The Holy Ghost
Again, tremendous resources for this lesson can be found in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: ... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals). Especially helpful will be the manuals for Joseph Smith pp. 95-8 (Chapter 7), Brigham Young chapter 10, Wilford Woodruff Chapter 5, Joseph F. Smith Chapter 8, Heber J. Grant pp. 64-5 (Chapter 7 and Chapter 20, David O. McKay pp. 201-2 (Chapter 21), Spencer W. Kimball Chapters 7 & 22, and Harold B. Lee pp. 32-3 (Chapter 4). Remember, these can all be found on “lds.org” by clicking on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” All of the manuals are listed at the bottom of this page.
A crucial principle is stated in this section as, “His [the Holy Ghost’s] mission is to bear witness of the Father and the Son…” (p. 121).
Concerning this, Joseph Smith stated:
…we believe that “no man can know that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Holy Ghost” [See 1 Corinthians 12:3.] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 97-8).
Here is the scripture to which he referred:
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12:3).
President Grant made clear that this is a wonderful blessing:
They have received the witness of the Holy Spirit to them, satisfying their souls, satisfying their very beings, causing them to cry out in joy that they know that God lives, that they know Jesus is the Christ, that they know Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the true and living God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 64).
It makes sense that if the Holy Ghost bears “witness of the Father and the Son” He would also bear witness of their prophets.
Brigham Young struggled for two years as to whether or not Mormonism was true. In the heading to Chapter 10 (also the heading to Chapter 43) is recorded what made the difference in his conversion:
President Brigham Young said: “When I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminate[d] my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality [were] before me.” He said that he was encircled and filled by them, and he knew for himself that the testimony of the man was true (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 67).
Chapter 7 (February) of this blog contains more information about the Holy Ghost as a member of the Godhead.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
The importance of this wonderful gift was emphasized in a letter from Elias Higbee as he wrote about when Joseph Smith was asked an important question by United States President Martin Van Buren:
In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 97).
A good question might be, “How do I, as a member of the Church, take advantage of this gift that sets apart from Christianity and the rest of the world?”
Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost cannot be separated, as stated by Joseph Smith:
The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use. They are necessarily and inseparably connected. An individual must be born of water and the spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 90).
You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Savior says, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 95).
The question at the beginning of this section is, “What is the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost?” It may be also important in this section to discuss some of the major differences between the Holy Ghost and other manifestations of the spirit, such as the Light of Christ. A great article on these differences is “What is the difference between the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Christ, and the Light of Christ in Ensign, June 1989, 26. Remember that Ensign is found at “lds.org” then “Magazines” then “Ensign.”
In describing some of these differences, President Joseph F. Smith stated:
The spirit of God may be enjoyed as a temporary influence by which divine light and power come to mankind for special purposes and occasions. But the gift of the Holy Ghost, which … is bestowed in confirmation, is a permanent witness and higher endowment (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 68).
To bridge this section and the next, Joseph Smith declared:
No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation. The Holy Ghost is a revelator (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328)
Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost
This section contains the sentence, “Each person must “receive the Holy Ghost” (p. 122). This is according to instructions given to Melchizedek Priesthood holders when they administer the ordinance of confirmation (see Missionary Handbook, pp. 71-72).
The need for us to receive was explained by President Joseph F. Smith:
The presentation or “gift” of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 69).
President Joseph F. Smith also said:
I cannot receive it for you, nor you for me; every one must stand for him or her self, whether of high or humble birth, learned or unlearned, and it is the privilege of all alike to be made partakers of it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 70).
That this is up to us to “receive” this was also clarified by President Grant:
You can not transfer to others that which you get yourself. I can no more give a man a testimony of this gospel than I can eat for him. I can tell him how to get it. I can tell him of the blessings of God to me. But each and every man must live the gospel if he expects to obtain an individual testimony of the divinity of this work (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 66).
Though the following was counsel from a prophet for those looking forward to the first coming of Jesus Christ, it would just as appropriately apply to our preparation for the Second Coming in each of us “receiving” this wonderful gift:
And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;
That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it... (Alma 34:37 - 38)
Following is a quote from this blog, Chapter 21. If it wasn’t used there, it may fit even better here:
Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery shared the following:
We experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 89).
An important scripture which may help marvelously in understanding this subject is D&C 8:2 which states:
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Note that we will learn truth from the Holy Ghost, sometimes in our mind and sometimes in our heart. However, it is significant that the dwelling place is our “heart”.
President Lee in an encounter with a Catholic priest (the whole story is delightful) put this in plain words:
Father, when your heart begins to tell you things that your mind does not know, then you are getting the Spirit of the Lord (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 37).
President McKay also taught:
The Latter-day Saints have a guide, a help, a means to assist in their acquisition of truth, in their desire to know what their duty is, that the world does not possess. And this guide is necessary; man cannot find out truth; he cannot find out God by intellect alone. It has been said that no man can find out God by a microscope. Reason alone is not a sufficient guide in searching for truth. There is another, higher, more sure guide than reason (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 202).
President Woodruff explained:
Our eyes and ears may be deceived by the cunning and machination of man; but the Holy Ghost never deceives anybody (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 48).
Similarly, President Kimball explained:
There are people who pride themselves on their keen minds, who think they can delve into mysteries, but they can never define or explain or understand the spiritual things through their logic or through their mental processes. The spiritual things can be understood only through the Spirit. It must come through the heart and that is where the testimony is lodged (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 72).
President Taylor taught about the Holy Ghost and intellect:
I do not care how learned a man may be, or how extensively he may have traveled. I do not care what his talent, intellect, or genius may be, at what college he may have studied, how comprehensive his views or what his judgment may be on other matters, he cannot understand certain things without the Spirit of God… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 157).
Along this same line, the Holy Ghost will sometimes tell us things different than our mind. President Taylor learned this when he was confirmed:
I well remember a remark that Joseph Smith made to me. … Said he, ‘Elder Taylor, you have been baptized, you have had hands laid upon your head for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and you have been ordained to the holy priesthood. Now, if you will continue to follow the leadings of that spirit, it will always lead you right. Sometimes it might be contrary to your judgment; never mind that, follow its dictates; and if you be true to its whisperings it will in time become in you a principle of revelation so that you will know all things (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 153).
President Grant learned about following the spirit when it was contrary to his mind. He related the following:
In addition to receiving guidance in his personal life, President Grant received revelations as President of the Church to guide the Church as a whole. One such revelation came just after he was set apart as President of the Church, when he sought the will of the Lord in appointing a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As he pondered this responsibility, his thoughts turned repeatedly to his lifelong friend Richard W. Young, a faithful Latter-day Saint and a proven leader. President Grant discussed this possibility with his counselors, who supported his decision. When he finally felt confident with this course of action, he wrote his friend’s name on a piece of paper and took the paper with him to the weekly temple meeting with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. However, when he was about to present the name for the approval of his Brethren, he was unable to do so. Instead of presenting the name of Richard W. Young, he presented the name of Melvin J. Ballard, a man whom he hardly knew. President Grant later told of the impact this experience had on him:
“I have felt the inspiration of the living God directing me in my labors. From the day that I chose a comparative stranger to be one of the apostles, instead of my lifelong and dearest living friend, I have known as I know that I live, that I am entitled to the light and the inspiration and the guidance of God in directing His work here upon this earth” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 181).
Of course, today we are more familiar with his grandson, M. Russell Ballard.
Perhaps all of us need to ponder the power of President James E. Faust’s statement concerning listening to the spirit over either mind or heart:
…every person must have a spiritual confirmation by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is more powerful than all the senses combined (Ensign, Nov 2003, 19).
President Grant also spoke of the power that can from this gift:
When a man has received the witness of the Holy Spirit, when a man has received the knowledge that this gospel is true, and he knows it, and he proclaims it, the whole world, not believing, cannot change the knowledge that he has (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 64).
An interesting mission of the Holy Ghost, which may be discussed in this section, is mentioned by the Savior:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (bold emphasis added) (John 14:26).
Concerning this role, President Joseph F. Smith declared:
The office of the Holy Ghost is to…confirm the believer in the truth, by bringing to his recollection things that have passed, and showing or revealing to the mind things present and to come (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 70).
Elder Glenn L. Pace taught further:
We first learned the gospel in our heavenly home. We have come to this earth with a veil of forgetfulness. And yet lingering in each of our spirits are those dormant memories…
The Holy Ghost can part the veil and bring those things out of their dormancy. Often my reaction to a supposedly newfound truth is, ‘Oh, I remember that!’” [then quotes John 14:26] (Ensign, May 2007, 79).
