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Coming to Know Christ


It is great to see you all here this morning. Each fall, it is so fun to see students arriving on campus and to share in your excitement. Being a student or employee at BYU–Hawaii is an incredible blessing and privilege. I hope you are enjoying every new adventure and challenge that you encounter. As you walk around campus, keep your head up, see the beauty around you, and notice your fellow students. Smile, wave, say hello, and enjoy the unique love that we have for each other here at BYU–Hawaii

I want to start my remarks today with a favorite quote of mine from Elder Boyd K. Packer’s April 1989 General Conference address. The talk is titled “To Young Women and Men,” or in other words, to all of you.

He says, “You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually, you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!” [1]

I know this to be true. We are all children of God. However, distractions and disappointments sometimes make it difficult to “fix this truth in [our] minds,” as President Packer suggests. Occasionally, we question our divine identity. How can you know that you are a child of God? 

In John 14:6-7, Jesus answers this very question for his disciples. He says:, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” 

To understand our Heavenly Father and our identity as his children, we need to get to know His Son, Jesus Christ. Today, I want to talk about some things we can do to get to know Jesus Christ a little bit better.

When I want to learn more about Christ and His nature, I like to start by reading about His life and the lives of those who knew Him during his earthly ministry. Christ and His disciples spent three years together. During that time, they ate, traveled, and camped together. They went to the synagogue and worshiped together. They fished, hiked, and visited together. 

The disciples asked Jesus questions and helped Him minister to the grieving, the sick, and the hungry. They hosted Him and testified of Him. They introduced Him to their friends. Jesus cared about them deeply and encouraged them. He taught them and gave them advice. He served and protected them. He called them His friends. He trusted them, and He challenged them. And He was patient with them. He showed them how to live and urged them to follow Him.

Although we can’t walk and talk with Jesus in the same way that those early disciples did, there are many ways that we can get to know Him in the same way. After all, we are not all that different from those early disciples. They, too, had to ponder and consider his words to know Him and fully understand how to follow Him. 

Prayer and scripture study are simple and effective ways to get to know Him. We all know how to pray, and I hope you are praying often. I want to remind you about ways that you can make prayer a more effective way to get to know Jesus Christ. 

First, pray often. 

Second, make your prayers personal. Thank Heavenly Father for your specific blessings. Also, ask for specific help. The more your prayers are specific to your life, the more personal they can become, and the closer you will feel to Jesus Christ.

Third, we need to find the right time and place to listen for guidance and answers to our prayers. Often, we will have earphones in our ears and screens in front of our eyes. That makes it hard to get the answers and guidance we need. Take time for yourself without distractions so the Holy Ghost can speak to you. Find a quiet place that allows you to hear that inspiration.

Study the scriptures. Read about His life in the New Testament and Book of Mormon and focus on Christ’s words. I recommend that you read President Oak’s talk, "The Teachings of Jesus Christ,” from this year’s April General Conference. Nearly every word in this talk is a direct quote from our Savior Jesus Christ. It is a great resource for getting to know Christ by hearing His words. Another simple way to begin your scripture study would be to follow the Come Follow Me curriculum. Come Follow Me aims to “deepen our conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and help us become more like them.” Don’t we all want that?

Serving others is another great way to get to know Christ. Mosiah 2:17 teaches us that if we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of our God. Through our service, we gain the ability to understand others and make ourselves more holy. Through our service, we learn to love as God loves us. If you are struggling, serve someone and see what happens.

In 2017, President Nelson invited the young adults of the Church to study the names and titles of Christ. He made this invitation based on his own personal experience studying and highlighting every reference to the Savior listed in the Topical Guide. Although President Nelson had already been an apostle and “special witness of Jesus Christ” for many years, he said of the experience: 

“When I finished that exciting exercise, my wife asked me what impact it had on me. I told her, ‘I am a different man!’” Like President Nelson, we can all be changed for the better when we seek to know Jesus Christ.

“Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee.” [2]

Isn’t it amazing to consider that even someone as spiritually mature as President Nelson felt the blessing of getting to know Jesus better? There are several scriptures that outline the great blessings promised to each of us when we do what it takes to know Him. Two that have stood out to me are found in the Doctrine and Covenants. In Section 19, verse 23, we read , “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.”

Then, in Section 90, verse 24, we are told to, “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good,...

I know that in my life, I have found peace and have received blessings because of the time I spent studying the teachings and life of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love Him. I know that he lives. I pray, at the start of this new semester, that each of you will have the assurance of the blessings of peace and increased knowledge of our Savior as you continue your efforts to know Him.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Boyd K. Packer, “To the Young Women and Men,” April 1989
[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Christ into Our Lives,” April 2017