The Father Giveth the Holy Ghost unto the Children of Men Because of Me

Christ teaches that the power of the Holy Ghost is an intercessory gift. The Holy Ghost does not operate separate from Christ’s role as the Mediator with the Father on behalf of all mankind.

“…The Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.” (3 Nephi 28:11)

Questions:

-Why would the Holy Ghost be without effect for humankind separate from Christ’s atoning power?

-Are there specific commandments from God that a person needs to follow in order to draw on the full power of the Holy Ghost?

Ye May Stand Spotless Before Me at the Last Day

Christ teaches that no unclean thing can persist in the kingdom of God, but all who repent, are baptized, and remain faithful to Christ to the end will be sanctified by the Holy Ghost and will stand clean in His presence at the Last Judgment (ready to enter into God’s kingdom).

“…No unclean thing can enter into [the Father’s] kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:19-20)

Questions:

-Are the words of Christ designed to work within us to keep us spiritually alert and focused?

-Do His teachings in these verses lead one to be complacent about God’s saving power? Or, do the qualifications of baptism and faithfulness to the end, through continual repentance, challenge a soul to actively gather greater spiritual intelligence through the application of free will in line with God’s commandments?

-If God loves us and can magnify the spiritual intelligence we obtain in this life throughout eternity, how import would it be for Him to encourage His children to gain as much light as possible during their mortal probation?   

After Ye Are Baptized with Water, I Will Baptize You with Fire and with the Holy Ghost

Below are some of the words spoken by the resurrected Savior to a group of Lehi’s descendants. They had congregated at one of their temples, after a massive natural upheaval, when the Lord descended from heaven to bless and teach them.

“…Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am. And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down in the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.” (3 Nephi 12:1-2)

Questions:

-Are there twelve who have been chosen to minister to the world in our time?

-Did they receive their authority from a line of priesthood directly instituted by Jesus Christ himself?

-Why does Christ speak of those who did not see him in person, but believed the words of those who did see Him in person, as being more blessed? -What are the depths of humility?

Great Power and Authority to Preach Only Comes if Given by God

The brother missionaries, Nephi and Lehi, had miraculous results when preaching the word of God because they had authority from God to preach and then spoke the words that God gave them through the Holy Spirit.

…They did preach with great power, insomuch that they did confound many…dissenters…insomuch that [the dissenters] came forth and did confess their sins and were baptized unto repentance…And…Nephi and Lehi did preach…with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them. (Helaman 5:17-18)

Questions:

-Who has a line of priesthood authority to preach that goes directly back to Jesus Christ?

-How does one rely on the Holy Spirit so that the words spoken, when preaching, are given by God?

Their State Becomes Worse Than if They Had Never Known the Spirit of God and Righteousness

The prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the Nephite records into what would be translated as the Book of Mormon, pauses during his historical narrative to teach an important truth about the fate of those who know the truth and then reject it.

He describes how former Nephites, who once had the gospel but then rejected it and joined the Lamanites (the Nephite’s enemies), were more murderous than the Lamanites who had never had the truth of the gospel. This was demonstrated when the Lamanite army came upon a group of unarmed, non-resisting people and the former Nephites among the Lamanite army killed many more non-combatants compared with those in the army who had always been Lamanites. (Alma 24:20-30)

“…After a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.” (Alma 24:30)

Questions:

-Why would those who once had the Spirit of God, and then reject that Spirit, fall into deeper levels of sin than they would have if they had never known the truth of God?

-Who in the world today has had an abundance of God’s Spirit? Do they have the potential to become more hardened against God than others who haven’t had that abundance (depending on their choices)?

This Holy Calling Was Prepared for Such as Would Not Harden Their Hearts

True Priesthood leadership comes from those who are called by God and do not harden their hearts against the truth and power of Christ’s Atonement.

“…They have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the blindness of their minds…” (Alma 13:4)

“…Thus this holy calling [was] prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared.” (Alma 13:5)

Questions:

-How much intelligence, truth, and grace can flow into a heart that is open to God’s Spirit and the power of Christ’s Atonement?

The Spirit Speaketh of Things as They Really Are, and of Things as They Really Will Be

The Spirit has always testified of Jesus Christ. Before His birth, the Spirit testified of Him as Jehovah and as the coming Messiah and Savior. After His birth the Spirit now testifies of Him as the Savior who has worked out the Atonement in all of mankind’s behalf. Those who earnestly sought and obtained God’s Spirit before Christ’s coming—including the Nephite prophet Jacob—received a clear witness and understanding of who He would be and what He would do.

Writing about Christ sometime around 500 B.C., Jacob recorded the following about the power of the Spirit:

“…Beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him…He that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.” (Jacob 4:12-13)

Questions:

-Do you believe that true prophets (and their followers) who lived centuries before Christ had a clear understanding of who He would be and what He would do?

-Do you believe that you can have a clear understanding of who Christ is and what He has done through the Spirit?

There Are Many That Harden Their Hearts against the Holy Spirit

Nephi felt that he could communicate God’s word through speech better than he could through writing, because the witness of the Spirit could more easily be dismissed or ignored by those who would read his words than by those who could hear him speak.

“And now I, Nephi, cannot write all things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.” (2 Nephi 33:1-2)

Questions:

-What causes a person to harden his or her heart against the Holy Ghost?

-Are many hearts hardened against the Book of Mormon…even the hearts of those who have never read it?

-Do you feel the witness of the Holy Ghost testifying of the truth of the Book of Mormon as you read it?

-How many read the Book of Mormon with a hardened heart and, consequently, block the witness of the Holy Spirit?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“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 and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, ‘Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.’ (1 Sam. 3:10.)” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 53).

Teachings of the Seventy

“The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow him or her to.

“In some cases the fence we erect around our hearts could be likened to a small picket fence with a Welcome sign on the gate. Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin that they have an eight-foot (2.5-m) chain-link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large No Trespassing sign on it. …

“… The condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so” (Gerald N. Lund, “Opening Our Hearts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 33, 34).

If Ye Enter in by the Way, and Receive the Holy Ghost, It Will Show You All Things What Ye Should Do

Nephi declares that God grants spiritual understanding, to those who sincerely seek it, through the Holy Ghost.

“…After I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark. For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:4-5)

Questions:

-What is the best way to ask for spiritual understanding? Is it as simple as saying a sincere prayer and asking God?

-How many who read the teachings contained within the Book of Mormon are willing to take this step to sincerely pray for understanding and seek a confirmation of the truth from the Holy Ghost?