These words sunk deep into my heart, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.” (D&C 60:2). Confronting the Lord’s anger in scripture can be harrowing and difficult, as it might be difficult to square that “negative” emotion with our perception of a loving God, but my mind turned to a couple other scriptures.
In the gospel of Matthew we read, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33). Then in that same chapter, but further down, we read, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39). These verses indicate that preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ allows Jesus Christ to advocate for us in heaven. God’s anger kindled against us when we do not preach Christ’s gospel will fade into obscurity when we surrender our will to the will of God’s.
Whenever I think of the anger of the Lord, my mind is drawn to these verses, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer…For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” (Isaiah 54:7-8, 10). Although the Lord might be angry with us for a moment, the Lord’s covenant with us is to gather us and to be kind to us.
I see these verses as motivation to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with all our hearts, minds, might, and strength, so that we can stand blameless before God at the last day. If we do not preach His word, we show Him that He is not heard by us. Another verse on this subject that has had a deep personal impact reads, “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—These should then be attended to with great earnestness.” (D&C 123:12-14).
I have come back to these verses many times in moments of doubt or frustration, and am always reminded of the strong feeling that I personally have to share Christ’s gospel. Later on in this section, the Lord says through the prophet Joseph Smith, “And after thou hast come up unto the land of Zion, and hast proclaimed my word, thou shalt speedily return, proclaiming my word among the congregations of the wicked, not in haste, neither in wrath nor with strife.” (D&C 60:14). God has provided a particular way for you to preach His gospel. The Christian proverb goes, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” By preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are ensuring that individuals can receive the ordinances necessary for salvation and exaltation, and enter into covenantal relationship with God.
While it is right and proper to ensure that we communicate the gospel correctly, we also should not be ashamed of Jesus Christ in the process. The doctrine of Christ (“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gaes of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it is for my doctrine… 3 Nephi 11:38-40). The doctrine of Jesus Christ brings happiness and joy into the lives of those who receive it, because living “after the manner of happiness” is living not in a state of perfect comfort, but receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior.
As the sections for this Come Follow Me continue, we see a section on water. A popular folktale amongst Latter-day Saints is that missionaries cannot go swimming, because Satan controls the waters. This comes to us through this section of the Doctrine and Covenants, where a curse is placed on the water. It does not mean that we can never go swimming though, in fact, baptisms in living water were instructed in Didache and took place in the early Church as well.
God’s power extends “from everlasting to everlasting” (D&C 61:1) and He has the capacity to help us through all our trials if we are able to draw on God’s power. And what is God’s power? It is priesthood power, which is especially poignant through our temple covenants. I had a strong experience feeling God’s power in my life when I was on a walk with a friend. Another friend of mine called me and asked me to come home immediately.
I remember stepping into my room, seeing her absolutely broken on the floor. She confided in me that she had made a mistake and had lost her temple privileges. My heart broke for her and I waited with her while she cried. She asked me to pray for her aloud, because she was too ashamed to ask for a blessing in this instance from a man, and still wanted the power of God in her life. Right before I started praying aloud, I asked God in my heart for the words to say that I might be able to call down the powers of heaven. In that prayer, it felt like angels were surrounding us and that the power of God was real and present. I remember asking the Lord to bring my friend peace and comfort in knowing that the Lord mends all things. It remains one of the strongest examples to me of how I can draw upon God’s power, priesthood power, in times of critical need and see it act in people’s lives.
It’s been that way in my own life as well. One verse that reminded me of that reads, “Nevertheless, I would not suffer that ye should part until you were chastened for all your sins, that you might be one, that you might not perish in wickedness.” (D&C 61:8). During a rather difficult part of my life, I felt the Lord chastening me for my sins in General Conference. During one particular talk, “Repentance is Always Positive”, I felt like I was the prodigal daughter, who had wandered so far away from the Lord, but whom the Lord would accept back in an instance. This motivated me to pray sincerely for a remission of my sins, which the Lord granted to me.
