The words we speak are important, what we hold sacred and what we will defend, even until death if required. If we raise our arm to the square we are taking a solemn oath, considerably more than just lip service (someone please pass this information along to our elected and appointed representatives). Our sacred honor is at stake as we declare our words are true, not only to our fellow citizens; but with God. There is never a time when Pledges, Oaths and Testimonies are to be treated lightly.
Some years back a document was signed wherein grievances against the King of England were listed along with a formal Declaration of Independence. As with most important documents, those who signed it were testifying of its truthfulness, no different than if they’d been standing in a court of law bearing witness to those present; except in this case these men were bearing witness to the entire world.
Perhaps that’s why they finished with these words, words that mean much as you consider, …each man signed with full knowledge, … the serious nature of such a declaration…
“…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
I mention testimonies and sacred honor as they play a significant role for those beginning a course of study this year, the Book of Mormon. In Sunday School we prepared by reading from the Introduction where two documents worth mentioning are kept for good reason; the Testimony of Eight Witnesses and the Testimony of Three Witnesses.
Testimony of Eight Witnesses
“Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.”
These were bold statements which could not be taken lightly. Having held the metal plates containing an ancient language that Joseph Smith was to translate and which would go out into the world, a world filled with skeptics; they didn’t claim to understand what had been written on those gold plates, only that plates from which the Book of Mormon sprang physically existed. These witnesses knew many would be reluctant to accept additional scripture, even more would reject the Book of Mormon completely; that said they willingly signed their names.
An ancient prophet recorded the Lord’s foreknowledge of skeptics in our day regarding the Book of Mormon…
“And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.”
As you continue to read the rest of that chapter; the presumption being you will continue reading, it becomes clear the Lord has shared and will continue to share his words with other children who have been scattered while He blesses the seed of Abraham as promised.
The second document, the Testimony of Three Witnesses is both a physical and a spiritual affidavit of importance for all God’s children. These individuals were witnessing the restoration of the gospel for this, the Final Dispensation.
They had seen an angel of the Lord present before them the Book of Mormon plates, explain, at least in part, the information provided on those plates and; perhaps more importantly, they were commanded by God to act as witnesses to what they had been privileged to observe regardless of what consequences the world would see fit to impose.
When you think about raising your arm to the square and testifying, the full impact of your testimony comes into play. Not only are you swearing before your equals, your fellow men; but you are standing at the feet of God who knows the truth of all things. What’s at stake? Only your sacred honor; Heaven help those who bear false witness.
A friend of mine, Russ Parker, temporarily lost his wallet the other day. Other than being concerned for the possibility of having to replace his drivers license and credit cards he’d also lost several items of personal value contained therein; treasures of wisdom if you will, that he reads on a daily basis to motivate and support him.
He showed the wallet which he’d later found along with a scrap of paper with one of the treasures of wisdom which I’ll share. It’s a short quote from Ezra Taft Benson’s General Conference talk given October, 1986.
“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”
With that I challenge you to obtain the truths contained within the Book of Mormon, that you might hunger and thirst after those words and find life in greater and greater abundance. I add my testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith is/was the Prophet of God chosen to bring forth the restoration of the gospel in our day. On my sacred honor, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The Moral Liberal’s Senior Editor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Houston police officer, self-employed locksmith, and gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.