Testifying of Christ Through Missionary Work

Written by Carl Bohman for a sacrament meeting talk on December 16, 2018, to be delivered to the Vint Hill Ward of the Gainesville Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The actual talk, as delivered, was an abbreviated version of this, but covered many of the most important points and messages.


Today I wish to speak directly to the young men.  So, if anyone sees a young man not paying full attention out there, feel free to give them a helpful little nudge.

But just because I focus on the young men does not mean that others can sleep.  Parents of young men especially need to hear what I say to your sons so that you can support and help them.  Don’t be surprised, parents, if any of the young men just nudged you back.

This also applies to siblings, friends, and teachers of young men or to anyone else that ever interacts with them, which includes everyone.  So now that everyone has been nudged appropriately, I can turn my attention back to the young men.

Young men, I see in you the potential for an absolutely amazing future.  The best parts of your lives are yet to come.  You have your mission, college, career, marriage, children, and so much more ahead of you.  I see future leaders in the church and in the community.  More importantly, I see future leaders of strong and faithful homes.  There are so many wonderful opportunities that lie ahead of each of you.

But, as I said, this is only your potential.  It is not a guarantee.  What you do with this potential is up to you.  You can choose to embrace your potential by staying focused and making the right choices today or you can allow worldly distractions and poor choices to keep you from that potential.  Your parents, siblings, relatives, and friends are there to help you achieve your maximum potential, but ultimately it is entirely up to you to determine how you will spend your time, what you will focus on, and who you will become.

I was born with a fairly specific potential.  When I was born, the doctor told my mother, “It’s a boy!”  To which my mother replied, “It’s a missionary!”  The doctor was not a member of the Church (Jewish in fact), so I’m not sure what he may have thought about that proclamation.  However, I have known for as long as I can remember that being a missionary is an important part of my life.  When I received my patriarchal blessing, the patriarch (who knew nothing of this) proclaimed these words as a key part of my blessing, “You have a special responsibility, Brother Bohman, to serve your Savior as a missionary, for there will be many opportunities in your life to share the things which you believe in, your faith, your testimony, and the feelings of your heart.”[1]

I have sought to live up to my potential and have tried to share my testimony and beliefs whenever I have been given the opportunity.  I love to share the gospel.  I love to testify of Jesus Christ.  The Christmas season, in particular, gives all of us many opportunities to affirm our testimony of Him.  But we should not wait for Christmas or any special occasion to proclaim the truth.

Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God, surrounded by angelsJoseph Smith said, “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!”[2]

The word “we” in that verse refers to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.  However, we are counselled to “liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”[3]  If we do this, the scripture takes on an expanded meaning.  “[T]his is the testimony … which we give of him.”  We.  You and I. All of us.  It is our duty and responsibility to bear that testimony boldly to each other, to our families, to our communities, and to the world.

Young men, in particular, have the sacred priesthood duty and privilege to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know I had a special responsibility to serve a full-time mission, but all young men are asked and expected to do the same.  Additionally, I know that some of the young men here today also have the same special responsibility that I was given.

But you can’t just wake up one day and go on a mission.  You can’t testify of Christ unless you first come to know Him personally, intimately.

We all know the Christmas story of His birth.  We all know some of the details of His life.  We all know that He died and was resurrected.  That’s a good starting point, but even the primary children know that.  It is not enough.

We might know a lot about Him.  We might know many details about His life and His travels.  We might even memorize scripture after scripture that proclaims His doctrine.  But such intellectual knowledge by itself is not enough.

Joseph Smith once said:

Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

First, the idea that he actually exists.

Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.

Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.[4]

We need to truly get to know who Christ is.  We need to have faith in Him.  We need to testify boldly of Him.  He needs to have a central place in our hearts.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently been called to repentance for too frequent omission of the name of Jesus Christ in referencing His Church.  If we are called to repentance for simply leaving His name out of the name of the Church, surely we have a much greater need to repent if we are leaving Him out of our hearts.

As King Benjamin declared, we must “Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”

Only then can we boldly declare our “testimony … which we give of Him.”  Bearing our testimonies often goes by another name: missionary work.

(Now would be a good time to nudge again any young men who have become distracted or fallen asleep.)

Some of you young men might not think that a mission call is for you.  You might think that it’s okay if you don’t serve a full-time mission.  While that may end up being true for some, please do not start out with that assumption.  It is not true for most of you.  The Lord expects you—yes, you—to serve a mission.

You must be worthy.  You must be physically and spiritually prepared.  If you aren’t prepared at this time, now is the time to prepare.  Set aside the distractions that waste your time and take your focus off of what matters most.  Temporarily set aside plans for college, career, and family so that you can proclaim the truth to those who desperately need it.  “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it…These should then be attended to with great earnestness.”[5]

In Zenos’ allegory of the vineyard, the Lord calls to each of us (but especially to you young men).  “Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard.”[6]  We are latter-day saints—saints in the last days of this earth.  The closing chapters are being written and we need to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause, … and bring to pass much righteousness.  … And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.  But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.”[7]  Please, my young friends, do not hesitate or procrastinate in your call to serve the Lord of whom we testify.

