During 2017, LDS members will be studying the latest manual published by their church, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley. We will evaluate this book regularly, chapter by chapter, by showing interesting quotes and providing an Evangelical Christian take on this manual. The quotes from Hinckley are in bold, with my comments following. If you would like to see the church manual online, go here. Latter-day Saints study this material on the second and third Sundays of each month (thus, chapters 1-2 are January, chapter 3-4 are February, etc.)
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 2016
Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
The Holy Ghost is the Comforter and the Testifier of truth.
The Holy Ghost stands as the third member of the Godhead, the Comforter promised by the Savior who would teach His followers all things and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them (see John 14:26).
The Holy Ghost bears testimony in our hearts concerning the Father and the Son.
[My] testimony [of Jesus Christ] comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is a gift, sacred and wonderful, borne by revelation from the third member of the Godhead.
Mormon leaders have not always agreed as to who the Holy Ghost is. For instance, Heber C. Kimball—a member of the First Presidency, the highest LDS leaders—said on August 23, 1857,
Well, let me tell you, the Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God; and he is that man that stood next to Jesus Christ, just as I stand by brother Brigham (Journal of Discourses 5:179).
Another member of the First Presidency, Charles W. Penrose, told a general conference audience that the Holy Ghost was a “personage of spirit” and said he didn’t know if he would ever get a body:
The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are three personages. Two are persons of tabernacle. Now, questions arise as to whether the Holy Ghost will ever get a body. I do not know anything about that, because the Lord has not revealed it; and if our brethren, while trying to be wise when they are not always so, would leave out of their preachings and their speculations that which they think may be in the future, but do not know, there will be a good deal of contention avoided. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit, as Jesus Christ was when he was Jehovah” (Conference Reports, April 1921, p. 12).
Today the LDS Church appears to disagree with Kimball and sides with the view proposed by Penrose, as a 2004 manual states:
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones (see D&C 130:22). He is often referred to as the Spirit, Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the comforter (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, pp. 81-82).
This would seem to go with Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, which says, “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
There is also confusion regarding whether or not the Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit. Apostle John Widtsoe didn’t think so, saying:
The Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Comforter, is the third member of the Godhead, and is a personage, distinct from the Holy Spirit. As a personage, the Holy Ghost cannot any more than the Father and the Son be everywhere present in person (Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 76-77).
Yet Apostle Dallin Oaks made it appear the two are one and the same person:
The Holy Ghost will protect us against being deceived, but to realize that wonderful blessing we must always do the things necessary to retain that Spirit. We must keep the commandments, pray for guidance, and attend church and partake of the sacrament each Sunday. And we must never do anything to drive away that Spirit (“Be Not Deceived,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2004, p. 46).
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father. It is fundamental Church doctrine that God is the Father of the spirits of all men and women, that Jesus is literally God’s Son both in the spirit and in the flesh, and that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit separate and distinct from both the Father and the Son. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Eternal Godhead, and is identified also as the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Lord, and the comforter (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:649).
One thing for sure is that the Holy Ghost—called by Hinckley “the third member of the Godhead—is not the same as the view held by biblical Christianity. After all, the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit) is the third member of the Trinity who is fully, eternally God and is the Comforter sent by Jesus (John 14). He is not just a part of God’s creation—whether in the flesh or spirit. Jesus called Him the “Counselor” who helps the Christian believer, including with prayers (Romans 8:26). And He fills the believer’s life with “fruit.” As Gal. 5:25 puts it, we need to “keep in step with the Spirit.”
To see more about the Trinity, go here.
The Holy Ghost is the Testifier of Truth, who can teach [us] things [we] cannot teach one another. In those great and challenging words of Moroni, a knowledge of the truth of the Book of Mormon is promised “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni then declares, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4–5).
I believe this power, this gift, is available to us today.
