My testimony of Joseph Smith so far: Line upon Line

I like to write and give talks. I like pondering the topic, formulating the ideas with inspiration, and presenting–although my knees always shake. I also, pridefully, like the positive feedback. And I like being dependable. When I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I arrived at church one Sunday to discover that my name was on the program, but I hadn’t prepared a talk. I was told there were plenty of other speakers on the program and I didn’t need to speak. But I wanted to show I was dependable and could prepare and deliver a talk on short notice, so I checked out a New Era magazine (the church magazine for youth, ages 12-18) from the church building library and prepared and delivered a talk. I was not praised for my talk. In fact, I think some might have been annoyed with me for taking too long, especially since a returned missionary was speaking. Now as an adult with more experience, I realize the folly of my youth. I want to go back to my younger self and tell her to not give the talk, to realize that most people were there to hear the returned missionary. But we learn with age and experience. We learn line upon line.

 

A prophet, Nephi, from The Book of Mormon taught, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Nephi 28:30).

 

I am still learning line upon line. After one of my brothers left the church, he encouraged me to read The Mormon Essays (also called Gospel Topics Essays), a series of essays published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which address controversial topics from the history of the church. I didn’t want to read something that encouraged my brothers to doubt their faith. I wanted to feed my faith, not diminish it, so I continued to study the scriptures, lessons for Sundays, and talks from General Conference. Then as happens as we desire to learn and do what is right, the Lord nudged me “here a little and there a little.” My young adult daughter told me about a religion class she took, “Foundations of the Restoration,” which covered the topics in the essays. I began studying the lessons which are on the Gospel Library app under the Seminaries and Institutes tab. My husband told me he was studying “Revelations in Context” under the Church History tab of the Gospel Library. I’m studying those now too. While sanding, priming, and painting our bathroom cupboards, I listened to the “Joseph Smith Papers” program on the Mormon Channel. What I have learned from more in depth studying of our church’s history is that Joseph Smith was a great man and prophet, but he wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes.

 

I’ve had a misconception about our church that it was all restored as is from the beginning. That since the church is true, all programs, procedures, and scriptures were in a perfect form in a handbook for Joseph Smith to easily access, like we have available today. What I’ve learned from my study is that the Lord taught Joseph Smith just as He teaches me, precept upon precept. Many of the revelations came as Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon and had questions. For example, as Joseph read in The Book of Mormon about baptism he had a desire to be baptized. On May 15, 1829 Joseph and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, went to a quiet place on a farm in Harmony, Pennsylvania and prayed. They received an answer. An angel, John the Baptist came and gave Joseph and Oliver the Aaronic Priesthood with the authority to baptize.

 

Instead of weakening my faith, knowing that Joseph Smith was tutored by God bit by bit, increases my testimony of him as a prophet and gives me hope that I can learn and grow, especially as I “hearken unto [the] precepts and lend an ear unto…counsel.”

 

Recently a friend who left the church challenged me to read The Mormon Essays and respond to them in my blog. He wanted to know how a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints felt about them. While I wasn’t ready when my brother asked, I’m ready now. I’ve read a few and am pondering what I’ve read.

 

I am grateful that my testimony of Joseph Smith has increased as I’ve studied our church history. I’m also grateful that the Lord teaches me line upon line, precept upon precept just as He taught Joseph Smith and as He teaches all of us if we “hearken unto [His] precepts,and  lend an ear to [His] counsel.”

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 25th, 2017 at 3:32 pm and is filed under I'm a Mormon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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