“Knowing God,” Ensign, July 1972, 121
My dear brothers and sisters, we have been fed the bread of life at this conference, the bread that feeds the spirit and brings out the divine nature in the human soul. The bread of life is built around Jesus Christ and his gospel of love and salvation.
A few years ago on our television set we had a set of rabbit ears for an antenna, and the pictures and messages were not clear. They were foggy and there was what they call “snow” on the set. Often we were unable to understand the message.
You cannot pick up the celestial message, the bread of life, the word of God, with rabbit ears on your human mind, your human body; the message will not be clear. You need your antenna high, well placed, and turned toward the divine message. You need to keep the mind clear and focused on the heavenly message. It takes time to plan and install in the human heart and mind an antenna to pick up spiritual revelation and inspiration from God. You must be in tune. If you’re out of tune, you’re out of harmony, and static and wrong impressions come from satanic and worldly sources.
Jesus Christ said, “… this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3.)
We can receive eternal life and salvation from knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. Many believe that there is a God, many say that they know there is a God, but many do not act like they know God. There is a great difference in believing or knowing that there is a God and in knowing God. When we claim that we know God, it bears great responsibility, and an apostle has given us information to check our knowledge of God.
The apostle John said:
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
“But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 Jn. 2:3–6.)
The apostle James said, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19.)
Jesus was recognized by a man possessed of the devil, and the devil spoke out and said, “… I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24.) The devils know God but do not respect his doctrine or keep his commandments.
Knowing God is related to keeping his commandments. Knowing God must come by direct revelation from God. You cannot know by the power of flesh and blood. This great lesson is taught by Jesus Christ in this message: The disciples were asked by Jesus Christ, “Whom say ye that I am?
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:15–18.)
The Lord has indicated that the gates of hell cannot prevail against revelation from him to any one of his children who desires to know the living God and to know the living Jesus Christ. This is available by divine commitment and by divine will, that for anyone desiring to know God the Eternal Father and to know his Son Jesus Christ, God is under commitment and the gates of hell cannot prevail against that commitment; and it will be revealed through the power and principle of revelation direct from God to the one desiring to receive that information.
All through the life of Jesus Christ he showed his knowledge of the living God and his loyalty and allegiance to God. Jesus Christ loved his Heavenly Father. He even went so far as to say, “My Father and I are one. I came down from heaven to do the will of my Father.” (See John 10:30; John 6:38.)
Knowing God does not solve life’s problems, but gives purpose and strength to master them. Jesus, with his knowledge of his Heavenly Father, still had his problems to meet and to work out.
The answers to knowing God the Eternal Father are found in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6.)
In order to know God the Eternal Father, we must receive that knowledge through the program and through Jesus Christ, who is the mediator between God and man.
Jesus also gave this information, which is often repeated and known well by many; he said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)
The light of life is divine light that permeates and radiates in the human soul and brings out the godlike qualities and attributes of godliness. The light of life is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of love. The light of life has within it the glorious promises from God of eternal life in his heavenly kingdom. The light of life will bring divine truth and happiness and peace into a troubled heart. The light of life brings divine light into the problems and troubles of this life and helps to turn life’s problems into steppingstones to eternal progression and to developing a godlike character.
Jesus also said: “… light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
“But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19–21.)
To know God, you must walk in the light of life. To know God as a living child of God, we should know our relationship to him, our divine potential, and we should know that in knowing God there is great responsibility to respect and love and follow his counsel and his doctrines and his commandments and to grow as a child to become more godlike.
Jesus Christ gave this commandment and important counsel by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said: “… ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.
“Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
“For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments. …” (D&C 46:7–9.)
We must always keep in mind that God’s greatest gift is eternal life. Eternal life comes from knowing God and from knowing Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13.)
The central and basic principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ is love. He laid the basis of human brotherhood in love. It begins in God’s infinite love for his children, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.)
As is mentioned by the Savior, to know God means to keep his commandments. The Lord also gave this in the first and great commandment relative to the importance of keeping his commandments, when we say that we love God. Here is the great commandment on love: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt. 22:37–38.)
Jesus also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15.)
If we love God, we should keep his commandments. We should love his plan of life. We should love his Only Begotten Son, whom he sent to help us meet life and its problems and to redeem us from death, to make the resurrection and eternal life possible, and to give us the light of life that we may walk in his ways and in the divine light that will lead us to godlike blessings.
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12.)
