Chapter 16: The Gift of the Holy Ghost

“Chapter 16: The Gift of the Holy Ghost,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual (2000), 44–45

“16: Gift of the Holy Ghost,” Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, 44–45

Chapter 16

The Gift of the Holy Ghost


All members of the Church are enjoined at their confirmation to “receive the Holy Ghost.” Those who receive Him become Saints; those who do not are halted in their progression toward the kingdom of God. “We have a great many members of this Church who have never received a manifestation through the Holy Ghost. Why? Because they have not made their lives conform to the truth” (Joseph Fielding Smith, We Are Here to Be Tried, Tested, Proved, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [25 Oct. 1961], 4; see also Church News, 4 Nov. 1961, 14).

Doctrinal Outline

  1. Before individuals receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they first receive the Spirit or Light of Christ, which is given to every person who is born into the world.

    See John 1:9; Moroni 7:16; Doctrine and Covenants 84:45–46; 93:2.

  2. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed on all who have covenanted with Jesus Christ in baptism.

    1. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands by those who have the proper authority (see Acts 8:12–25; Moroni 2:1–3; Articles of Faith 1:4).

    2. The Holy Ghost can lead us to all truth (see John 14:15–17; Moroni 10:5).

    3. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to His companionship when the individual is worthy (see D&C 121:45–46).

    4. The Holy Ghost cleanses us from sin and is likened unto fire (see Matthew 3:11; 2 Nephi 31:17; D&C 19:31).

  3. Those who have the gift of the Holy Ghost may enjoy the gifts of the Spirit.

    1. Every member of the Church is entitled to at least one gift of the Spirit (see D&C 46:11–12; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11).

    2. The gifts of God come from Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:8, 17–18).

    3. Many gifts can come from the Holy Ghost to Church members (see D&C 46:13–26; Moroni 10:9–16; 1 Corinthians 12:8–10).

    4. There are those who are entitled to the discernment of all of the gifts because of their priesthood calling (see D&C 46:27–29; 107:91–92).

Supporting Statements

  1. Before individuals receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, they first receive the Spirit or Light of Christ, which is given to every person who is born into the world.

    • “Our understanding of the Light of Christ is limited. Finite powers and capacities cannot comprehend that which is infinite. But we do know certain basic principles, among which are these:

      “1. That it is the light which proceeds forth from the presence and person of Deity to fill immensity, and that it is therefore everywhere present;

      “2. That it is the agency of God’s power, the law by which all things are governed;

      “3. That it is the divine power which gives life to all things, and that if it were completely withdrawn life would cease;

      “4. That it enlightens the mind and quickens the understanding of every person born into the world (all have a conscience!);

      “5. That it strives with all men (the Holy Ghost testifies but does not strive) unless and until they rebel against light and truth, at which time the striving ceases, and in that sense the Spirit is withdrawn;

      “6. That those who hearken to its voice come unto Christ, receive his gospel, are baptized, and gain the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Moro. 7:12–18; D&C 84:43–53; 88:7–13.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 208–9).

    • “In determining that which is right in the sight of God let us consider this question of your conscience that we talk so much about. The scriptures speak of an influence to be found throughout the universe that gives life and light to all things, which is called variously the Light of Truth, the Light of Christ, or the Spirit of God. ‘That (is) the true Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’ (John 1:9.) It is that which ‘enlighteneth your eyes … and that quickeneth your understandings.’ (Doc. and Cov. 88:11.) Every one of you born into this world enjoys the blessing of this Light that shall never cease to strive with you until you are led to that further light from the gift of the Holy Ghost that may be received only upon condition of repentance and baptism into the Kingdom of God” (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, 144).

  2. The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed on all who have covenanted with Jesus Christ in baptism.

    • “Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 199).

    • “An intelligent being, in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection, that is possessed by God himself.

      “But these are possessed by man, in his rudimental state, in a subordinate sense of the word. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo, and are to be gradually developed. They resemble a bud, a germ, which gradually develops into bloom, and then, by progress, produces the mature fruit after its own kind.

      “The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. …

      “… Such is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and such are its operations when received through the lawful channel—the divine, eternal priesthood” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 61–62).

    • “True it is that honest truth seekers come to know of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work by the power of the Holy Ghost: they receive a flash of revelation telling them that Jesus is the Lord, that Joseph Smith is his prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the mind and will and voice of the Lord, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth. They gain a testimony before baptism. But it is only after they pledge their all in the cause of Christ that they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the heavenly endowment of which Jesus spoke. Then they receive a fulfillment of the promise: ‘By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.’ (Moro. 10:5.) Then they receive ‘the spirit of revelation,’ and the Lord tells them in their heart and in their mind whatsoever he will. (D&C 8:1–3.)” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4:98–99).

    • “What is the gift of the Holy Ghost? Nothing more nor less than the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:40).

    • “The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and comes into our lives to lead us in the paths of righteousness. Each person on whom authoritative hands have been placed will receive the Holy Ghost. He will lead us unto all truth. And so we are a blessed people with all these special blessings. If one does not receive the great gift of the Holy Ghost, then it is his fault, that he hasn’t been spiritual enough or close enough to Heavenly Father” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 22–23).

  3. Those who have the gift of the Holy Ghost may enjoy the gifts of the Spirit.

    • “By the grace of God—following devotion, faith, and obedience on man’s part—certain special spiritual blessings called gifts of the Spirit are bestowed upon men. Their receipt is always predicated upon obedience to law, but because they are freely available to all the obedient, they are called gifts. …

      “Their purpose is to enlighten, encourage, and edify the faithful so that they will inherit peace in this life and be guided toward eternal life in the world to come. Their presence is proof of the divinity of the Lord’s work” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 314).

    • “Paul says, ‘To one is given the gift of tongues, to another the gift of prophecy, and to another the gift of healing;’ and again: ‘Do all prophesy? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?’ evidently showing that all did not possess these several gifts; but that one received one gift, and another received another gift—all did not prophesy, all did not speak in tongues, all did not work miracles; but all did receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; sometimes they spake in tongues and prophesied in the Apostles’ days, and sometimes they did not. The same is the case with us also in our administrations, while more frequently there is no manifestation at all, that is visible to the surrounding multitude” (Smith, Teachings, 243–44).

    • “Among the gifts of the spirit manifest in the Apostolic Church, Paul lists wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. The New Testament records numerous examples of the manifestation of these gifts.

      “Among the Jaredites and Nephites, the manifestations of these gifts were likewise prevalent. Mormon testified that they would not cease except for unbelief, ‘… so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved.’ (Moroni 7:36.)” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 69).

    • “The Saints should be guided by the Spirit of God, and subject to those who preside in the meetings. If the Bishop, who is a common judge in Israel, tells a person to restrain this gift, or any other gift, it is the duty of that person to do it. The Bishop has a right to the gift of discernment, whereby he may tell whether these spirits are of God or not, and if they are not they should not have place in the congregations of the Saints. No man or woman has a right to find fault with the Bishop for restraining him or her in any of these matters. The Bishop is the responsible party, and it is his privilege to say what shall be done under his presidency” (Abraham O. Woodruff, in Conference Report, Apr. 1901, 12).