How do we get a testimony? We do like Elder Perry said in letting God lead us like a horse with a bridle in obedience, and we also do like another General Authority taught in experimenting on the word to see if it is true.
How do we experiment upon the word? By doing what Jesus says and seeing what the result is. Merely not doing what Jesus says and getting a negative result isn’t sufficient for a knowledge of the blessings that come from obeying Jesus.
Why do we obey like a horse in a bridle? It’s part of the experiment upon the word. It’s trying doing what Jesus says and seeing what the result is.
Do we need to sin or transgress in order to gain knowledge? No. Adam didn’t sin, he transgressed. Modern prophets have clarified such. So why did Jesus do the Atonement? To overcome the effects of not only sin, but transgression. To overcome what happened in the Garden of Eden as well as what happened after it. Jesus wouldn’t have been albe to overcome transgression we call the fall without being perfect, without having transgressed himself. Now we answer a former question, who knows more about sin, the sinner, or Jesus? Jesus. Only he knows the level of resistance required to not sin or transgress. Hence, we can learn of the truth in other methods than sin or transgression, and the methods of experimenting and obeying to get a testimony we learn are two sides of the same coin we use to purchase eternal life.
Are we to trust General Conference? Joseph Smith said God will never allow the President of the Church or the majority of the 12 Apostles to lead us astray.
Also keep in mind that there are several aspects to every answer, and some talks emphasize one aspect more than another. Elder Oaks taught that in determining doctrine we are to not just look at one scripture (*or one modern prohpets’ words I would add), but we must look at all of them to get an understanding.
How shall I compare what was said in the Church versus what is said now? Several discourses on the role of prophet explain that the word of the Lord from the current Prophets and Apostles are what we need more than that of the old ones. For example, an issue could rise in 1950, then the Saints reject the warning from the prophet on that subject, and hence in year 2000 the Prophets speak on other topics, the day of warning having passed on the 1950 subject, the Saints left to fend for themselves.
So there is such a thing as a day of warning passing? Don’t the prophets always warn until the end on every issue? No. Consider this example: There came a point when Noah was loading up the ark that there was no more coming on the ark. Elder Perry said, ““Sin is
intensely habit-forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic point of no return.”
Topics continue to be taught that are of importance, but may not be emphasized as much as they were in the past. For instance, President Benson spoke frequently against socialism when he was the prophet. Today, the Church still teaches against socialism and has in it’s archives discourses enumerating socialism as the work of the devil, but apparently other issues are at the forefront of Jesus Christ’s mind today, for he is instructing his prophets to emphasize other things. Perhaps the people of the world today are generally with less faith, and the prophets are working on building up their faith in Jesus Christ so they can get to the point someday where they can endure more speeches against socialism etc. without getting offended and leaving the Church.