The Gifts of the Spirit
Interestingly, in only two manuals, but tremendous resources for this lesson can be found in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: ... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals). These are Joseph Smith, Chapter 9 and Brigham Young, chapter 34. These can all be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are found at the bottom of this page.
Since there are many wonderful scriptures listed in this lesson with each section, “scriptures.byu.edu” is a great resource. Remember this website allows you to click on any scripture and find out who used it in a conference talk.
A tremendous resource that I have failed to recommend in this blog is the Doctrine & Covenants & Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual. I am a huge fan of every one, OT, NT, BM and this one. Here is a great excerpt:
Elder Orson Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve said, “Spiritual gifts are distributed among the members of the Church, according to their faithfulness, circumstances, natural abilities, duties, and callings; that the whole may be properly instructed, confirmed, perfected, and saved (Doctrine & Covenants & Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 81).
In this section it states, “Through Him [the Holy Ghost], each of us can be blessed with certain spiritual powers called gifts of the Spirit” (p. 125).
Joseph Smith echoed this doctrine:
These, then, are all gifts; they come from God; they are of God; they are all the gifts of the Holy Ghost (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 118).
It may be important to stress that all of the “gifts of the Spirit” are from the Holy Ghost.
In this section, it is stated that gifts of the spirit “will help us bless others” (p. 125).
This was also stressed by Joseph Smith:
The Church is a compact body composed of different members, and is strictly analogous to the human system, and Paul, after speaking of the different gifts, says, “Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular; and God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all Teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” It is evident that they do not; yet are they all members of one body. All members of the natural body are not the eye, the ear, the head or the hand—yet the eye cannot say to the ear I have no need of thee, nor the head to the foot, I have no need of thee; they are all so many component parts in the perfect machine—the one body; and if one member suffer, the whole of the members suffer with it: and if one member rejoice, all the rest are honored with it. [See 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, 18-21, 26-30.] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 117-8).
One of the quotes in this section is that “will guide us back to our Heavenly Father” (p. 125). Brigham Young explained:
We can use these gifts, and every other gift God has given us, to the praise and glory of God, to serve Him, or we can use them to dishonor Him and His cause. … These principles are correct in regard to the gifts which we receive for the express purpose of using them, in order that we may endure and be exalted, and that the organization we have received shall not come to an end, but endure to all eternity.
By a close application of the gifts bestowed upon us, we can secure to ourselves the resurrection of these bodies that we now possess, that our spirits inhabit, and when they are resurrected they will be made pure and holy; then they will endure to all eternity (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 254).
In this section is stated: “These gifts have been given to members of the true Church whenever it has been on the earth” (p. 125).
As part of the restoration, Joseph Smith taught:
The gifts which follow them that believe and obey the Gospel, as tokens that the Lord is ever the same in His dealings with the humble lovers and followers of truth, began to be poured out among us, as in ancient days (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 118).
Brigham Young proclaimed that the restoration indeed was complete with these:
I have already said that Christ set in his Church Apostles and Prophets; he also set in his Church evangelists, pastors and teachers; also the gifts of the Spirit, such as diverse tongues, healing the sick, discernment of spirits, and various other gifts. Now, I would ask the whole world, who has received revelation that the Lord has discontinued these offices and gifts in his Church? I have not. I have had revelation that they should be in the Church, and that there is no [true] Church without them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 251-2).
Joseph Smith proclaimed:
…we also believe in prophecy, in tongues, in visions, and in revelations, in gifts, and in healings; and that these things cannot be enjoyed without the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that the holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, and that holy men in these days speak by the same principle… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 97).
It may be important to note that it was also through Joseph Smith that we also received the following scripture:
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth (Articles of Faith 1:7).
It also may be interesting to note that in D&C 46:10-26, where most of the gifts following are found, there are listed gifts not discussed here. In the Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual previously mentioned:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations (Doctrine & Covenants & Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 81).
From Elder McConkie’s book, here is more of that quote:
…of the boundless outpouring of divine grace and a gracious God gives those who love and serve him (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 371).
From the same resource, here is another idea from a talk entitled, “There Are Many Gifts”:
Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve said some “less-conspicuous gifts” include “the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; … the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; … the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost (Doctrine & Covenants & Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 81).
