10 And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.
11 And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ. Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.
12 And this is not all–it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost.
When facing a persuasive man who directly challenged his faith, Jacob first appealed to the scriptures. His antagonist, Sherem, accepted those prophetic teachings as the word of God, but he failed to see the prophecies of a Messiah which were contained in them. After affirming that the scriptures testify of Christ, Jacob shared his own personal testimony. “This is not all,” he said. “It has been manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost.”
Jacob’s father, Lehi, had taught his sons that we are all “in a lost and in a fallen state” and would be forever without a Redeemer (1 Nephi 10:6). Lehi also testified that none of us “can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). To Jacob’s credit, he internalized this principle and learned for himself, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that it was true. This was the heart of his conviction and was the reason that, as he tells us earlier in the chapter, he “could not be shaken” (Jacob 7:5).
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that testimony is “a convincing knowledge given by revelation to [a person] who humbly seeks the truth.” He said, “Its convincing power is so great that there can be no doubt left in the mind when the Spirit has spoken. It is the only way that a person can truly know that Jesus is the Christ and that his gospel is true” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. (1957–66), 3:31, quoted by President Henry B. Eyring in “A Living Testimony,” General Conference, April 2011).
Today, I will remember the importance of my personal testimony. I will be grateful for the words of prophets which have blessed my life and for the people who have taught me the gospel. But, like Jacob, I will remember that the bedrock of my faith is my own individual experiences with the Spirit of the Lord and the principles I have learned firsthand, by direct revelation from God.