- My message this afternoon focuses on the baptism of the Spirit and the blessings that flow from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
The Ordinance of and Covenant Associated with Baptism
- As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemn covenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is an agreement between God and His children upon the earth, and it is important to understand that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants. You and I do not decide the nature or elements of a covenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, we accept the terms and requirements of a covenant as our Eternal Father has established them (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651). We witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77 ). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.
Confirmation and the Baptism of the Spirit
- The statement “receive the Holy Ghost” in our confirmation was a directive to strive for the baptism of the Spirit.
- As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learn that the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’s influence is not always the same. Strong, dramatic spiritual impressions do not come to us frequently. Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, there simply are times when the direction, assurance, and peace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in our lives. The influence of the Holy Ghost is described in the scriptures as “a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:12; see also 3 Ne. 11:3) and a “voice of perfect mildness” (Hel. 5:30). Thus, the Spirit of the Lord usually communicates with us in ways that are quiet, delicate, and subtle.
Withdrawing Ourselves from the Spirit of the Lord
- We should seek diligently to recognize and respond to promptings as they come to us. However, an important aspect of baptism by the Spirit may frequently be overlooked in our spiritual development. We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit. The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.
Elder Bednar speaks of the reality that we will not always have the Spirit with us but notes that we can have it more than we have it today.
- I recognize we are fallen men and women living in a mortal world and that we might not have the presence of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us.
The Liahona as a Type and Shadow for Our Day
Elder Bednar speaks of the Liahona that was given to Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon. He shares that the Liahona is a perfect representation of what the spirit can do in our lives.
- The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today.
The Liahona: Purposes and Principles
We will be blessed to understand what made the Liahona work for Lehi. As we learn, we will understand the things that allow the Spirit to be with us in our lives.
- The primary purposes of the Liahona were to provide both direction and instruction during a long and demanding journey. The director was a physical instrument that served as an outward indicator of their inner spiritual standing before God. It worked according to the principles of faith and diligence. Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us in this day has been given a spiritual compass that can direct and instruct us during our mortal journey. The Holy Ghost was conferred upon you and me as we came out of the world and into the Savior’s Church through baptism and confirmation. By the authority of the holy priesthood we were confirmed as members of the Church and admonished to seek for the constant companionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” ( John 14:17 ). The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.
In order to obtain the Holy Ghost, we have to live our lives in a manner that invites the Spirit to remain with us.
- We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost.
Elder Bednar concludes with these words.
- May each of us so live that we may always have His Spirit to be with us and thereby qualify for the blessings of direction, instruction, and protection that are essential in these latter days.
Elder Bednar outlines what we need to do to have the Spirit to always be with us. As we put our lives in line with what the Spirit requires, we will find ourselves getting closer to God and enjoying the companionship of the spirit more in our lives. If we are to always have the Spirit with us, we must live our lives to be worthy of the covenants we have made.