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Episode Info:

There are 3 "Givens" that we can not prove, but are the foundation for our faith. Because these "Givens" can not be proven, they have to be given to you by our Heavenly Father. This episode talks about what they are, and how you can KNOW that they are true.

---Transcript---

Hey everyone, this is Russell and I want to welcome you to this episode of the podcast. This is one that I am super excited to share with you guys because this is actually a talk that I wrote almost three years ago. I gave it in a ward we were in, and then recently after that we moved to a different ward and I had a chance to kind of rewrite this thing, and then I shared it as a class inside the Elder’s Quorum and then a couple of months later I got asked to speak in church again and I wanted to share it with so many people. So I kind of reworked it again and shared it again.

I knew that if and when I ever started this podcast that this was going to be really the first episode after the introduction, because this is the foundation. If you think about anything in life, if you think about a building, the first thing people do is lay the foundation. And if the foundation is brittle and soft, the building will collapse, it will tip over, it won’t be very good.

You think about relationships, the foundation is the beginning, when you first meet your spouse. The time, the energy, the effort you put in the foundation is the key. It’s what makes the relationship great. In a business it’s the same thing.

Everything in life that’s good and everything that’s going to become great starts with having the right foundation. I think a lot of times people get into religion or beliefs or things like that and they don’t really have a foundation. They’re going off of opinions or thoughts or things. I remember once hearing Elder Bruce R. McConkie speak and he said his job was not to try to force his beliefs on other people, his job was to figure out what does God actually believe and then match and align our beliefs with his.

Because what we believe, we have beliefs that come and go, but we need to know what the truth is and then we need to shift our beliefs to the truth, because the truth is really the only thing that matters.

So that’s kind of what I wanted to begin with here, the three givens presentation is all about that foundation and aligning yourself with the truth. And when you have that as the foundation, that gives you the ability to have everything else you want in life. It gives you the ability to go from good to great and beyond. So that’s what this presentation is about. Because those that don’t have this initial foundation, there will be a time in everybody’s life, and it’s happened in different parts of my life, I know it’s happened in your life and people around you where the test and the trials and the temptations come and they come hard. It’s rare that any of us get to escape this life without any of those things.

And this foundation, at least for me, is what gives me the ability to know and to wake up with absolute certainty all the time. I talked about this in the initial podcast and I’m sure we’ll have an episode just on this, but there’s three questions we need to know. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? And to really understand that, you have to understand the three givens. This is the foundation of everything.

There’s a quote from Jeffery R Holland that I love that talks about this, about when the trials and temptations and all these things come and they try to destroy us. How are we going to take that? What are we going to do? And he said, “When difficult times come upon us, when temptation seems all around, will we be, are we now prepared to stand our ground and outlast the intruder? Are we equipped for combat to stay loyal for as long as it takes? To stay true for the duration of the war? Can we hold fast to the principals and the people that truly matter eternally to us?”

So that’s my question for you, are you? And if not, it’s the foundation we need to build a solid foundation. For me this is the foundation of my faith. Some of these things, depending on who’s listening, I know we’ve got people who are members of the church listening and so you will know and understand some of these things.

We have people who were part of the church who have left, who suddenly things are going to be hard for. You’re not going to want to believe them. But like I said, it’s not about what we believe, it’s about what is the truth. What does God believe? We need to believe what he believes because it’s what’s true.

Then we also have people who are non members here who, some of these things may be brand new to you. Some of you may believe one or two of them, or understand a couple of them, but some may be foreign. But there are three essential things we must know, as the foundation of our faith.

So to kind of give you guys the back story behind this, why do I call this the three givens? The reason, when I was in 8th grade, I had a teacher and we have a lot of teachers in school, and my guess is most of you guys don’t remember any of your teachers names. There are very few that I remember their names. But there was one teacher I had in a subject I didn’t really love, it’s math. But he was so excited about math. When he would come, he was so excited about math. His name was Mr. Turner, and he would come in and start teaching and talking, and I didn’t know half the time what he was talking about, but he was so excited and so passionate.

And for me now, fast forwarding all these years later as someone who is an educator and an author and someone who speaks, that passion and enthusiasm is what makes people remember you. Mr. Turner was someone who was just so passionate about math, and while I think I struggled in his class mostly because I wasn’t a good student and was not in the right spot in my life to really learn and grow, I do remember this random conversation he had the first day he had the first day of class.

It was about a concept that he called the givens. It was funny, as I was first preparing this talk a couple of years ago, I was like I need to email Mr. Turner and see…I’m sure he doesn’t remember me, I was the quiet, awkward kid in the back who didn’t ever raise my hand, but I was listening. So I emailed him, in fact, I found the email just recently here, so in the email I said, I was able to find his email address somewhere online, and I didn’t know if it was him or not, but I wanted to try and see. Because I wanted to make sure I understood this right.

So my email to him was, “Hey Mr. Turner, I’m sure you don’t remember me, but you were my 8th grade geometry teacher back in 1993.” Which actually, as of today, was 24 years ago, crazy. Anyway, “You were honestly one of the best teachers I’ve had through my entire schooling, even college. I wanted to thank you for that. Also, I’m actually writing a talk for church tomorrow and I had flashback back to the first day of 8th grade where you were talking about the foundations of math. I’m not sure if I remember this one 100% correct, but you said something about there being givens that were un-provable, but we had to believe them for the rest of math or geometry to work. I think there was a line, a line segment, a point, and probably a few others. Did I get that right?”

“In my talk I’m going to relate that faith and how there are givens that you have to have to believe in, that aren’t really provable. Anyway, I want to let you know, 21 years later, that the kids remember what you’re teaching and it still has an impact on them. Thanks, Russell Brunson.”

So I got an email back from him a couple of days later that said, “Thank you so much for the email. It does my heart good to know what I’m teaching truly has an impact on my students. Your 21 year old memory is pretty good. The three givens are a point, a line, and a plane. Let me know how your talk went, I’m sure it’s going to be excellent given that it was related to math. Thanks Mr. Turner.”