These ideas would help us to understand why investigators, like Cornelius as discussed by Joseph Smith in this section, can know things before the missionaries teach them.
Recognizing the Influence of the Holy Ghost
The quote in this section from President Boyd K. Packer comes from a wonderful talk that would be worth reviewing. The concept of “still small voice” is one that needs to be well understood. In another terrific talk, “Candle of the Lord” (it bears reading the whole thing), President Packer stated:
The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all…
Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening… (Ensign, Jan 1983, 51).
President McKay used a great analogy about the need for attention in order to “hear” this voice:
The channel of communication is open, and the Lord is ready to guide, and does guide, his people. … The testimony of the Holy Ghost is a special privilege. It is like tuning in the radio and hearing a voice on the other side of the world. Men who are not within that radiation cannot hear it, but we hear it, and we are entitled to that voice and the guidance of it. It will come to us if we do our part.
God help us all to keep our consciences clear, our characters sound, responsive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, which is real, if we shall but put our ears and listen to it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 201-2).
We may also underestimate the power of this “small” voice. It is not only the means whereby we receive personal revelation; it is also apparently the same means by which prophets are given revelation. President Kimball’s answer to a question he was asked by a reporter illustrates this:
A news reporter asked him: “You were introduced as the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also as a prophet. My question is: Does God speak to you? And if so, how?” President Kimball responded: “Yes. God speaks to his prophets today, just as he spoke to his prophets yesterday and just as he will speak to them tomorrow. You will remember that Amos wrote, ‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’ (Amis 3:7.) Sometimes he speaks with an audible voice. Sometimes he sends his angels, as he did to Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. Usually it is by the still small voice of God to the spirit within. Yes. Have I answered your question, young man?” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 237).
President Hinckley shared a similar experience with Larry King on TV Following is a portion of the transcript:
KING: You are the prophet, right?
KING: Does that mean that, according to the church canon, the Lord speaks through you?
HINCKLEY: I think he makes his will manifest, yes.
KING: How do you receive it?
HINCKLEY: Well, various ways. It isn’t necessarily a voice heard. Impressions come. The building of this very building (Conference Center) I think is an evidence of that. There came an impression, a feeling, that we need to enlarge our facilities where we could hold our conferences. And it was a very bold measure. We had to tear down a big building here and put this building up at great cost. But goodness sakes, what a wonderful thing it’s proven to be. It is an answer to many, many needs. And I think it’s the result of inspiration.
KING: And that came from something higher than you.
HINCKLEY: I think so.
President Woodruff also proclaimed:
I have had many testimonies since I have been connected with this Church and kingdom. I have been blessed at times with certain gifts and graces, certain revelations and ministrations; but with them all I have never found anything that I could place more dependency upon than the still small voice of the Holy Ghost.
Man is apt to look too high or expect too great things so that they often times mistake the Spirit of God and the inspiration of the Almighty. It is not in the thunder or whirlwind that we should look for the Spirit of God but in the still small voice [see 1 Kings 19:11-12] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 50).
President Woodruff described one experience with the “still small voice”:
I drove my carriage one evening into the yard of Brother Williams [a local member of the Church]. Brother Orson Hyde [of the Quorum of the Twelve] drove a wagon by the side of mine. I had my wife and children in the carriage. After I turned out my team and had my supper, I went to bed in the carriage. I had not been there but a few minutes when the Spirit said to me, ‘Get up and move that carriage.’ I told my wife I had to get up and move the carriage. She said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ That is all she asked me on such occasions; when I told her I did not know, that was enough. I got up and moved my carriage. … I then looked around me and went to bed. The same Spirit said, ‘Go and move your animals from that oak tree.’ … I went and moved my horses and put them in a little hickory grove. I again went to bed.
“In thirty minutes a whirlwind came up and broke that oak tree off within two feet from the ground. It swept over three or four fences and fell square in that dooryard, near Brother Orson Hyde’s wagon, and right where mine had stood. What would have been the consequences if I had not listened to that Spirit? Why, myself and wife and children doubtless would have been killed. That was the still, small voice to me—no earthquake, no thunder, no lightning; but the still, small voice of the Spirit of God. It saved my life. It was the spirit of revelation to me (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 47).
