I’d say I actually have a decently strong testimony of the gospel. I have had some spiritual experiences and feel the gospel explains everything so well, but every time I start actually thinking about it or when I hear someone in church bear their testimony I always feel so phony like I’m just trying to convince myself of all of it. Is this just part of growing a testimony? Should I just have faith? Will I ever be able to say “I know” or am I stuck at “it sounds good”
In our scriptures, also an invitation from the Lord, we are counseled to seek after the gifts of the Spirit. There are two gifts from the Spirit that correlate with your question. These gifts can be read in our Doctrine and Covenants 46:13-14,
“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.”
The first gift in these verses is our ability “to know” Jesus is the Son of God by the power of the Holy Ghost. The second is a person’s ability (as given by the Spirit) to believe on the testimony of others. Remember though, either gift is given by the Spirit of the Lord.
If you have had experiences, then I would trust in the experiences you have had, and that is something that is between you and the Lord. The important aspect regarding your personal testimony and witness is your own honesty and integrity. If at this moment, as pertaining to the second gift, you feel that your witnesses and spiritual experiences are enough to say “it sounds good” then begin there. There is no harm in being honest with yourself and the witnesses you have received. If you can’t say, “I know,” then don’t. At the same, someone who has had more experiences they too have to be honest with themselves and if saying “I know” follows the spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost then they should say “I know.”
In light of your last question, the thoughts that come to my and heart are found in the following verses of scripture Alma 7:24,
“And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.”
The other verse of scripture is read from the book of Helaman 3:35,
“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.”
Continue in faith and hope regarding the witnesses you have shared you have received. Nourish the witness through personal study, prayer, fasting, and then listen to the still small voice that will come to your mind and heart. As you yield yourself to the Spirit of the Lord you will gain further witness and knowledge by which you can come to know. Whether or not this happens though is really between you and the Lord and the desires, the true desires of your heart. If you want to know the Lord will bless you with further witness to know as long as you do your part.
Remember, every blessing, every gift we receive from the Lord is based upon predicated laws. Obey the predicated law and you will receive the predicated blessing. It is up to you though.