How Do You Know It’s True?

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“How Do You Know It’s True?” Friend, Jan. 2003, 44

How Do You Know It’s True?

A true story

If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moro. 10:4).

While he was President of the Church, Heber J. Grant had a chance to meet many important people in the business world. Mr. Fred W. Shibley, an officer of the Bankers Trust Company of New York, was one of them.

In 1934, President Grant met with Mr. Shibley in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss business. After the meeting, President Grant took the opportunity to be a missionary and gave Mr. Shibley two pamphlets about the Church. One of them was Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story. As both men were to travel on trains to New York City—Mr. Shibley on a fast train and President Grant on a slow one—President Grant asked Mr. Shibley to read the pamphlets while he was on the train. Mr. Shibley promised that he’d take the time to read them.

Later, when he arrived in New York City, President Grant called on Mr. Shibley. He asked him what he thought about the pamphlets, especially Joseph Smith’s story.

Mr. Shibley said:

“‘By every rule of my life to arrive at the truth, I have to acknowledge this story of Joseph Smith as true. … No liar ever did write or could write such a story as the story told by Joseph Smith. … A liar would never think, in describing an angel, to say his feet did not quite touch the floor. It would not enter his head. Nor to say that he had on a loose robe that he could see into his breast. No liar ever deals in details, and this story deals in nothing but details—the hour, the place, the circumstances, the spot, the people—everything. Liars would not dare tell a story like that. They could not do it.’

“He said, ‘Of course, you know it is generally conceded that liars ought to have good memories and they are always deficient in that particular. Liars in business never give you a detailed statement. They just give you a lot of high points. …

“‘This man had the visions he claims to have had. I do not expect to join your Church, but that story, by every rule of my life, is the truth. … I say that no honest man who believes in the Bible can get away from the proofs this man has given, with scriptural references, to sustain your doctrine.’” (Joseph Anderson, Prophets I Have Known, 45–46.)

This man received a testimony of Joseph Smith’s vision by logic. He could tell that it was a true story just by what Joseph said. Liars usually don’t give details. Liars tell a brief story and sometimes change what they say. Joseph Smith never changed his testimony. He stood by his story of the First Vision and gave his life for it.

Why didn’t Mr. Shibley join the Church? The Holy Ghost converts people to the gospel. Just plain reason does not touch a person the way the Spirit does. Remember Moroni’s promise: “If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4). Moroni was talking about the Book of Mormon, but it works for all truth.

Mr. Shibley admitted that he did not believe in Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father. He did not pray to know if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. His mind told him that Joseph Smith told the truth, but to be really converted to the truths of the gospel, he needed to ask Heavenly Father.

That is the blessing that is given to all of us. We can ask Heavenly Father in the name of His Son, in prayer, if things are true. Did Joseph really see the Father? Is the Book of Mormon true? Is President Hinckley really a prophet? Yes, and everyone can know, just as Moroni promised.

Illustrated by Dan Burr