A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Charity is a Condition of the Heart Not an Action

It was a seven year process for me to recognize and repent of my idolatry. Some people don't have this problem, but I did. The worship of Jesus Christ needed to replace the worship of men. As one chapter in my life is closing, there is another chapter emerging.

So, I ask the Lord again, “What lack I yet?” 

For the last several weeks I've been thinking about charity. I hear God saying. “Jennifer, you still lack charity. Talk to me about this, experiment with my word, and I will teach you.” I don't know what this process entails, but I trust the Lord will teach me just as he has in the past.

I thought to study Moroni 7. I found it full of hidden treasures.

1 And now I, Moroni, write a few of the words of my father Mormon, which he spake concerning faith, hope, and charity; for after this manner did he speak unto the people, as he taught them in the synagogue which they had built for the place of worship.
2 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.
3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.

Moroni is speaking to the peaceable followers of Christ. So I ask myself “Do I walk in peace with my Husband? Children? Family? Neighbors? Friends? and Enemies?”

5 For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

In teaching us about charity, why does Moroni talk about the intentions of the heart? Could it be that I need to understand that charity is a condition of the heart not an action? The heart governs actions. Actions don't change the heart.

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

Why do we judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil? Is it human tendency to get good and evil confused? Why? How do we let false spirits deceive us?

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery and ruin have followed in their train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed.

The Turks, the Hindoos, the Jews, the Christians, the Indian; in fact all nations have been deceived, imposed upon and injured through the mischievous effects of false spirits.

As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; if it requires the Spirit of God to know the things of God; and the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that medium, then it follows as a natural consequence that unless some person or persons have a communication, or revelation from God, unfolding to them the operation of the spirit, they must eternally remain ignorant of these principles; for I contend that if one man cannot understand these things but by the Spirit of God, ten thousand men cannot; it is alike out of the reach of the wisdom of the learned, the tongue of the eloquent, the power of the mighty. And we shall at last have to come to this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor understand anything of God, or the devil; and however unwilling the world may be to acknowledge this principle, it is evident from the multifarious creeds and notions concerning this matter that they understand nothing of this principle, and it is equally as plain that without a divine communication they must remain in ignorance. The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves "in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth," and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 205-206 ,  DHC volume 4 page 573

How can I know good from evil?

15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Having both desire and knowledge of how to search in the light of Christ is essential.

20 And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?
21 And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.
22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.

How does one come to even believe in the existence of Christ? Angels come from the presence of God and make manifest concerning the coming of Christ. Prophets are mortals who also come from the presence of God teaching the coming of Christ. Who does Christ come to?

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world; D&C 93:1-2

How can a prophet teach the pattern of coming unto Christ? Because they have followed the pattern and know for themselves. As people follow the pattern, they too come into God's presence and become prophets. It would be great if everyone was a prophet and knew for themselves. Moses plainly taught the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God, but they would not come.

And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets,and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them! Numbers 11:29

19And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.
23Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
25Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; D&C 84

9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Hebrews 8

Is the law of God in my heart? Have miracles ceased? Have angels ministered unto me?

27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

To whom do they show themselves? Why?

31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.

Why do prophets testify? When you hear the testimony of a personal witness of Christ who has come into God's presence and talked with him face to face, does it inspire hope that you too can become a witness of Christ?

33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.

Who is calling? How am I saved? When he says “Come unto me,” does he really mean come?

35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

If angels aren't appearing and miracles have ceased, what's the reason?

An important distinction is made in D&C 63:9 “But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.” One group seeks for signs before they will believe. The second group receives signs as an evidence of their belief and faith.

38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.

According to the words of Christ, there is one way to be saved. If the ministry of angels, miracles, and coming unto Christ has ceased, it's evidence that faith has ceased also. Signs follow those who believe and have faith.

39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.

How did Moroni judge if someone has faith? Meekness . . . How do faith and meekness relate to each other? Who is numbered among the people of his church?

