My testimony has arisen from simple things that happen in ordinary life but are also extraordinary. As a young boy I received clear answers to my prayers. I chose to be baptized when I was eight and my sins were remitted. I received the Gift of the Holy Ghost shortly thereafter. I read the Book of Mormon and prayed in faith to know if it was true. I witnessed the miraculous recovery of people who were ill, after we had fasted and prayed. I have witnessed administrations and healings. Before I left for Germany to serve a mission, I received a sacred manifestation that gave me near certain knowledge that I was truly going to serve Jesus Christ, the very Savior of the world. After I returned from my mission, I married my wife in the Holy Temple. Again I received sacred manifestations of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have repented of my sins and have received the sacred witness that they are forgiven.
Thus, my testimony is based on simple experiences typical of those of other Latter-day Saints. Do not construe this, however, as suggesting that my testimony or any other is trivial. It is not. Instead, my testimony is a clear expression of profound truths that define my life and the lives of my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.
I stand as a witness that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, was born into mortality, lived a perfect life, suffered for our sins, felt our pains and weaknesses, died on the cross, and was resurrected on the third day that we might escape the bondage of death and hell. I testify that He lives and that we are surrounded by evidence of His everlasting love for all. I testify that He seeks to draw us closer to Him through holy ordinances performed under his direction by authorized servants today.
I testify that our Father in Heaven lives. He answers prayers. He draws close to us as we draw close to Him. His great plan of happiness fulfilled by Jesus Christ brings us all everlasting life. He is not an essence or a universal force. He is a personal being who knows and loves his children.
As the Holy Ghost has borne witness to me, so also I bear witness that Joseph Smith, Jr., was a true prophet of God, like Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and Isaiah. His translation of an ancient record, The Book of Mormon, stands today as Holy Scripture, another witness of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind. As part of the restoration of all things, he truly was ordained by angelic messengers to the priesthood, the authority to act as God’s true servants in this day.
By the authority of the priesthood, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored in 1830. It remains on the earth today, ready to accept all people from all walks life who are willing to repent, be baptized, and keep the commandments. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church, the true Church of Christ.
As in ancient times, so also today, living apostles and prophets walk among us. They bear special witness of Christ and organize and oversee the work of His church today. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet today. We should look to him, for through him the words of life come to us under direction of the Savior himself. He will guide us in the paths of righteousness and truth.
As a person committed to reason and the truth it can help us find, how do I know these things are true? As I wrote above: by means simple yet extraordinary. In answer to my prayers, in my daily experience, in moments of sacred communication, the Holy Ghost has borne witness to my soul that they are true. I therefore stand at the end of a long line of witnesses who have been similarly inspired and testify that the things I have written are true. I invite all to come unto Christ. I do it in the name of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Amen.
Neal W. Kramer is an adjunct faculty member in the department of English at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He is currently a member of the Arts and Sciences editorial board at BYU Studies. He has previously served on the board of the Association for Mormon Letters and as President of AML for two terms. He has published numerous essays and reviews, three of which have been anthologized in the following collections: Colloquium: Essays on Literature and Belief, Living the Book of Mormon, and Faithful History. He lives in Provo with his wife, Leila. They have five children and twelve grandchildren. Number thirteen is on her way.
Posted May 2011