So what he said, and I want to kind of sum this up. What he said is basically, if you look at geometry, I remember him always talking about Euclidean geometry and about how cool Euclid was and all these things. He was so excited. But he said all this whole theory, this whole science, everything based on geometry is all provable except for three things. But these three things are the foundation points and I can’t prove these, but if these three things are true, if they’re a given, then all of geometry works. If you take them away everything crumbles. He said these are the three things. One is a point, a line, and a plane.

If we define these things, this is a point, this is the line and the plane, I can’t prove those but these are the three givens. And based on the fact that these three givens, if we believe that they’re true, all of math works. And I just remember when he told me that, how amazing…for me it tied so much to faith.

If you think about faith, there are things you have to have faith in that we can’t prove them, but if we believe in them then everything else great in this world happens because of that. So the reason why I knew that a point and line and plane were true is because Mr. Turner said, “These are true and because they are true, therefore all geometry works.”

So for me, I was like what are the givens of my faith? Things that aren’t, that I can’t prove are true but they are true. What are those things? And just like I had to get Mr. Turner to tell me, “Hey Russell, these are the three givens.” I need somebody who I trust to tell me that these givens are true. And it can’t be someone here on this earth, because people here on earth are persuaded, they have all sorts of different agendas and ideas and things like that, it has to be somebody eternal. It has to be God.

So for me, I figured out these were the three givens of my faith. And if these three things are true, then everything else amazing in my life became amazing because of these three things. And I can’t prove them, the only way you can prove them is to go and ask God, which is my message of this entire podcast. I will never try to logically convince you of anything. What I’m going to do is try to inspire you and get you excited to go ask God yourself.

And if I was looking at what I should be asking him, what do I need to know is true? It’s these three givens. Because after you understand these and you believe these and he has told you they are true, everything else in your life will be built around it and you’ll have absolute certainty, absolute confidence. You’ll know exactly where you came from, why you’re here and where you’re going.

So these are my three givens, and if you’re taking notes, write these down, because these are the foundation of my faith and of your faith, and I believe that they are true. Not because I convinced myself or I can logically prove it to you, but because God has told me. These are things that he will tell you as well if you will ask him.

Alright, so number one, my first given is there is a God and he loves us. That’s given number one. Given number two is that Jesus is the Christ. And given number three is that the Book of Mormon is true. Those are my three givens. Now again, I know this not because of myself, but because I asked God and I received revelation directly from him on all three of these and I’ll talk about that as we kind of go on.

But the coolest thing for you, as I share these things with you, don’t take my word for it. Please don’t take my word for it. I want you to hear it and then I want you to see the pattern of how I got my answer and then I want you to take action and I want you to follow that pattern as well. That’s my only goal from this.

But if these three things are true, I promise you, the plan of happiness, everything else that comes from that is all true. But these are the three givens that I can’t prove. Just like in geometry, I can’t prove a point, a line, or a plane, but because they are true, this amazing thing called geometry is possible.

Alright, let’s hear that once again. Number one, there’s a God and he loves us. Number two, Jesus is the Christ. Number three, the Book of Mormon is true. Like I said, depending on where you are coming at this, if you’re already Christian you probably already believe in number one and two. If you’re Mormon you probably believe one, two and three. If you were Mormon at one time and you’ve left the faith, you probably don’t believe number three, and maybe don’t believe number two. I know you’re all in different spots.

So my encouragement to you is to look at this, this is the foundation of faith. You need to know, not based on your own opinion, based on God’s opinion. What’s his opinion on these three things? Figure it out and everything else will change for you.

Alright, let’s jump into this. Given number one, there is a God and he loves us. For me, when I was born into this world I just assumed there was a God and I think most people do as well. I fast forward 19 years of my life and I had a chance to go on a mission, I went to Cherry Hill, New Jersey and I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was scary, it was fun, it was exciting. But it was pretty cool.

I had a chance to knock on doors and teach people about God and about Christ and all these amazing things. And what was interesting is as I was going out there I assumed everyone believed in God too. We all believe in God. And as I started knocking on doors and talking to people I found out really quickly that a lot of people don’t. In fact, not only do some people not believe in God, they don’t believe in Christ, they don’t believe in God, they don’t even believe in anything.

And as I met atheists and agnostics and other people out there, I was like, huh. And some of them had very convincing arguments, they were very logical. I was like, huh. As you’re going door by door by door trying to explain to people about this amazing thing that’s happened and they’re coming back saying, “That doesn’t even matter because there is no God.” After a while I started wondering, is there a God?

I always assumed there was, but I don’t know. All the sudden I got scared. I’m trying to convince people that the Book of Mormon is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that his church is back here on earth, but I started thinking, but what if there’s no God? If there’s no God this whole thing collapses. This is one of the givens. If this isn’t true then everything else disappears. I realized, I gotta know if this is true. I have to know there’s a God. I assume there is, but how do I know? I need to know this, I can’t just go on blind faith. I need to know.

So for me, it started this study of trying to understand who God was. I’m sure we’ll have episodes that will go deeper into that, but it’s outside the concept of today. Today, I needed to know that. So I started studying the Book of Mormon, which we’ll talk about why it’s such an amazing book here in a minute. But in the book there’s a really cool story. There’s a guy named Alma who is a prophet and he had a fight with this guy named Korihor who’s an antichrist.

And it’s in Alma chapter 30, verse 44, if anyone wants to read it. But Korihor was someone who did not believe in God and he came out and he started preaching to all these people, laughing, “Why are you following the prophets? Why are you caring about a God? There’s this guy named Jesus who’s supposed to be coming in the future, I’m sure it’s going to happen. They’re just telling you this stuff about God because they want to control you and they’re trying to take away your agency and all these things and that’s why they’re doing this.”

And Alma the prophet was like, “What are you talking about? You know that’s not true. We don’t make any money from this, we’re volunteering our time, we’re working with our own hands to pay for our own things. We’re here to help each other and God is true.”