Moroni 10:4-5 are commonly used verses cited by Mormons to explain how to understand truth. Mormon missionaries often encourage prospective converts to read the Book of Mormon and then pray about it to see if it’s true. While it is important to be respectful to our Latter-day Saint friends and not minimize their experiences, we need to point out that the rules have been rigged since the prayer’s request really has but one answer. The investigator who declines the invitation to pray may be accused of not believing in prayer. On the other hand, those who agree to pray but don’t receive the “right” answer will probably be thought of as not having a sincere heart, real intent, or adequate faith. In response to the question “Shouldn’t Moroni’s promise always work” with someone who “has not received a testimony of its truthfulness?” Daniel Ludlow, the director of LDS Church Correlation Review, confirms this suspicion:
God cannot and does not lie, and his promises made through his prophets are sure. Therefore, any person who claims to have followed the various requirements but says he has not gained a testimony should check to see which step he has not followed faithfully or completely:
- He should read and ponder the Book of Mormon—all of it. 2. He should remember the methods God has used in working with the peoples of both the Book of Mormon and the Bible—and ponder these things in his heart. 3. He should put himself in a frame of mind where he would be willing to accept (receive) all of “these things”—the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the way God works with men. 4. “With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” he should ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus Christ “if these things are not true.” 5. He should be able to recognize the promptings and feelings which will be evidences to him of the truth of “these things” (including the Book of Mormon) as they are made manifest unto him “by the power of the Holy Ghost”(“I Have a Question,” Ensign, March 1986).
There is a psychological edge that the Mormon missionaries have when someone agrees to their challenge to pray and ask God about the Book of Mormon and the Mormon religion. After all, the investigator may eventually get the “right” answer in an attempt to please the missionaries, close family members, or friends who have come to the same conclusion. In the end, one’s good feelings may win the day, even if the object of the prayer is false. It should be noted that Joseph Smith disregarded the immediate context of James 1:5, which speaks of gaining wisdom, not knowledge. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. In this verse James tells his Christian audience to ask God for wisdom when they are undergoing trials and temptations, not for testing various truth claims.
First John 4:1 tells believers to “try [test] the spirits.” Why? Because many false prophets have gone out into the world. The Bereans in Acts 17:11 were considered noble because they “searched the scriptures daily” and tested Paul’s words against what God had already revealed. In other words, Christians are to test all truth claims with the Bible, not with subjective experiences, even if that experience involves a supernatural “vision.”
When Moroni 10:4 is brought up in a conversation, you might ask your acquaintance whether his or her feelings have always been accurate. At one time or another, all of us have been fooled by our feelings, no matter how sincere we might have been. For example, Mormons believe that marriage is not only for life but also for eternity. Should it be assumed that the many Mormon couples who are divorced did not pray about their relationships beforehand? Surely knowing information about another person that could have exposed potential behavior problems—such as drug addiction, sex addiction, pornography issues, inward apathy to God, or repressed anger—would have helped with making a more informed decision. Yet how many Mormons must have “felt” God’s approval in relationships that were tragically doomed from the beginning?
While it is true that faith does involve believing things that can’t be proven, it is foolishness to believe something that has already been disproven. If the Bible disproves a spiritual truth claim, it must be rejected. If praying about the Book of Mormon is the means for finding truth, shouldn’t this test also apply to other religious books? It is curious how very few Mormons have taken the time and effort to read (and pray about) the scriptures of other religions. Using the rationale that people should pray about Mormonism’s scripture, why shouldn’t every religion’s scriptures—such as the Qu’ran (Islam), the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita (Hinduism), and the Tripitaka (Buddhism) —also be read and contemplated through prayer? How can the Mormon know the accuracy of Mormonism until he or she personally tests all religions in this way? Though Christians should most certainly use prayer to guide them in their search for truth, it should not be the only litmus test. Hopefully, prayer will lead us to the information we need in order to make an informed and proper decision.
We need the Holy Ghost to guide us in our service at home and in the Church.
There is no greater blessing that can come into our lives than the gift of the Holy Ghost—the companionship of the Holy Spirit to guide us, protect us, and bless us, to go, as it were, as a pillar before us and a flame to lead us in paths of righteousness and truth. That guiding power of the third member of the Godhead can be ours if we live worthy of it.
