Testimony and Blessings

One thing I did this week while studing this week’s Parsha Terumah, Exodus 21-24, was to watch Is God Talking To Me Through The Laws Of The Mishkan?. In this video it brought out how the two tablets the 10 commandments were written on are also known as the Tablets of TESTIMONY, and the Tabernacle is also known as the Tabernacle of TESTIMONY.

Tablets of TESTIMONY:

Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of TESTIMONY, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the TESTIMONY were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

1 Kings 2:3 And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his TESTIMONIES, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

Tabernacle of TESTIMONY:

Numbers 1:50,53
50 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of TESTIMONY, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
53 But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of TESTIMONY, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of TESTIMONY.

Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of WITNESS in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

Ark of TESTIMONY

Exodus 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the TESTIMONY, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Exodus 30:6 And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the TESTIMONY, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

That got me thinking about TESTIMONY some. Back in 2015 I wrote this article on Testimony to help out my friend Anthony E Larson to share with others. The article basically says that a testimony is a statement of something you have witnessed not some feelings you have. It is common in the LDS / Brighamite church that during fast and testimony meeting that happens once a month that someone will come up and I know such and such is true because of this blessing I received. In the past I had no issues with that logic. But after letting myself wander and think about testimonies, I don’t believe that is sound logic anymore. Let me explain why. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) / Sermon at the Temple (3 Nephi (LDS 12-14) (RLDS 5:44-6:37)) is a pivotal sermon by Yeshua teaching us how to keep the law. This sermon has a section about blessing others, Matthew 5:43-47.

Matthew 5:43-47
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, BLESS THEM THAT CURSE YOU, DO GOOD TO THEM THAT HATE YOU, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for HE MAKETH HIS SUN RISE ON THE EVIL and on the good, AND SENDETH RAIN on the just and ON THE UNJUST. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Did you see how Yeshua told us to bless and to do good to those who hate us and curse us? This can be a hard teaching/commandment to follow. Yeshua doesn’t tell us to do this just to jerk us around and see what He can get us to do, but is teaching us how to be like our Father who is in heaven. Heavenly Father sends the rain to the just and unjust. And rain is symbolic of blessings for one it is needed for crops of the field to grow which nourishes and sustains us to keep us a live, see Rain as a Blessing and Rain of Spiritual Blessings.

If YHWH is blessing people who are not keeping His commandments, aka the UNJUST, how can we say blessings we receive from YHWH are a witness that we are keeping His commandments? We could have just as well been following a false tradition of men and received a blessing from YHWH despite the fact we were being UNJUST. After all YHWH blesses everyone the just and UNJUST.

One reason I believe the 10 commandments are called a TESTIMONY is because if we truly had a TESTIMONY of Yeshua we would embody the 10 commandments and the additional commandments which are clarifications of the 10 commandments in our daily lives, which is how Yeshua lived His life.

1 John 2:3-6
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Since I have brought up fast and testimony meetings, I want to spend a little time combating the false notions that:

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it!

Bear testimony of the things that you hope are true, as an act of faith.
Boyd K Packer, The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge, New Era, Jan 2007

Alma (LDS 32:12-43) (RLDS 16:132-173) is describing an experiment to know if something is good or not, that is very much like the scientific method used by scientist to find truth. There is work involved in getting a testamony. In Alma (LDS 32:12) (RLDS 16:132-133), Alma is bring out how wisdom is to be learned. Learning is much more personal than being told. Learning from experience can change us, rather than being told something that hopefully we will remember it when it’s time to use it.

Alma (LDS 32:12) (RLDS 16:132-133) I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may LEARN WISDOM; for it is necessary that ye should LEARN WISDOM; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble.

In fact Alma (LDS 32:17-20) (RLDS 16:139-142) brings out the problem of simpling knowing something but not internalizing and thus not making it part of who we are.