And they started fighting back and forth and finally Korihor comes back to Alma and says, “Well if you would show me a sign, if you just show me a sign, then I will believe you.” And Alma, I’m sure, I’m envisioning this situation, he’s debating with this antichrist, I’m sure that he had the situation where the antichrist is looking like, “Are you serious? You need a sign?” and this is what Alma said in Alma 30:44, chapter 30, verse 44 he said, “Thou hast had signs enough, will you tempt your God? Will you say show unto me a sign when you have a testimony of all these, they brethren, all the holy prophets and the scriptures are laid before thee and all things to note that there is a God. Yea, even the earth and all the things upon the face of it, yea and it’s motion and all the planets which move in the regular form, do witness that there is a supreme creator.”

Alma is basically saying, “Look around. Do you not see what’s happening around us? There’s a sun that comes up every morning and goes down. There’s a moon and all these things. There’s breath and life and plants and animals and birth and death. These amazing creations had to have a creations had to have a creator. Plus you have these scriptures in front of you. These scriptures, these are people who have met God, who have talked to God, who have written stories on it. You have all the testimony of your brethren, people who have interacted with him. What more do you need? Do you honestly need a sign?”

And Korihor came back and said, “Yeah, I need a sign. If you show me a sign, then I’ll believe you.” And I just imagine Alma, letting out a sigh of breath and be like, “Alright, well if the Lord wants it done, he’ll send you a sign.”

What happened to Korihor is he was then struck dumb. He lost his voice and they came back to him and said, “Okay, there’s your sign. What do you think?” and he can’t talk and he’s freaking out and starts writing down on a piece of paper, “You’re right. I can’t talk. Only God could have done this, I believe there’s a God now. Take this away, I want to be able to speak again.” And they’re like, “No, if you get your voice back, you’re going to continue to go down the same path.”

He said, “No, it wasn’t me. Satan came and convinced me to do these things and taught me the words to say, but let me talk again and I promise I’ll come back and I’ll do good now.” And Alma basically said, “Well, it’s up to God. If he wants to give it back he can, but it’s kind of up to him.” And the Lord didn’t give him his voice back.

So Korihor ended up going house to house begging for food and eventually it says he was trodden down and died. I don’t know what the word trodden means, in my head it’s horses stomping on somebody, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. All I know is he went through a horrible experience and then he died.

As I read that, I just started thinking. I’m looking around me and realizing he’s right, Alma was right. All things denote that there is a God. The fact that I live here on this earth, that 37 years ago I was born, I had these amazing parents, I grew up, eventually I was able to find my wife and now we have kids. Just all these things that are happening, all things denote that there is a God.

And as I started looking around, in the scriptures they talk about the plan of happiness, and I look as I followed this plan, which some say was made up or invented or whatever. Korihor would have said it was created because they’re trying to hold you back. I look at the more I follow this plan of happiness, the more I do what’s right, the more I follow these commandments of God, the more that I try to be like him and try to do what he would want me to do, the more happy I’ve been in my life.

And as I’ve deviated from that path, that’s when I feel, the times in my life that have been dark, that I haven’t felt happiness. As I look at our creator, look at our father and the plan he’s created for us and as I followed it, it is what’s gotten me to know that there is a God. I think for all of us that needs to be the first question. We have to know beyond ourselves.

If we pray, when we pray and then receive an answer, that’s how you know there’s a God. Someone told me there’s this guy you gotta meet, I don’t know who he is, but as soon as I meet him the first time and I hear his voice, I know that he’s real.

So for me, I started praying on my mission, begging and pleading for answers, as I heard his voice, I knew that he was real. I testify to you that there is a God in the heavens. He is literally our father. I know that he loves us, he cares about us more than we will ever know or understand while we’re here on this earth. But number one is true. There is a God and he loves us. I don’t know that because I was logically convinced but because I have heard his voice, and I know that you can hear his voice too, but you gotta ask. You gotta pray and when you do that he’ll respond to you.

So that’s given number one, there is a God and he loves us. Alright given number two, Jesus is the Christ. Once again, this is something that in my naivety, growing up in Utah, I assumed everyone believed in Christ. You know, I thought the argument was “Is the Book of Mormon a real thing?” I thought that was the question. But for the majority of the world, they aren’t even Christians.

I look at today, I was in 8th grade 24 years ago, so I was on my mission almost 20 years ago and back then as I was knocking on doors in New Jersey I was shocked at how many people didn’t believe in Christ. But today it’s even worse. Christianity, 20 years ago I would have assumed the majority of people thought they were Christians. But today with Facebook and with my interaction with literally thousands and thousands of people around the globe, most people I don’t think consider themselves Christians anymore.

I have people come to me and say, “Russell, are you Christian?” I say, “Of course I am.” And they’re like, “Man, I can tell.” I’m like, 20 years ago I think everyone identified themselves as Christian. It’s shocking to me that they’re not. So because of that, it gets even more complicated now. We need to know that.

So the question is how do you know that Jesus is the Christ? That’s a good argument. How do we know that? There’s a book that talks about it, we’ve seen some movies on TV but how do we know? Believing is good, but we can know. When you know it becomes a firm foundation as opposed to just kind of hope.

So on my mission, I’m out there tracting and we’re knocking on doors and meeting people, and again up to that point in my life I just assumed that everyone believed in Christ. Or that the majority of people did. And we went to this lady’s house and knocked on her door and she let us in and we had the chance to teach her. For her, her daughter had actually passed away in a car wreck three or four years earlier. And she was, you could see she was still really, really struggling with it. We go back and have these discussions with her and talk about life and again, going through the three questions, where do we come from, why are we here, and where are we going. And helping her understand that, not just from her own perspective but from her daughter’s.

“Where did you and your daughter come from? What’s the purpose here? Her dying early? Where is she going now?” and helping her understand that. We taught her for a bunch of weeks and then one day she called us or we went by her house, I can’t remember exactly what the situation was. But she said, “Hey, there are these debates that are going to be on TV. It’s a Christian/Muslim debate and I want you guys to be here to help support me as I’m watching this.”

As missionaries, normally we don’t watch TV, maybe it wasn’t the right thing for us to watch, but I thought you know this is an investigator that we’re working with and I was kind of fascinated. I hadn’t met a lot of Muslims up to that point. I didn’t know what they believed and I was curious. I wanted to see this debate happen.

