On Tuesday, May 24, Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy opened his remarks to BYU–Pathway Worldwide students with a teaching from the Savior that has always captivated him.
“If ye continue in my word, then are you, my disciples, indeed,” the Savior says in John 8:31-32. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
What does it mean that the truth can make one free? During the devotional broadcast to students across the globe, Elder Nielson explained that in John 8, those to whom the Savior was speaking were confused, telling Him they had never been in bondage. The Savior, however, teaches them that He was speaking of freedom from sin, which includes the blessings of His Atonement.
“In my life I have learned that knowing the truth has set me free,” Elder Nielson said. “Understanding that God is my Father, that I am His son, that I have the ability to become like Him, and that the Savior Jesus Christ was sent in the meridian of time to not only atone for my sins but also to help me through difficult trials makes me free indeed.”
With that knowledge, Elder Nielson said he can move forward in faith trusting in the Lord. “And you can do the same.”
Gaining an education — training oneself to become a valuable member of society — can also set a person free, Elder Nielson continued. He then shared an experience from President Russell M. Nelson regarding gaining an education.
A 16-year-old unsure about his career once asked President Nelson how many years it took for him to become a heart surgeon. President Nelson responded that from the time he graduated from high school until he first collected a fee for service as a surgeon took 14 years.
“Wow! That’s too long for me,” the young man replied.
“How old will you be 14 years from now if you don’t become a heart surgeon?” President Nelson asked. “Just the same,” replied the young man.
Additional education and the opportunity to become a physician would set this young man free, Elder Nielson explained. “Instead of having just one option for employment, he would have thousands of options for employment. He could choose where he would live. He could choose the type of income he would make. He would be free. It is that freedom to choose that education provides for each of us.”
Elder Nielson shared how when he and his wife married, he began law school and she had two more years to complete her bachelor’s degree at BYU. They obtained a job managing a building as janitors. During the day he attended law school, and his wife attended school at night. The three years they were there, they had two children.
Although those times were difficult, Elder Nielson said he considers them to be sacred memories. “It is a time when we worked together to get our education and to become who the Lord wanted us to become. Upon our graduations, and both of us graduated the same year, our options for where we would live and where we would work and what we would do became unlimited,” Elder Nielson recalled. “The truth — our education — had set us free. Our options to choose were unlimited because of our education.”
Elder Nielson encouraged students to gain as much education as they can and to remember President Nelson’s encouragement to the young man. “I would also hope that you will see that the sacrifices you make along the way will be a blessing, and at the end of that road is your freedom to choose.”
As students persist in their studies, much of what they learn will help to free them from unnecessary challenges. “For example, learning about nutrition will help you remain healthy; learning interpersonal skills will help you minimize conflict with others; learning discipline will help you to master your time; learning math will help you budget your money so you can use it wisely,” he said.
Elder Nielson testified to students that getting as much education as possible and improving their skills will set them free and give them opportunities they never anticipated. “Please move forward with faith. Please be diligent in your studies. Please prepare yourself for life, and you will find that the Lord will be there to bless you every step of the way.”