Bearing a testimony refers to sharing one's testimony, which consists of beliefs and convictions regarding the truth of the Gospel. A synonymous term which is often used in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) is "bearing witness." As this term suggests, bearing testimony consists of standing as a witness for the truth. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has established one sacrament meeting each month wherein no sermon or talk is given. Rather, members can choose to mount the podium and bear testimony, under the inspiration of the Spirit and from personal experience, that God lives, and that Jesus is the Christ. Members may also witness of the truthfulness of the gospel, as it has been restored through prophets in these last days.
The Importance of Bearing a Testimony
The Gospel is shared, by and large, by the bearing of testimonies. It is most frequently by the bearing of testimonies, sometimes in Church meetings, and sometimes in more intimate settings, that people come to be touched by the spirit.
Boyd K. Packer stated "a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it". This is a confirmation of the simple truth given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:3 "that no man can asay that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost."
- My great-grandfather Henry Jacob Faust was born in a small village called Heddesheim in Rheinland, Prussia. The family went to the United States, and Grandfather Faust went through Salt Lake City on his way west to find his fortune in the goldfields of California. As he was going southward through Utah, he stopped at a well in a little town called Fillmore. There he met a young lady named Elsie Ann Akerley. Grandfather was not a member of our Church. This young girl he met was a member. She had crossed the plains with the pioneers. Soon they fell in love. Grandfather went to California and stayed only long enough to get enough gold for a wedding band and then came back to Fillmore, where they were married.
- Grandfather was not converted to the Church by the missionaries. I believe he was converted in the main by the testimony of this young girl he met by the well in Fillmore. Grandfather was later appointed by President Brigham Young to be the first bishop of Corinne, Utah. At that time Grandfather was helping bring the railroad to Utah. I am grateful to my grandmother Elsie Ann Akerley, who as a young girl bore her testimony to this strange young man, Henry Jacob Faust from Germany, and helped convert him to the Church.
To say that one is happy, or that one is thankful, or that one loves another, is not bearing testimony. M. Russell Ballard stated:
My experience throughout the Church leads me to worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on “I am thankful” and “I love,” and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, “I know.” As a result, our meetings sometimes lack the testimony-rich, spiritual underpinnings that stir the soul and have meaningful, positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them.
As this suggests, one sign that one is bearing testimony consists of the use of the word "I know", "I believe", "I testify", or some equivalent phrase.
The Testimony of Example
Elder Faust explained that the Saints bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ through their example:
- I noted that we also bear our testimonies by our lives. In World War II, I was stationed at an army camp in Pennsylvania. We lived in a little ward in which our stake patriarch also lived. His name was William G. Stoops. Brother Stoops worked at a machine shop in the little town of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Everyone called him “Pappy.” He was a kindly, gentle, wonderful, exemplary member of the Church. All who met him honored and admired him. One time a nonmember with whom he worked said something like this: “I don’t know much about the Mormon Church. I have never met with the missionaries, and I have never studied the doctrine. I have never been to one of their services, but I know Pappy Stoops, and if the Church produces men like Pappy Stoops, it has to have much good in it.” We never know the power of our own example for either good or bad.