I recently started listening to the scriptures and General Conference talks while going about my tasks. I find that the practice not only increases my knowledge but also calms my spirit and keeps my thoughts more appropriate.
One day I listened to a talk by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and found it so enlightening that I listened to it several times. He gave this talk in the October 2016 General Conference. It is titled “If Ye Had Known Me.”
Elder Bednar begins his talk by reminding us of an eternal principle: The only way that we can receive “the saving grace of the Son” is to do “the will of the Father.” After giving His Sermon on the Mount the Savior said the following.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).
After reading the above scripture, Elder Bednar gives the following explanation before moving on to the parable of the ten virgins where there is similar wording.
Our understanding of this episode is enlarged as we reflect upon an inspired revision to the text. Significantly, the Lord’s phrase reported in the King James Version of the Bible, “I never knew you,” was changed in the Joseph Smith Translation to “Ye never knew me” (JST Matthew 7:23).
Elder Bednar summarizes the first part of the parable where the ten virgins are waiting for the bridegroom to come. The cry comes that he is on his way, and the virgins trim their lamps. Some of them brought extra oil, and some of them left to buy oil.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the [five foolish] virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matt. 25:10-12).
Giving a similar explanation, Elder Bednar shares the inspired revision in the Joseph Smith Translation. “I know you not” in the King James Version was clarified by Joseph Smith to say, “Ye know me not” (JST Matthew 25:12). His following words are what caused me to listen to his talk numerous times. I would love to discuss this talk in Relief Society or with my oldest sister in order to gain further enlightenment.
The phrases “Ye never knew me” and “Ye know me not” should be a cause of deep spiritual introspection for each of us. Do we only know about the Savior, or are we increasingly coming to know Him? How do we come to know the Lord? These questions of the soul are the focus of my message. I earnestly invite the assistance of the Holy Ghost as we consider together this vital subject.
According to Elder Bednar we come to know the Savior by doing the following actions:
(1) Exercising faith in Him, (2) Following Him, (3) Serving Him, and (4) Believing Him. We come to know the Savior by doing the things that He does and becoming like Him.
I realized from Elder Bednar’s remarks that there is no way that Jesus Christ does not know each one of us. Joseph Smith says the following about his first vision when the Father and the Son appeared to Him.
… I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17).
Just as Heavenly Father knew the name of Joseph Smith, He knows your name and my name. He knows us. He will never say, “I never knew you” or “I know ye not.” However, it is very possible that He could say, “Ye never knew me” or “Ye know me not.” Coming to know the Father and the Son is not something that happens overnight or without effort.
Exercising faith in Jesus Christ will sometimes take us right to the edge before an answer comes; sometimes we just have to keep moving in spite of not having a firm answer. We must not only believe in the Savior, but we must also believe Him. We must believe His words and put our total trust in Him. We must be willing to do whatever He asks of us – to go wherever He wants us to go, to do whatever He wants us to do, and to become what He wants us to become. We can best serve Him by serving the people around us.