We must keep in mind that divine programs and divine ways have been given unto us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and the way to know God and the way to perfect the human body and bring out its godlike qualities so that we can be in harmony and be a child of God, living so that we can know God, are provided in the great principles of faith and repentance.
I would like to mention briefly repentance. Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17.) The light is turned on in the human soul through the great principle of repentance. Jesus has asked us to repent of past sins, regrets, weaknesses, and failures, and to prepare and look ahead into the future of eternal life and salvation in the kingdom of heaven.
Repentance by all who are accountable is required for preparation and progression, for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is God’s purifying program and law for cleansing the human mind and body from weakness, imperfection, and sin. Repentance through Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to progress toward God’s greatest gift, the gift of salvation and eternal life.
Repentance is a refining influence, a principle provided through the atonement and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to help us purify our mortal minds and bodies and to bring out our divine nature and godlike qualities and character so that we can live in the presence of God in his celestial kingdom.
The home and family is the place where knowledge of God and to know God should be taught, and the place where a loving God should be exemplified and taught to the children.
Parents, children should be taught in the home to know and to love God and to choose his doctrines and his commandments, and not to be misled or deceived by the doctrines of men or the doctrines of devils. They should be taught in the home their relationship to God and how to pray to him. Children should know that they are in the image and likeness of God, that they have godlike attributes and divine potential, that they are literally and truly children of God, with godlike capacities.
They should be taught in the home that Jesus Christ is the proper way, the truth and the great example to follow in this life.
They should be taught that the scriptures contain God’s way of life, his plan of salvation, and each child should have his own set of scriptures, if capable of reading and understanding, so that he can have them by his bedside and have access to them whenever he feels he would like to know more of his Heavenly Father’s plan of life and way of life.
It is not possible to choose God’s way of life and to know God unless we know his program. If we only know the ways of men and the ways of the devil, then we will choose those ways. Jesus Christ commanded that we search the scriptures, that we know the truth, and that the truth would make us free. We find the Lord’s truths in the holy scriptures, and there is no knowledge on the face of this earth greater than knowledge that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Parents, is there love and respect for God in your home? The poet said: “There is beauty all around/When there’s love at home.” (Hymns, no. 169.)
Parents, do you know God the Eternal Father in your home? Do you pray to a living God? Do you pray to a God that you know, and do you know your relationship to him?
Parents, be careful that you do not permit the devil to come into your home. When the devil enters, he brings disrespect for God, hatred, quarreling, criticism, contention, divorce, and evil. When you know God and have respect for his plan, then there is peace and happiness in your home.
Are there virtue and purity in your family life? Is the Lord’s hallowed Sabbath day kept sacred in your home and among your family?
Now, just a word about what is happening in the world and going on among our children. They are being deceived, and that which is entirely wrong looks to be right because so many fine people indulge in use of these two destroyers [alcohol and tobacco] of the divine nature within man and their respect for God.
Parents, do you drink alcohol? The Lord has warned that alcohol is not good for man. (D&C 89:5.) Alcohol is a drug that can destroy godlike character. Alcohol is not good for children and not good for adults.
Parents, are you showing and teaching by example in your home how to use tobacco? Tobacco is a drug. Doctors say cigarettes are the nation’s greatest single health peril. A doctor speaking in Salt Lake City recently said that cigarettes kill five times more people than do traffic accidents. Jesus Christ said that “tobacco … is not good for man.” (D&C 89:8.) Tobacco is not good for children and is not good for adults.
A person who knows God would want to be like God, because God is perfect. God has all knowledge. God has power to create mankind from the dust of the earth. Anyone knowing God would have great respect for God. Anyone knowing the living God and indulging in the number one killer and destroyer of health of mankind shows a lack of love and knowledge and respect for God.
Parents, is your example the example you want your children to follow? Do you teach self-control in your home? Do you teach divine principles so that the godlike qualities of your children can be manifest in their lives?
The home is the place to teach love for God and knowledge of God, and for people to know God and to pray to a God that they know.
President Harold B. Lee has said, “The most important work you will do for the Church will be within the walls of your own home.” I repeat, “The most important work you will do for the Church will be within the walls of your own home.”
May we recall again these words of the Prophet David O. McKay: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” And may I add: No other success can compensate for failure to know the living God and the living Jesus Christ in your home and with your family.
Parents, your children are from God. There is no other answer from God. They have divine potential, and it is your responsibility to help them to know and love God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, their Savior.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.