First - - The Gift of Tongues (D&C 46:24)
Early in Brigham Young’s conversion, it is recorded:
During his first meeting with Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Brigham Young was blessed with the gift of tongues. Although that was a rare occasion in his life, he always rejoiced in the diversity of spiritual gifts poured out on him and the Latter-day Saints. “If we have the religion of the Savior we are entitled to the blessings precisely as they were anciently. Not that all had visions, not that all had dreams, not that all had the gift of tongues or the interpretation of tongues, but every man received according to his capacity and the blessing of the Giver” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 251).
Elder Robert D. Hales taught quite simply:
The gift of tongues is used by missionaries to teach the gospel to the nations of the world (Ensign, Feb 2002, 12).
Interestingly, Joseph Smith taught:
The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 121).
Second - - The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues (D&C 46:25)
Joseph Smith cautioned:
Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to each in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare and a curse instead of a blessing (History of the Church, 5:31-32).
Pres. Joseph F. Smith arrived on his mission (Hawaii - - then a foreign language mission), six weeks before his sixteenth birthday. He recalls:
I needed the gift of tongues once, and the Lord gave it to me. I was in a foreign land, sent to preach the gospel to people whose language I could not understand.
Then I sought earnestly for the gift of tongues, and by this gift and by study, in a hundred days after landing upon those islands I could talk to the people in their language as I now talk to you in my native tongue. This was a gift that was worthy of the gospel. There was a purpose in it (Doctrines of Salvation, 101).
Perhaps not exactly the gift of “tongues” or “interpretation of tongues” but a gift nonetheless closely related was described by Brigham Young:
The gift of communicating one with another is the gift of God, just as much so as the gift of prophecy, of discerning spirits, of tongues, of healing, or any other gift, though sight, taste, and speech, are so generally bestowed that they are not considered in the same miraculous light as are those gifts mentioned in the Gospel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 254).
Third - - The Gift of Translation (D&C 5:4)
The following quote was also used in this blog, Chapter 19, but it is timely here also concerning the translation of the Book of Mormon:
During this time, Joseph Smith learned that the divine gift was with him only when he was worthy to be guided by the Spirit. David Whitmer recounted: “One morning when [Joseph Smith] was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs, and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour—came back to the house, asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 116).
One of the truly wonderful examples of the “gift of translation” happens during conference:
…the Church’s twice-yearly general conference is translated into 92 different languages for broadcast around the world.
The Church’s culturally and linguistically diverse membership allows it to recruit literally hundreds of interpreters to accomplish the colossal task.
In addition to language proficiency, effective interpretation includes transmitting the emotion and intent of the speaker standing at the pulpit. “What we are translating is not our own message,” Lindsay said. “The message comes from the speakers, so we try to find people that can share that message effectively.”
However, interpretation requires more than experience, talent and training. "Interpretation is a spiritual gift that our interpreters need to have," said Jeff Bateson, director of translation for the Church. “We go to great lengths to do whatever we can to help them prepare spiritually.” (Newsroom, News Release, Sep. 28, 2010, Salt Lake City)
Fourth - - The Gift of Wisdom (D&C 46:17)
Joseph Smith discussed the importance of this gift:
A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 266).
Elder Stephen L Richards had the following observations on the gift of wisdom:
Wisdom is sometimes defined as sound judgment and a high degree of knowledge. I define wisdom as being the beneficent application of knowledge in decision. I think of wisdom not in the abstract but as functional. Life is largely made up of choices and determinations, and I can think of no wisdom that does not contemplate the good of man and society. Wisdom is true understanding (Conference Report, April 1950, 161)
Fifth - - The Gift of Knowledge (D&C 46:18)
The gift of seeing with the natural eyes is just as much a gift as the gift of tongues. The Lord gave that gift and we can do as we please with regard to seeing; we can use the sight of the eye to the glory of God, or to our own destruction (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 254).
Sixth - - The Gift of Teaching Wisdom and Knowledge (Moroni 10:9-10)
Elder M. Russell Ballard explained a wonderful concept about this gift as taught in scripture:
The Apostle Paul placed the priority of teachers in the Church next only to the Apostles and the prophets when he said, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” (1 Cor. 12:28).
