1. Ether 12:6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
If you are experiencing doubt, or even a crisis of faith, don’t despair. All who desire a witness of the truth of the gospel must endure a trial of faith (or several). Part of that trial is the expectation that we are to strive to cultivate faith before we obtain evidence that our faith is not in vain. In fact, Paul goes so far as to preach that faith is, in itself, the evidence which we seek:
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
The apostle Peter taught that our faith will be refined if we maintain it even as we experience the fires of doubt. If we love God, and believe in him, even “though now ye see him not,” we are promised that we will receive our sought after witness, the end (or object) of our faith. If you will stay faithful, even when “ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [and trials]” (see 1 Peter 1:6), your faith will be rewarded, and you can "rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
1 Peter 1:7-9 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
2. Alma 5:45-46 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
In this age of doubt and skepticism, you will be constantly bombarded by messages from those who seek to undermine your faith in God, your belief in the scriptures, and your commitment to follow the church and its leaders. To guard against these assaults, you need to find out for yourself if the gospel is true. This isn’t something you can casually ask after if you expect a meaningful answer. As Alma taught, the only sure way to know the truth is through “the Holy Spirit of God.” In order to obtain a witness through the Spirit, we need to follow Alma’s example. He “fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself,” and so can you! Part of the reason why it takes so much work to obtain a witness for yourself is because fasting and praying is a way by which you can demonstrate to God the sincerity of your desire to know and act upon the truth when it is revealed to you. If you truly seek the witness that comes after the trial of your faith, you need to “ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (see Moroni 10:4).
Alma 38:6 Now, my son, I would not that ye should think that I know these things of myself, but it is the Spirit of God which is in me which maketh these things known unto me; for if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things.
3. 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 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. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
There are many who suppose that, because they have spent hours studying sources that call into question the validity of the gospel message, or the prophetic commission of Joseph Smith (or Thomas Monson), or deny the veracity of the Book of Mormon, that the weight of evidence is enough to force them to leave the church. This approach is flawed for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is that such individuals have come to rely on “the words which man's wisdom teacheth,” instead of seeking out “the things that are freely given to us of God… which the Holy Ghost teacheth.”
It is possible to obtain the answers that you desire to those difficult questions concerning the history or former practices of the church in this dispensation. However, those answers are not to be found in ex-Mormon forums, or transitional podcasts, or in any book or article written by uninspired men. The answers you seek can only come from God, and as such they must be obtained through the medium of the Holy Spirit.
In order to obtain the guidance of the spirit, you must put off the natural man and live the gospel. That means that you need to humble yourself, and may require you to go back to the basics. You will need to exercise enough faith to keep the commandments, and repent when you slip up, and renew your baptismal covenants each Sunday by worthily partaking of the sacrament. We are promised in the sacrament prayers that if we will do these things, and always remember Christ, we will always have His spirit to be with us. There is power in that promise, for it is only through the power of the Holy Ghost that you can discern between right and wrong, truth and error. The Holy Ghost will help a faithful truth-seeker to discern between right and almost right, or between something right and something that seems plausible, but is actually untrue. If you sincerely seek to find the truth, and not just answers that suit your own choices, you need to be willing to yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.”
Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
4. Alma 26:21-22 And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
D&C 63:23 But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.
If you are willing to put off the natural man through faith and repentance and humble submission to God, you will find that the Lord will bless you to find the answers you need to many of the mysteries which might have caused you to stumble before. If you will take the time to develop your testimony, through careful study, thoughtful pondering, and humble prayer, you will find that much of the knowledge you seek (and knowledge you didn’t know to seek) will be revealed to you. In times of trouble, a deeper relationship with God, and an increased familiarity with the voice of the Holy Spirit, will become a source of strength to you that can never be exhausted. When you are converted, you will find your faith less prone to being shaken by the many uninformed or malicious voices on the internet and in the world that are determined to undermine your faith in God and in His church.
D&C 6:34-36 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
5. Alma 12:10-11 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and 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. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.
There are some who may read this post and choose to be offended. There are those who will dismiss these scriptures and say to themselves, “How dare he imply that people who have doubts need to be more humble!” or “He is just glossing over my concerns. These scriptures would only satisfy someone who doesn’t dare to ask real questions.”
First, let me clarify that I am not saying that people who have doubts are bad people. Everyone struggles with some aspect of the gospel at one time or another, that’s just part of discipleship. Why do you think that the Savior often had to remind His disciples to “Be not afraid, only believe”? The fact that the scriptures I have collected here even exist is testament to the fact that doubt can assail even the most stalwart of Christ’s followers. The trick is to keep doubt from overwhelming you.
There are many who have stumbled across some (or many) aspect(s) of church history or practice that causes them to question their faith. Some are wise enough to turn to the source of eternal truth for answers to their questions. This may sometimes require one to acknowledge that their information (or their understanding) may be flawed or incomplete, and this takes real humility. When faced with difficult questions, or issues that call into question your whole system of belief, it can be difficult to soften your heart enough to receive the answers that would bring relief. Unfortunately there are many who have become disillusioned and angry who refuse to listen to anything others may say to try to convince them of the truth of what they once believed. Some of these people become determined enemies of the church, and become resolute in their determination to defy the gospel teachings that they once embraced.
To those people I extend this warning: If you choose to harden your heart, you will never find the answers you seek. If you neglect a regular study of the scriptures, and forget to engage in constant humble prayer, you will begin to lose your way. If you choose to distance yourself from the church, and by so doing deny yourself the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, you will no longer enjoy the full blessings of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. If you refuse to listen to the counsel given by the prophets and apostles (and the other general authorities) of this church, you will become lost in the fog of this world, even so much that you won’t be able to tell that you are lost. Your ability to discern right from wrong and truth from error will be compromised, and you will be lost.
I beg you to humble yourself enough to exercise enough faith to return to a life in the gospel. If you do so, I bear testimony that you will be blessed to overcome the trial of your faith. If you become converted once more to the teachings of the Savior, and reacquainted with the Holy Spirit, you will obtain that witness of the truth, if you sincerely seek it. Return and you will be welcomed with open arms, as was the prodigal son. If you will turn once again to the Lord I promise that you will “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
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