The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit and is the third member of the Godhead. His influence and power can be felt throughout the earth. He has various functions and powers, including administering the many gifts of the Spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:10-33; Moroni 10:4-19). He is the Spirit of Truth and the Holy Spirit of Promise. He comforts, testifies, sanctifies, and acts as the constant companion of those who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost and live worthy of it. The Holy Ghost is the greatest gift we receive from our Heavenly Father to help us in our sojourn here upon the earth. The Holy Ghost will show us all things to do (see 2 Nephi 32:5). To live worthy of this blessing, we are to repent and be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and then keep the commandments (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79). The gift of the Holy Ghost is to have his constant companionship, as long as we remain worthy of it. The Holy Ghost cannot dwell in an unclean place.
When friends of other faiths say they have "Christ in their hearts," it is actually the Spirit of Christ (which is given to all men, and which we sometimes call "conscience"), or the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
• 2 Nephi 31:13 — . . . by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
- When we receive the Holy Ghost (baptism of fire), we become members of the Church. We become sanctified by the Spirit (see 3 Nephi 27:20). We become clean and pure. We can testify of Christ and His goodness (see John15:26).
• John 14:26 — 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.
- The Spirit will console and encourage us in our times of need. The Spirit will lead us to do good, walk humbly, do justly, judge righteously—and will enlighten our souls (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-13) and give us the wonderful feelings of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, faith etc. (see Galatians 5:22-23).
• Moroni 10:5 — And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
- The Spirit will witness the truth of all things to us and answer our prayers (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:23; 9:8-9). This is why the Nephites were so eager to receive the Holy Ghost and prayed for this special blessing (see 3 Nephi 19:9).
• Doctrine and Covenants 46:10-33 (see also 1 Corinthians 12:3-11; Moroni 10:4-25) — Note: In these verses we find enumerated all the gifts of the Spirit that we can use to bless peoples’ lives. These are given to us according to need and worthiness.
- As we study and learn of the blessings of the Holy Ghost, we come to realize the great blessing and need for it in our lives. We should ever live worthy of this blessing.
• Moroni 6:9 — And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.
- Everything we do—from being led by the Spirit when we don’t know what to do (see 1 Nephi 4:6) to the very structured part of holding a meeting—should be directed by the Spirit. Then our meetings will be fruitful and bring about the purposes for which they were intended (see D&C 43:8-10).
Search the Topical Guide for additional scriptures concerning the Holy Ghost.
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
As already pointed out, the special office of the Holy Ghost is to enlighten and ennoble the mind, to purify and sanctify the soul, to incite to good works, and to reveal the things of God. But, beside these general blessings, there are certain specific endowments promised in connection with the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The Savior said: “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17, 18; Doctrine and Covenants 84:65-73).
These gifts of the Spirit are distributed in the wisdom of God for the salvation of His children. Paul thus discourses upon them: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. * * * Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. * * * But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kind of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” 1 Cor. 12:1-11; see also Moroni 10:8-19.
- (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 151.)
. . . only those who conform to the first ordinances of the Gospel are connected officially with the powers of the Holy Ghost in such a way as to secure added help. A distinct and real power comes to the individual who receives the Holy Ghost. It is as if he had been given a key to a vast and wonderful building which he may enter at his pleasure. However, if the key be unused, the gift is of no value. Man must seek help from the Holy Ghost, if the gift shall be real. The gift of the Holy Ghost also represents a general law, for it is evident that all who have faith made active by repentance, and show obedience to law, will be in such harmony with intelligent forces as to receive much light from them if desired or needed.
- (John A. Widtsoe, A Rational Theology [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1937], 96 - 97.)
To me, the best directions about how to get the help of the Holy Ghost, directions that I have tested and know to be true, were given by President Marion G. Romney. I will give you his instructions in his own words. Then together let us see if we can figure out how we can work to prepare for that Sunday School teacher or quorum leader or sacrament meeting speaker to whom we will listen next Sunday.
Here are President Romney’s instructions: “If you want to obtain and keep the guidance of the Spirit, you can do so by following this simple four-point program. One, pray. Pray diligently. Pray with each other. Pray in public in the proper places. . . . Learn to talk to the Lord; call upon his name in great faith and confidence. Second, study and learn the gospel. Third, live righteously; repent of your sins by confessing them and forsaking them. Then conform to the teachings of the gospel. Fourth, give service in the Church.” And then President Romney concludes this way: “If you will do these things, you will get the guidance of the Holy Spirit and you will go through this world successfully, regardless of what the people of the world say or do.” (“Guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, January 1980, p. 5; emphasis added.)
- (Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 14 - 15.)
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING
Here are some of the doctrines, principles, covenants and concepts to understand concerning the Holy Ghost and some ideas to help us obtain and retain the guidance of the Holy Ghost:
1. Faith — Faith, being the foundation of all righteousness, is key to having the blessing and power of the Holy Ghost in your life (see 1 Nephi 10:17).
2. Love — The motive for every righteous act is love (see John 3:16; 2 Nephi 26:24). The blessings and power of the Holy Spirit can come only to those who love God (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:11).
3. Obedience — The law is decreed for receiving blessings (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21). The Lord has made clear through the sacramental prayers this very doctrine. If we keep the commandments we can enjoy His Spirit to be with us (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79) and if not, we lose the blessing (see 2 Nephi 26:11; Mormon 1:14).
4. Gratitude for receiving the Holy Ghost — It is received by the laying on of hands. It is the baptism of fire (see 3 Nephi 12:1) and is a gift from God. It is a precious ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings direction and power to our lives (see Acts 8:17; Doctrine and Covenants 20:41-43).
