After speaking with Jesus at the well in Sychar, the Samaritan woman went into the city and told her friends and neighbors that she had found the Messiah. Many of them believed her and went out to meet Him. After hearing Him speak, they made the following significant statement of testimony:
Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.John 4:42
They wouldn’t have heard Him if they hadn’t trusted the woman’s testimony. That trust motivated them to act and find out by their own direct experience that her testimony was true.
An angel told Alma to stop fighting against the church (Mosiah 27:13, Alma 36:9). That certainly provided him with a reason to believe. But years later, he explained the basis for his knowledge to the people of Zarahemla:
Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.Alma 5:45-46
We can all be inspired by the testimonies of other people, and they may inspire us to take actions which bring us closer to God. But ultimately, the goal is for us to gain our own personal testimonies by direct experience with Him. Elder David A. Bednar taught:
If all you or I know about Jesus Christ and His restored gospel is what other people teach or tell us, then the foundation of our testimony of Him and His glorious latter-day work is built upon sand. We cannot rely exclusively upon or borrow gospel light and knowledge from other people—even those whom we love and trust.“Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing,” General Conference, April 2019
Today I will follow the examples of the Samaritans in Sychar: I will believe the testimonies of others, and I will seek to learn for myself that those testimonies are true. I will remember that the people I teach also need to have their own experiences where they hear Him for themselves by the Holy Spirit, just as Alma did.
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