In my scripture study this week, I came across John 17:3, which says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” The principle that I took from this verse is: I can gain eternal life by knowing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I remember teaching this scripture to a Seminary class many years ago. I used the father of one of my students as an example. I told my students the man’s name, where he lived, how many children he had, and many other bits of information about him. Then I told the students that I did not really know the man because I had never met him.
There are numerous references in the scriptures where Jesus tells His disciples that He came to earth to reveal the Father to them. He also tells them that, if they have seen Him, they have also seen the Father. I understand that the Holy Ghost can and will lead me to know Jesus Christ, and only then will Jesus Christ lead me to the Father.
I appreciate the explanation given by Elder Bruce R. McConkie about the difference between knowing about God and knowing Him:
It is one thing to know about God and another to know him. We know about him when we learn that he is a personal being in whose image man is created; when we learn that the Son is in the express image of his Father’s person; when we learn that both the Father and the Son possess certain specified attributes and powers. But we know them, in the sense of gaining eternal life, when we enjoy and experience the same things they do. To know God is to think what he thinks, to feel what he feels, to have the power he possesses, to comprehend the truths he understands, and to do what he does. Those who know God become like him, and have his kind of life, which is eternal life (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:762, as quoted in the New Testament Student Manual, 254).
We must do more than simply know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We must actually know Him. We come to know Him as we become more like Him. We must think the same type of thoughts that He thinks, have the same type of feelings that He does, and do the same type of acts that He does. In other words, we must become like Him and Heavenly Father in order to have eternal life.