Sometimes it may be helpful to “recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost” by looking backward on the sum total of experiences we have had. President Kimball wrote about this to his son Andrew, who was on his mission, and said:
I am sure that you (like I did) have countless golden threads of testimony all through your being only waiting for the hand of the Master Weaver to assemble and weave them into a tapestry of exquisite and perfect design. Now my son, take my advice and QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT, but whenever the Spirit whispers, follow its holy promptings. Keep in tune spiritually and listen for the promptings…
May God help you to weave into a beautiful pattern the golden threads of your experience and inspiration… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 70).
It is important that we understand the “how to” of “recognizing…” as discussed in this section. Boyd K. Packer gave a wonderful talk to “young people” and gave great counsel:
Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them.
The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12).
Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.
You can learn now, in your youth, to be led by the Holy Ghost (Ensign, Nov 1979, 19).
As with baptism, the Lord commands parents to teach about the Gift of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 68:25). President Joseph F. Smith had this to say:
It is the duty of Latter-day Saints to teach their children … the necessity of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost…that they may comprehend the truth, and that they may walk in the light as Christ is in the light; that they may have fellowship with him and that his blood may cleanse them from all sin (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 69).
One of God’s Greatest Gifts
President Grant affirmed how “great” this gift is:
I value all things as nothing in comparison with having the spirit of God to guide me (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 181).
President Woodruff taught:
There is nothing that we ought to labor more to obtain while in the flesh than the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which we are entitled to receive by reason of our having obeyed the requirements of the Gospel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 53).
President Woodruff also exclaimed:
Now, if you have the Holy Ghost with you—and every one ought to have—I can say unto you that there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing, there is no greater testimony given to any man on earth. You may have the administration of angels; you may see many miracles; you may see many wonders in the earth; but I claim that the gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man. It is by this power that we have performed that which we have. It is this that sustains us through all the persecutions, trials and tribulations that come upon us (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 49).
John Taylor spoke of blessings of this gift:
When we live our religion, when we walk according to the light of the Spirit of God, when we purge ourselves [of] impurity and corruption, and the sweet whispering of the Spirit of the Lord pours intelligence into our bosoms, broods over us, causing peace and joy to be with us, we have then, more or less, a faint glimpse of those things that are laid up for the faithful (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 151).
President Woodruff stated:
You may surround any man or woman with all the wealth and glory that the imagination of man can grasp, and are they satisfied? No. There is still an aching void. On the other hand, show me a beggar upon the streets, who has the Holy Ghost, whose mind is filled with that Spirit and power, and I will show you a person who has peace of mind, who possesses true riches, and those enjoyments that no man can obtain from any other source.
When we enjoy the Holy Spirit, when we are trying to live our religion here on the earth, we are the happiest people on God’s footstool, no matter what our circumstances may be. I do not care whether we are rich or poor, whether in happiness or affliction, if a man is living his religion and enjoys the favor and Spirit of God, it makes no difference to him what takes place on the earth. There may be earthquakes, war, fire or sword in the land, but he feels that it is all right with him. That is the way I feel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 50-1).
I really like what President James E. Faust said:
I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world (Ensign, May 1989, 31).
It is apparent that one of the great blessings of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is an understanding of doctrines & principles. Concerning this, Brigham Young said:
To understand the first principles of the Gospel—to rightly understand them, a man must have the wisdom that comes from above; he must be enlightened by the Holy Ghost; his mind must be in open vision; he must enjoy the blessings of salvation himself, in order to impart them to others (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 67)
President Joseph F. Smith spoke of the protection this affords:
Thus the Spirit and power of God—the Comforter—may be in us a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. He will bear record of the Father, testifying of Jesus, and “take of the things of the Father and reveal them unto us,” confirming our faith, establishing us in the truth, that we shall be no longer tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine; but shall “know of the doctrine” whether it be of God or of man (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 68-9).
President Woodruff declared the potential outcome:
According to our faithfulness, we can receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost to enlighten and guide us in our lives and to lead us to eternal life (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 46).