So we went to her house and she turned on the TV and we had a chance to watch this debate. And what’s cool is there was a Christian and there was a Muslim and each of them had a chance to come up and present to the world what they believe. And everything’s obviously very logically based. But it was fascinating watching this debate as they’re going back and forth and back and forth.They keep taking turns and like, tag teaming each other.

And I remember watching, I think we watched about three hours. And when these debates ended I was sitting there just fascinated because I learned so much about Muslims and what they believe and what the core sect of Christianity believes and all sorts of things. I remember afterwards the investigator is like, “Oh yeah, that Christian guy destroyed the Muslim.” And I started thinking, and as I was listening, I didn’t feel the same way. I felt very strong that the Muslim guy had a lot stronger foundation he was on.

And as the Muslim guy kept attacking the Christian guy in these debates, what he kept coming back to, he said, “Why do you guys believe Christ is the savior?” and the Christian guy said, “Because it says it in the bible.” And the Muslim guy would come back and say, “You have one witness. You can’t rely everything on this one witness. The Muslim believe because we have witness of this and this and there’s multiple people and sources and stuff showing that this is true. Right now you’re relying on the Bible saying the Bible says that Jesus is the Christ, therefore it is true. But what makes you believe the Bible’s true? What if it’s not? What if it’s….”

And he kept attacking. And what was funny and interesting to me, what’d he say, he said, “You guys say that the Bible is the word of God because it says it’s the word of God. There’s only one testament, there for it can’t be true.” That’s what the Muslim guy kept saying. And as I was hearing that I was like, he’s right. What’s the proof?

I love the Bible, more than most people. In fact, I have tons of Christians be like, “Well you’ve never read the Bible.” I’m like, “Have you?” and they’re like, “No.” and I’m like, “Well I actually have. And I actually really enjoy it.” So it’s funny, when they tell me that and very few of them have actually read it. Yes, I have read the Bible, I love it, it’s amazing. But it’s one testament.

And I started smiling as I was explaining to this woman, I said, “Look, the Christian guy didn’t have a lot to stand on because he had this one testament. If he had another testament, if there was another section of the world, if there were other people in a different part of the world who saw Christ, who saw the wounds in his hands and his feet, and would say, yes we saw him. Then the Christians would have won instantly because that was the argument.”

But I know if I would have went to that Christian debater and I would have said, “Hey dude, you’re awesome. I have this really cool book it’s called The Book of Mormon, it’s another testament of Jesus Christ.” He would have said, “You’re evil, get that away from me.” And I say, “No, you don’t understand. You have this amazing book called the Bible, it’s the people in Jerusalem. They saw Christ, he came to them after he was resurrected and they saw the wounds in his hands and his feet. And they said, Jesus is the Christ. And it’s true, I believe it. But the problem is it’s one testament. You don’t know. If there’s a car wreck on the side of the road and this horrible accident happens and there’s one witness and then you go to court and the guy’s like, ‘this is what happened.’ It doesn’t stand up very strong, but there’s three or four people, all who have the same testimony saying, ‘Yeah, that is actually what happened.’ Then guess what happens? Suddenly it becomes a very strong case. Look, there’s three people, different situations, different parts of life, who all said the same thing, therefore it’s probably true.”

“So the Book of Mormon, what it is, it’s these people in ancient America, the same time that Christ was in Jerusalem and he was crucified and he died and then came back and they saw the wounds in his hands. Then he ascended up into heaven and then he came to the other side of the globe, to the Americas. And this is before they had cell phones or fax machines or post offices or even boats for crying out loud that could get there. He came to the other side of the world, came to them and said, ‘Hey you guys, my name is Jesus Christ, your prophets talked about me as well. Feel the wounds in my hands and my feet. I was just crucified, I did what your prophets have been talking about. Feel the wounds in my hands and my feet.’ And they did, and they wrote these things down, and that’s what the Book of Mormon is.”

“It’s an ancient record of people who lived the same time that Christ was in Jerusalem, but after Christ was crucified, after he left there, he came to the people in America and they saw the same thing.Now we have these two books from two separate sides of the world, two witnesses of Christ saying, ‘yes, he did die and he did rise again.”

And I as I started looking at it from that lens, I said, that is the power. That is what makes, that’s why the Book of Mormon is so essential. It’s the second testimony, it’s the second witness of Jesus Christ.

It was just fascinating to me. But after we left that discussion I went back and kept thinking, I believe Christ is the savior and we have these two different witnesses, but I’ve never even asked. I’ve never asked God. I assumed it was true but how am I supposed to go tell people the Jesus is the Christ if I don’t know that? What if this guy that was the Muslim debating guy was right?

And I remember I was scared by that. I remember towards the end of my mission I was reading the New Testament, and I wanted to read it chronologically because I wanted to hear the stories in the order. So Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John if you’ve read them, Matthew tells the whole story from his point of view, then Mark tells the story from his point of view, then Luke does, then John. So I found this table you could read, okay read Matthew these verses, then Mark, then Luke, then John. And it told all the stories chronologically.

So I read the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in chronological order and as I’m reading these things I’m hearing, I’m getting this beautiful glimpse and view of the Saviors life as he’s going through his ministry and his birth, his life, his ministry and then his Crucifixion. And I remember the day, I remember the chair I was sitting in, in New Jersey, as I read about the Crucifixion and just the emotion, the pain, and all those things I felt as I read that.

I remember as I finished those chapters that day for my study, it ended with Christ being put into the tomb, and then I left that day to go out and start knocking on doors and start talking about Christ. I remember being nervous for the next day, because I knew the next morning I was going to read about the resurrection. I remember thinking, I’ve read about it before, but I don’t want to believe it, I want to know. I want this to be a given. I want to know, I want to be able to have this so strong in my foundation of my faith, that nothing could ever rock me, no matter what. I need to know.

And that whole day as we were knocking on doors, I was praying, when I read this tomorrow, Heavenly Father I need to know. I need to know if Jesus Christ is my Savior. I need to know, I need an answer to this prayer. I kept praying and praying and praying.