40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

What promise? Have I heard the voice of God promise me eternal life?

3Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
4This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
5Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son— D&C 88

And what is this other comforter promised in the testimony of John?
    Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23
Here we have it again. It is not possible to have faith and hope unless I am meek and lowly of heart?

42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

If I see that I am not meek and lowly of heart, what do I do? How do I become acceptable before God?

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

Charity is a condition of the heart not an action. Its not something I do, or something I work on, but it is definitely something I can possess. How do I receive this gift?

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. Moroni 7

“Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love.” When do I pray? . . .When I need it. . . When do I need it? . . . When I struggle and am not feeling charitable. There's a lot of energy flowing through me when I am angry, impatient, jealous, etc. When I feel less than loving is a good time to pray with energy. Pray until the welcome release comes. Jesus does come to the rescue to fill me with his love. All of the negative emotions turn to peace, joy, and love in the presence of God's light.

This pattern of praying through every difficulty and having Jesus transform me into a being of light makes me a new creature in Christ.

25And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
26And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Mosiah 27:25-26

“When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”

He does appear :) As he continually bestows charity upon his followers, he purifies his sons and daughters.

This same teaching is found all over the scriptures. Here are a few examples:

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. D&C 121

What are the requirements to maintain power and influence? What is the result? It is to have confidence while standing in the presence of God, a scepter, a dominion, and communion with our Lord :)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatian 5

These are Christ's. Begotten sons and daughters.

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Psalms 2:7 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Prophets??? - Dallin H. Oaks' Response to My Questions

On October 16, 2007, John and I started praying every night to see the face of God as promised in D&C 93:1 “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;”

Soon after we began to pray for this blessing, many challenges came. I was humbled, smashed, crushed, and humiliated. I felt like I was drowning. For three years, it was all I could do to keep my head above water.

In 2009 a friend told me about  The Second Comforter, Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil. I politely listened to her, but didn't read the book, even though I had been praying for the second comforter for two years.

In November 2010, a family member told me about a book she was reading. Before she could tell me the title, I knew the name of the book. I asked, “Is it The Second Comforter, Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil?"  It was. I knew I needed to read the book. I bought it for my husband for Christmas. We couldn't wait and both had it read by the beginning of December. It was the help we were seeking.

When I finished the book, I started to search the Ensign and write down all the commandments I was failing to live. I also searched the scriptures. As I read the scriptures, the Lord started to teach me. He showed me what it meant to be one of his prophets. He led me from scripture to scripture and began to open my mind.

After six months of studying, wrestling, and questioning the Lord, I could see that these LDS 15 presiding leaders were not Jesus's prophets.

I questioned, “Jesus, are you sure these guys aren't your prophets? All of my life I've been taught that they are your prophets. Are you sure?”

He responded, “Well, I should know these things, but if you don't believe me, go ask them yourself.” The thought of questioning them made my jaw drop.

On May 14, 2011, the Lord told me what to say in the letter. I told him I didn't want to do it. I was nervous about asking them questions. I argued back, “Do you know what they do to people who ask questions like that?”

On May 15, 2011, the letter was again put into my mind. This time I got up and wrote the letter. I decided to write Dallin H. Oaks since he knows my parents. Here's the letter:


May 15, 2011
Hello Elder Oaks,

I’m Dean and Joy Wilding’s youngest daughter. You came to our wedding reception in 1991.

Over the past six months, I’ve had an overwhelming desire to come into the presence of the Savior, have my calling and election made sure, become a personal witness of Christ, and receive my vision of the end from the beginning. Everyday I ask the Lord how I can repent and please him. It’s the driving force in my life.

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am; - D&C 93:1

I have not yet been invited to become a member of the church of the Lamb of God also known as the church of the Firstborn. By default that makes me a member of the church of the devil. I desire to get out of the church of the devil and become a member of the church of the Lamb of God.