Alma (LDS 32:17-20) (RLDS 16:139-142)
17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a SIGN from heaven, then we shall KNOW OF A SURETY; then we shall believe. 18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. 19 And now, HOW MUCH MORE CURSED is he that KNOWETH the will of God and doeth it not, than he that ONLY BELIEVETH, or only hath cause to believe, and FALLETH INTO TRANSGRESSION? 20 Now of this thing ye must judge. Behold, I say unto you, that it is on the one hand even as it is on the other; and it shall be unto every man according to his work.

We need to keep in mind that a testimony and faith are two different things. For one faith is a principle of action and power as taught by Joseph Smith in Lectures on Faith 1 as seen in verses 12-13 and others.

Lectures on Faith 1:12-13
12 And as faith is the moving cause of all ACTION in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual; for the Savior has said, and that truly, that he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. (Mark 16:16) 13 As we receive by faith, all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we, in like manner, receive by faith all spiritual blessings, that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of ACTION, but of POWER, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews. (11:3):

Where a testimony is a witness of something you know. Not to mention faith is something “WHICH IS TRUE” Alma (LDS 32:21) (RLDS 16:143) not that you “hope is true” Boyd K Packer, The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge, New Era, Jan 2007.

Alma (LDS 32:21) (RLDS 16:143) And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, WHICH ARE TRUE.

Bear testimony of the things that you hope are true, as an act of faith.
Boyd K Packer, The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge, New Era, Jan 2007

In this experiment that Alma is teaching he is stating we will need to do some work.

Alma 32:27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an EXPERIMENT [an act or operation designed to discover some unknown truth] upon my words, and EXERCISE [any kind of work or labor] a particle of FAITH [principle of action, Lectures on Faith 1:12], yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Now where does Alma say in (LDS 32:12-43) (RLDS 16:132-173) that sharing will cause an increase of faith or of a testimony. He does state we need to nursh it, to have it grow.

Alma (LDS 32:37-43) (RLDS 16:164-173)
37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us NOURISH it with GREAT CARE, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye NOURISH it with MUCH CARE it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. 38 But if ye NEGLECT the tree, and take NO THOUGHT for its NOURISHMENT, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. 39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is BECAUSE YOUR GROUND IS BARREN, and YE WILL NOT NOURISH the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof. 40 And thus, if YE WILL NOT NOURISH the word, LOOKING FORWARD with an EYE OF FAITH to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. 41 But if ye WILL NOURISH the word, yea, NOURISH the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your FAITH with GREAT DILIGENCE, and with PATIENCE, LOOKING FORWARD to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. 42 And because of your DILIGENCE and your FAITH and your PATIENCE with the word in NOURISHING it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by [incidentally/therefore] ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. 43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your FAITH, and your DILIGENCE, and PATIENCE, and LONG-SUFFERING, WAITING for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.

In addition Yeshua teaches we need to DO to KNOW, see my article Catch and Understand for more on this.

John 7:17 If any man will DO his will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

Another falsehood that I grew up with is:

You will find that the more you share your testimony, the more it grows.
Questions about Bearing Your Testimony

When we share a picture we have drawn, or a blog post we have written, the picture does not get more details nor does the article becomes more clear of it’s intent. For that to happen we need to put forth more time and effort to think and put our hands to the work. As it is with sharing your testimony, you may gain more courage to share it in the future after you have done so, as you would with your picture or blog post, but you can not increase in knowledge to witness about by repeating the same words over and over again.

In Alma (LDS 32:37-43) (RLDS 16:164-173) the seed/tree grew because it was NURISHED with DILIGENCE, not because it was shown or repeated to others. Sharing your testimony can help nurish someone else’s testimony, but it will not help your own to grow, to do that you need to continue to search the scriptures, to pray and to do, see Catch and Understand.

