Suppose you got a chance to be on a major new game show. The prize was going to be irresistible—stop for a minute and imagine your dream prize and while I’m explaining how this imaginary game show would work, imagine the prize you chose as being the show’s reward. Unlimited books for life? Free tickets to your favorite team’s games forever?
I’m pretty sure you’d choose the instructions so you’d be more likely to win the game. After all, the world is a huge place and there are all kinds of things to learn and do. How could you ever manage to guess which ones were necessary for the game, especially if there was a time limit?
Life is pretty much like that game show. You can wander aimlessly through your life, hoping you do and learn the right things, or you can follow instructions. Of course, there is a catch to following the instructions. You have to know where to get the right instructions.
Suppose, in our imaginary game show, you were told there were five hundred people with instructions and only one set was completely accurate. One person knew the exact instructions and the others only knew some of the instructions. Who would you ask? You’d ask the person who knew the complete instructions.
Can you guess where you need to go in the game of life to find the right instructions? There are a lot of people anxious to tell you what to do. Your friends will gladly tell you. So will television, movies, books, and music. Your school has some ideas on how you should live your life. Your parents have ideas. Complete strangers want you to do things their way, even. How are you ever supposed to find the one person who has all the answers?
You might have already guessed that God is the only source of complete truth. Others can tell you what they think or believe or even know, but you can’t be sure, by yourself, if they are right. No matter how much they love you or how sincere they are, spiritual truths can only be learned at a personal level. No one else can give you a testimony. The Holy Ghost is the only way for you to find out what God wants you to know. You have to find out for yourself.
God sent you here on a journey. Mormon beliefs teach that we lived with God before we were born and learned all about God’s plan for us. We even chose to accept it. We don’t remember that now because God wants us to have faith, and if we started out already knowing, we wouldn’t have to search for truth or have enough faith to accept it.
There are an awful lot of churches out there and they’re all going to tell you they have the truth. Most of them aren’t lying—they really think they do. So how are you going to figure it all out for yourself?
If you already believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible, you have a head start. Open up your Bible and start reading. Pay attention to the things God and Jesus taught and to how they ran the Church in Biblical times. They had prophet and apostles, for instance. When Jesus set up His church, He was the prophet. He was more than just a prophet, of course, but He was also the prophet at that time. There had been other prophets before Him but while He was on His mission on earth, we didn’t need someone to tell us what He said. He could do it Himself.
Now, what happened when Jesus died? His apostles ran the Church and one of them was the prophet, telling the people what Jesus wanted them to know, since Jesus wasn’t there to tell them Himself. Did He say there would never be another prophet? No, He didn’t. In fact, he said God would never reveal anything except through His prophets.
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7 in the King James Bible.)
So one thing you’ll want to look for is prophets and apostles. But just having those isn’t enough. There is more to look for. The first step to finding truth is the same as the first steps in writing a term paper. First you figure out what question to ask. On a term paper, it might be, “What are the causes of the Civil War?” After formulating your question, you’d start researching. You’d find there are a lot of different opinions on that subject, so you’d have to evaluate the evidence to help you make your decision. You might also contact some experts.
When you’re trying to complete the treasure hunt for truth that God sent you on, you’ll start with a question, too. Your question will be, “Which church is true?”
Next article, I’ll tell you about another teenager who asked that question and what happened. Then, over the next couple of articles, we’ll talk about how you can win a prize better than the one you imagined for your pretend game show—the prize of eternal life.