Chapter 3: The Companionship of the Holy Ghost

Missionary Preparation Student Manual, (2005), 21–30


Introduction

Vital to successful missionary work is the willingness to seek and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, missionaries must be worthy to receive that divine guidance. They must be sensitive to the Spirit of God to teach with power and conviction. As they seek, receive, and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost, they are prepared to teach others the doctrines of the Restoration in clarity, and the Spirit testifies of the truthfulness of their message (see D&C 11:21; 50:13–14).

The Light of Christ is a source of inspiration our Heavenly Father has given to all of His children. Understanding the functions of the Light of Christ and of the Holy Ghost helps you recognize God’s influence in your life. The influences of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost upon the minds and hearts of all seekers of truth are essential in the conversion process.

Doctrines and Principles to Understand

  • The Light of Christ is a power for good in the lives of all people.

  • The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead.

  • There are many ways that the Holy Ghost influences our lives for good.

  • Sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit is one of a missionary’s greatest resources.

Supporting Scriptures and Statements

The Light of Christ is a power for good in the lives of all people.

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught that the Light of Christ “fosters everything that is good” (“The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 10). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The Light of Christ, which is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of God, ‘giveth light to every man that cometh into the world’ (D&C 84:46). This is the light ‘which is in all things, which giveth life to all things’ (D&C 88:13). The prophet Mormon taught that ‘the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil’ (Moroni 7:16; see also v. 19; 2 Nephi 2:5; Helaman 14:31)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 79; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 60).

Since everyone you meet will have been given the Light of Christ, it is important that you understand the role of this great influence. Those who follow the Light of Christ will be led to Christ, develop faith in Christ, repent of their sins, and accept baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost as they become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Those who follow the Light of Christ will be lead to baptism.

“The Light of Christ should not be confused with the Holy Ghost. It is not a personage, as the Holy Ghost is. Its influence leads people to find the true gospel, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see John 12:46; Alma 26:14–15)” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 96; see also Bible Dictionary, “Light of Christ,” 725; Guide to the Scriptures, “Light, Light of Christ,” 150).

President Boyd K. Packer taught that the Light of Christ is “another source of inspiration, which each of us possesses in common with all other members of the human family. If we know about the Light of Christ, we will understand that there is something inside all of us, and we can appeal to that in our desire to share truth. …

“Every man, woman, and child of every nation, creed, or color—everyone, no matter where they live or what they believe or what they do—has within them the imperishable Light of Christ. In this respect, all men are created equally. The Light of Christ in everyone is a testimony that God is no respecter of persons (see D&C 1:35). He treats everyone equally in that endowment with the Light of Christ” (Ensign, Apr. 2005, 8, 10).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the Light of Christ helps prepare people for the restored gospel message and its blessings: “Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to ‘[hearken] to the voice’ [D&C 84:46] to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 26; or Ensign, May 2003, 26).

President Boyd K. Packer explained the importance of understanding that all of God’s children have been given the Light of Christ:

“The more we know about the Light of Christ, the more we will understand about life and the more we will have a deep love for mankind. We will be better teachers and missionaries and parents, and better men and women and children. We will have deeper regard for our brothers and sisters in the Church and for those who do not believe and have not yet had conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost. …

“It is important for a teacher or a missionary or a parent to know that the Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ. A teacher of gospel truths is not planting something foreign or even new into an adult or a child. Rather, the missionary or teacher is making contact with the Spirit of Christ already there. The gospel will have a familiar ‘ring’ to them” (Ensign, Apr. 2005, 8, 10).

The Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead.

The scriptures teach about the function of the Holy Ghost in the Godhead. As a member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost performs duties that are important for missionaries to understand.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described some of the duties of the Holy Ghost: “The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, a personage of spirit. He is the Comforter, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of Promise. He testifies of Jesus Christ, His work, and the work of His servants upon the earth. He acts as a cleansing agent to purify and sanctify us from sin. He comforts us and brings peace to our souls. The right to His constant companionship is among the greatest gifts we can receive in mortality, for by the light of His promptings and His cleansing power we can be led back into the presence of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 80; or Ensign, May 2002, 70).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that manifestations of the Holy Ghost are “given to acquaint sincere seekers with the truth about the Lord and His gospel” and that “these manifestations are available to everyone [see 2 Nephi 26:13].” He then explained the difference between the Light of Christ, manifestations of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of the Holy Ghost:

“The Light of Christ is given to all men and women that they may know good from evil; manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism.

