In order to fully appreciate the role of the TESTIMONY given by the Seer and the Spokesman in the 3rd watch, we not only need to understand what a true testimony is, we also need to understand what it is not.
A TESTIMONY of Christ
is not just a BELIEF in Christ
Nor is it Faith or Belief
in Someone Else’s TESTIMONY
As briefly touched on in part two of this series, there is a significant difference between a belief in Christ which is inspired by the Holy Ghost and a knowledge that Jesus if the Son of God which is also made possible by the Holy Ghost.
There is, what appears to be a false teaching in the church today, that one has a testimony once they feel the “promptings of the Spirit” or the “manifestations of the spirit” or “burning in the bosom”.
I don’t believe this teaching was prevalent in the early history of the LDS church.
I believe it originated after the church went into apostasy.
It is not supported in scripture.
The burning in the bosom and the promptings that we get from the spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost does not constitute a testimony of Christ that the scriptures are referring to .
Those feelings from the spirit are simply strengthening our faith and our belief in the testimony of someone.
In Alma 34 you can read about how the spirit enables our faith and desire to grow and sprout and swell within your breast.
It is that feeling that members of the latter day church confuse as a sure testimony from the Holy Ghost
In that chapter we are informed that faith is not to have a perfect knowledge.
It is during the process of desiring to know, that you “awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon” the words of Christ. It is when you “exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe” and you “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of” his words.
If you allow the true seed to sprout within your heart, the “Spirit of the Lord” will cause it to
“begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”
It is these incredible swelling motions and enlarging of the soul and spiritual enlightenment that is you are experiencing when you hear other written or verbal TESTIMONIES from those who have actually seen Christ!
While expounding upon the spiritual gifts, Paul reminds us that “the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”
“Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.”
He is helping us to make a distinction. A true TESTIMONY of Christ is a perfect knowledge while a faith based belief is not a perfect knowledge..
“But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.”
Just because we are having a wonderful experience feeling the spirit and feeling our faith sprout and grow doesn’t mean that we should flatter ourselves into thinking that we have a literal sure knowledge that Jesus is the Christ.
People sometimes assume the following passages referring to Olive Cowdery’s “burning in the bosom” and “manifestations of the spirit” are describing what it feels like to gain a spiritual testimony of Christ-
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 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; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
1 Oliver Cowdery, verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which has been spoken by the manifestation of my Spirit.
2 Yea, behold, 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.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
Those passages are not speaking about gaining a testimony that Jesus is the Son of God. It was long before those revelations that Oliver had testified that he heard the voice of God.
Recently I made comment on another blog that I don’t think there is a mortal living on this earth today that has had the heavens opened and seen the Father bearing testimony of the Son like Joseph and Sidney did… therefore, there is not a living mortal that has a true testimony that Jesus is the Son of God. Indeed there has not been on the earth since the death of Joseph Sidney, Lyman and those very few individuals who participated in the school of the prophets in Kirtland.
Obviously this offended a few of those individuals who are still playing button, button, whose got the priesthood button.
It is natural to want to believe that there are always people on the earth who are rending the veil of unbelief and seeing the Father and the Son. It is a comforting thought… it justifies the belief that all of the keys are still on the earth.
As we progress in this series, I will show from the scriptures that it is a fallacy to believe such folly.