The first and most important message we take to all the world is . . .
There is a God.
He is our Heavenly Father, we are his children.
He has a body of flesh and bone, much like ours, only perfected.
He loves us. Each one of us . . . his children.
He weeps with us when we suffer, and rejoices with us when do things that are right.
He desires to hear from his children . . . through prayer.
He has prepared this earthly experience for us so we can learn and grow.
And through our earthly trials, challenges and experiences, become as He is.
He sent his son Jesus Christ to save us from physical and spiritual death.
He has a plan for us, here in this earthly existence.
From the beginning of time . . .
From the beginnings of all time man has asked the same question, is there a God? Does he know me? To seek such answers is the pursuit of religion. By definition, religion is a belief or worship of a Being higher than our humanness, that has a controlling power. The very definition implies that knowledge of such a Power comes through belief, or strong belief, which is equivalent to faith. A belief or faith is also by definition a spiritual comprehension as opposed to knowledge based on proof.
Therefore if we seek for answers of a religious nature, having to do with a higher power or being greater than ourselves, our knowledge must include strengthening our beliefs, through strengthening our faith, rather than from knowledge only based upon proof.
The Foundation of all Righteousness
In an ever more confused and increasingly turbulent world . . . it will be essential to increase our capacity to seek learning by faith. A quest if you will to seek and obtain and apply spiritual knowledge. Faith is the first principle in revealed religion and the foundation of all righteousness. A belief, strong belief, the equivalent of faith requires action on our part. It is not a passive. It requires that we participate and actively pursue.
Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares, "Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception." "Are you and I agents who act and seek learning by faith, or are we waiting to be taught and acted upon?
In an ever more confused and increasingly turbulent world . . . the world will surely come to us, with the teachings of men, mingled with their interpretation of scripture, or guidance from a higher power as is convenient to the current moral and political trends of the day. We cannot wait to be "acted upon" by the world but must be anxiously engaged in asking, seeking and knocking (see 3 Nephi 14:7).
The Loud Voice of the Adversary -
In recent years, with the rise of increasing use of the Internet, the loud voice of the adversary, in direct opposition to people of faith would proclaim that there is no evidence that God exists. Evidence is the body of facts or information provided with the purpose to convince that a belief is true or valid. It is meant to convince another of truth. Even in a court of law the evidence is often contradictory, even one eyewitness can contradict another. Scientific evidence is subject to many different interpretations, or may be unreliable due to errors in collection and analysis.
Therefore in a quest for reliable spiritual, religious, faith based knowledge, physical evidence only or the lack thereof cannot be deemed genuine, sound or true. In people of faith, and particularly to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have experienced miracles and personal tender mercies of a spiritual nature, the evidence comes in the form of their own personal experience.
The Evidence of God's Existence -
Try convincing the many that have been healed by God's priesthood power that evidence of God doesn't exist. Try convincing those who entered the waters of baptism spiritually ill and burdened with a lifetime of sin that evidence of God's healing power doesn't exist. The multitude of these seemingly insignificant in a great universe, acts of physical Godly power multiplied by the millions upon millions through thousands of years . . . and you begin to get a sense of the cumulative total of the evidence not just of God's existence but of His active intervention in human lives.
Ultimately the knowledge of God's existence and power can only be spiritually discerned. But until the Spirit of the Holy Ghost which witnesses to the heart of man the truth of all things . . . that heart will remain without the evidence it seeks, and the natural man will continue to be "acted upon" by the world all around.
How do we Receive a Spiritual Witness?
But how does the Holy Ghost testify of truth and witness unto us? Yes, through our feelings or senses, but much more than just a feeling . . . if you have ever felt a witness of the Holy Spirit then you know it's not just following your own subjective feelings. It is something very different. If you don't believe you have experienced a witness from the Holy Spirit it can be difficult to fully explain.
Some scripture examples might be helpful:
Acts 2:37, 38 Now when they heard they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Matthew 16:15-17 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Mere Words Cannot Express . . .
It is fundamentally difficult to understand another's own personal manifestation of the Spirit due to the limited vocabulary of mankind. We don't have the correct words to describe the significant experience that takes place through the senses to describe a spiritual witness of the Holy Spirit. Because few have the poetic mind and descriptions necessary, we are left to try our best to convey what we've experienced, and it can be different for everyone.
Why is a belief, strong belief, the equivalent of faith in God important in your life? Sooner, or later, all of us will need our Heavenly Father and the Light of His Son, Jesus Christ in our life. Sooner or later we will all need the Savior. We all make mistakes we cannot fix, experience losses we cannot recover, and face pains, persecution, tragedies, burdens, and disappointments we cannot handle alone.
The good news is that we don't have to handle them alone.
Comfort . . . Peace through the Atonement -
The Savior is important to us because through his Atonement, teachings, hope, peace and example, He helps us change our lives, face our trials, and move forward with faith.
You can find the Savior's words of eternal life in the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. They offer a foundation for happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
We turn to our Heavenly Father and the Savior by:
- Praying to Heavenly Father for the Spirit to be with us.
- Reading the Lord's words in the scriptures and as revealed by living prophets.
- Attending the temple.
- Studying the Savior's life.
- Applying his Atonement by repenting of our sins.
When we feel the Savior's peace, our hearts need not be troubled or afraid. (John 14:26-27)