The first Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. It is the roles of the Holy Ghost that will be addressed.
Who is the Holy Ghost?
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter. The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help us to live righteously and receive the blessings of the Gospel. Together, Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are One, but not one in the same person; rather they are one in purpose.
The Holy Ghost Witnesses of the Father and the Son
And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
The Holy Spirit also reveals and teaches “the truth of all things.” In the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:4-7 are recorded these words:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is. And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. He purifies, or sanctifies us to prepare us to dwell in the presence of God. His influence can be everywhere at once.
The Influence of the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Perhaps it would be best to clearly distinguish the difference between the influence of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The influence of the Holy Ghost is what bears witness and testifies to a person that the Book of Mormon is true, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true Church upon the earth today, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Lord. A person does not have to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in order to be influenced by the Holy Ghost.
After a person is baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ he or she is given the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost that gives permanency to the witness and testimony that has already been received through the influence of the Holy Ghost. It is also the gift of the Holy Ghost that gives a person the privilege to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost. However, these things are predicated upon the faithfulness and obedience to the commandments of the Gospel, of the person receiving the gift.
I like the way Elder David B. Haight described the gift of the Holy Ghost. He said, “The gift of the Holy Ghost is a priceless possession and opens the door to our ongoing knowledge of God and eternal joy. (Ensign, “The Sacrament – and the Sacrifice,” David B. Haight, November 1989, p.61.) And Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught,
The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead based on faithfulness. It is the right to receive revelation, to see visions, to be in tune with the Infinite. (Ensign,”The Ten Blessings of the Priesthood,” November 1977, p. 33.)
And so, in order to be worthy to have the help of the Holy Ghost, a person must keep his thoughts and actions pure and seek earnestly to obey the commandments of God.
How the Holy Ghost Communicates with Us
The Holy Ghost usually communicates with us quietly. His influence is often referred to as a “still small voice” (See 1 Kings 19:9–12; Helaman 5:30; Doctrine and Covenants 85:6). President Boyd K. Packer explained:
The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. … While we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling …’” He continued: “This voice of the Spirit speaks gently, prompting you what to do or what to say, or it may caution or warn you” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 77; or Ensign,”Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Nov. 1994, 60).
The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Through the Holy Ghost we may gain a testimony that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that His Church has been restored in its fullness upon the earth today.
In the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 32:5, we are taught, “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way (that way is baptism), and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
This precious gift from our Heavenly Father can also bring peace to our hearts and an understanding of the things of God. I conclude my remarks with the words recorded in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 2:9-12:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
I bear witness that these things are true and leave these thoughts with you humbly in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
This talk was given on the occasion of the baptisms of Christine Ray Smith, Sheila Deniese Rhodes, and Ratasha Tiara Harley, on Saturday, 7 July 2012, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Annapolis Maryland.