The Holy Ghost and Personal Revelation
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.
Some Christian creeds claim that God is a spirit, so large that He can fill the immensity of space, or so small that He can dwell in your heart. This is untrue. God is a corporeal being of limitless love and power who comprehends all of creation. It it the Holy Ghost who is a personage of spirit, and who can dwell in one’s heart. In fact, his companionship can be constant for those who have been baptized through the proper priesthood authority and who have had the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred upon them by the laying on of hands.
While Christ was completing His earthy mission, His presence was the witness of all gospel truth. When He finished His earthly mission, however, the gift of the Holy Ghost would become the “comforter”:
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 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” (John 14:25-26)
We know the things of man by the ways of man, but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The Book of Mormon teaches that God will manifest the truth of spiritual things unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:4–5). In modern revelation God promises us that we will receive “knowledge” by His telling us in our mind and in our heart “by the Holy Ghost” (Doctrine and Covenants 8:1–2).
The Roles of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help us live righteously and receive the blessings of the gospel.
He “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.
As we strive to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.
Through Him, we can receive gifts of the Spirit for our benefit and for the benefit of those we love and serve (see Doctrine and Covenants 46:9–11).
He is the Comforter (John 14:26). As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the Spirit can calm our fears, hush the nagging worries of our life, and comfort us when we grieve. The Holy Ghost can fill us “with hope and perfect love” and “teach [us] the peaceable things of the kingdom” (Moroni 8:26; Doctrine and Covenants 36:2).
Through His power, we are sanctified as we repent, receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, and remain true to our covenants (see Mosiah 5:1–6; 3 Nephi 27:20; Moses 6:64–68).
He is the Holy Spirit of Promise (see Ephesians 1:13; Doctrine and Covenants 132:7, 18–19, 26). In this capacity, He confirms that the priesthood ordinances we have received and the covenants we have made are acceptable to God. This approval depends on our continued faithfulness (Gospel Topics:Holy Ghost).
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel. However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.
After a person is baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders lay their hands on the person’s head and, in a sacred priesthood ordinance, confirm him or her a member of the Church. As part of this ordinance, called confirmation, the person is given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if he or she keeps the commandments (Gospel Topics: Holy Ghost).
The gift of the Holy Ghost is available only to those who are cleansed by repentance of the sins of the world. Elder Orson F. Whitney taught: “Baptism is twofold, and has a double mission to perform. It not only cleanses—it [illuminates] the soul, making manifest the things of God, past, present, future, and imparting a sure testimony of the Truth. The soul, cleansed of sin, is in a condition to enjoy the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, which ‘dwelleth not in unclean tabernacles.’ Water baptism begins the work of purification and enlightenment. Spirit baptism completes it” (Baptism—The Birth of Water and of Spirit [n.d.], 10). Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost are the prescribed ways to enter the strait and narrow path to eternal life.
Personal Revelation through the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Through the companionship of the Holy Ghost, according to our faithfulness, we can receive revelation to help us with our specific personal needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony of the gospel or any aspect of it.
The scriptures tell of different types of revelation, such as visions, dreams, and visitations by angels. Through such channels, the Lord has restored His gospel in the latter days and revealed many truths. However, most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
Quiet spiritual promptings may not seem as spectacular as visions or angelic visitations, but they are just as powerful and lasting and life changing. The witness of the Holy Ghost makes an impression on the soul that is more significant than anything we can see or hear. Such impressions can yield epiphanies that can help us make decisions and choose paths to follow, increase our understanding of gospel principles and scriptural messages, gain a solid testimony of truth, and know how to best perform in our families, vocations, and church callings.
The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, which allows Him to dwell in our hearts and communicate directly with our spirits. The voice of the Spirit is described as still and small and one that whispers. How can a voice be still? Why is it likened to a whisper? Because the Spirit almost always speaks to our minds and to our hearts rather than to our ears. President Boyd K. Packer has said, “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 60).