And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. - 1 Nephi 14:10

I’ve always thought that I was on the straight and narrow path leading to eternal life. It seems that I’m on a preliminary path. I have not yet been cleansed by the Holy Ghost and come into the presence of the keeper of the gate. See all of 2 Nephi 31-33

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.- 2 Nephi 9:41

Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. - 2 Nephi 31:17

Right now I’m repenting of my sins so I can get on the straight and narrow path. I ask the Lord daily to reveal my sins to me so I can repent. When I am sufficiently pure, the Lord will come and give me further instructions.

But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angles, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me. - 2 Nephi 31:14

Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do. - 2 Nephi 32:6

I desire to come into the presence of the Lord and know him so that I can receive my exaltation. I hear the Holy Ghost talking to me often, but I have not yet been sanctified. The Holy Ghost has revealed to me that coming into the presence of the Lord and knowing Him in this lifetime is essential.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.

For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. - D&C 132:21-23

There are many scriptures showing me that all the Holy Prophets have followed the pattern of becoming sanctified, coming into the presence of the Lord, witnessing the ministry and atonement of Christ, and receiving their vision of the beginning to the end: Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos, King Benjamin, Isaiah, John, brother of Jared, Joseph in Egypt, etc. They are qualified to reveal and prophesy because they’ve seen it all and have been commissioned to do so.

It has been my understanding that the reason we sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators is because all of you have been sanctified, have had the experience of seeing the Savior face to face, and have become apostolic witnesses of His birth, death, atonement, and resurrection. As part of that experience you’ve also seen the history and future of the world. Is this true?

As I listened to this last general conference, I was alarmed and concerned. I heard messages that were inconsistent with the message I read in the Book of Mormon. For those of you who have had the same experience as Nephi and the Brother of Jared, would you instruct us on how we can obey and please the Lord so that we can have the experience of entering back into the presence of the Lord?

And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.- 1 Nephi 10:17-19

For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot. - 1 Nephi 11:1

Nephi wasn’t a sign seeker but he knew that he could have the same vision as his father if he would but diligently seek the Lord. Nephi mourns because of our unbelief, wickedness, and ignorance. He’s telling us how to receive the same visions and manifestations that he’s had, yet we won’t seek after them with all our heart.

And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be. - 1 Nephi 32:7

In Elder David A. Bednar’s talk he speaks of “looking beyond the mark” as looking for great manifestations promised by God himself. Jesus Christ is the mark. Coming back into his presence while in the flesh is the greatest manifestation we can seek for in this life. I don’t want to be normal and be part of the mainstream that enters the broad gate and follows the wide road. I want to be peculiar and treasured by the Lord. If you read the rest of Jacob 4:14 you’ll see that “looking beyond the mark” is being stiffnecked and unwilling to repent. “Looking beyond the mark” does not mean looking for the miracles and angels promised to the believers.

Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. - Moroni 7:37

We as members of the Church tend to emphasize marvelous and dramatic spiritual manifestations so much that we may fail to appreciate and may even overlook the customary pattern by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes His work. The very “simpleness of the way” (1 Nephi 17:41) of receiving small and incremental spiritual impressions that over time and in totality constitute a desired answer or the direction we need may cause us to look “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14).

I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions. Perhaps as we consider the experiences of Joseph in the Sacred Grove, of Saul on the road to Damascus, and of Alma the Younger, we come to believe something is wrong with or lacking in us if we fall short in our lives of these well-known and spiritually striking examples. If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal. Just keep pressing forward obediently and with faith in the Savior. As you do so, you “cannot go amiss” (D&C 80:3).

President Joseph F. Smith counseled: “Show me Latter-day Saints who have to feed upon miracles, signs and visions in order to keep them steadfast in the Church, and I will show you members … who are not in good standing before God, and who are walking in slippery paths. It is not by marvelous manifestations unto us that we shall be established in the truth, but it is by humility and faithful obedience to the commandments and laws of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 40).” (David A. Bednar, The Spirit of Revelation, April 2011 Conference)

When “individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions” ask questions of their leaders, they need to be told how to repent. Being consoled in our wickedness will never bring us back into the presence of the Lord. Something is wrong if we’re not following and experiencing the spiritually striking examples of the Holy Prophets. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God gives the examples so we know what to look for.

