What Sort of Disciple Are You?- John 19:35 (NIV), John 3:11

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

COMMENTARY

The man who saw it has given testimony, and he knows that he tells the truth
We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen
How did John know that his record of Jesus’s crucifixion was accurate? He saw it, and testified of that which he witnessed directly. Why was Jesus so bold in teaching new doctrine to Nicodemus? Because he was speaking that which he knew, testifying of things he had seen.
When one grows up in a faith-based community, it is easy to feel pressured to already know the realities of God and his gospel. We hear other people say that they know, and feel that something is wrong with us if we do not as well. We assume that because we have been taught about the gospel, we have a testimony of it. But to have been told something is not to know it.
I was told of God’s grace many times, and I believed in it. But that belief was nothing like the knowledge I obtained after I personally witnessed the power of Christ being used to forgive my sins and change my nature. So now I do not only believe, I even testify of its truth. At the same time, I honestly have not yet had any great spiritual awakening from fasting. I hear others say that it is a spiritually right thing to do, and so I have faith in it…but I cannot claim a testimony of it at this time.
Accepting that there are some aspects in which we lack a testimony is alright. We are, by our natures, born with the capacity for faith, but not with testimony. Testimony comes only by experience, and some things we just haven’t experienced yet. It is to be expected that we are still developing our direct knowledge, all that is required is that we foster the opportunities for it.

Respect in Our Differences- Ephesians 4:5, Proverbs 21:2

One Lord, one faith, one baptism

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts

COMMENTARY

One Lord, one faith, one baptism
Our different religions agree on many things. Universally we find teachings of being kind to one another, of caring for our souls, of seeking out principles of truth. Eventually, though, there is always a difference. If there wasn’t, we would all be the same religion.
In my case I am a Christian, and what distinctly sets my faith apart is that I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only means by which we may return to God’s presence.
But of course, even umbrella faiths like Christianity are even further subdivided. So more specifically, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and one element that sets my faith further apart is that I believe my spirit was premortally created by God, with the intention that I postmortally become a divinity like Him.
And so when I read in Ephesians that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, this is what I believe it to be referring to.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts
But of course, I know that a Catholic would disagree with me. As well as a Protestant and Methodist and Jew and Muslim and Hindu and Atheist. As convinced as I feel of what the “one truth” is, I accept that others are so convinced of their “one truth,” too.
I will even concede that I am fallible. I will admit that my beliefs were originally taken on authority, handed down to me by family and culture, and therefore subject to strong bias. A few of those beliefs I am still taking on authority, because I have not yet developed a personal conviction of them.
So yes, there are shortcomings in my belief, but fallibility and bias are inherent in everyone else’s belief as well. Yet each of us do still believe that we believe rightly. I do so, because of the spiritual awakenings I have had as a result of following this path. I have had moments of God confirming many of these truths to me. Certain commandments and teachings I feel very strongly connected to. I am certain that I am God’s son and that He loves me. I am certain I have a Savior who knows my personal pain, and lifts me to a better state. I am certain that the Bible and the Book of Mormon contain the word of God.
If you don’t believe what I believe, I certainly understand why not, and I do not blame you for it. I surely disagree with some of your beliefs, too, but do so without any hostility. I maintain deepest respect for all sincerely-held beliefs.

The Differences Between Knowing, Doing, and Becoming- Summary

I really enjoyed doing this study. It really felt like delving into the heart of the gospel, and coming to really understand God’s purposes for me. Not only that, but I also came to better understand my own obstacles to achieving those purposes. I don’t blame myself for having obstacles, the ones I have are common to all mankind: pride, a desire for control, a lack of faith. But now that I know what they are I know what to work on. Let’s take a look at some of the things we’ve observed.

having a testimony and Doing Good Works are Important

The last thing I would want anyone to assume from this study is that I am saying learning the gospel and keeping the commandments are somehow unnecessary. Conversion is the culmination of these two, and doesn’t happen without them. We need to increase our testimony and we need to do good deeds. We need to do these even when they don’t come naturally to us, and Jesus has called “blessed” those that do.
Matthew 16:17- And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 19:17- If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

We Increase Our testimony and Do Good So That We Might Be Changed

While still valuing our testimony and righteousness for their own sake, we can still ask for a conversion to be added to them. As I mentioned above, sometimes exercising faith and keeping the commandments may come unnaturally to us. That’s alright, but the hope is that one day we’ll be changed so that they become much more a part of us.
God wants children who do good because they love the good, not because they are afraid of being punished otherwise. As anyone who has tried to follow God’s plan can attest to, it is in the doing that the love enters the heart.
Ezekiel 11:19- And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.
Psalm 51:10- Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

the change that comes is a miracle

All of us want to feel that we are in control of our own growth. We want to be assigned specific homework that we know if we complete will garner us a specific grade. Peter was looking for this when he asked the Lord how many times exactly he had to forgive another.
The fact is for our hearts to be changed is outside of our power. It’s going to literally take an act of God for anyone to truly transform into someone else. That means handing our hearts over to God and trusting that He will work a miracle to change it for us.
Matthew 6:27- Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
Jeremiah 24:7- And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

change follows A TRIAL

The Savior taught us that new wine cannot be put into old bottles. Often we try to ask God for that new of heart, while still trying to hold onto our old one. It’s understandable to be afraid and to want to stay where we feel familiar and safe…but we simply can’t have it both ways.
What holds us back is fear, and that fear is not of God. As he did to Jesus and Peter, Satan comes to us all and says “no, you are your old and sinful self, you cannot be anything different.” He casts doubt on God’s ability to change us, tries to convince us we will never be anything more than our basest selves.
I held myself back from God for a long while because I was afraid He would take from me all the parts I loved best. It took a lot of love and care from Him before I started to see that I could trust Him. Bit by bit He convinced me that He would be careful with my heart. I’m so very glad that He did.
Matthew 19:21-22- Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Luke 22:32- But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

The Differences Between Knowing, Doing, and Becoming- Matthew 16:15-17, Luke 22:32

Matthew 16:15-17
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Luke 22:32
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

COMMENTARY

The above passages represent Jesus addressing Simon Peter at two different points in time: one in the middle of his ministry, and the other immediately before Jesus’s atoning sacrifice and crucifixion.
The significance of these two scriptures laid side-by-side I cannot claim to have discovered myself. Rather I will present two excerpts from Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ October 2000 address entitled The Challenge to Become:

1)

…And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven

Peter had a testimony. He knew that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah, and he declared it. To testify is to know and to declare.

2)

I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

In order to strengthen his brethren—to nourish and lead the flock of God—this man who had followed Jesus for three years, who had been given the authority of the holy apostleship, who had been a valiant teacher and testifier of the Christian gospel, and whose testimony had caused the Master to declare him blessed still had to be “converted.”

Jesus’ challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be “converted,” which requires us to do and to become. If any of us relies solely upon our knowledge and testimony of the gospel, we are in the same position as the blessed but still unfinished Apostles whom Jesus challenged to be “converted.”