And the next morning I woke up and I remember being scared, and I knelt down and I said a prayer saying, “Heavenly Father, I need to know if Jesus is the Christ. I believe he is. I’ve been going out there doing and serving and taking this on faith, but I need to know.” And that morning as I opened up my scriptures and I started reading about the resurrection I felt it. I felt it from our Heavenly Father, and he told me that Jesus is the Christ. He’s our Messiah, he’s our Redeemer. He came not just to save me, but to save my family. He came to save my friends. He came to save the people that went before me, the people who come after me, he came to save you.

But we have to listen to him, we have to understand. I remember feeling so much relief after that experience and being like, understanding at that point that my faith that I’ve been running with for so long, now I knew that it was true. And one of my favorite scriptures, no that’s not true. This is my favorite scripture. My favorite scripture is in a book called the Doctrine and Covenants, and it’s in Section 19 verse 16-19. It’s the only time in scripture where Christ himself explained what he did for us.

There are a lot of people who tell this story. You hear it from Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John’s perspective. You hear it from other prophet’s around the world. You hear it from a lot of different places, but this is the only time where Christ himself explained what that experience was like for him. So I want to share with you, in his own words. Doctrine and Covenants, Section 19, verses 16-19, he said,

“For behold I God have suffered these things for all that they might not suffer if they would repent. But if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I. Which suffering caused myself, even God the greatest of all to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink. Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”

As I heard that I was just like, man! Listen to how he explains that, he said, “which suffering caused myself, even God the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain. And to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.” That’s what he went through for us. When I imagine that and visualize it, I see the pain that he went through, it’s amazing. It was part of the plan, and we’re going to talk in other episodes about the plan and make it more clear, but he did that for us.

In a thing that we call the Atonement, it’s a big word, but in a way that doesn’t make sense to all of us obviously, but his suffering and what he did in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then what he suffered again on the cross, somehow made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins. So that we can return back to our Heavenly Father, so we can live with him again someday. So we can live with Christ, so we can live with our families up in Heaven.

And for me, that is so vitally important because I love my family. I love my mom and my dad, I love my brothers and my sisters, I love my kids, I love my wife. And if I knew that this life was the end, and I if I knew that I was going to die and it was going to be the end of it, this life would be miserable. What would be the point of any of it?

But because Christ came, because he did what he did, because he fulfilled this plan of happiness and he became our Savior, our Messiah, our Redeemer, and he gave us the ability to be forgiven of our sins so we could become clean and we could someday return back to Heavenly Father, because of that I get to be with my family again. I get to be with him again.

And it’s the coolest thing in the world. I want to testify to you that I know that Jesus is the Christ. Our Heavenly Father has told me. It’s not something that I doubt, or I waver, or I wonder. I know it’s true. But what’s cooler is I know that you can know it’s true. You don’t have to take my word for it, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it. You don’t have to listen to Christian/Muslim debates. You don’t have to listen to anything.

All you gotta do is go ask him. He wants you to know. He needs you to know. Because when you do that, it’ll change your life. It’ll change the people’s life’s that you’re entrusted with, your kids, your family, people around you. But you need to know.

So given number two is Jesus is the Christ. Okay, that brings me now to given number three, which is the Book of Mormon is true. Now, the first two givens are ones that most people inside of Christianity believe already, this is one that may be a little bit of a stretch for you. But I want to kind of bring you back to what we talked about earlier. It’s not important for us to try to get other people to try to believe our opinions, the goal is to figure out what is God’s opinion, what is actual truth and then conform our belief’s to that.

So for those of you guys who have heard of Mormons and you may be freaking out, I don’t want you to, I want you to suspend your judgment, listen to what I have to say, and then I want to challenge you to find out for yourself if it’s true. Because if it is true, this is the most important thing you will have ever heard. If it’s not true, then it doesn’t really matter. But you need to know.

So with that said, I’m going to jump right into this. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our conversion. Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, so what is a keystone? If you look at an archway, a keystone is that thing in the middle that holds everything together. If the keystone collapses or breaks the entire arch collapses as well. And I know and we know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints lives and dies on the fact of if the Book of Mormon is true or not.

Now the coolest thing about this, and I want you guys to understand this because this is just common sense, and it takes a minute to understand this. But the Book of Mormon is literally the key that you can use to figure out if anything is true. So let me explain how it works. So think about inside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, people always come up to me, “I have questions. I have concerns.” Or whatever, and I’m like, “Cool, what are the concerns?” And they’re like, “Okay well, you guys used to have plural marriage, or you didn’t let blacks have the priesthood for a while, or women don’t get the priesthood. Or what do you believe about gay marriages?” On and on.. I get all sorts of stuff.

And I always laugh, I’m like, “Okay cool. Let me explain how this whole thing works. So number one, I recognize your objections. You’re telling me that you’re concerned about blank, or you have questions about blank?” and they’re like, “Yes that is my question.” I’m like, “Cool. Alright, so let me go find the answer to that. And the answer to all your questions you can find inside modern revelation. There is a prophet or an apostle who has spoken about every concern you can dream of. I promise you, you can find that, you can Google it. Go to LDS.org, do a little searching and you’ll find the answers to your questions. They’re always there.”

So number one, I recognize the objection. Number two, I find the answer inside of modern revelation. You may look at that and say, “Okay, well who is this guy, who is Gordon B. Hinkley who said that? He’s just some dude, so how do I believe that?” Which is a good, that is the right question. Why should I believe this guy? Why should I believe this person, this prophet or…you say they’re a prophet or apostle, why should I believe what they have to say is true or that it even matters?

So then the third thing to understand, the answer to that question, if that is true, it has 100% to do with whether or not we have modern prophets and modern revelations. So what I believe is that we have a prophet, just like when Christ was here he had 12 apostles, and when he left he called a prophet, 12 apostles, right. And we believe that same thing is on earth today. We believe in modern revelation.

So we believe that when the church or people or whatever have a question that our Heavenly Father reveals those things to the prophet, just like he did in the days of old. He does the same thing today.