President Ezra Taft Benson added his testimony:
If there is one message I have repeated to my brethren of the Twelve, it is that it’s the Spirit that counts. It is the Spirit that matters. I do not know how often I have said this, but I never tire of saying it—it is the Spirit that matters most (Teaching No Greater Call, 198).
By the way, any teacher who wants to teach effectively will want his/her own copy of Teaching No Greater Call. It is simply the best. If you want your personal copy to mark up, you can order your copy online for $2.00. You can try the new website, “store.lds.org,” and just type in “teaching” on the first page. Or you can find it online at “lds.org” then “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Optional Courses” (at the bottom of the page) then it is found at the bottom of the page (next to last).
In the same talk by President Packer as referred to in the manual (p. 123) comes the following:
By trial, and some error, you will learn to heed these promptings.
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).
Obtaining this most sacred and powerful opportunity of the Gift of the Holy Ghost means that we can be united with a God by a priesthood ordinance.
President Joseph F. Smith described this as follows:
The gift of the Holy Ghost…is a special blessing sealed upon baptized repentant believers in Jesus Christ… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 68).
President Lee described it as:
…the privilege of being brought back into the presence of one of the Godhead…
…the right to the communion with one of the Godhead… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 33).
President Taylor taught about the role of the Holy Ghost in connecting us to God:
These are the operations of that Spirit which dwells with God, the Father, and God, the Son, namely the Holy Ghost. It is this Spirit that brings us into relationship with God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 156).
When we are “united with a God” one of two things will happen. ONE, we become attracted to and thus more like God, the Holy Ghost. TWO, we become very uncomfortable with and desire to move away from God, the Holy Ghost.
President Grant explained the direct correlation between obedience and the Gift of the Holy Ghost:
Just in proportion as you and I labor and keep the commandments of God will we be blessed by the light and the inspiration of the Spirit of Almighty God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 183).
President Joseph F. Smith declared:
The office of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten the minds of the people with regard to the things of God…and to be in them an abiding testimony as a companion through life, acting as the sure and safe guide into all truth and filling them day by day with joy and gladness, with a disposition to do good to all men, to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, to be kind and merciful, long suffering and charitable. All who possess this inestimable gift, this pearl of great price, have a continual thirst after righteousness (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 70).
President Lee explained that this relationship must be built:
…by obedience and through his faithfulness, one so blessed might receive the guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost in his daily walks and talks, even as Adam walked and talked in the Garden of Eden with God, his Heavenly Father (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 33).
President Grant explained what will happen when we keep this companionship:
Without this individual testimony, coming as it does to men and women all over the world when they hear this gospel and supplicate God for his spirit, we would not be what we are today—a united people, one in heart and soul, one with God and one with our Savior (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 64-5).
From the Church manual, Gospel Fundamentals comes the following:
If we do not obey the Holy Ghost and if we begin to do wrong things, the Holy Ghost leaves us (p. 77).
President Joseph F. Smith stated:
There is a course marked out for us to walk in—it is that strait and narrow path which leads back to the presence of God; the lamp to light our onward march is the Holy Ghost…
If we falter and turn aside, our lamp will burn dim and finally go out, when lo, the Comforter, the source of revelation, will leave us, and darkness will take its place; then how great will be that darkness! In proportion to the light we possessed will darkness overpower us, and unless a speedy repentance is made the darkness will increase within us until we lose sight of our calling and forget Him who redeemed us and claimed us for his own (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 69-70).
President Woodruff declared:
You will find if ever we seek to do something else besides carrying out the dictates of the Holy Spirit, we will get into the fog and into darkness and trouble… (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 52).
Concerning both sides of this issue, President Kimball declared:
A sure knowledge of the spiritual is an open door to great rewards and joys unspeakable. To ignore the testimony is to grope in caves of impenetrable darkness, to creep along in fog over hazardous highways. That person is to be pitied who may still be walking in darkness at noonday, who is tripping over obstacles that can be removed, and who dwells in the dim flickering candlelight of insecurity and skepticism when he need not. The spiritual knowledge of truth is the electric light illuminating the cavern; the wind and sun dissipating the fog; the power equipment removing boulders from the road. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 72)
If we want to keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost, President Woodruff shared:
When I do anything that prevents me from enjoying the Spirit of the Lord, as soon as I ascertain that, I immediately throw it aside (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 54).