President Brigham Young used the following story to illustrate the potential influence of teachers: “A traveller in the Eastern country overtook an old gentleman walking towards a town, and asked him, ‘Who is the great man of that little town? Who is your leading man? Who is the governor and controlling spirit of that little place?’ The old gentleman replied, ‘I am the king of that little town.’ ‘Really,’ says the traveller, ‘are you the leading man?’ ‘Yes, sir, I am king in that place, and reign as king.’ ‘How do you make this to appear? Are you in affluent circumstances?’ ‘No, I am poor; but in that little village there are so many children. All those children go to my school; I rule the children, and they rule their parents, and that makes me king.’ ”
President David O. McKay said, “No greater responsibility can rest upon any man, than to be a teacher of God’s children” (Ensign, May 1983, 68).
Jeffrey R. Holland added these insights:
Inspired instruction in the home and in the Church helps provide this crucial element of nourishing by the good word of God. We are so grateful to all who teach. We love you and appreciate you more than we can say. We have great confidence in you. To teach effectively and to feel you are succeeding is demanding work indeed. But it is worth it.
Fathers, mothers, siblings, friends, missionaries, home and visiting teachers, priesthood and auxiliary leaders, classroom instructors—each is, in his or her own way, “come from God” for our schooling and our salvation. In this Church it is virtually impossible to find anyone who is not a guide of one kind or another to his or her fellow members of the flock. Little wonder that Paul would say in his writings, “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers “[1 Cor. 12:28].
From all of us who have been taught to all of you who teach—we say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. May we exalt the teaching experience within the home and within the Church and improve our every effort to edify and instruct (Ensign, May 1998, 25).
Seventh - - The Gift of Knowing That Jesus Christ IS the Son of God (D&C 46:13)
President Joseph Fielding Smith, speaking of this gift as mentioned in D&C 46:13, stated:
This knowledge is placed first among the special gifts, because it is obtained only by revelation. This knowledge is a special gift. When the Spirit speaks to spirit, the imprint upon the soul is far more difficult to erase. Every member of the Church should have impressions that Jesus is the Son of God indelibly pictured on his soul through the witness of the Holy Ghost (Improvement Era, Nov. 1966, 979).
Marion G. Romney explained:
Everyone who has a testimony of Jesus has received it by revelation from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator, and everyone who receives him receives revelation (Conference Report, April 1956, 68).
Concerning this wonderful gift, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that this gift is necessarily connected to the following one by the doctrine of missionary work:
Spiritual gifts come by the power of the Holy Ghost, that all the faithful may be benefited. One of these gifts is “to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). Those who receive that gift have the duty to testify of it. We know this because immediately after describing the gift of knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Lord says: “To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” (D&C 46:14; see also 3 Ne. 19:28). Those who have the gift to know must give their witness so that those who have the gift to believe on their words can enjoy the benefit of that gift (Ensign, Nov 1990, 29).
For those who heard him, it was unforgettable when Elder Bruce R. McConkie bore his final testimony in conference (he died 10 days later). In a witness of this gift, he proclaimed:
In speaking of these wondrous things I shall use my own words, though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets.
True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word (Ensign, May 1985, 9).
I like how President Hinckley summed some of this up for this gift:
With all of our doing, with all of our leading, with all of our teaching, the most important thing we can do for those whom we lead is to cultivate in their hearts a living, vital, vibrant testimony and knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Author of our salvation, He who atoned for the sins of the world and opened the way of salvation and eternal life. I would hope that in all we do we would somehow constantly nourish the testimony of our people concerning the Savior: I am satisfied—I know it’s so—that whenever a man has a true witness in his heart of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, all else will come together as it should. … That is the root from which all virtue springs among those who call themselves Latter-day Saints (Ensign, Dec 2000, 14).
Eighth - - The Gift of Believing the Testimony of Others (D&C 46:14)
President David O. McKay
…the Lord says further that there are those to whom it is given to believe upon the testimony of the words of others (D&C 46:14). Note that. They believe upon the words of others that they may also receive salvation if they continue faithful (Conference Report October 1960, 4).