Repentance has enabled me to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ more effectively. As I practice daily repentance and allow God to chasten me for my sins, I feel His love more deeply and I understand His covenantal relationship with me more clearly. God indeed promises us that, “And inasmuch as they are faithful they shall be preserved, and I, the Lord, will be with them.” (D&C 61:10). God has most certainly shown me that He is with me. There are many moments of my life where I have felt a deep and abiding depression, where the powers of darkness seem to close in on me, and where I feel a chasm erupt in my soul and I feel my heart break. Through those moments, God has shown me that He will preserve me even if I cannot always feel Him. There have been moments in my life where I was protected from physical danger, even death, and where I feel like I was guided to the place in life where I needed to be, even if that place included much more pain than I would have wanted it to include. But the Lord does not leave me and He will not leave you.
Our experiences can deepen our ability to share our testimony. In a blessing during a particularly difficult time of my life, I was told two specific promises: 1) that things would continue to become harder and harder for me for the rest of my life, and that I would often feel like I was walking in darkness, and 2) that I would always be able to recognize the light of Jesus Christ and experience many difficult things so that I can share them with others and show people that Christ has changed me, so He can change you. There will be times in your life, where you will cry out for God and it might not feel like He’s there.
I have prayed for the last five years for one specific blessing and been told no not yet many times. Similar to the lost one hundred sixteen pages, I once asked the Lord so many times that He said yes and the situation I entered into brought me great joy for a while, but eventually when it crashed, the sorrow and suffering that I brought upon myself felt greater than I could bear. Even though the Lord was certainly frustrated with me during this time, I saw His hand in my life and felt that He was preserving me—even if that preservation felt like I was barely being held together. God has a great plan for each one of us, and through the Holy Spirit, we can gain a witness of what that plan is and how that plan can bring us into the eternal joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The last verse that I want like to mention from this Come Follow section reads, “Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you.” (D&C 62:3). It is difficult for me to describe the joy that I feel when I read this verse. “The testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you” is one of the most poignant sentences in the English language.
Two instances from General Conference remind me of a testimony that is recorded in heaven. Elder McConkie said, “I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”
Another such testimony comes from Elder Holland when he said, “Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs. Like them, “I give my name unto the world, to witness unto the world that which I have seen.” And like them, “I lie not, God bearing witness of it.”
These powerful testimonies of the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the reality of the Savior Jesus Christ witness to me the power and spirit behind testimony bearing. Angels do indeed record our testimonies that we share here, and these testimonies in conjunction with our charity help us retain a remission of our sins, because as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ, we become more like Him and become more loving and kind.
I invite you to ponder how you can better share the gospel in your day to day life. I feel a greater call to share the gospel in my own life and to live in a way that makes my testimony the example of my life and not just the words I share. I want to conclude by sharing my testimony.
The Holy Spirit has whispered to me that God knows me and that He created me; that I existed before I was formed in matter unintelligible to me clearly and that God formed me into a spirit and gave me a body to come to earth. He offered me glimpses into life before mortality and assured me that He made my work and purpose known to me then and that I lovingly volunteered for and accepted the life I lead now.
In moments of doubt and confusion, God has intervened and reminded me that no matter how much doubt and confusion swirls around me that I might find light in Him and in knowing that He has a hand in my life. Through priesthood blessings and personal revelation, I have been taught that the Lord raised me up in particular circumstances and that every detail of my life has prepared me to minister to His children.
After studying the scriptures and hearing the good news of Christ and His Atonement, the Spirit has testified to me that the Atonement is real. Through my experiences of falling so far from the glory of God, being marred and unrecognizable by sin, distancing myself from God in such a way that took me so much time to correct, I have seen the Atonement of Christ work so clearly in my life. I have experienced real change of becoming a better person and receiving comfort when I needed it most and deserved it least.
I have had experiences ministering to God’s children, my brothers and sisters, where God has given me specific knowledge of how to best help them as He promised me in my patriarchal blessing. I have had moments where pure intelligence, information I had no way of knowing, has entered my mind and allowed me to express compassion and charity to individuals to bring God’s love into their lives. I have had impressions directly from God to wake up and check on someone in moments of dire need in the middle of the night or to walk a specific way on campus or to call someone– every time, God has been right.