So the question is, is that person receiving revelation? Is he really a prophet? Do we really have modern revelation? So the only way to know if that is true is to say, okay this is the prophet or the 12 apostles, or whoever the revelation came through inside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, how do I know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is actually true?

Well, what is the keystone? The keystone’s the Book of Mormon. If the Book of Mormon is true, that means we have modern day prophets living on Earth today, who receive revelation directly from God and if we have modern prophets on Earth who receive revelation directly from God and they said this, then that is God’s will, and therefore we need to conform our will to what God’s is.

So that’s it, every question, every concern, every doubt, everything, all hinges on this one thing, this keystone, this book called the Book of Mormon. So any concern you give me, it’s going to be the same thing. I’m going to say, “okay, this is your concern. Here’s the answer, but I don’t want you to believe in that answer or not. All you need to know is that this answer came from a prophet of God and the way you know if that prophet is actually true, is if the Book of Mormon is true. If the Book of Mormon is true, then the prophet is a prophet and this is what God said.”

So all you have to do is figure out if the Book of Mormon is true. Does that make sense? When I first got that, it made so much sense. So it’s always funny to me because I hear people who are thinking about leaving the church, who leave the church, they always say, “Oh well, I have all these questions.” Okay, what are the questions? Because I have none right now. I can’t think of one question I got. There’s some things that I’m trying to figure out and understand, but I have no questions.

And they always give me some question and I’m like, “Okay, boom. This is where it’s been answered.” And they’re like, “Oh well how…” and they have some reason why they don’t believe the things of the prophet. I’m like, “Well what’s your opinion on the Book of Mormon?” “Well, you know it’s a good book…” okay, you need to understand that this is the key. It comes back to that. Is the Book of Mormon true? If the Book of Mormon is true, we have prophets on Earth today. If we have prophets on Earth today, then God has already told us the answer and you just have to believe what the prophet said.

Now it’s easy, looking back in time, if you’re sitting there and you’re like, there’s this dude named Noah and he’s building a huge boat and he came to me and said the world’s going to flood, we should get on the boat. Looking back, we’re like, “You morons, why didn’t you get on the boat. The Earth’s going to flood. Noah’s the prophet, it makes perfect sense.”

But what happened in real life? Everyone’s looking around like, “That dude’s crazy. Why is he building a boat? Why is he collecting animals? It’s starting to rain but the guy’s still insane.” It starts flooding up and soon the entire world’s destroyed.

That’s where we’re at today. We have prophets. They’re here. I know it, I believe it. Heavenly Father told me. Now it’s your shot to figure that out. Do we really have prophets? How do I know that? The way I know that is this thing, this keystone called the Book of Mormon. That’s the key, that’s why it’s so important. That’s why it’s one of the three givens. Because if it is true, then a whole bunch of amazing stuff has happened that you need to know about. It means that God has restored his church on earth, it means there’s a prophet, 12 apostles, it means there is revelation come from heaven. It means there’s authority.

All these amazing gifts and keys and things, that’s why Mormons are so excited. That’s why people look at me like, “Russell, why are you so excited all the time?” Do you not realize what’s happening around us? Our Heavenly Father is here, living. Giving us revelation and messages and if we listen to him, he tells us what to do and I don’t have to stress about things. I know where I came from, I know why I’m here, I know where I’m going and I don’t have doubt. I have absolute certainty because Heavenly Father told me the Book of Mormon is true, therefore I know that we have modern day prophets, that means revelation is here, I know where I’m going, I’m not concerned.

So that’s what I need you guys to understand. I want to tell a story about someone I met on my mission, her name was Robin, and Robin actually grew up in Arizona. She was an anti-Mormon. Now, what is an anti-Mormon? Anti-Mormon is somebody who not only is like, not a member of the church but who is actively fighting against the church.

So she was so deep into it that she would go out and she would proselyte, she’d find the missionaries where they were knocking on doors and follow them and try to save the people as they would leave. She actually had her own radio show where she had hours every single day talking about how evil the church was and how the doctrines were false and how we’re leading people astray and all sorts of stuff. And she did that for years in real life.

And then she decided to move to New Jersey. So she left her anti-Mormon friends and all those people and went to New Jersey, and when she was there she was just doing her normal thing and studying and learning. And one day she was like, thinking about all this stuff with the Mormon church that she would talk about, all the weird things we do and believe and all sorts of stuff. And for some reason, she had this aha. What if instead of looking at this, here’s all these evil things, I’m going to look at it from their perspective, what if these things were true? Which, I thought was a really good question to ask. What if these things were true? What would that mean?

So she started going through the different doctrines, “Here’s this thing. What if that was true? What would that mean?” And she’d study and learn about it and she’s like, “Huh. What about this one. What if this was true?” and just by changing her perspective it changed the questions and changed what she was searching for and how. And after a while, every time she would go down a different topic and say what if, it would open up a whole new world to her.

And one day she was like, “I have a lot of questions now, I need to ask somebody.” So I don’t know if she saw or she called, but somehow the sister missionaries in our area got a hold of her and they started teaching her. And I still remember because I was the District Leader at the time, and I remember getting a phone call from one of the sister missionaries saying, “We met this lady named Robin, she’s amazing but she used to be an anti-Mormon and she has all sorts of questions, we don’t know how to answer them.” So they started bringing me in to answer some of the questions too, which was really fun.

And every week, every time they’d do a discussion, she started coming to church, coming to church, she had a whole list of questions. We’d answer question after question and they weren’t the type of questions you’d normally get on your mission, they were the deep ones where you’re like, “Wow. How do you even know about that?” Not that anything is hidden or secret, but it was just I didn’t even know the answer to a lot of these things.

So I’d be like, “Well let me go find out.” And I’d go research and study and ask questions and come back, “okay, this is what I found out.” And the questions kept coming and kept coming. And then one day I saw her, I was like, “Alright Robin, what’s our question for today?” and she said, “I don’t have any more questions.” I was like, “What do you mean you don’t have any more questions? You are the question queen, you always have questions.” And she’s like, “Guess what happened Elder Brunson?” I’m like, “What?” She’s like, “I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon, as you know and finally I decided to do what you guys keep telling me and I prayed about it and our Heavenly Father told me it’s true. I don’t have any more questions anymore. I just want to get baptized.”

