*Root testimony in Christ
*Have a desire*Do what God has commanded
Elder John K. Carmack used the parable of the sower to teach about testimonies in his Saturday afternoon address.
The parable "teaches us the principles by which we can gain or retain our testimonies and hints of pitfalls which we need to avoid at the peril of losing them," emphasized Elder Carmack of the first Quorum of the Seventy. "The bottom line is simple enough. The gospel seed must be sown in good ground."
After asking the question, "How can we develop that rich and healthy soil in which the word of god can grow?" Elder Carmack offered three principles and three warnings to Church members.
"First," he said, "our tesimonies will be in good ground if they are rooted in Christ. Christ is the source of our greatest strength and comfort in times of stress or doubt."
The second principle, said elder Carmack, is so simple it is often overlooked.
"Faith begins by a desire to know if the gospel is true. . . . When we desire to gain a testimony, desire to know, desire to believe, testimony can begin or grow.
"Desire begets faith and testimony," he continued. "In this life, the believer must come to his witness by faith, not by logic and proof alone. And the starting point is to place the ingredient of desire in our soil."
Finally, Elder Carmack said, a spiritual experiment is an essential ingredient in achieving the rich soil in which the seed of testimony may grow. He urged listeners to "try" the gospel.
"As you try it, you can know it is true. This requires the faith to try, but it yields spiritual evidence."
Elder Carmack also warned of three dangers to testimonies. The first was arrogance and pride. "Intellectual pursuits, financial success, attaining positions of power, and other achievements, in and of themselves neither morally bad nor good, sometiems lead to pride and away from humble dependence on the Lord," he said.
Sin, especially sexual transgressions, is the second danger to testimonies, he enumerated. "The road back includes removing the rocks, turning over and enriching the soil, overcoming the sin, and resisting further temptations."
The final danger that Elder Carmack emphasized was "substitution."
"Some fine and capable people become so committed to science, philosophy, history, art, music, athletics, professional pursuits, intellectual hobbies, or recreation that the simple core values, covenants, and doctrines of the gospel are replaced."
Elder Carmack exhorted all to work on their testimonies. "To those who have lost their testimonies, we need you back once again. . . .
"The real power of the Church is not financial or political, but the quiet testimonies of its members."