President Harold B. Lee made a wonderful comment about this “gift”:
…some of you may not have that testimony as firmly rooted as you would like to. May I ask you then, if you don't have, to cling to my testimony tonight, until you can develop one for yourselves. Say that you believe in one who holds the holy apostleship, that you believe what I said and then you start now to so search in the way that the scriptures have told us, as I have explained to you here tonight, until you too can say, as I say tonight, yes I know, by a witness that is more powerful, than sight, I know that Jesus is the Savior of the world (LDSSA Fireside, USU, Oct. 1971).
Ninth - - The Gift of Prophecy (D&C 46:22)
Concerning this gift, Brigham Young taught:
Every man and woman may be a revelator, and have the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy, and foresee the mind and will of God concerning them, eschew evil, and choose that which is good (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 253).
President Joseph Fielding Smith stressed:
All members of the Church should seek for the gift of prophecy, for their own guidance which is the spirit by which the word of the Lord is understood and his purpose made known (Church History and Modern-day Revelation, 1:201).
Tenth - - The Gift of Healing (D&C 46:19 – 20)
Brigham Young taught who should give blessings in this Church:
I am sent for continually, though I only go occasionally, because it is a privilege of every father, who is an Elder in Israel, to have faith to heal his family, just as much so as it is my privilege to have faith to heal my family; and if he does not do it he is not living up to his privilege. It is just as reasonable for him to ask me to cut his wood and maintain his family, for if he had faith himself he would save me the trouble of leaving other duties to attend to his request (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
For a marvelous supplement to this quote, see “The Power of the Priesthood” (well worth reading) by President Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 2010, 6. An excerpt follows:
This section states that, “…others have the faith to be healed. We can all exercise the faith to be healed when we are ill” (p. 129).
If any are still concerned that we don’t need doctors or medicine, Brigham Young declared:
If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and to ask my Father in Heaven, in the name of Jesus Christ, to sanctify that application to the healing of my body (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252-3).
But when none of the above are available, Brigham Young also explained:
But suppose we were traveling in the mountains, …and one or two were taken sick, without anything in the world in the shape of healing medicine within our reach, what should we do? According to my faith, ask the Lord Almighty to … heal the sick. This is our privilege, when so situated that we cannot get anything to help ourselves. Then the Lord and his servants can do all. But it is my duty to do, when I have it in my power (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 253).
Brigham Young also stressed the importance of spiritual preparation:
When we are prepared, when we are holy vessels before the Lord, a stream of power from the Almighty can pass through the tabernacle of the administrator to the system of the patient, and the sick are made whole; the headache, fever or other disease has to give way (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
Note the words “When we are prepared” and “can” in the above quote.
Concerning healing, Brigham Young taught:
When I lay hands on the sick, I expect the healing power and influence of God to pass through me to the patient, and the disease to give way. I do not say that I heal everybody I lay hands on; but many have been healed under my administration (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
In addition to the above, indicating that the Lord is still in charge and that “His will be done” is so crucial to this discussion, Brigham Young also stated:
We lay hands on the sick and wish them to be healed, and pray the Lord to heal them, but we cannot always say that he will (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 253).
James E. Talmage also helps us to understand God’s will in conjunction with this gift:
Another gift...is that of having faith to be healed, which is manifested in varying degrees. Not always are the administrations of the elders followed by immediate healings; the afflicted may be permitted to suffer in body, perhaps for the accomplishment of good purposes, and in the time appointed all must experience bodily death. But let the counsels of God be observed in administering the afflicted; then if they recover, they live unto the Lord; and the assuring promise is added that those who die under such conditions die unto the Lord (Articles of Faith, 205).
In a truly wonderful conference talk (it would be valuable to read this one); Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught about faith, blessings, and the will of the Lord:
Ideally, the elder who officiates will be so in tune with the Spirit of the Lord that he will know and declare the will of the Lord in the words of the blessing. Brigham Young taught priesthood holders, “It is your privilege and duty to live so that you know when the word of the Lord is spoken to you and when the mind of the Lord is revealed to you.” When that happens, the spoken blessing is fulfilled literally and miraculously. On some choice occasions I have experienced that certainty of inspiration in a healing blessing and have known that what I was saying was the will of the Lord. However, like most who officiate in healing blessings, I have often struggled with uncertainty on the words I should say. For a variety of causes, every elder experiences increases and decreases in his level of sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit. Every elder who gives a blessing is subject to influence by what he desires for the person afflicted. Each of these and other mortal imperfections can influence the words we speak.