Christians would agree that obedience is important for a person to hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit, synonymous names in the Bible). The command to “be filled with the Spirit” is given by Paul in Ephesians 5:18. This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit doesn’t reside in the person, as the baptism of the Spirit is not provided through obedience. This baptism is what Jesus promised in Acts 1:5 before He ascended into heaven. His words were fulfilled at Pentecost as Gentile believers were permanently given the Spirit who was promised. Later, in Acts 11:15-17:
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?
According to 1 Cor. 12:12-13, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” This baptism is given to all believers who accept Jesus as their Savior. Pastor John Piper writes:
According to this one reference, Paul conceived of Spirit-baptism as the act by which the Spirit made us members of Christ’s body. Once we were alienated from God, cut off from Christ (Ephesians 2:12), but then the Holy Spirit swept over us and brought us to life by uniting us to the living Christ and thus to his people in one body. This is a once-for-all event. It is never repeated, and nowhere does Paul (or Luke) ever admonish a Christian to be baptized by the Spirit.
It is possible for a Christian who has been baptized by the Holy Spirit is not be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Referring to Ephesians 5:18, Piper explains:
I think being filled with the Spirit means, basically, having great joy in God. And since the Bible teaches that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), it also means there will be power in this joy for overcoming besetting sins and for boldness in witness. But, basically, it means radiant joy, because the Spirit who fills us is the Spirit of joy that flows between God the Father and God the Son because of the delight they have in each other. Therefore, to be filled with the Spirit means to be caught into the joy that flows among the Holy Trinity and to love God the Father and God the Son with the very love with which they love each other. And then, in answer to the second question, the way to be filled with the Spirit is by trusting that the God of hope really reigns—that not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from his will (Matthew 10:29)—and that he runs the world for you and for all who trust his word. In believing that, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.
Paul contrasts getting drunk on wine with being filled with the Spirit. Whereas one element controls a person and leads in a loss of faculties in an ungodly way, the filling of the Spirit allows a person to experience the joy and love of God readily available and be lost in God’s Spirit. Christians are commanded to constantly (“be being filled,” the literal Greek reads in Ephesians 5:18) be filled. If a Christian expects to be continually filled with the Spirit (bubbling over the lid and spilling over) each and every moment, however, it’s not going to happen.
Unfortunately, Mormonism skips the meaning of what it means to be “sealed with the Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13) and focus on the feelings. Unfortunately, everyday life saps the joy right out of even the most sincere Christian’s heart. We struggle with sin, we get angry with our spouse, and we realize we’re not all that we’re supposed to be. Where is the joy? It’s a continual struggle to remember who we are in Christ (John 1:18) and so we need to be reminded to “be continually filled.” Meanwhile, Hinckley reminds the Mormon that the “guiding power of the third member of the Godhead can be ours if we live worthy of it.” In other words, it’s all based on what we do, eliminating any security of one’s eternal standing before God. The daisy is probably the best symbol that can be given to such an ideology. “He loves me, he loves me not,” the Mormon is resigned to repeat, not understanding that Christianity according to the Bible doesn’t work like that.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (right after love!), so we as Christians need to be reminded that Satan has already been conquered and that our standing before the Almighty God of the Bible doesn’t hinge on how we feel or how righteous we are. Rather, it stands on the work of Christ. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
We need the Holy Spirit in our many administrative responsibilities. We need it as we teach the gospel in our classes and to the world. We need it in the governance and teaching of our families.
As a Christian, I would say I want the Spirit of God fully involved in every aspect of my life.
As we direct and teach under the influence of that Spirit, we shall bring spirituality into the lives of those for whom we are responsible. …
… Sweet are the fruits of teaching done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They feed the spirit and nourish the soul.
May I give a special word of counsel to parents who stand as heads of families: we need the direction of the Holy Ghost in the delicate and tremendous task that is ours in strengthening the spirituality of our homes.