The Lord has instilled in me a great love and great reliance upon the scriptures. I had a moment of great conversion where I read Moroni 7:41 and felt the power of God so strongly in my life that I could not deny it; God invited me directly to change my life, repent, and come unto Christ and He provided a way for me to do that and the sweetest forgiveness of sins I could experience. The canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true in every sense of true– the records occurred in the way that they are described and the principles taught there lead to eternal life.
Modern prophets and apostles are called of God to bring us closer to Christ and preach correct doctrine. I believe that Joseph Smith really did see God, find and translate the Book of Mormon, and restore the priesthood of God to the earth. all prophets that follow him are also called of God. I believe that the Book of Mormon is both true and the word of God—it really did happen. And the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants come from God.
I believe that temples have the ordinances with power to save and exalt us. That power is priesthood power, connected to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Going through the temple for the first time made me concerned about the truthfulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but as I studied the history of temples and went with new eyes, the Lord instructed me that temples were restored properly to the earth by Joseph Smith. I have grown to love the temple and know that these temples give us the opportunity to make sacred covenants—covenants that guide and structure our lives, so that we can best show God our love for Him.
It is necessary that we repent and are baptized, so that we can experience the joy of Jesus Christ with open hearts and minds. I am grateful that Jesus Christ died for me and you. I know that Jesus Christ performed the Atonement beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane and culminating on the Cross. He lived to preach righteousness to the people, encourage others to live pure lives, reveal the principles behind the Law of Moses, so that we might be a holier, more loving, and more righteous people. I know that Jesus Christ has prepared a way for all of us to follow Him. I believe that He spoke to prophets and apostles, and still speaks to them today, so that we might know that He is the Christ.
After much study and consideration, I know and believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church that Jesus Christ established on the earth and that Joseph Smith restored. It is true. I have come nearer to God by following Jesus Christ through His Church, by learning from the sacred scriptures and prophets and apostles, by partaking of the ordinances and covenants here—my testimony of the Church is so strong because it is through this Church that I was able to change and become better. My other experiences with religion did not lead me to the same conviction and sanctity that the Church has. This is because Jesus Christ in present in all of the ordinances and teachings here.
My testimony evolves over time, but of these things I am absolutely certain: God knew you before you existed, He formed you, He placed you on earth to learn how to follow Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ died for you and lived his life as a ministry to teach us how to balance justice with mercy to arise as more compassionate, charitable, and righteous people, that Joseph Smith restored the Church to the earth, that the works of scripture are true, that prophets and apostles are called of God, that Jesus Christ’s Atonement works for you today and always, that God loves you, and that the Church is true.
My experience, a mixture of ministering, temple work, personal revelation, sin that the Lord washed away, scripture study, considering life’s big questions, looking into other religions, trying different ways of living, experimenting on the words of the Book of Mormon, and constructing my faith from as much objectivity as I could muster has led me to this belief and knowledge. I love the Lord Jesus Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. There are three personages in a Godhead and they all have become my family as I was always family to them through my acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He will come again and I will meet Him. I will have the opportunity to inadequately express my deep love and gratitude for His sacrifice and for all that He has given me. The Lord has shown me that no matter what happens to me or no matter what I do, that He will and does consecrate everything for my good. I love Him more than I thought was possible and He teaches me how to love His children a little more each day.
I testify that all that I wrote is true. It is through Jesus Christ and His name that I am able to express my imperfect witness of His perfect reality. Amen.
More Come, Follow Me resources here.
Hanna Seariac is a MA student in Greek and Latin at Brigham Young University. She works as a research assistant on a biblical commentary and as a research assistant on early Latter-day Saint history. Her interests thematically center around sacrifice, magic, and priesthood as it pertains to ancient Judaism, early Christianity, ancient Egyptian religion, and early Restoration history.