Recently in sacrament meeting (the weekly worship service for Mormon’s) my wife and I had some friends from another faith visiting. This particular meeting happened to be a fast and testimony meeting which means members from the congregation go to the podium of their own volition, to proclaim what they know is true. I went up to testify. As I returned to my seat, my friend whispered to me, “why does everyone keep saying ‘I know the church is true’?”
I wasn’t surprised by the question. Serving a two year mission in Louisiana, I quickly discovered that for most people, they were just looking for a spiritual connection to God. The idea of one “true” church was completely foreign to them. In recent years, there has been on all out migration from organized religion in general, so a “one true church” isn’t even in the picture.
It is the lofty claim of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that this church is the only true and living church God has established on Earth. This church is Christ’s only official and authorized organization for salvation. We accept this claim from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself when He first appeared to the young Joseph Smith:
“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join… I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.'” (Joseph Smith—History:18-19)
And then later in a revelation designated as the preface to the collection of revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.” (D&C 1:30)
We understand the potential offense such a claim may give to our brothers and sisters of other faiths. Our goal is not to offend. Our goal is to proclaim truth. Then we leave it between the individual and God. We don’t ask anyone to take our word for it. It’s up to every person to honestly approach God seeking the truth. Here’s how:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
A person who wants to investigate our claim, must spend some honest time in the Book of Mormon. It isn’t prescribed how much they must understand, or how long they must spend in terms of time, we are only told to “receive these things”. Then we approach God in Christ’s name with three conditions: a sincere heart (a real desire to know the truth), a real intent (this means a person intends to do something once they know the truth, that is, join the church once they know it’s the kingdom of God on Earth), and of course, faith in Christ (that is, they believe Christ is both willing and able to reveal the truth to them).
This formula works. If any part is missing, it won’t. I’ve taught people who were genuinely curious, but had no intentions of changing. I know some who read the Book of Mormon only to discredit it, they didn’t have a sincere desire to find out if it’s true. I’ve certainly met those who didn’t believe that Christ was either willing or able to reveal truth to them regardless of their sincere desire or real intent. All three conditions are required. And the promise is sure, by the power of the Holy Ghost all truths can be known.
This is good news. We aren’t interested in going around and telling everyone that they’re wrong and we’re right. We genuinely believe that ultimate and lasting happiness is found in the Lord’s organization. We want to invite all to come unto Christ, that is, join us in this important work of salvation.