If you think that the church already has enough missionaries and Christ doesn’t need you in that capacity, think again.  Satan has many more.  They come in the form of politicians, celebrities, talk show hosts, activists, preachers, and many others who practice priestcrafts from their positions of influence.  They try to convince and persuade others to reject some or all of God’s commandments and join their religion, cause, or lists of followers.  They are supported by many others through donations, sponsorships, praise, marches, rallies, and hashtags.

Nephi, wrote of how things would be in our day.  Keep in mind as I read this that “church” and “priest,” as mentioned here, include any group or person, respectively, that claims authority to speak on issues of morality.  Nephi said:

3 For it shall come to pass in that day that the churches which are built up, and not unto the Lord, when the one shall say unto the other: Behold, I, I am the Lord’s; and the others shall say: I, I am the Lord’s; and thus shall every one say that hath built up churches, and not unto the Lord—

4 And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.

5 And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

6 Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.

8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.

11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.

12 Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; …

14 They … have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.[8]

As Nephi laments, even “the humble followers of Christ…are led…[to] err because they are taught by the precepts of men.”  Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in his talk “No Other Gods,” warned that, “man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral.”[9]  Or, considering a slightly broader perspective, we might say that man’s opinions cannot overrule God’s truths.

The “testimony … which we give of [Christ]” must make clear distinction between truth and error, righteousness and sin.  We are not justified in excusing our own actions or the actions of others if they go against the commandments of God.  It does not matter what is popular, politically correct, or even just easier to let slide.  We have been given the truth.  We have been warned of the consequences of sin and disobedience.  “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”[10] 

Elder D. Todd Christopherson has noted:

While the duty to warn is felt especially keenly by prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well.  …  We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity.[11]

Young men, the Lord expects each of you to warn your neighbors and proclaim your testimony of the Savior by serving a full-time mission.  But you must prepare now.

In his first general session conference talk after being newly sustained as the prophet of the Church, President Russell M. Nelson declared “Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”[12]

Satan will do everything he can to distract and prevent you from living up to your full potential.  Far too often, he succeeds.  You need to be aware that the battle against Satan is very real.  As Paul said to the Ephesians, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”[13]  This verse is immediately followed by the well-known verses that admonish us to “take unto you the whole armour of God.”[14]

As a parent of young men, myself, I know that I am far from being a perfect example to my children.  Nevertheless, I try to follow Nephi’s counsel.  “[W]e talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”[15]

Young men, I join with the many fathers like Lehi who pled with his sons “with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words.”  I know that God expects you to serve a full-time mission, testifying to the world of His beloved Son Jesus Christ.  I stand ready with everyone else in this ward in supporting you in that calling.  I promise you that it is worth every sacrifice to declare the gospel—the “good news” about Jesus Christ and His atonement.[16]

Jesus Christ summarized His gospel in a single verse this way: “Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.”[17]  Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father is what made His infinite atonement possible.  Our obedience to the will of the Father includes bearing our testimony of Him, including while serving full-time missions.  Christ fulfilled his role.  Will you fulfill yours?

I know that Jesus Christ condescended to come to earth to be born in the humblest of circumstances.  He spent His life in service to His fellow men, preaching the gospel, and warning everyone that they must repent and come unto Him to be saved.  I know that He suffered and died and was resurrected that we might be able to join Him in our Father’s kingdom if we choose to follow Him.

I know that He will make it possible for each of us to follow all of His commandments and to repent when we fall short.  I know that we are not justified in neglecting our duties to serve Him, including as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that boldly bearing our testimonies of Him will help our fellow men come to a knowledge of their Redeemer, strengthen their testimonies, and bring about God’s work and glory—our work and glory—"to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”[18]

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which [I] give of him: That he lives!”[19]  In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whom I serve and whose Church this is, amen.


[1] Patriarchal Blessing of Carl Bohman.  Blessing number 93-428.

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 76:22

[3] 1 Nephi 19:23

[4] Lectures on Faith 3:2-5

[5] Doctrine and Covenants 123:12

[6] Jacob 5:62

[7] Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-29

[8] 2 Nephi 28:3-14

[9] Oaks, Dallin H. “No Other Gods.”  October 2013 General Conference.

[10] Doctrine and Covenants 88:81

[11] Christofferson, D. Todd.  “The Voice of Warning.”  April 2017 General Conference.

[12] Nelson, Russell M.  “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.”  April 2018 General Conference.

[13] Ephesians 6:12

[14] Ephesians 6:13(-18)

[15] 2 Nephi 25:26

[16] See Bible Dictionary “Gospels”

[17] 3 Nephi 27:13

[18] Moses 1:39

[19] Doctrine and Covenants 76:22


While the author believes this text to be in harmony with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Chrits of Latter-day Saints, it is not a declaration of official Church doctrine.  Official church teachings and doctrines are available at lds.org and mormon.org.