Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be present at the baptism of a good friend. Through much study, prayer, church attendance, meeting with the missionaries, and living the standards of the Church, my friend felt the influence of the Holy Ghost and followed the prompting to do as Christ taught and "follow [Him], and do the things which ye have seen [Him] do," "having set the example before [us] (see 2 Ne 31:12, 9.)

Christ also taught that baptism with water is incomplete without baptism of the Spirit (see John 3:5), or receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority. (See also Acts 2:37-38.) Mine was the wonderful opportunity to speak at her baptism and since she was also going to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, I spoke on the topic of the gift of the Holy Ghost. Below is an abridged version of my talk:

You have just received your first commandment as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The person who officiated in that ordinance said to you “receive the Holy Ghost.”

Think about what that implies, to receive the Holy Ghost. You now have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. You can always have that comforter that Christ promised His Apostles, the Comforter who shall teach you all things and shall bring peace to your soul when it is troubled (see John 14:26-27.) The Holy Ghost confirms that things you read in the scriptures and learn from the missionaries and at church are true (see D&C 9:8-9; John 15:26; Moroni 10:5) and brings all things to your remembrance. It helps the scriptures have greater effect (see Joseph Smith-History 1:11-12) and strengthens the desire to avoid evil and keep the commandments (see John 16:7-8.)

This gift, however, is not unconditional. You have the right to be guided directly by the Lord, to feel the guiding influence and gentle promptings of the Holy Ghost and this right is earned through obedience to the commandments and teachings of the Lord (see Ether 2:15; D&C 1:33.) When you strive to honor the covenant you made with the Lord through baptism, the covenant to keep His commandments, to stand as a witness of Him, to serve others, and to serve Him, you become worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

I am not telling you anything that you do not already know; I just hope to emphasize that this gift is one of the greatest gifts the Lord will give you and that you must do all you can to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion in your life.

Now, following the promptings of the Holy Ghost is not easy; it is a learning process that encompasses a lifetime. However, as you strive to live a pure and virtuous life, you will be more receptive to spiritual promptings.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of the “opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence,” BYU Devotional Address, 2 March 1999.) There are trying times ahead. Being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost does not free you from ever experiencing hardships and trials. Indeed, as President Uchtdorf taught, “complete conversion comes after much trial and tribulation” (Utah and Wasatch regional conference, 7 September 2008.) Rely on the Spirit. Rely on the Spirit when life is good and rely on the Spirit when life is hard.

Now, I’m going to take the liberty to talk to those of you who are just visiting today, to those of you to whom the ordinances performed here today are not as familiar. Welcome. We are excited you are here. Those involved appreciate your support. I hope that this has been a special experience for you as well.

Think for a moment about what you have felt today, about what you have felt in the last half hour. I know that you are feeling something. This feeling is not just the happiness you feel because the person who was baptized is quite obviously happy. What you are feeling in your heart right now is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is present here today because Our Heavenly Father is pleased with the decisions that have been made. Pay attention to what the Spirit is telling you. Pay attention to how you feel. Is it joy? Is it happiness? Those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost receive the right and the ability to feel this way all the time. Think about what the Holy Ghost is telling you.

I’ll tell you what the Holy Ghost is telling me and has told me many times. It is telling me that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us. That we have a loving Father in Heaven, and that He wants us to do as He asks so that we may return to live with Him again. That Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared in a grove of trees to the boy Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet and to restore the true church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That God called prophets and He calls prophets today. That President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet of God in our day. And that the Book of Mormon is also the word of God.

Here you will find the fulness of the gospel that enables us to receive a fullness of happiness. Here you will find the priesthood authority to perform the saving ordinances of baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Don’t ever forget it. To those of you who have already entered into the covenant of baptism: continue to read the scriptures, to study, to ponder, to pray, to go to church, to live the gospel, to honor your baptismal commitment; receive the Holy Ghost, that your testimony may become stronger and that you may be eternally happy.

Jeremy

See also:

2 Nephi 31

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Unspeakable Gift,” Ensign, May 2003)