When I was 16, I received a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after years of study and much fasting and prayer. You see, even though I was born into the Church and given a name and a blessing as an infant and then baptized at age 8, I lived in a "part-member" family. My father was increasingly anti-Mormon as I grew up, and my mother was LDS, but did not really have a testimony and had no scriptural background. As I entered my teen years, my father inundated us children with anti-Mormon literature. It was very convincing to a young mind.
However, I recognized that the LDS Church held certain beliefs which were Biblical, all of which no other church taught, such as the Godhead, baptism for the dead, baptism by immersion, the importance of the priesthood with all of its offices, Word of Wisdom, gifts of the Spirit, etc. Also, there were some major flaws in the deductive reasoning in the anti-Mormon literature which even a young teenager could easily see through. It became evident that anti-Mormon authors felt that it was worth lying or using deceptive reasoning in order to save their fellow man from the monster of Mormonism. But in my little teenage brain I reasoned that if it was false, why would they have to lie and deceive to "prove" that it was false?
I finally determined, for the time being, to follow the LDS faith, which was the most Biblical of all the churches I had studied, until I found the true church. When I made that decision, the Spirit witnessed to me that it is the true Church and I understood that over time, the things which did not seem Biblical about the Church, would be explained [which they were].
Subsequently, I went on a mission and served faithfully in five bishoprics, two high councils, and many other callings over many years. I learned to hear the voice of the Lord as I progressed spiritually. One thing that stuck with me, ever since I read the Book of Mormon as a teenager, was Moroni's description of the Brother of Jared seeing the finger of God and Moroni's challenge for the reader to see Christ for himself. I always desired to receive that sacred blessing. As time passed, I learned that to see Christ in this way was known as receiving the Second Comforter. I learned that there was another spiritual experience related to the Second Comforter, known as receiving one's calling and election made sure [CE].
Over the years, I read and listened to the scriptures many times over. I had many spiritual experiences as I vicariously lived and relived the experiences of people in the scriptures. It became painfully obvious to me that few members of the Church actually read the scriptures daily, even though the prophets constantly challenge us to do so. It was so obvious because so few people could accept the possibility that we can follow Moroni's counsel and see the Savior in this life.
When I was in my forties, the Spirit witnessed to me that I would receive my CE within seven years. This was very comforting and I did not doubt that this was a real possibility.
About four years later, I found myself embroiled in an extreme spiritual trial. One day at work, I went into a storage room to pray for guidance. I knew what the Lord's will was. However, doing the right thing could possibly destroy my family, my reputation in and out of the Church, ruin me economically, etc. In short, everything I held dear was probably on the line if I did what was right. It was one of those situations in which the right thing to do was not obvious. In the storage room, I prostrated myself flat on the floor, face down in humble prayer. I promised the Lord that I would do his will. At that moment, I saw in my mind's eye the Savior prostrating himself before the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, saying, "Thy will be done." I understood more fully the Savior's obedience to the Father.
At that same moment, I understood that I had proven to myself that I would always do the Lord's will. I came to understand that it was not so much a test to prove to God who I was, but to prove to myself who I was. God already knew who I was. Instantly the Spirit witnessed to me that I had reached a threshold in my spiritual development. Because I would do the Lord's will no matter what the consequences, my calling and election were sure. I would receive eternal life. I felt a peaceful assurance that I had reached the goal that I had set long before as a teenager under the tutelage of Moroni.
A few months later, I was discussing the concept of the Second Comforter with a friend. The friend quoted a scripture which states that we will see him with our spiritual eyes, not our physical eyes. As I pondered this statement, it came to me that I had seen the Savior with my spiritual eyes in the Garden of Gethsemane and in other similar visions. I also realized that many times over the years, I had known precisely the Lord's will on certain topics as if he, himself, had told me.
Suddenly a whole new world of knowledge and understanding became available to me. I still had to work at it like before, but it did come faster and more abundantly. I was surprised and saddened to find out that our trials do not end when we receive our CE. I learned that Joseph Smith Jr. received his CE in 1831 [D&C 132] and subsequently suffered many trials. I soon understood that the Book of Mormon is testimony after testimony of people who had received the Second Comforter and how they had received it. Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Enos [an explicit story of his experience], King Benjamin, King Mosiah, the Almas, Helaman, Nephi and Lehi [Helaman's sons], Nephi [the son of Nephi who met the Savior when he appeared in America], the Brother of Jared, Mormon, and Moroni had all received the Second Comforter. This was an amazing realization to know that the Book of Mormon is one big testimony about this most sacred spiritual experience.
It also became apparent to me that the temple endowment is a map of how anyone can enter into the presence of the Savior. As we live each covenant in the endowment, we move from the Telestial level of personal spirituality to the Terrestrial level and then on to the Celestial level of righteousness. It is graphic and very simple, culminating in meeting the Savior and entering into the Celestial world.
I found a talk by President Marion G. Romney challenging the men in the Church to receive the Second Comforter. This was most incredible seeing as how the topic is rarely broached in meetings or manuals. The talk is entitled "The Light of Christ" and can be found by searching the Church website.
After experiencing this for myself, I noticed that there are certain things people say and do that expose them as CEers. I was stunned to learn that many others in the Church today have received their CE and the Second Comforter! It was actually very comforting to know this. I understand that there will be a contingent of these people ready to welcome the Savior when he returns to the earth. This makes perfect sense when you think about it.
The journey continues after CE. It is not really an ending, but a new beginning. There is such a realization of how much more there is to learn and how little the CEer knows. It is like standing at the tiny little apex of the beginning of infinite knowledge and understanding. But there are angels and Gods there to help facilitate the learning. So I add my testimony and challenge in conjunction with those of my dear friends in the Book of Mormon: that it is possible and it is important to seek to know the Savior in this life and to become his friend.