“The gift of the Holy Ghost is more comprehensive. …

“The gift of the Holy Ghost includes the right to constant companionship, that we may ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us]’ (D&C 20:77). …

“For faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ, the companionship of the Holy Spirit should be so familiar that we must use care not to take it for granted. For example, that good feeling you have felt during the messages and music of this conference is a confirming witness of the Spirit, available to faithful members on a continuing basis. A member once asked me why he felt so good about the talks and music in a sacrament meeting, while a guest he had invited that day apparently experienced no such feeling. This is but one illustration of the contrast between one who has the gift of the Holy Ghost and is in tune with His promptings and one who has not, or is not” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 79–80; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 60).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, illustrated the difference between the influence of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost: “Before baptism [all people] may receive revelation from the Holy Ghost for the purpose of giving them a testimony of the truth and divinity of the Lord’s work on earth. After baptism they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and it is then their right to have the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if they keep the commandments. The testimony before baptism, speaking by way of analogy, comes as a flash of lightning blazing forth in a dark and stormy night; it comes to light the path on which earth’s pilgrims, far from their heavenly home and lost in the deserts and swamps of the world, must walk if they are to return to the Divine Presence. The companionship of the Holy Ghost after baptism is as the continuing blaze of the sun at noonday, shedding its rays on the path of life and on all that surrounds it” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 262).

There are many ways that the Holy Ghost influences our lives for good.

Manifestations of the Spirit come in a variety of ways. The scriptures help us better understand the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Prospective missionaries should be able to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost in their lives and have the faith and courage to follow those promptings. The Lord gave the following commission: “That which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart” (D&C 46:7).

Prospective missionaries should also be able to explain the nature and basic duties of the Holy Ghost to investigators.

“No mortal teacher, no matter how expert or experienced, can bring the blessings of testimony and conversion to another person. That is the office of the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit. People come to know that the gospel is true by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Teaching, No Greater Call [1999], 41).

Following are some important principles to understand about the influence of the Holy Ghost:

1. We can receive spiritual impressions.

See Romans 15:13.

See Alma 32:28.

See Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9.

“Although we often describe communication from the Spirit as a voice, that voice is one that we feel more than we hear. And while we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we often describe a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling …’ The Lord’s counsel to Oliver Cowdery in section 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants … teaches this principle. However, this counsel is sometimes misunderstood. Upon reading that passage, some members of the Church become confused, fearing that they have never received a prompting from the Holy Ghost because they have never felt a burning in their bosom. Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8: ‘Therefore, you shall feel that it is right.’ The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat. As you continue to seek and follow the Lord’s will in your life, you will come to recognize how the Holy Ghost influences you personally” (True to the Faith, 144).

While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder L. Lionel Kendrick described how the Spirit influences both the mind and the heart: “Personal revelations are received in both the mind and in the heart. These impressions come to the mind as thoughts and to the heart as feelings. Elder Boyd K. Packer explained, ‘This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings’ (“Revelation in a Changing World,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 14). At times the Spirit will impress both the mind and the heart at the same time. Usually when your head and your heart are receiving the same impression, you know that you are receiving a personal revelation. The Savior instructed Hyrum Smith, ‘I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy’ (D&C 11:13)” (“Personal Revelation,” Brigham Young University 1996–97 Speeches [1997], 256).

“Personal revelations … come to the mind as thoughts and to the heart as feelings.”

President Boyd K. Packer explained how our minds receive communication from divine sources: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1989, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).

2. We can receive a feeling of peace.

See Genesis 41:16.

See Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23.