5. Being born again — Following baptism one receives the Holy Ghost, and this then makes complete the process of being born again (see Mosiah 27:25), becoming a new creature (see Mosiah 27:26), and being sanctified by reception of the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 27:20). Remember: to be born again is essential to enter the Kingdom of God as well as the Celestial Kingdom.
6. Mighty prayer — Pray and fast for the blessing of the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 19: 9, 21). We must literally plead for the Spirit, for without it we are left to ourselves with no comfort, no guide, no teacher, and no knowledge of truth.
7. Searching the scriptures — Faith comes by hearing the word (see Romans 10:17). Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 32:3). The word is given by the power of the Holy Ghost, and it “shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation” ( Doctrine and Covenants 68:4). This is why we are to live by the word of God (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:44-46).
8. Understanding and seeking the blessings and fruits of the Spirit — When we exercise our faith, keep the commandments, show forth love, and are pure before the Lord, we are blessed with the Spirit. We trust in the Spirit, which leads us to do good, to do justly, walk humbly, and judge righteously. Thus our minds are enlightened and we feel joy (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-13). We also receive the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (see Galatians 5:22-23).
9. Understanding and seeking the gifts of the Spirit — The gifts of the Spirit can be ours according to need and stewardship responsibilities, that we in turn might be able to bless others. We are to prepare to be worthy of all gifts imparted unto us: such as to know that Jesus is the Christ who atoned for our sins, and have others believe on our words; the diversities of the operation of the Spirit; discerning the things of the Spirit; the word of wisdom; knowledge; faith to be healed; faith to heal; working miracles; prophesying; discerning of spirits; speaking in tongues; interpretation of tongues—and all these are given for the benefit of the children of God. Therefore, we should seek those gifts in order that we might be instruments in the hand of the Lord to bless our brothers and sisters, always giving thanks for the blessings of the spirit that we enjoy (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:10-33). All of the gifts of the Spirit are manifest in God's true church.
10. Church Service — We can teach only by the Spirit (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:14). Our meetings are to be directed by the Spirit (see Moroni 6:9). In all of our Church service we rely on the Spirit in every facet of the work, whether it is to testify (see 3 Nephi 28:11) or otherwise do the work of the ministry (see Acts 13:2-4; 16:6). As disciples we have the joy of the Spirit (see Acts 13:52).
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR OUR TIME
“Hearkening to the Voice”
I was once saved from death or serious accident because my father hearkened to the voice of the Spirit. If he had not responded instantly to the whisperings of the still small voice, my life might have ended then or had its course totally changed.
One of my earliest childhood recollections is of riding a horse through an apple orchard. The horse was tame and well broken, and I felt at home in the saddle.
But one day something frightened my mount, and he bolted through the orchard. I was swept from the saddle by the overhanging limbs, and one leg slipped down through the stirrup. I desperately hung to an almost broken leather strap that a cowboy uses to tie a lariat to his saddle. My weight should have broken the strap, but somehow it held for the moment. Another lunge or two of the stampeding horse would have broken the strap or wrenched it from my hands and left me to be dragged to injury or death with my foot entangled in the stirrup. Suddenly the horse stopped, and I became aware that someone was holding the bridle tightly and attempting to calm the quivering animal. Almost immediately I was snatched up into the arms of my father.
What had happened? What had brought my father to my rescue in the split second before I slipped beneath the hoofs of my panic-driven horse?
My father had been sitting in the house reading the newspaper when the Spirit whispered to him, “Run out into the orchard!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, not waiting to learn why or for what reason, my father ran. Finding himself in the orchard without knowing why he was there, he saw the galloping horse and thought, I must stop this horse. He did so and found me. And that is how I was saved from serious injury or possible death.
The Spirit told Wilford Woodruff to move his team away from the tree where he had tied them. He did so, and almost immediately the tree was uprooted and destroyed by a whirlwind.
The Spirit told President Joseph F. Smith to leave the platform on the rear of a train and to go inside and sit down. He did so, and almost immediately the train was involved in an accident.
I know an army pilot who was flying a military plane through a dense cloud over Vietnam when the Spirit told him to turn right. The pilot made an instant turn and another plane flashed by. He missed a head-on collision by inches.
When we are baptized, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to the constant companionship of this member of the Godhead based on faithfulness. This is the greatest gift possible to receive in mortality.
There is nothing any of us need as much as the guiding and preserving care of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit that is given by the prayer of faith to those who love and serve the Lord.
I testify that if we love the Lord, keep His commandments, and seek His Spirit, we shall be blessed beyond our fondest hopes.
- (Bruce R. McConkie, “Friend to Friend: Hearken to the Spirit,” Friend, Sept. 1972, 10.)
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE HOLY GHOST
• “The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the Lord and issues forth from himself and may properly by called God’s minister to execute His will in immensity.” —Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 1:50, April 9, 1852). • “When a man speaks as he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost, it is the spirit of inspiration; it is the word of God; it is the will of God.” —Wilford Woodruff (Millennial Star 51:786, October 6, 1877).
The Holy Ghost is the source of great blessings in our lives. We simply could not do the things we do without its influence. We could not function in our service to carry out the mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without the Holy Ghost and its supernal gifts of inspiration. In all things the Spirit is the key to understanding and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit will indeed show us all things to do. Our duty is to live worthy of the companionship of the Spirit so we can serve the Lord and build up the Kingdom of God here upon the earth.
- This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.