Prophets tell us that we are in the midst of a raging battle preparing for the Second Coming. President Woodruff explained how important all of this is:
We are surrounded by … evil spirits that are at war against God and against everything looking to the building up of the kingdom of God; and we need this Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome these influences. …
We are in the midst of enemies, in the midst of darkness and temptation, and we need to be guided by the Spirit of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 451.
President Grant taught how crucial the Gift of the Holy Ghost is in this battle:
Many of us feel that we are firm in the knowledge of the Gospel, and that there is very little fear of the trials of life turning us from the truth. At the same time, we should thoroughly understand that in no single day or hour of our lives would we be able to stand alone and maintain the testimony of the Gospel without the light and inspiration of the Spirit of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, 65).
Prophets have even returned from the spirit world with instructions for us about this battle. In February 1847, nearly three years after the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, he appeared to President Brigham Young and gave him this message:
Tell the people to be humble and faithful and sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach [you what] to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits. It will whisper peace and joy to their souls, and it will take malice, hatred, envying, strife, and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness, and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the Spirit of the Lord they will go right (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 98).
In October 1880, President Woodruff told about a similar experience:
…he had recently been visited by President Brigham Young, who had died in 1877, and by President Heber C. Kimball, who had died in 1868.
President Young [said] “I want you to teach the people—and I want you to follow this counsel yourself—that they must labor and so live as to obtain the Holy Spirit, for without this you cannot build up the kingdom; without the Spirit of God you are in danger of walking in the dark, and in danger of failing to accomplish your calling as apostles and as elders in the church and kingdom of God” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 46).
President Woodruff also said:
Get the spirit of revelation with you. And when you get that you are safe, and you will do exactly what the Lord wants you to do (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 52).
President Joseph F. Smith also discussed this battle:
Without the aid of the Holy Spirit no mortal can walk in the straight and narrow way, being unable to discern right from wrong, the genuine from the counterfeit, so nearly alike can they be made to appear (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 70).
President Lee explained the function of “one of God’s greatest gifts”:
…the gift of the Holy Ghost…shall be a lamp to your feet and a guide to your path…
When a man has the gift of the Holy Ghost, he has that which is necessary to reveal to him every principle and ordinance of salvation that pertains unto man here on the earth (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 32).
President Thomas S. Monson said: “Today, we are encamped against the greatest array of sin, vice, and evil ever assembled before our eyes. … The battle plan whereby we fight to save the souls of men is not our own. It [came through] the inspiration and revelation of the Lord (Ensign, May 2010, 6–10).
Sheri Dew gave a wonderful talk (all would benefit from reading it all) in general conference (Ensign, Nov 1998, 94). Following is an excerpt:
Said President Hinckley, “There is no greater blessing that can come into our lives than … the companionship of the Holy Spirit” (Boston Massachusetts Regional Conference, 22 Apr. 1995; emphasis added). And yet Brigham Young lamented: “[We] may have the Spirit of the Lord to … direct [us]. … I am satisfied, however, that, in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges” (Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 3 Dec. 1867, 2).
Brigham Young also said:
If the Latter-day Saints will walk up to their privileges, and exercise faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and live in the enjoyment of the fullness of the Holy Ghost constantly day by day, there is nothing on the face of the earth that they could ask for, that would not be given to them (Discourses of Brigham Young, 1:56)
President Lorenzo gave prophetic utterance to our need for the Spirit in a talk at Logan, Monday Morning, May 6th, 1889:
We are entirely dependent upon the spirit of inspiration, and if there ever was a time, since Adam occupied the Garden of Eden, when the Spirit of God was more needed that at the present time, I am not aware of it. The signs of the times, and the rapid approach of scenes that will try the hearts of the Latter-day Saints and their integrity, demand that we now seek earnestly the Spirit of God, and Divine assistance, for it will certainly be needed in the scenes now rapidly approaching The Deseret Weekly, Volume 38, Issue 1, p. 762)
As I just listened to Elder David A. Bednar’s terrific talk in the 2010 October Conference, I realized what a great supplement it will be to this whole lesson.
Another wonderful resource is Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, Chapters 3 (information about “Holy Spirit of Promise” if needed) and 16. This is found at “institute.lds.org” then “Institute Courses & Manuals.”