I have been exploring the First and Second General Epistles of Peter for my “Come, Follow Me” studies this week. Peter wrote his epistles to the members of the Church in general at a time when there was great persecution and apostasy. In his first epistle Peter wrote about Jesus Christ’s visit to the spirit world during the time that His body lay in the tomb (see 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4-6). There He organized the righteous spirits to do missionary work among the spirits of the wicked, so that they could have an opportunity to hear His gospel.
By the time that Peter wrote his second epistle, he understood that his death was drawing near. He encouraged the Saints to develop Christlike characteristics and become more like the Savior. He told the Saints that as their spiritual abilities grew, their knowledge of God would also grow and bring them closer to having their calling and election made sure (see 2 Peter 1:2-10).
Just as the Apostle Peter emphasized the importance of gaining knowledge of God (see
2 Peter 1:2-3, 5, 8; 2:20; 3:18), Elder Bruce R. McConkie, a modern-day apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught the importance of coming to know God:
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, 3 vols. [1965-73], 1:762).
The Prophet Joseph Smith knew God better than most people who ever lived on earth. He explained the importance of gaining knowledge of Him.
The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 212).
According to the Apostle Peter, Elder McConkie, and the Prophet Joseph Smith – three witnesses – we need to gain knowledge about Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. We must do more than just know about them. We need to know them and become like them if we are to gain exaltation and live with them for eternity. This is the most critical knowledge that we can gain in this life. The more knowledge we gain of God, the greater will be our blessings.