The Savior said, “… this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ demonstrated His knowledge of the living God. All through His life, He showed His devotion, solidarity and loyalty to God the Father. So in harmony was He with God that Jesus proclaimed, “My Father and I are one. I came down from heaven to do the will of my Father” (John 10:30).
A trend seems to be emerging in society in which many people proclaim they do not believe in God. Some make their declarations with what seems to be a degree of pride, as if their disbelief is a badge of honor or a mark of intellectualism.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who served as a General Authority from 1974 until his death in 2004 (the last 23 years as an apostle of the Lord), taught this:
“It is vital to know that there really is a God, that there really is a Savior, Jesus Christ, that there really is impending immortality for all men, that there really will be a judgment with genuine personal accountability, and that there really is purpose in life and a divine plan of happiness for man.
“When we know such basic truths as these, then we know what really matters, how to approach life and how to view man in the universe. There is great power in perspective,” (Things as They Really Are, p. 4; cited in Doctrines of the Gospel student manual, Religion 430 and 431, p. 2).
For Latter-day Saints, there is no question about the reality of God. The matter of concern is what we do with that knowledge.
Throughout Christendom, many believe in and testify of God, saying they know He is real. However, many of those same individuals do not live as if they really possess that knowledge. More to the point, many do not act like they know God. Believing in and knowing there is a God is quite different from “knowing God.”
We take upon ourselves powerful responsibilities when we profess that we know God.
The apostle John, from the pages of the New Testament, teaches us:
“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 John 2:3-6).
As we keep His commandments, we come to know God. While our salvation comes only through Jesus Christ who made the great Atonement in our behalf, it originated with God the Father through His plan for our salvation.
Our Heavenly Father has promised us a great inheritance; we may possess all that He has; we may partake of the joy that is His. We, indeed, may become His heirs. To claim our place as His children of a great inheritance, we must take upon ourselves His characteristics. We must “walk as He walks,” so to speak.
How do we come to know God? We find that answer in and through Jesus Christ, who declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The mortal journey of Jesus had a specific destination in mind. It was not His destination alone, but ours also: He showed us the road home to Heavenly Father; He paid our debts, thereby allowing us passage.
Through Jesus Christ and His gospel, we need not walk in darkness, for His is the divine light that permeates all and enlightens the mind and soul in things pertaining to our Heavenly Father and His kingdom. Jesus 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).
It is not enough for us to say we believe in God. We must know Him. We must live our lives in such a manner that we will be recognized as His children. There must be no doubt that He is our Father in Heaven. We must love as He loves, live as He would have us live, obey His commandments, know His doctrines. As do children who assume the characteristics of earthly parents, so must we become like our Heavenly Father.