Alma (LDS 32:37-43) (RLDS 16:164-173)
37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us NOURISH it with GREAT CARE, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye NOURISH it with MUCH CARE it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. 38 But if ye NEGLECT the tree, and take NO THOUGHT for its NOURISHMENT, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. 39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is BECAUSE YOUR GROUND IS BARREN, and YE WILL NOT NOURISH the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof. 40 And thus, if YE WILL NOT NOURISH the word, LOOKING FORWARD with an EYE OF FAITH to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. 41 But if ye WILL NOURISH the word, yea, NOURISH the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your FAITH with GREAT DILIGENCE, and with PATIENCE, LOOKING FORWARD to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. 42 And because of your DILIGENCE and your FAITH and your PATIENCE with the word in NOURISHING it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by [incidentally/therefore] ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. 43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your FAITH, and your DILIGENCE, and PATIENCE, and LONG-SUFFERING, WAITING for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.

Before I awoke and arose to the truths found in the Book of Mormon, Torah [Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy], Tanak/Old Testament and New Testament, I wandered into the New Age / Occult world because I was seeking for more and deeper truths but did not know where to find them.

One of the first things I was taught to do was Affirmations.

Affirmations … refer primarily to the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For affirmations to be effective, it is said that they need to be present tense, positive, personal and specific.
Affirmations (New Age), Wikipedia

Call me crazy, but that is what Boyd K Packer taught using different terminology. The phrase “fostering a belief” goes along with “an act of faith”. Along with “achieve success in anything” sounds like what you want or desire or how Boyd K Packer put it “things that you hope are true”. And lets not forget that “should be repeated” is being done when you “bear testimony”. It seems that Boyd K Packer is teaching New Age / Occult ideas.

Bear testimony of the things that you hope are true, as an act of faith.
Boyd K Packer, The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge, New Era, Jan 2007

This also eerie sounds like the Self Help idea of “fake it till you make it”.

When I was not seeing results from these New Age / Occult ideas that tickled my ear, I found another teacher who seemed more informed, Kirk Duncan from 3 Key Elements, and he taught having your spouce [someone close to you] whisper it into your ear or recording yourself to listen to it over and over again would make the affirmations more effective. Which later I saw the New Age / Occult connection.

Simply only saying what you want to believe or hearing others saying over and over again is akin to propaganda.

If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.
Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany

All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are ALWAYS MORE EASILY CORRUPTED in the deeper strata of their EMOTIONAL NATURE than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter 10

But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and REPEAT THEM OVER AND OVER. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’ is a fascinating article backed by experiments showing the effects of lies on people.

The key finding is that people tend to rate items they’ve seen before as more likely to be true, regardless of whether they are true or not, and seemingly for the sole reason that they are more familiar.

So, here, captured in the lab, seems to be the source for the saying that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth.

Their results show that the illusion of truth effect worked just as strongly for known as for unknown items, suggesting that prior knowledge won’t prevent repetition from swaying our judgements of plausibility.

This shows something fundamental about how we update our beliefs – repetition has a power to make things sound more true, even when we know differently, but it doesn’t over-ride that knowledge.
How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’

It’s not all bad. How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’ also bring out if we put forth the effort to using our minds to reason we can combat the repetive the lies.

If repetition was the only thing that influenced what we believed we’d be in trouble, but it isn’t. We can all bring to bear more extensive powers of reasoning, but we need to recognise they are a limited resource. Our minds are prey to the illusion of truth effect because our instinct is to use short-cuts in judging how plausible something is. Often this works. Sometimes it is misleading.

Once we know about the effect we can guard against it. Part of this is double-checking why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly? This is why scholars are so mad about providing references – so we can track the origin on any claim, rather than having to take it on faith.

How liars create the ‘illusion of truth’

One thing I learned from Rabbi David Fohrman in The Hidden Structure Of The Ten Commandments and Seeing Layers In The Ten Commandments is that the 10 commandments has 5 principles that are being applied vertically to our creators, God and our parents, and horizontally to our peers. The fourth and ninth commandments have to do with witnessing and testimony. Keeping the Sabbath day holy/separate is a sign between us and YHWH and a testimony to others of our God and Who we worship. And no, the Sabbath day was not changed, see Acts 20:7 Says What?. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” Exodus 20:16 is one of many laws to uphold truth. Below are a few others.

