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Author Ted Gibbons passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. In honor of his memory and the wonderful insights he shared here on Meridian, we will continue to publish his work periodically.
John 17:3 says,
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
D&C 132:24 repeats this instruction in slightly modified language.
“This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:24).
Let me suggest six activities that will help us to know them:
1. Keep the commandments.
The commandments are designed to bring us into the circumference of his character.
“The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 2000, p. 32).
People who do not obey him do not know him.
I remember hearing a man who left the Church say of his testimony, “I know I used to know, but I don’t know any more.” Sometimes people do not want to know, because the price of obedience seems too high.
I home taught and learned to love a man who had been inactive for 30 years. He finally returned to the fold with his family. He and his wife became beautiful Christians and devoted disciples. The only thing that held them back from absolute immersion in the blessings of the gospel was tobacco, which they both used and could not seem to forsake. One day they called me to their home. The bishop was there when I arrived. They told us that they had been fasting and requested that we bless them to be able to abstain from cigarettes. We prayed with them, then the bishop blessed the father and I blessed the mother. They were then able to overcome the addiction. But the father employed men at his business who did use tobacco, and one day one of them asked him how he had managed to quit smoking.
“You don’t want to know,” my friend replied.
“Yes, I do,” Frank insisted. “I want to know.”
“No. You don’t want to know how I did it,” his boss contended. With increasing emphasis, Frank declared that he did.
“OK,” my colleague replied. “First you fast for two days. Then you call your bishop and your home teacher and . . .”
“Never mind,” Frank interrupted. “I don’t want to know.”
If we want to know the Father and the Son, we must want to know how to keep the commandments.
2. Do what the Savior does:
“He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do” (2 Nephi 31:120.
This is a level above obedience. We must live Christ-like lives. Our relationship with others must pattern itself after his relationship with others. The father of a ward member died while I was the bishop. The bishopric went by to visit the ward member, and I asked her if her Home Teachers had been to see her yet. She replied, “I haven’t seen my home teachers in a year.” The Savior would have made a visit; probably several visits. He would have cared and he would have come. And we have to do what he would do if we want to know him and his Father.
In addition, our interaction with the challenges of mortality must assist us to learn the things Christ learned in mortality. Elder Maxwell observed:
“Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds,” Ensign, May 1991, p. 88).
3. Read the Savior’s biography and his words:
Nephi identified one of the problems of his older brothers with these words: “And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Nephi 2:12). He tried to help his brothers overcome this problem: “I, Nephi . . . did read many things to them, which were engraven upon the plates of brass, that they might know concerning the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old” (1 Nephi 19:22).
If we want to know how God works, his dealings and his doings, we must read about how he has worked before. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13;8; 1 Nephi 10:18). Nephi seemed to believe that this would work for Laman and Lemuel, and we know it worked for the Lamanites:
“Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer” (Alma 37:9).
4. Visit the house of the Lord:
Is there a better way to get to know someone than to visit them in their home? To see where they live and how they live and what they love? The structure of the temple and, even more, the interior of the temple, are great revelations about the character of God.
And, beyond that, he has promised:
“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (97:15-16).
Ezekiel tells us this:
“The spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house [of the Lord]. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house . . . And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever” (Ezekiel 43:5-7).
If we visit him in a place where he walks (“the place of the soles of my feet”), especially if we visit him often, and in a place where he has placed his throne, and where he dwells among us. we will certainly come to know him better.
5. Receive the Savior’s servants:
“For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. This is eternal livesCto know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law” (D&C 132:22-24, emphasis added).
The Savior makes it clear in these verses that if we receive him in the world, we will know him. What does it mean to receive him? D&C 84:36 teaches this:
“For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father . . .” D&C 84:36-37).
John 13 says it too.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:20).
The last activity that will help us know them and obtain eternal life and eternal lives is to receive their servants. We need to do what the servants of the Lord tell us to do.
President Thomas S. Monson spoke about the importance of following the Lord’s servants:
“But the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and His children obey, they will always be right. . . . If you want to see the light of heaven, if you want to feel the inspiration of Almighty God, if you want to have that feeling within your bosom that your Heavenly Father is guiding you, then follow the prophets of God. When you follow the prophets, you will be in safe territory” (First Presidency Message, Ensign, January 2015).
John tells us of on more indisputable requirement to come to know God:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).
This kind of love is often called charity. It endures forever, and if, at the last day, we are found to be charitable “it shall be well with us.” (Moroni 7:47).
“This is a gift that God
hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him” (Moroni 7:48).
In 1946, Elder George F. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve related a remarkable dream about charity.
“A few years ago, at the closing of a conference of the St. Johns Stake . . . I had a remarkable dream . . . I dreamed that I and a group of my own associates found ourselves in a courtyard where, around the outer edge of it, were German soldiers‑‑and Führer Adolph Hitler was there with his group, and they seemed to be sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns, and making preparations for a slaughter of some kind, or an execution. We knew not what, but, evidently we were the objects. But presently a circle was formed and this Führer and his men were all within the circle, and my group and I were circled on the outside, and he was sitting on the inside of the circle with his back to the outside, and when we walked around and I got directly opposite to him, I stepped inside the circle and walked across to where he was sitting, and spoke to him in a manner something like this:
“‘I am your brother. You are my brother. In our heavenly home we lived together in love and peace. Why can we not so live here on the earth?’
“And it seemed to me that I felt in myself, welling up in my soul, a love for that man, and I could feel that he was having the same experience, and presently he arose, and we embraced each other and kissed each other, a kiss of affection.
“Then the scene changed so that our group was within the circle, and he and his group were on the outside, and when he came around to where I was standing, he stepped inside the circle and embraced me again, with a kiss of affection.
“I think the Lord gave me that dream. Why should I dream of this man, one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest, but that the Lord should teach me that I must love my enemies, and I must love the wicked as well as the good?” (George F. Richards, Conference Report, October 1946, p.139, 140).
The Promises and the Possibilities
Both Psalm 46:10 and D&C 101:16 suggest that in a world suffocating in confusion and noise, the simple act of being quiet may assist us in coming to this knowledge that is the key to life eternal.
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
But so many have not come to this knowledge. Hosea might have been speaking of our day when he wrote:
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1).
Jeremiah also spoke of people who do not know the Lord:
“And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:3).
But he also spoke of a time when things would be different. He spoke of a day when
“They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
The Doctrine and Covenants also speaks of this glorious day, a day when
“All shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest, and shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord” (84:98).