And I just remember how powerful that was. It was kind of funny, her biggest concern, she’s like, “Well, I want to get baptized, but my husband hasn’t been doing this journey with me and he used to do anti-Mormon stuff with me and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be upset about it.” So it took her like two or three weeks for her to get the courage to go talk to her husband and finally she said, “Husband…” I don’t remember his name, “I’m thinking about getting baptized.” And he’s like, “Alright.” And she’s like, “Aren’t you mad?” and he’s like, “No, you’re the one that hated the Mormons, not me.”

So she was so excited and wanted to get baptized and what’s funny, she was an amazing person, she was into all sorts of crafts and things like that and doing cool stuff, and she’d been going to Relief Society and all the Relief Society women fell in love with her and she wanted to teach Relief Society on Wednesday. But she only wanted to teach Relief Society if she was actually a member.

So I remember we did the baptism for her on a Wednesday night and then did the confirmation afterwards and that night she taught Relief Society. It was just so cool to see somebody, for me, who had come from such a far extreme. One side of the extreme was, she was actively fighting against the church, she hated it. But as soon as she shifted her questions to “What if this is true? What would that mean for me? What would that mean for my family? What if this was true, what would that mean?”

And then to sincerely search for those questions. And it’s okay to have questions, we all have questions. But the only real question that we need to understand and know is, is the Book of Mormon true? And when she asked that, our Heavenly Father told her and then the rest of the questions went away, because now she knew.

And the same thing is true, the exact same thing is true for you. I wanted to share that story with you because it shows just how big and how fast a change can happen when you’re willing to stop and ask. So if you have questions, that’s okay. It’s not bad to have questions or doubts or concerns or whatever, but know where to get the answers. The wrong place to get the answers is this thing called Google.

Now I am an internet marketer, once again if you Google my name you will see, for the last 14 plus years of my life I have been manipulating the search engines, the algorithms and everything to make money for myself and my businesses and it’s done great. I also have friends who have manipulated the search engines in really bad ways and basically anything they want to publish they can. And they write and do all sorts of stuff and rank things, I mean it’s crazy.

So if you want to try to find answers going to Google, just know that the answers you are getting are from somebody who has an agenda who’s putting in the time and the money and the effort to get that ranked where it needs to be. I want you guys to be fully aware of that, it’s not difficult to gain the search engines for someone who’s spent a decade of their life doing it. It’s not difficult. So that’s not what you need to put your faith in.

The reason why the Book of Mormon is such a powerful thing is because unlike the Bible, if you know the history of the Bible, the Bible came and it’s amazing and I’m going to do a whole podcast on this, but there was a time when nobody had access except the people who were in charge of the church. And as it started getting passed out, things changed and things were modified. And as amazing as the book is, you can tell that many of the plain and precious things have been taken away from it. Many of the doctrines have been hidden or distorted or whatever, for evil purposes.

So you have to understand as you’re going in with the Book of Mormon, it was translated once. The book that I have, this original one, one of the original 5,000, it went from Golden Plates, Joseph Smith reading it to somebody and writing it down, to going to a printer and it was printed on paper, and that’s it. It hasn’t been translated over a hundred years or centuries. It is what it is.

So the question is, is it true? Robin found out. As soon as she found out it was true, that means we have modern prophets, that means all these other things are true. So for you, that’s the key, it’s the keystone when you understand that. It is true.

Now I want to tell you kind of my, how I got my testimony of the Book of Mormon and how this became one of my givens, it became the foundation of my faith.  So I was in New Jersey, I was about 7 months into my mission. It was funny because I always wanted to receive an answer to my prayer. I had prayed about asking Heavenly Father if the church was true, and I never received an answer.

I remember my dad, when I was growing up, he told me his conversion story and he was in the MTC when he got his testimony. So I thought, okay cool. When I’m in the MTC I’ll get my testimony. When I got there, I started going through it and I didn’t get it. I remember leaving on the plane to New Jersey, flying and being like, oh my gosh. I don’t have a testimony. I believe this is true but I don’t know. I need to know.

In my mission I was going through and I was doing the motions, I was trying, I was praying and I found out later, I had to go through this trial of my faith. They always say, faith precedes the miracle. This was a trial of my faith and I had to go through there and I had to repent and I had to clean up my life and my thoughts and my actions. I had to become a better person and through going through this repentance process while I’m out serving the Lord, just really figuring it out.

About 7 months into my mission I had an amazing experience. I had a zone leader, named Elder Franco, it’s fun actually, during the last General Conference, I hadn’t talked to him in 20 years, I saw him on Facebook. Someone in his family got called to be a General Authority or something. So I saw him pop up there. So I actually just messaged him. I’m like, “Hey, I don’t know if you realize, you were instrument in changing my life. A huge change, a directional shift.”

And he’s like, “Really? What happened.” And I told him. We had this zone conference that he was running and he asked me if I’d read a talk and it was a talk from Bruce R. McConkie, and it had some powerful quotes, I’m going to share a bunch of them with you guys here. But he had me read this talk, I’m going to read one piece of this to you. He said, and I read this during the intro podcast as well. Bruce R. McConkie said,

“These are deep and solemn and ponderous matters. We need not think that we can trifle with sacred things and escape the wrath of a just God. Either the Book of Mormon is true or it is false. There’s no middle ground. Either it came from God or his spawn in the infernal realms. It is not and cannot simply be another treaty on religion. Either it came from Heaven or from Hell and it’s time that all those who seek salvation to find out for themselves whether it’s from the Lord or if it’s from Lucifer.”

So he had me read that part of the talk and then I sat down and Elder Franco stood up and he said, “Alright you guys, did you hear what Elder Brunson just said? We are either servants of the Lord or servants of Lucifer. And I don’t know about you, but I want to find out right now which one it is, because either we’re doing the right thing or we’re doing something very, very evil. And we need to find out.” So he said, as a missionary we had a group of probably 20 of us, and he said, “Let’s kneel down and let’s ask Heavenly Father right now if the Book of Mormon is true because we need to know. He’s called us on this mission to go out there and tell other people about this message, this thing that’s happened, but we need to know if this is true. Otherwise, we could be doing, we could be serving the opposite side.”

