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"We Speak That We Do Know," John 3:11

I have been much impressed by this passage of scripture which creates a doctrinal foundation for bearing witness of or testifying of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The full context of the scripture comes from a conversation that the Savior had with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler among the Jews of the day.

Christ explains to him the very well know and oft repeated doctrine of being born again, stating "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (verse 5)  He tells Nicodemus to not wonder about this particular statement, but still Nicodemus is compelled to ask "How can these things be?" (verse 9) Gently reproaching this leader, the Savior asks "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"(verse 10)

Immediately, the Master Teacher then goes on to explain why he would ask such a reproving question. He states "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen;" (verse 11). Here it is in simplest terms, The things which Christ was teaching Nicodemus were things that Christ had a knowledge of. What's more his probing question suggested that Nicodemus, though not a God, should also have had a knowledge of the things which Jesus taught. Thus the standard for teaching by testimony (or a knowledge of things experienced) is established.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints this is a commonly established practice. I find this statement of the Savior validating as to why we do things the way we do. We do not speak out of mere belief or hope of things to come. We testify of things experienced – actual knowledge of real events witnessed.

The New Testament is replete with additional verses of scripture (especially the book of John) about the importance of having a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Consider these verses:
  • "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17)
  • "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)
  • "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
This last verse in particular strikes me as important. Why would eternal life (salvation) be based upon a testimony or sure knowledge of God? We are sent into this world from a loving God to learn to walk by faith. The ultimate test of our ability to do so is that, having no physical evidence given to us, we still learn to trust in God and in the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to receive a true witness of things not seen. These unseen things are none the less things that are real and true, the greatest of which are God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son.

That's enough for today, but here's a video that helps to illustrate the dialogue between the Savior and Nicodemus.

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