man can proclaim the gospel under the inspiration and power of the Spirit of the living God … but what that man feels, knows and understands that he has been blessed of the Lord Almighty, and he is able to testify of the power of God that comes when we proclaim this gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.16

I have heard President [Brigham] Young and other men say many times that more often have young people received a testimony, in their very souls, of the divinity of this work, while standing upon their feet [to bear testimony] than they ever received while kneeling and praying for that testimony; that under the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord there has come to them, the rich outpouring of that Spirit, that their souls have been flooded with light and the knowledge that comes from God through the Holy Spirit. They have had the witness come into their hearts whereby they have been able to testify that they do know of a surety that they are engaged in the plan of life and salvation; that they do know of a surety that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the true and living God.17

While presiding over the European mission, I had occasion time and time again, to give instructions to young men who came there to preach the gospel—young men who had had no education, who had had no experience, and many of them stood up for the first time in their lives and bore their testimonies in the Liverpool office. I told them to study the gospel and to pray for the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord; and promised them that if they would only open their mouths and bear witness that Jesus Christ was the Redeemer of the world, and that Joseph Smith was his prophet, God would give them something to say even though their minds at first were a blank. Not only a score but many scores of elders have borne witness to me that this promise was fulfilled, and that God did in very deed bless them whenever they bore witness of the divinity of the mission of Joseph Smith, the founder, under God, of the Church of Christ again upon the earth.18

By the hundreds and thousands, during my life, I have heard the testimonies of the young men and the young women who have gone out to proclaim this Gospel returning from their missionary work and bearing witness that they had an increased knowledge of the divinity of this work, that their testimonies had been strengthened.19

There is no such a thing as standing still in the church of God; we cannot live on the testimony received years ago. We have … heard the testimony of a man seventy-nine years of age, but if he should stop bearing the testimony that he has received the spirit of God would leave him, for there is no age when we can stop in the work and gospel of God.20

Testimony gives us ability and courage to accomplish the work of the Lord.

Those who are obedient to the commandments of the Lord, those who live up to the requirements of the gospel, grow from day to day and year to year in a testimony and a knowledge of the gospel, and a determination to encourage others to investigate the plan of life and salvation.21

We as a people have demonstrated that the statement of the Savior is true, namely, that if any man will do the will of the Father he shall know of the doctrine [see John 7:17], and that we [have] a perfect and absolute knowledge; and that is why we [are] willing to make sacrifices for the cause of truth.22

I am very grateful that the Latter-day Saints all over the world have a personal, individual and abiding testimony of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged. But for that testimony men would not think, or women either, of making the marvelous sacrifices that they do make at home and abroad, for the advancement of the work of the Lord. …

… I am grateful when I think of the men who have stood at the head of this Church and the leading officials of the same, giving their time and their talents, making sacrifices (that is, sacrifices so far as the things of this world are concerned), and having a perfect and abiding knowledge that God lives, that he hears and answers our prayers; having a knowledge, beyond a shadow of doubt that God did appear to Joseph Smith and did introduce his Son to him; having a perfect knowledge that the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored to the earth by the men who held the keys in the Meridian of Time. …

Nothing short of this perfect and absolute knowledge that we possess as a people would enable us to accomplish anywhere near the things that we are accomplishing.23

If I know my own heart, I believe it is set upon the advancement of the Church and kingdom of God. I know that there is nothing on the earth that I rejoice over so much as I do in the fact that I am associated with the servants and handmaidens of God in the Church of Jesus Christ; and I do not believe that there ever is a day that passes over my head that I do not thank God for the restoration again of the plan of life and salvation, and that I have been made a partaker of the same. I supplicate Him earnestly that my mind may never become darkened, that I may never depart from the truth; that I may never forget any of the covenants that I have made, but, as I grow in years and increase in understanding, that I may grow in a testimony of the gospel and in the desire—not only a desire, but in doing it—to labor for the onward advancement of the kingdom of God on the earth.24

Suggestions for Study and Discussion

  • Why is it true that no one can receive a testimony “without living for it”?

  • Why does a testimony need constant strengthening? How can we remain steady and untiring in our efforts to increase in testimony?

  • How do our testimonies help us in times of trial or persecution? How do our testimonies help us in times of ease or prosperity?

  • Why are our testimonies strengthened when we share them? when we listen to the testimonies of others?

  • In what settings besides testimony meetings can we share our testimonies?

  • How can parents help their children develop personal testimonies of the gospel?

Show References

    Notes

  1.   1.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1934, 15.

  2.   2.

    “As I View the Book of Mormon,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1934, 160.

  3.   3.

    See Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham (1941), 204, 371.

  4.   4.

    “The Power of a Testimony,” Deseret News, 10 Apr. 1937, Church section, 1.

  5.   5.

    “Our Religion the Truth,” Juvenile Instructor, May 1926, 243.

  6.   6.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1911, 23.

  7.   7.

    In Brian H. Stuy, comp., Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, 5 vols. (1987–92), 1:81.

  8.   8.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1925, 151.

  9.   9.

    “Spirit of the Lord Attends Elders of Church Who Strive to Obtain His Aid While Speaking in Public,” Deseret Evening News, 15 Mar. 1919, section 4, VII.

  10.   10.

    In Collected Discourses, 5:400.

  11.   11.

    In Collected Discourses, 2:31.

  12.   12.

    Gospel Standards, 41.

  13.   13.

    “First Presidency Stresses Value of Personal Testimony in Tabernacle Talks: President Heber J. Grant,” Deseret News, 16 June 1934, Church section, 6; paragraphing altered.

  14.   14.

    Gospel Standards, 43.

  15.   15.

    Gospel Standards, 39.

  16.   16.

    “Significant Counsel to the Young People of the Church,” Improvement Era, Aug. 1921, 872.

  17.   17.

    Improvement Era, Aug. 1921, 869–70.

  18.   18.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1917, 25.

  19.   19.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1930, 6.

  20.   20.

    In Collected Discourses, 2:21.

  21.   21.

    Gospel Standards, 73.

  22.   22.

    “The President Speaks to Youth,” Improvement Era, July 1936, 395.

  23.   23.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1939, 14–15.

  24.   24.

    Gospel Standards, 204.