From ancient times to modern, some of our great leaders have left their testimony as an immortal witness of their Savior. Though this list is by no means comprehensive, it contains a handful of these powerful witnesses of Christ, shared not long before their bearers went to meet the Lord they testified of.
In a talk that is most clearly defined as the final testimony of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, he bears an undeniable witness of his Savior, which strengthens our own:
I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. Through it are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Through it, all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. And through it, all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory. ... I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
We were saddened by the recent passing of beloved leader L. Tom Perry. Here is the testimony he bore during his last general conference talk.
Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness. I give thanks for my wife, for my children, for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, and for all of the cousins and in-laws and extended family who make my own life so rich and, yes, even eternal. Of this eternal truth I bear my strongest and most sacred witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Given in his last general conference address, President Hinckley left his testimony and a blessing—a reminder of our potential and the truthfulness of the gospel.
To you, this day, I affirm my witness of the calling of the Prophet Joseph, of his works, of the sealing of his testimony with his blood as a martyr to the eternal truth. Each of you can bear witness of the same thing. You and I are faced with the stark question of accepting the truth of the First Vision and that which followed it. On the question of its reality lies the very validity of this Church. If it is the truth, and I testify that it is, then the work in which we are engaged is the most important work on the earth. I leave with you my testimony of the truth of these things, and I invoke the blessings of heaven upon you. May the windows of heaven be opened and blessings showered upon you as the Lord has promised. Never forget that this was His promise and that He has the power and the capacity to see that it is fulfilled. I so pray as I leave my blessing and love with you in the sacred name of our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
He also shared a heartfelt closing testimony with saints in the British Isles not many months after his final conference talk.
If you've ever doubted that the Lord knows you and that you lived with Him before, this final testimony from Neal A. Maxwell is just for you.
I testify to you that God has known you individually, brethren, for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26); He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys! By the way, you have never seen an immortal star; they finally expire. But seated by you tonight are immortal individuals—imperfect but who are, nevertheless, “trying to be like Jesus”! In His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.
EARLY CHURCH LEADERS
No list of final testimonies would be complete without that of the first prophet of the last dispensation, found in D&C 76:22-24:
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! For we saw him, even on the bright hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. Image in the public domain
Though Emma did not move West with the Saints, her testimony of the restored gospel and of her husband Joseph Smith as a prophet never wavered. This testimony was given in a final newspaper interview.
I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the Church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. My belief is that the Book of Mormon is of divine authenticity - I have not the slightest doubt of it. I am satisfied that no man could have dictated the writing of the manuscripts unless he was inspired; for, when acting as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he could at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him. This was a usual thing for him to do. It would have been improbable that a learned man could do this; and, for one so ignorant and unlearned as he was, it was simply impossible. Image in the public domain.
Though given a year before his death, this powerful testimony from 90-year-old President Wilford Woodruff uniquely stands as the first testimony from a President of the Church to be audio recorded. Watch the bottom of the video for captions.
Eliza R. Snow
Often referred to as “Zion’s Poetess,” it is fitting that Eliza R. Snow’s last testimony came in the form of part of a poem written three months before her death.
But God is God and will sustain The glorious work he has begun, Till peace shall from its rising, reign Unto the setting of the sun. An ordeal furnace near at hand, Will test your faith and texture too; But God will give you grace to stand, And He will help you safely through. And when the winds and tempests blow, And the primed furnace vents its heat; Whatever comes, ‘tis yours to know, Our triumph yet will be complete. O that we all would watch and pray, And ever true and faithful be— Move on and upward day by day, And nearer, O, our God, to Thee.
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BOOK OF MORMON
Perhaps one of the most famous and oft-read final testimonies comes from the prophet Moroni:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and 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. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
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Another prophet with a powerful testimony, which he left for posterity in the scriptures, comes from Nephi:
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come. And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.
Paul's powerful testimony nearly persuaded King Agrippa to become a Christian:
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Of course, one of the most powerful witnesses we could ever have is from the Savior Himself. In his last public testimony, before He fulfilled the prophecy of riding into Jerusalem on a young colt, He said the following:
Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak (John 12, 44-50). Image in the public domain.