- The Bible tells us that when the Savior gave his final instructions to his disciples, he promised that he would send them “the Comforter.” Earlier, he had taught them the mission of this comforter, which is otherwise referred to as the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, or simply the Spirit. That comforter dwells in us. He teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance. He guides us into truth and shows us things to come. He testifies of the Son. The Bible also teaches that the Savior and his servants will baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
The Book of Mormon shines greater light on this topic.
- The Bible’s teachings about the Holy Ghost are reaffirmed and elaborated in the Book of Mormon and in modern revelations. The Holy Ghost is the means by which God inspires and reveals his will to his children. The Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and of the Son. He enlightens our minds and fills us with joy. By the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things. By his power we may have the mysteries of God unfolded to us, all things which are expedient. The Holy Ghost shows us what we should do. We teach the gospel as we are directed by the Holy Ghost, which carries our words into the hearts of those we teach.
Joseph Smith called the gift of the Holy Ghost one of the distinguishing features that makes our religion different from others.
- The gift of the Holy Ghost is so important to our faith that a prophet gave it unique emphasis in a conversation with the president of the United States. Joseph Smith had journeyed to Washington to seek help in recovering compensation for injuries and losses the Saints had suffered in the Missouri persecutions. In his meeting with the president, Joseph was asked how this Church differed from the other religions of the day. The Prophet replied that “we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.” He later explained that this answer was given because “all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
President Oaks talks about three different ways that the Holy Ghost helps us. Each of these is a way that the Holy Ghost will bring light and knowledge to us but there are clear differences to each one.
- In highlighting the gift of the Holy Ghost as a distinguishing characteristic of our faith, we need to understand the important differences between (1) the Light of Christ, (2) a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and (3) the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Light of Christ
- The Light of Christ, which is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of God, “giveth light to every man that cometh into the world.” This is the light “which is in all things, which giveth life to all things.” The prophet Mormon taught that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.”
- The Light of Christ is given to all men and women that they may know good from evil;
A manifestation of the Holy Ghost
- A manifestation of the Holy Ghost is more focused. This manifestation is given to acquaint sincere seekers with the truth about the Lord and his gospel. For example, the prophet Moroni promises that when we study the Book of Mormon and seek to know whether it is true, sincerely and with real intent, God will “manifest” the truth of it unto us, “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni also records this promise from the Risen Lord: “He that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true.”
- Manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism.
The gift of the Holy Ghost
- The gift of the Holy Ghost includes the right to constant companionship, that we may “always have his Spirit to be with [us].”
President Oaks gives us an example of what it is like to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. He uses our homes as an example of a place where there Spirit should always want to preside but many homes are not in that order and it is noticeable by those that enter there.
- If we are practicing our faith and seeking the companionship of the Holy Spirit, His presence can be felt in our hearts and in our homes. A family having daily family prayers and seeking to keep the commandments of God and honor his name and speak lovingly to one another will have a spiritual feeling in their home that will be discernible to all who enter it. I know this, because I have felt the presence or absence of that feeling in many LDS homes.
Righteousness is the key to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The spirit withdrawals when we are not living our lives in accordance with the gospel.
- Even though we have a right to his constant companionship, the Spirit of the Lord will dwell only with us when we keep the commandments. He will withdraw when we offend him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other serious sins.
President Oaks concludes by talking about the relationship between the Holy Ghost and the sacrament. Repentance and the partaking of the sacrament, cleanses us so we can regain the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Without the sacrament, we would be fallen and lost but our wise Father in Heaven has made it possible for us to all return to His presence and always have His spirit with us.
- In partaking of the sacrament, we can renew the effects of our baptism. When we desire a remission of our sins through the Atonement of our Savior, we are commanded to repent and come to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
- The renewal of our covenants by partaking of the sacrament should also be preceded by repentance, so we come to that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Then, as we renew our baptismal covenants and affirm that we will “always remember him,” the Lord will renew the promised remission of our sins, under the conditions and at the time he chooses.
- I pray that we will also partake of the sacrament with the submissive manner that will help us accept and serve in Church callings in order to comply with our solemn covenant to take his name and his work upon us. I also plead for us to comply with our solemn covenant to keep his commandments.
- To those brothers and sisters who may have allowed themselves to become lax in this vital renewal of the covenants of the sacrament, I plead in words of the First Presidency that you “come back and feast at the table of the Lord, and taste again the sweet and satisfying fruits of fellowship with the saints.”
I reflect on my life and consider if I have become lax in my renewal of my covenants. Sunday can be a day of spiritual renewal and enlightenment or it can be a day of Netflix on the couch. The decision is up to me. I find myself recently trying to use my Sunday as a day of personal reflection on my spiritual life as during the week is busy with so many other things to distract me. If I am taking time to focus on my spiritual life through my Sunday worship, I am encouraged that I am on the right track and making decisions that are in line with my values. Once I become lax in my worship, I don't believe that my commitment to focusing on my spiritual life will be as strong. I hope I never got to that point in my life.