As I have read these testimonies—and many others like them over the years—it has always touched my heart to sense how deeply Heavenly Father loves His eldest Son and how Jesus shows His love by His obedience to His Father’s will. I testify that when we do what is necessary to know Them and know Their love for one another, we will obtain “the greatest of all the gifts of God”—even eternal life. For “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” How can this gift be ours? It comes through a matter of personal revelation, which has been spoken of and taught this morning. Do you remember the first time you knew there was a God and could feel His love? As a boy, I used to gaze into the starry sky and ponder and feel His presence. I thrilled to explore the magnificent beauties of God’s creations—from tiny insects to towering trees. As I recognized the beauty of this earth, I knew that Heavenly Father loved me. I knew that I was a literal spiritual offspring, that we are all sons and daughters of God. How did I know this? you might ask. The scriptures teach, “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and … to others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.” From my perspective, this does not mean that some people will forever be dependent upon the testimonies of others. My own testimony grew as I learned about Heavenly Father and the Savior from the teachings and testimony of my parents, teachers, the scriptures—which I read diligently—and especially the Holy Ghost. As I exercised faith and obeyed the commandments, the Holy Ghost testified that what I was learning was true. This is how I came to know for myself.
Even so, as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, we declare that “we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” Some wonder, why is belief in God so important? Why did the Savior say, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”? Without God, life would end at the grave and our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary, accomplishment without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right and wrong and no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God, there would be no mortal or eternal life. If you or someone you love is seeking purpose in life or a deeper conviction of God’s presence in our lives, I offer, as a friend and as an Apostle, my witness. He lives! Some may ask, how can I know this for myself? We know He lives because we believe the testimonies of His ancient and living prophets, and we have felt God’s Spirit confirm that the testimonies of these prophets are true.
But how may we know him? That is the next question. Has he at any time, or on any occasion, answered that question? If so, we want the answer, because it is vital. In searching the record as it is given to us by men who associated daily with the Lord, we find that upon one occasion men who were listening to him cried out against him. They opposed his works, as men today oppose him. And one voice cried out and said in effect, “How do we know that what you tell us is true? How do we know that your profession of being the Son of God is true.” And Jesus answered him in just a simple way (and note the test):“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” That test is most sound. It is most philosophical. It is the most simple test to give knowledge to an individual of which the human mind can conceive. Doing a thing, introducing it into your very being, will convince you whether it is good or whether it is bad. You may not be able to convince me of that which you know, but you know it because you have lived it. That is the test that the Savior gave to those men when they asked him how they should know whether the doctrine was of God or whether it was of man. We have answered the question that if we shall do his will we shall know but now comes the question, what is “the will”? And therein is the whole essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as plainly as Jesus stated and defined what eternal life is, or how we shall know it, just as plainly as he laid down that test, just as plainly has he expressed what his will is.