For I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness.

And plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work, which shall be cut short in righteousness—

Until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, and shall see eye to eye, and shall lift up their voice, and with the voice together sing this new song, saying: D&C 84:96-98

In Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”, he speaks of Joseph Smith having divine manifestations like Paul. Do the current apostles have these kind of manifestations? I understand that our testimony doesn’t come all at once, but when I come to know Christ, it is my hope that He doesn’t come “almost unnoticed”. I desire to see him in all his glory.

We know that manifestations such as this happen. In fact, we testify that a similar divine experience happened in 1820 to a boy named Joseph Smith. It is our clear and certain testimony that the heavens are open again and that God speaks to His prophets and apostles. God hears and answers the prayers of His children. . .

The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.

I was reading Elder Boyd K Packer’s October 2007 talk “The Weak and the Simple of the Church”, and I appreciate the straight forward manner in which Elder Packer talks of his witness of Christ. I too was surprised to find out that Apostles don’t need to have a unique and special witness of Christ.

To my great surprise, I was called to meet with President David O. McKay. He took both of my hands in his and called me to be one of the General Authorities, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

A few days later, I came to Salt Lake City to meet with the First Presidency to be set apart as one of the General Authorities of the Church. This was the first time I had met with the First Presidency—President David O. McKay and his counselors, President Hugh B. Brown and President Henry D. Moyle.

President McKay explained that one of the responsibilities of an Assistant to the Twelve was to stand with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a special witness and to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ. What he said next overwhelmed me: “Before we proceed to set you apart, I ask you to bear your testimony to us. We want to know if you have that witness.”

I did the best I could. I bore my testimony the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward. To my surprise, the Brethren of the Presidency seemed pleased and proceeded to confer the office upon me.

That puzzled me greatly, for I had supposed that someone called to such an office would have an unusual, different, and greatly enlarged testimony and spiritual power. . .

I bear witness that the gospel is true and that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God—every soul—and that we are blessed to be members of the Church. I have the witness that would qualify me for the calling I have. I’ve had it since I met the First Presidency those many years ago. I bear it to you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

In David B. Haight’s April 1989 talk “The Sacrament—and the Sacrifice” he shares his experience and apostolic witness of Christ. David B. Haight is a special witness of Christ.

. . .I had never doubted nor wondered. But now I knew, because of the impressions of the Spirit upon my heart and soul, these divine truths in a most unusual way.

I was shown a panoramic view of His earthly ministry: His baptism, His teaching, His healing the sick and lame, the mock trial, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection and Ascension. There followed scenes of His earthly ministry to my mind in impressive detail, confirming scriptural eyewitness accounts. I was being taught, andthe eyes of my understanding were opened by the Holy Spirit of God so as to behold many things. . .

Have all the apostles received an apostolic witness of Christ unique and different from the faith and belief that most of us have? I like many others believe He lives because we can feel it in our hearts, but we are not yet special witnesses of Him. Have you seen him and witnessed His baptism, His teaching, His healing the sick and lame, the mock trial, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, and His Ascension?

I ask this question because I am studying this issue out in my mind. I don’t hear the special apostolic witness of Christ shared in our general conferences apart from the one I quoted from David B. Haight. I need to know why we call the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.

Thank you for all you do. I sustain you with my prayers and fellowship.

Jennifer Willis

I didn't know if I would get a response. They're busy and probably don't have time to respond to my questions, but to my surprise, Dallin Oaks sent me a response. Here is a copy of the letter:

I had my answer. I could tell from his response that he wasn't the kind of prophet I read about in the scriptures. I don't fault him for it . . . I'm not a prophet either. The Lord knew I needed this letter as a second witness. The scriptures and God's voice were my first witness. This letter was my second.