“The Holy Ghost is often called the Comforter (see John 14:26; D&C 39:6). As He reveals the will of the Lord to you, He will ‘speak peace to your mind’ (D&C 6:23). The peace He gives cannot be counterfeited by worldly influences or false teachings. It is the peace the Savior promised when He assured His disciples that He would send the Comforter: ‘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’ (John 14:27)” (True to the Faith, 144).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described feelings associated with the burning of the bosom: “What does a ‘burning in the bosom’ mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works” (“Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 13).

Elder Robert K. Dellenbach of the Seventy taught how peace can bless our lives: “As we sincerely pray to the Lord and rely upon his divine whisperings, that still, small voice will come to us (see Helaman 5:30). We will receive a peace, knowing that God has answered our prayers. Remember the peace that Oliver received [see D&C 6:23]. These spiritual embers can grow into a flame of testimony (see Helaman 5:45)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 28; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 23).

3. We can receive the still, small voice.

See 1 Kings 19:9–12.

See Helaman 5:30.

The still small voice of the Holy Ghost is often felt rather than heard.

President Boyd K. Packer taught about the voice of the Spirit: “The voice of the Spirit is a still, small voice—a voice that is felt rather than heard. It is a spiritual voice that comes into the mind as a thought put into your heart” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2000, 8; or Ensign, May 2000, 8).

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles indicated how a strong need to know what God wants brings answers: “I have had prayers answered. Those answers were most clear when what I wanted was silenced by an overpowering need to know what God wanted. It is then that the answer from a loving Heavenly Father can be spoken to the mind by the still, small voice and can be written on the heart” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 111; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 86).

President Ezra Taft Benson spoke about what the gift of the Holy Ghost will do for us: “The Holy Ghost helps you choose the right. The Holy Ghost will protect you from evil. He whispers to you in a still, small voice to do right. When you do good, you feel good, and that is the Holy Ghost speaking to you. The Holy Ghost is a wonderful companion. He is always there to help you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 103; or Ensign, May 1989, 82).

“When you do good, you feel good, and that is the Holy Ghost speaking to you.”

4. We can receive new ideas.

See Doctrine and Covenants 8:2.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught how the spirit of revelation can bring new ideas: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 151).

5. We should remember that spiritual manifestations are sacred.

See Alma 12:9.

President Boyd K. Packer gave caution regarding the sacred nature of spiritual manifestations:

“Dreams and visions and visitations are not uncommon in the Church and are a part of all that the Lord has revealed in this dispensation.

“It may be that you will be the recipient of a marvelous spiritual experience. I have come to know that these experiences are personal and are to be kept private. Ponder them in your heart and do not talk lightly about them [see Alma 12:9]” (“The Great Plan of Happiness and Personal Revelation” [CES fireside for young adults, Nov. 7, 1993], 7–8).

6. The Lord gives us revelation in His own time.

See Isaiah 55:8–9.

See Moroni 7:2.

See Doctrine and Covenants 88:68.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught about the timing of inspiration from the Lord: “We should recognize that the Lord will speak to us through the Spirit in his own time and in his own way. Many people do not understand this principle. They believe that when they are ready and when it suits their convenience, they can call upon the Lord and he will immediately respond, even in the precise way they have prescribed. Revelation does not come that way” (Ensign, Mar. 1997, 10).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, emphasized the need to submit ourselves to the Lord’s timing while waiting for answers to our prayers and other righteous desires: “Since the Lord wants a people ‘tried in all things’ (D&C 136:31), how, specifically, will we be tried? He tells us, I will try the faith and the patience of my people (see Mosiah 23:21). Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done’” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 76; or Ensign, May 2001, 59).

The Lord gives us revelation in his own due time.

7. We should not expect revelation in all things.

See James 4:3.

See Doctrine and Covenants 58:26–29.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned: “Revelations from God—the teachings and directions of the Spirit—are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening to the still, small voice, the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit” (Ensign, Mar. 1997, 14).

Elder Oaks also warned about seeking revelation in every element of our lives: “The Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every questionto the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. That strikes me as improper. I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence and experience He has given us to make these kinds of choices” (“Revelation,” New Era, Sept. 1982, 46).

Sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit is one of a missionary’s greatest resources.

The missionary teaches restored gospel truths to the investigator, but the influence of the Spirit is the most powerful element in a person’s conversion to the restored gospel. It is critical that missionaries be sensitive to the Spirit and learn to follow the impressions they receive. Our understanding of the role of the Spirit will increase as we learn to obey its promptings.

“The influence of the Spirit is the most powerful element in a person’s conversion to the restored gospel.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed the power of the Spirit in conversion: “In the missionary training centers, we teach the missionaries that they must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are taught that they need to develop genuinely warm, personal, caring relationships with those whom they meet. They must learn to listen with understanding and to show sincere sensitivity to the interests and concerns of those they teach. As missionaries teach the doctrines, they need to find out what their contacts think and feel so they can clarify misunderstandings, ease doubts, resolve concerns, and provide encouragement. The warm, sincere spirit of the missionaries is essential to help nonmembers feel and recognize the Spirit of the Lord, because the Spirit is the power that leads to conversion” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 28).

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy taught how sharing our testimonies brings the Spirit: “Testify frequently while you are teaching. This may even be more important than the thing you are teaching. Testify in the name of the Lord that the things you are teaching are true. If you will do that, it will bring the Spirit of the Lord” (Raising Up a Family to the Lord [1993], 49).

Elder Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Boyd K. Packer described an important lesson he learned while serving in the mission field:

“I learned a sobering lesson as a mission president. I was also a General Authority. I had been prompted several times, for the good of the work, to release one of my counselors. Besides praying about it, I had reasoned that it was the right thing to do. But I did not do it. I feared that it would injure a man who had given long service to the Church.

“The Spirit withdrew from me. I could get no promptings on who should be called as a counselor should I release him. It lasted for several weeks. My prayers seemed to be contained within the room where I offered them. I tried a number of alternate ways to arrange the work, but to no avail. Finally I did as I was bidden to do by the Spirit. Immediately the gift returned. Oh, the exquisite sweetness to have that gift again! You know it, for you have it—the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the brother was not injured, indeed he was greatly blessed and immediately thereafter the work prospered” (“That All May Be Edified” [1982], 341).

President Marion G. Romney, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the need to follow the Lord’s guidance after we receive it: “When a person learns what the Lord’s counsel is and follows it, he irresistibly draws close to the Spirit. From its very beginning, the history of God’s dealings with his children on the earth testifies to the fact that those who disregard his counsel fail and come to grief” (“Seek Not to Counsel the Lord,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 2).

Points to Ponder

  • What are some of the ways the Spirit of the Lord has inspired you?

  • What can you do to increase the influence of the Spirit in your life? How does personal worthiness affect the influence of the Spirit in a person’s life?

  • In what ways can you develop greater sensitivity to the Spirit?

Suggested Assignments

  • Determine what adjustments you can make in your life to become more sensitive to the Spirit.

  • Choose a time and a place where you can be alone. You may want to fast. Begin with prayer and ask your Heavenly Father what He would have you do as you prepare to be one of His missionaries. After praying, take some time to consider thoughts and feelings that come to you. Record these impressions in your journal. This may be a good start to your missionary journal.

  • Record impressions and insights regarding the scriptures you study in a scripture study journal.

  • Prayerfully review your patriarchal blessing, noting counsel and impressions that could be applied to your mission. (If you have not received your patriarchal blessing, consider doing so.)

  • Prepare a talk on the subject “Why being guided by the Spirit is important to every missionary.” Give your talk to your family or a trusted friend.

  • Read the scripture references in the left column of the chart below. In the right column, write a brief description of the way the Holy Ghost can influence us that is illustrated in the scripture. You may also want to “chain” these verses together in your scriptures by cross-referencing the first scripture on the list to the second, the second to the third, and so on to the end and then cross-referencing the last scripture to the first.

Recommended Additional Reading

    True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference

  • “Holy Ghost” (pp. 81–84)

  • “Prayer” (pp. 118–23)

  • “Revelation” (pp. 140–44)

Notes and Impressions