Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. Another name for the Holy Ghost is "Holy Spirit". The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. Because he does not have a physical body, he is able to communicate directly with our spirits. Part of his mission is to testify of truth. He also is the "Comforter" that Jesus spoke of when he said, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. " John 14:26 It is through the influence of the Holy Ghost that true conversion, and revelation come.

The scriptures speak of spiritual gifts that we all may seek. Some of the gifts mentioned in the scriptures are: prophecy, speaking in tongues, revelation, visions, healings, interpretation of tongues, discerning of spirits, wisdom, knowledge, and charity. 1 Cor. 14:12 teaches us, "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." We should seek the gifts of the spirit so that we can bless the lives of others.

The term "spiritual gifts", and "Gift of the Holy Ghost" have two slightly different meanings. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is an ordinance that is bestowed upon a person after baptism, by one having the proper authority. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “There is a difference between
the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have
left him” (History of the Church, 4:555).

How does a person know if they have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost?
"President Boyd K. Packer taught: “The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither ‘loud’ nor ‘harsh.’ It is ‘not a voice of thunder, neither . . . voice of a great tumultuous noise.’ But rather, ‘a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,’ and it can ‘pierce even to the very soul’ and ‘cause [the heart] to burn.’ (3 Ne. 11:3; Hel. 5:30; D&C 85:6–7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a ‘still small voice.’ (1 Kgs. 19:12.) “The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. ....“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.’ (1 Sam. 3:10.)” (“The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53)." (Preach my Gospel, p.96)

The Book of Mormon gives us some ways to know if what we are feeling is from the Holy Ghost.
"13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. " (Moroni 7:13,16-17)

When I feel the spirit, I usually feel it in my heart, as well as my mind. It comes as a strong assurance of the truthfulness of what I am learning about. Sometimes it also comes as a stronger, "burning in the bosom" as spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants: "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. " (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8) However, I know that this gift is predicated upon our worthiness. If we are not living worthily, the Holy Ghost withdraws. I am so thankful for this gift in my life. It has been a guide, protection, comfort, and testifier of truth for me. I hope that I can always live worthily of this wonderful gift.

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