Fortunately, the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to its healing effect. If faith is sufficient and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed whether the officiator speaks those words or not. Conversely, if the officiator yields to personal desire or inexperience and gives commands or words of blessing in excess of what the Lord chooses to bestow according to the faith of the individual, those words will not be fulfilled. Consequently, brethren, no elder should ever hesitate to participate in a healing blessing because of fear that he will not know what to say. The words spoken in a healing blessing can edify and energize the faith of those who hear them, but the effect of the blessing is dependent upon faith and the Lord’s will, not upon the words spoken by the elder who officiated (Ensign, May 2010, 47).
Eleventh - - The Gift of Working Miracles (D&C 46:21)
That we are a Church of miracles was proclaimed by Brigham Young:
We are asked if signs follow the believer in our day as in days of old. We answer they do. The blind see, the lame leap, the deaf hear, the gift of prophecy is manifest, also the gift of healing, the gift of revelation, the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Jesus said that these signs should follow them that believe [see Mark 16:17]. His Church and Kingdom always have these signs which follow the believer in all ages when the true Church is in existence (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 251).
He also declared:
I am here to testify to hundreds of instances of men, women, and children being healed by the power of God, through the laying on of hands, and many I have seen raised from the gates of death, and brought back from the verge of eternity; and some whose spirits had actually left their bodies, returned again. I testify that I have seen the sick healed by the laying on of hands, according to the promise of the Savior (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
As well as:
Miracles, or these extraordinary manifestations of the power of God, are not for the unbeliever; they are to console the Saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God, and not for outsiders (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 254).
That Jesus Christ, who created the earth, could perform miracles should not surprise us, explained Brigham Young:
The Savior converted the water into wine. He knew how to call the necessary elements together in order to fill the water with the properties of wine. The elements are all around us; we eat, drink and breathe them, and Jesus, understanding the process of calling them together, performed no miracle except to those who were ignorant of that process. It was the same with the woman who was healed by touching the hem of his garment [see Matthew 9:20-22]; she was healed by faith, but it was no miracle to Jesus. He understood the process…This was no miracle to him. He had the issues of life and death in his power… Jesus had this power in and of himself; the Father bequeathed it to him; it was his legacy, and he had the power to lay down his life and take it again. He had the streams and issues of life within him and when he said “Live” to individuals, they lived (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 256).
Brigham Young also gave this caution about demanding miracles:
No person, unless he is an adulterer [see Matthew 12:39], a fornicator, covetous, or an idolator, will ever require [demand] a miracle; in other words, no good, honest person ever will (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 255).
Twelfth - - The Gift of Faith (Moroni 10:11)
Brigham Young powerfully taught:
When you believe the principles of the Gospel and attain unto faith, which is a gift of God, he adds more faith, adding faith to faith. He bestows faith upon his creatures as a gift; but his creatures inherently possess the privilege of believing the gospel to be true or false (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
Joseph Smith warned:
Because faith is wanting, the fruits are…A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. Faith has been wanting… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 118).
We Can Develop Our Gifts
Joseph stated that every Latter-day Saint had a gift, and by living a righteous life, and asking for it, the Holy Spirit would reveal it to him or her (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 117).
In this section, D&C 46:8 is quoted twice about “seeking the best gifts” (p. 130). A great discussion could center on the question, “What is the best gift?” Under “Additional Scriptures” (p. 132) is listed 1 Corinthians 12. Verses 3-31 could be a very productive discussion for the answers to the above question.
In conjunction with D&C 46:9, quoted in this section, Brigham Young had this to say:
The gifts of the Gospel are given to strengthen the faith of the believer (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 251).
Edward Stevenson was present when Joseph Smith preached in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1834. He recalled these words of the Prophet: “If you will obey the Gospel with honest hearts, I promise you in the name of the Lord, that the gifts as promised by our Saviour will follow you, and by this you may prove me to be a true servant of God” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 118).