Anybody who knows evidence must testify in court (Leviticus 5:1)
Carefully interrogate the witness (Deuteronomy 13:14)
Not to accept testimony from a lone witness (Deuteronomy 19:15)
Transgressors must not testify (Exodus 23:1)
Punish the false witnesses as they tried to punish the defendant (Deuteronomy 19:19)
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, Wikipedia

Here is a passage from the Book of Mormon showing how serious YHWH takes lying.

2 Nephi (LDS 9:34) (RLDS 6:68) Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.

With all this in mind how important it is to safeguard the truth, we should not go around saying that we know something is true when most likely it is now something you know but simply something you believe.

Just in case you were wondering what the fifth principles is, it’s “recognize yourself”. I highly recommend watching The Hidden Structure Of The Ten Commandments and Seeing Layers In The Ten Commandments to get a better handle of these 5 precepts.

I believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the promised Messiah. I have tasted of His words and they taste sweet like honey. I know that His words are good. They have shed light upon many things for me, and have given me understanding. I don’t know or understanding everything, but I do know that YHWH’s words gives us life.

Alma (LDS 32:33-36) (RLDS 16:159-163)
33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs KNOW THAT THE SEED [word] IS GOOD. 34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing [seed/word is good], and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your UNDERSTANDING doth begin to be ENLIGHTENED, and your mind doth begin to expand. 35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is LIGHT; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is DISCERNIBLE, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light IS YOUR KNOWLEDGE PERFECT? 36 Behold I say unto you, NAY; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to KNOW IF THE SEED [word] WAS GOOD.

We are to testify of things we have seen and heard from heaven, not something we hope is true.

John 3:32 And what he hath SEEN and HEARD, that he TESTIFIETH; and no man receiveth his testimony.

1 Nephi (LDS 1:19) (RLDS 1:19-20) And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he TESTIFIED that the things which he SAW and HEARD, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.

Yeshua has commanded those who have seen Him to testify of such. Oliver Cowdery said the same thing to the twelve.

3 Nephi (LDS 12:2) (RLDS 5:48-49) And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that YE SHALL TESTIFY THAT YE HAVE SEEN ME [YESHUA/JESUS], and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.

When you bear testimony that you have SEEN GOD. … Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. … Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid His hand upon you.
Oliver Cowdery, DHC 2:195-196

Untill I can testify of seeing the risen LORD myself, I will share Stephen’s and Joseph Smith’s testimonies of such.

Acts 7:55-56
5 But he [Stephen], being full of the Holy Ghost, LOOKED up steadfastly into heaven, and SAW the glory of God, and JESUS standing on the right hand of GOD, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the SON OF MAN standing on the right hand of GOD.

D&C (LDS 76:20-24) (RLDS 76) (1835 91) (1844 92)
20 And we BEHELD the glory of the SON on the right hand of the FATHER, and received of his fulness; 21 And SAW the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping GOD, and the LAMB, who worship him forever and ever. 22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: THAT HE LIVES! 23 For we SAW HIM, even on the right hand of GOD; and we HEARD the voice bearing record that he is the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the FATHER— 24 That by HIM, and through HIM, and of HIM, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto GOD.

I believe these testimonies. These testimonies and many others along with the characters of those who have given them, have caused me to seriously seek after YHWH and His ways.

Lectures on Faith 2:56 We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based, which excited the enquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints, to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God: and we have seen that IT WAS HUMAN TESTIMONY, and HUMAN TESTIMONY ONLY, that EXCITED this enquiry, in the first instance in their minds—it was the CREDENCE they gave to the TESTIMONY OF THEIR FATHERS—this TESTIMONY having AROUSED their MINDS to ENQUIRE after the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, the enquiry frequently terminated, indeed, always terminated, when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries, and eternal certainty.

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