Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Throughout all recorded time, our Father in Heaven has communicated to His children through the Holy Ghost.
In Moses 6, we read that Adam, upon his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, was not left comfortless and without heavens help. In his spiritual backpack, he was not only taught the true order of prayer, but he was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
During the meridian of time, Jesus taught his apostles about who would teach them all truth in His absence. Up until Christ had performed the Atonement, He had been the apostles’ source of all religious truth. In John 14: 26-27, Christ provides the apostles with comfort by teaching them about the gift of the Holy Ghost. It reads, “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. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
In modern times, Joseph Smith was pricked in his heart after reading in James 1:5, which reads, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” After reading this passage of scripture, Joseph Smith later recorded that, “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart.”
It is this great force and feeling that filled the hearts of prophets both ancient and modern that I wish to address this day. This great force is called the Holy Ghost. In Moroni 10:5 it reads, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
In order to truly understand what the Holy Ghost is and what it means to have the gift of the Holy Ghost, we first need to understand what they are not. They are not the Light of Christ.
Light of Christ
The Light of Christ is the Spirit of Christ, and as it reads in Moroni 7:16, “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man that he may know good from evil.”
The Light of Christ, sometimes referred to as your conscience, can be thought of as enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ.
Different from the Light of Christ is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit and does not have a body of flesh and bones.
Any sincere seeker of truth has the ability to feel the power or a witness from the Holy Ghost even before baptism. In the story of Joseph Smith, he felt the power of the Holy Ghost after reading James 1:5, which led him to the grove of trees to pray and find out for himself, which of all the churches was true. Another example of the power of the Holy Ghost working upon the children of man can be found in Acts 2:37-38. Peter and his apostles were preaching to a group of people on the Day of Pentecost regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Once the people heard Peter’s words, they said, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” As we see from these scriptures, Peter instructed those who had been touched spiritually due to the power of the Holy Ghost, to first, repent, be baptized, and then after, to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Though the power of the Holy Ghost can come upon one before baptism, the ministrations of the Holy Ghost are limited without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Gift of the Holy Ghost
The gift of the Holy Ghost, as referenced by Christ in the meridian of time, is given by the laying on of hands by someone holding the proper priesthood authority. In Acts 8, we read about how the apostles Peter and John came to a place called Samaria in order to give the gift of the Holy Ghost to people who had just been baptized. In Acts 8:15-17, we read, “Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
James E. Faust once said, “Those possessing the gift of the Holy Ghost can come to a greater light and testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Once you’ve received the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are promised that we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost; but, the Holy Ghost and His great power are only operable upon our individual righteousness.
When I think of the Holy Ghost and how we can have Him as a constant companion as long as we are living righteously, I immediately think of an event from the Book of Mormon that happened to the prophet Lehi and his family. One day while Lehi and his family were in the wilderness, Lehi came upon a round ball of curious workmanship that was made out of fine brass. Within the round ball were two spindles, and one pointed the way whither Lehi and his family should go in the wilderness. This round ball was called the Liahona. Just like the Holy Ghost, the Liahona only worked and guided you in the right direction as long as you were living righteously and obeying the commandments of God. Throughout the story of Lehi’s family, there were times when members of his family did not live righteously, and as a result, the Liahona did not work and the family drifted in the wrong direction for a period of time.
Not Listening to the Promptings received by the Holy Ghost
In my own life, I had an experience where I was caught literally drifting as a result of disobedience and not listing to the promptings that I had received from the Holy Ghost. On one particular night in the summer of 2006, ….
There are many ways we can tell in our own lives, when we are drifting and have lost the companionship of the Holy Ghost. In a list written by an unknown author, titled, How to Discern when you do and do not have the spirit, it reads,…
I think it’s important to understand Heavenly Father’s motive in providing us with the Holy Ghost. When I was serving my mission in Brazil from 2009-2011, the reason as to why we are given the Holy Ghost in this life occurred to my earthly father. As we know, God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Or in other words, to have His children come back to His presence and live the life that He lives. During my mission, my father wrote the following: The Father’s work and glory was made clear to me when my son was on his mission. I was happy for my son to serve a mission, to learn a new language, to exercise faith, to grow in testimony of Jesus Christ, to do the Father’s work, and to become a man of faith. But the thing that I desired most occurred on June 23, 2011 in the John Wayne, Orange County Airport at 11 am. It was the moment when my son came down the escalator, looking different from when I last saw him. The suit that once fit him so well now seemed two sizes too big and was wrinkled and tattered. His shoes that once shined were now scuffed and worn. As I held my son and welcomed him home, the spirit whispered to me that this is what Heavenly Father wants for each of His children. Our Father’s work and glory is that we return to Him following our earthly missions and because this is so, He has provided us with the Holy Ghost. Who can comfort us in times of need, lead us to the correct path that we should take, and can give us greater light and knowledge pertaining to the things of God.
I testify that merely receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost does not change you, you are changed by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost when you live righteously and choose to valiantly follow the promptings received by the Holy Ghost and never justify not following them.
I pray that those who have not yet had the privilege to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, could continue to live worthily so that one day you may receive this wonderful gift that Heavenly Father wants all of us to possess.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints