Gregory Gibson, associate professor of business, spoke at Tuesday’s devotional on April 10 about gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon - Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer.
He started off his talk with a question: “What is the value of an honest witness to the truth?” He compared the importance of a witness to a witness for a court case, where the solemn right of witnesses who testify in the court are given by the amendment of the United States Constitution. He said, “A powerful witness can make all the difference in a trial and the resulting verdict of a jury.”
One way to strengthen one’s testimony of the Book of Mormon is to inspect the lives of the three witnesses, Gibson suggested. “Constantly they were tested and tried and asked to deny their testimony. None of them did. They had no financial reason or reason of status to stand by their testimonies. In fact, just the opposite was true–they had every reason to deny their witnesses. … But they couldn’t because it was the truth.”
However, Gibson stated these witnesses could only be the beginning of someone’s testimony. “We have to build our own testimony of the Savior’s divinity,” he said.
Zipporah Kwok, a sophomore from Hong Kong majoring in graphic design, said, “I love how he says we have to build our own testimony. We can first rely on other people’s testimony, but one day we need to face the challenges using our own testimony.”
Applying the Alma 32 excerpt about faith being like a seed, Gibson encouraged students to give place in their hearts for the three witnesses’ testimony. “You know it’s true, not because of some logic of your intellect but because of something outside of yourself. … Deity has revealed truth to you.”
Gibson then talked about how God has given us agency that will never be taken away, and our growth of testimony depends on whether we exercise our free will and conform our life to be guided by the Spirit.
In cases where we feel we are being treated unfairly by church leaders or where we’ve suffered from physical afflictions, Gibson said we always have freedom to choose our course. “Our spiritual growth is continually dependent upon our present choices.”
When he was a student in college, Gibson read the Book of Mormon for a test in his religion class. He said, “As I read this sacred work, I remember thinking this is no ordinary work. This is different.” This experience prompted him to serve a mission.
He explained it’s important to act on the personal witnesses from God. When Gibson found his testimony in the Book of Mormon, he asked himself, “If this is true, now what?” His way of acting on what he had learned was serving a mission.
Joohee Kang, a senior from South Korea majoring in hotel management, said, “To be honest, I thought it is going to be boring when I first heard of [it]. I ended up being inspired a lot, especially when he talked about how our testimony of the Book of Mormon can be strengthened through inspecting into the three witnesses’ lives and struggles.”
“The beauty of the gospel is as we continue in the work of the Spirit, we are blessed with many more spiritual experiences. Following Alma’s analogy, these spiritual experiences turn the seed into a young sapling and then into a tree. As you continue to follow the Spirit, your testimony can become a mighty tree to bless your life and the lives of others.”