And I remember as he said that, my palms started sweating and I got these butterflies and I was so nervous because I had prayed dozens of times a day for the last 7 months and beyond, begging and pleading and asking Heavenly Father to let me know the church was true. I was so scared in that moment. What if it’s not, what if I put my faith in the wrong thing. I started getting so nervous.

Then we kneeled down and Elder Brager was the person who said the prayer. Elder Brager starts saying the prayer and he said, “Heavenly Father, we’re gathered here together as a group of your missionaries, here to serve thee in the best way that we know how. But we have question for you, Heavenly Father, is the Book of Mormon true?”

And then he waited. And in that moment I felt the spirit stronger than I have ever felt before or since, as Heavenly Father told me that the Book of Mormon was true. Then Elder Brager said, “Heavenly Father, is Jesus Christ our savior?” and again I felt the spirit so strong.

And for me, in that moment, my prayer was answered and I knew, I didn’t think, I didn’t hope, I didn’t believe, I knew that the Book of Mormon was true. I knew that the message that we had, that we were giving, was from God. When I knew that, everything shifted for me. It wasn’t a hope or belief or faith, it was knowledge, it was a given. Heavenly Father told me and because I now knew that there was a God and he loved me and because I knew that Jesus Christ was our savior, because I knew the Book of Mormon was true, everything else became possible because of that. All the other amazing things that happened inside of the church, everything in my life, the entire plan of happiness, everything that’s happened from that point forward in my life became true because that day the foundation of my faith became complete. Because I knew that the three givens were true.

Now, I want to kind of speak for a moment on the Book of Mormon because I don’t want people to dismiss this. I’ve had some people that I share with and they go, “Ah, that’s great but you know, I’ve got the Bible.” And if you dismiss this, you are literally missing out on the most important message our Heavenly Father is trying to give to you and I need to try to clarify that. So hopefully the first quote here helped, and I’m going to kind of read part of it, but it basically said,

“…it is not and cannot simply be another treaty on religion. Either it came from Heaven or from Hell and it’s time for all those who seek salvation to find out for themselves whether it’s from the Lord or it’s from Lucifer.”

It’s from the Lord, there’s a reason why he did this big deal, a reason why he came to Joseph Smith and told him to translate this book. It wasn’t just that he was bored and needed something to do for the weekend. It’s because there was a very vitally important reason why he needed this thing to be done. So you need to find out first off, is this from the Lord or is it from Lucifer. That’s number one.

Number two, this is some more quotes from Bruce R. McConkie, and those who don’t know Bruce R. McConkie yet, he’s my favorite dead apostle. He is amazing, but of the people who have ever been in our church, he’s probably the biggest scholar ever. In fact, if you look at the triple combination that us Mormon’s like to use, the footnotes were basically done by Bruce R. McConkie. The entire footnotes between the Old Testament, the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, like insane, that was basically his notes, the footnotes. There’s probably nobody on planet earth that knows and has read and understands the Bible more so than him, I would argue.

So I wanted to share that in context with this quote he said. He said,

“I have an unbound appreciation for both the King James version and the inspired version of the Bible. I stand reverential awes, I read it and I ponder the wonderous words they contain. I do not believe there is a person on earth who has a greater respect for or appreciation for the Holy Bible than I do. Now I say this in a prelude to making these flat and unequivocal declarations.

Number one, most of the doctrine set forth in the Book of Mormon far surpass their comparitable recitation than the Bible.

Number two, this Nephite record bears a plainer and purer witness of the divine sonship of Christ and the salvation that comes in and through his holy name, than do the old world scriptures.

Number three, men can get nearer to God, can have more of the spirit of conversion and conformity in their hearts, can have stronger testimonies, can gain a better understanding of the doctrines of salvation through the Book of Mormon than they ever can through the Bible.

Number four, more people will flock to the gospel standard, more souls will be converted, more of scattered Israel will be gathered, and more people will migrate from one place to another because of the Book of Mormon than ever was or will be the case with the Bible.

Number five, there will be more people saved in the Kingdom of God, ten thousand times over, because of the Book of Mormon than there ever will be because of the Bible.”

I remember hearing missionaries say, “Oh yeah, the Bible’s awesome, the Book of Mormon is a good book just like that.” And that’s not the truth, the Book of Mormon is a better book, it’s a clearer book, it’s a plainer witness. We need to be bold in that statement. The Bible is amazing and if it had not been for evil men who have taken it and done things with it, it would be perfect. Again, we believe that the Bible is the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. But because of the translation, because of all the stuff, and I’m going to talk about the history of that so you guys understand and have a very clear picture of what’s happened, where it’s gone, and where it is today.

The Book of Mormon, though, is clean, it’s pure. When you read it, it makes more sense. When you read it, it’s clear. All of the things that were confusing in the Bible, it comes back like we talked about earlier, with the two separate witnesses. There’s things that Christ talks about in the Bible, that don’t make perfect sense, or the apostle, the things they talk about. You’re like, “I kind of understand that but I need some clarification.”

And because of those confusions we’re always…churches start popping up, someone’s like, “I think it means this.” And they’re like, “No, it means this.” And they fight and argue and all these things happen. Whereas, the Book of Mormon is the second book, it was only translated once. It came from people on the opposite side of the world, and Christ came to them and told them the same gospel, so now we have both of these books. You read them together and it’s like, “No, this is what Christ meant. This is what he actually said. Before translators changed and manipulated things, this is what the actual thing said, the way he gave it to people in America.”

It’s powerful, it’s not a good book, it’s the most important book ever. That’s the first thing to understand. Number two, why do we have and why do we need the Book of Mormon? Again, I talked about this during the intro session, but I want to talk about it again. So this was Joseph Fielding McConkie, it’s Bruce R. McConkie’s s

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