The phrase “I know” seems pretty definite and makes people a little nervous, if not dubious and doubtful. I totally get it. Hearing other people express the idea that another can’t know for sure that the gospel or the church or obedience is true–and that they know it–has given me reason to dig into what I’ve meant when I’ve expressed that idea…the idea that I know the gospel is true.
Here is what I mean, and it comes in parts, and I may not be expressing this as clearly as another person could:
I’ve tried to spend much of the last 30 years studying out multiple sides of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve studied the scriptures, the words of those who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the ideas of those who question the gospel or church or leaders, the words of those who have fought against the Church, the talks and addresses of the general authorities of the Church, and a lot of what would be considered in between “believers” and “nonbelievers”. So, I’ve tried to do good research. I still have more to go in this category.
I’ve tried to live the tenets of this gospel. Admittedly, that hasn’t gone as well as I wish. Meaning, I mess a lot of stuff up. I can’t seem to keep the commandments in my life the way I picture myself doing it in my mind. I’d like to say that I’m improving there, but that may or may not be true. Hopefully I am. The verdict is still out, but either way, I still have some work to do in this category.
Third, I’ve asked God for help in understanding what is going on when it comes to truth, church, spirituality, and life. I’ve asked, seeked, and knocked, as directed by the scriptures.
In the spirit of transparency I need to share these two things: First, I hope the gospel is true. I hope there is a God and a Jesus and prophets and apostles and priesthood keys. I hope the Book of Mormon really is an additional witness, working with the Bible, that Jesus is the Christ. I hope repentance is a real thing and I hope that there is a literal resurrection and I hope Joseph Smith really was visited by God in 1820. I do want these things to be true. Secondly, I am choosing to believe. By choice, I am a believer, because there is no other way to be a believer but to be it, to choose it. And, yes, I would totally understand if you were thinking the phrase “confirmation bias” over and over in your head. Totally get it.
My honest experience is that as I’ve studied the church and gospel, tried to live the gospel and serve well in the church, and asked for direction from God, my choice to believe has been confirmed by spiritual witnesses, the source of which is outside of me. I have received many, many quiet, simple, spiritual confirmations that what I’ve been studying and living is true. Do I know that every single little part of the church and gospel is true? I don’t know how to answer that. I’m not there yet with the above steps. But what I’ve chosen to believe about what I’ve studied and lived has been confirmed, repeatedly.
I have nothing to say about other people’s experiences, but I know what I’ve experienced.
When I say “I know the gospel is true”, I mean that my belief in the gospel (and the study and actions behind it) has been confirmed by God through His Spirit. And those confirmations have brought peace, motivation, continued hope, and optimism beyond any other source I’ve experienced…