Sunday, December 16, 2018

My Sacrament Talk: Roles of the Holy Ghost

The Roles of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost has many roles. Among these are:  Witness Member of the Godhead.

In a day of pessimism and disbelief, it is so very important for the Holy Ghost to bear witness of the Father and Son. To Nephi, the Spirit of God bore this witness:

“And the Spirit said unto me, Nephi: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?   I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.

“And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.” (1 Nephi 11:4-6)

As with Nephi, the Holy Ghost introduces us to the Father and Son. By knowing him, we get to know all of the Godhead.

Thirty years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson warned us about ignoring the Book of Mormon. Without it, we would fall under a curse. I believe that curse is a loss of belief and faith in Christ and his restored gospel. So many people seek for political and cultural solutions today, to problems that can only be solved by surrendering ourselves to the Lord.

In the Book of Mormon, both Nephi and Jesus teach us about the “Doctrine of Christ.” This doctrine is that the Godhead is one, and for us to be like them, we must become one with them. We do this by developing Faith in Christ, Repent, Receive Baptism and the other Ordinances, and Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. 

The Holy Ghost then promises to be our Constant Companion, as we stay pure and worthy of his friendship. But how do we learn to recognize the Holy Ghost in our lives? Of course, the main answers are prayer, fasting, scripture study, Church attendance and service. However, it isn’t just quantity, but also quality that counts. Members can attend Church weekly for decades and still slowly die spiritually sitting in the pews. 

So then, why do so many of us fail to have frequent spiritual experiences? Why is it so difficult to recognize the Spirit’s voice? The answer may be found in pondering these questions: what are we doing to have spiritual experiences with the Holy Ghost? How can he be a companion that is not only constant, but one that we see, feel, hear, and experience daily?

In the Church’s new programs, including the Come Follow Me program, we’re invited in each chapter to get to know the Spirit better. For example, in January's second lesson of the Come Follow Me family manual, it begins, “As you read and ponder Matthew 1 and Luke 1, record the spiritual impressions you receive. What doctrinal truths do you find? What messages will be of most value to you and your family?” It then provides several blank lines for us to record the impressions the Spirit seeks to give us. 

This process of learning, pondering and writing down the impressions the Holy Ghost gives us are also found in the Self Reliance courses, and other newer programs the Church is developing. I know of many members who are beginning to use a “study journal” to assist them to listen to the Holy Ghost, as they pray, study the scriptures, and listen to talks in Sacrament and General Conference. 

This is not a new idea. Nephi wrote for many years in what are called the Large Plates of Nephi. He included the wars and ordinary events of the people in them. But then he began writing his Small Plates, which only included the more spiritual and precious things of God. In these small plates, he recorded some of his father Lehi’s greatest revelations, as well as his own. When the Lord answered his prayers, he wrote those answers down.  When Isaiah’s words inspired Nephi, he not only wrote down Isaiah’s words, but he wrote down his impressions. He likened Isaiah’s prophesies to his own life and people. When he learned the Doctrine of Christ, he wrote about what it meant to him.
We can do the same thing. Instead of a daily diary or social media entry that details what we ate for breakfast or the movie we watched, we can spend a few minutes every day pondering the things of God, and allowing the Holy Ghost in to teach us what God would have us know and do every day. In pondering and writing such impressions down, we invite the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion, and learn to recognize the still small voice.

Since becoming prophet less than a year ago, Pres Nelson and other General Authorities have reminded us several times that we are nearing the Millennium. We truly are in the last days. As such, the prophecies state men’s hearts will turn cold as they listen to evil spirits. Our testimonies cannot survive the not so subtle temptations and loud voices on social media, television, and elsewhere. Our previous mild efforts towards spirituality may not be sufficient to carry us through the last days. We have prophets inviting us to fast from social media, read the Book of Mormon daily, and refocus our efforts on having the Holy Ghost with us.  

The Spirit is the great Gift Giver, as well. The scriptures note many of the gifts available from the Spirit, including revelation, miracles, healings, tongues, and prophecy.

Brigham Young’s counselor, George Q. Cannon noted this about the gifts of the Spirit:

” We find, even among those who have embraced the Gospel hearts of unbelief. How many of you, my brethren and sisters, 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 powers and these gifts? Or do you go along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling on 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? I say to you, in the name of the Lord, as one of His servants, that you have need to repent of this. You have need to repent of your hardness of heart, of your indifference, and of your carelessness. There is not that diligence, there is not that faith, there is not that seeking for the power of God that there should be among a people who have received the precious promises we have.....
“I feel to bear testimony to you, my brethren and sisters, ... that God is the same today as He was yesterday; that God is willing to bestow these gifts upon His children.... If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind….So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, "Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature." He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. If a man lack wisdom, it is his duty to ask God for wisdom. The same with everything else. That is the design of God concerning His Church. He wants His Saints to be perfected in the truth. For this purpose He gives these gifts, and bestows them upon those who seek after them, in order that they may be a perfect people upon the face of the earth, notwithstanding their many weaknesses, because God has promised to give the gifts that are necessary for their perfection.” (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260)

We must fervently seek the intense baptism of fire and the Spirit on a daily basis. Read, pray, and ponder the things of God.  The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, promised to us as a constant and trustworthy companion, if we but develop that relationship with purpose and effort.

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