I really like the way Elder George O. Cannon approached the challenge of “developing our gifts”:
How many of you...are seeking for these gifts that God has promised to bestow? How many of you, when you bow before your Heavenly Father in your family circle or in your secret places contend for these gifts to be bestowed upon you? How many of you ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to manifest Himself to you through these power and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling upon the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? (Millennial Star 56:260-261, April 23, 1894).
Satan Imitates the Gifts of the Spirit
President Marion G. Romney gave an important key to keep from being deceived by Satan:
This is a key test…the gifts of the spirit are given by the power of the Holy Ghost. Without the gift of the Holy Ghost, the manifestations of his gifts may not be enjoyed…
Thus one who has never received the gift of the Holy Ghost cannot possibly word miracles by his power (Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 72).
Joseph Smith also warned:
Various and conflicting are the opinions of men in regard to the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some people have been in the habit of calling every supernatural manifestation the effects of the Spirit of God, whilst there are others that think there is no manifestation connected with it at all; and that it is nothing but a mere impulse of the mind, or an inward feeling, impression, or secret testimony or evidence, which men possess, and that there is no such a thing as an outward manifestation.
The human family are very apt to run to extremes, especially in religious matters, and hence people in general either want some miraculous display, or they will not believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost at all (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 118-9).
This section states, “Satan can imitate the gifts of tongues, prophecy, visions, healings, and other miracles. Moses had to compete with Satan’s imitations in Pharaoh’s court (p. 131).
President Joseph F. Smith echoed this idea and expanded upon it:
The gifts of the Spirit and the powers of the holy Priesthood are of God, they are given for the blessing of the people, for their encouragement, and for the strengthening of their faith. This Satan knows full well, therefore he seeks by imitation-miracles to blind and deceive the children of God. Remember what the magicians of Egypt accomplished in their efforts to deceive Pharaoh as to the divinity of the mission of Moses and Aaron. …
That the power to work wonders may come from an evil source is declared by Christ in his prophecy regarding the great judgment: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23) (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 117).
Below is repeated a quote from President Packer which was in the blog for last lesson, but actually fits better here:
If ever you receive a prompting to do something that makes you feel uneasy, something you know in your mind to be wrong and contrary to the principles of righteousness, do not respond to it! (Ensign, Nov 1994, 59).
President Packer also taught:
Be ever on guard lest you be deceived by inspiration from an unworthy source. You can be given false spiritual messages. There are counterfeit spirits just as there are counterfeit angels (See Moro. 7:17). Be careful lest you be deceived, for the devil may come disguised as an angel of light.
The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God, when those promptings are either centered in the emotions or are from the adversary.
Avoid like a plague those who claim that some great spiritual experience authorizes them to challenge the constituted priesthood authority in the Church. Do not be unsettled if you cannot explain every insinuation of the apostate or every challenge from the enemies who attack the Lord’s church. And we now face a tidal wave of that. In due time you will be able to confound the wicked and inspire the honest in heart (Ensign, Jan 1983, 51).
We Must Be Careful with Our Gifts of the Spirit
This section begins with the question, “How can we respect the sacredness of spiritual gifts?” (p. 131)
Brigham Young discussed one to the dangers of expecting more than we need:
Suppose you obey the ordinances of the Gospel, and do not speak in tongues today, never mind that. Suppose you do not have the spirit of prophecy, no matter. Suppose you do not receive any particular gift attended by the rushing of a mighty wind, as on the day of Pentecost, there is not particular necessity that you should. On the day of Pentecost there was special need for it, it was a peculiarly trying time. Some special and powerful manifestation of the power of the Almighty was necessary to open the eyes of the people and let them know that Jesus has paid the debt, and they had actually crucified him who, by his death, had become the Savior of the world. It required this at that time to convince the people (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 252).
President Boyd K. Packer warned us to “be careful” with the following:
I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts you to use them to the blessing of others (Ensign, Jan 1983, 51).
Joseph Smith added:
The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of His voice, by the display of His glory or by the manifestation of His power; and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them, and were the Lord to manifest His power as He did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say, ‘Let not the Lord speak any more, lest we His people die (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 122).