I would like to say something that the Mormon will not like. But it needs to be said. If a Mormon is not controlled by the true, living God as revealed in the Bible, he or she does not possess the Holy Spirit of God. What that person is controlled by is an influence that is other than God. If it is impossible for a nonbeliever to have the Holy Spirit, it is also impossible for the Latter-day Saint to “direct and teach under the influence” of God’s spirit. Certainly the Mormon can teach others—including family members—in a moralistic way. That is possible. But don’t think that the Spirit of God is involved in any of this teaching. It’s like trying to spend an authentic “counterfeit” bill. A person can work hard, earn the money, and have the bill in his pocket. But when it comes time to spend it, the bill shouldn’t be accepted as legal tender, even if an unwary merchant is willing to take it. The Bible warns against counterfeit prophets (Matthew 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1), which says it is possible to know the authentic by their fruits. The Bible warns against counterfeit gospels (Galatians 1:8-9) that are meant to be rejected, no matter how close it might be to the original version. And the Bible warns against counterfeit Jesuses (2 Cor. 11:4), no matter how much we enjoy the Jesus we may have constructed.
Revelation almost always comes to us through a still, small voice—the whispering of the Spirit.
The problem is that the Mormon depends on his or her feelings (“the whispering of the Spirit”) to determine truth. This is not the way truth is meant to be discovered. The Bible makes it very clear that subjective feelings can be deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death,” while Proverbs 28:26 adds that only fools trust in their heart.
Because everyone is a fallen and sinful creature, it is possible to be swayed by emotions and desires. To believe something is true merely because one feels it to be true is no guarantee of truth. Jesus commanded His followers in Mark 12:30 to love God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Paul explained in 2 Timothy 2:15 that the believer must make the effort to study in order to correctly understand truth. In the next chapter (3:16– 17), he added that all Scripture given by inspiration of God is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” so that the man or woman of God might be competent and equipped to do good works. Christians are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” While it is true that faith does involve believing things that can’t be proven, it is foolishness to believe something that has already been disproven. If the Bible disproves a spiritual truth claim, it must be rejected.
From time to time, I have been interviewed by representatives of the media. Almost invariably they have asked, “How does revelation come to the prophet of the Church?”
I reply that it comes now as it has come in the past. Concerning this, I have recounted to these media representatives the experience of Elijah following his contest with the priests of Baal:
“And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11–12).
That is the way it is. There is a still, small voice. It comes in response to prayer. It comes by the whispering of the Spirit. It may come in the silence of the night. Do I have any question of that? None whatever. I have seen it in instance after instance.
Such almost invariably has been the word of God as it has come to us, not with trumpets, not from the council halls of the learned, but in the still small voice of revelation. Listening to those who seek in vain to find wisdom and who declaim loudly their nostrums [or cures] for the ills of the world, one is prone to reply with the Psalmist, “Be still, and know that I am God: …” (Ps. 46:10) and with the Savior, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15.)
Notice how Hinckley says that listening to a “still, small voice” is the most important factor in guidance. He pulls verses out of context to make his case. The verses cited in the paragraph above, though, say that God’s Word is more important than any feelings we may have. A Mormon may point to how Hinckley mentions prayer, and I’m one who is totally on board with prayer. But prayer to whom? And if the “spirit” leading someone is not the Spirit of God, then how can we expect this “still, small voice” to be accurately directing us in the right paths? The Mormon has a problem if he expects God to direct him when the Spirit of God is not present in that person’s life.
It is this same “spirit” that directs a Mormon to a testimony that he or she can “testify that Joseph Smith was a true prophet (despite the evidence against), that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church on earth (despite the evidence against), that Thomas S. Monson is his representative on earth today (despite the evidence against).” If the Mormon accepts false doctrine such as God was once a man (as D&C 130:22 says), that Jesus was first created by God (when John 1:1ff says that he always existed as God), and that we’re saved by grace after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23) (when the Bible says a Christian is saved by grace through faith and not by works, Eph. 2:8-9), then how can this person be sure that this “still, small voice” originates with God? Those who once were faithful LDS but left this church to come into relationship with Jesus certainly understand what I am saying. Even if a person is sincere and truly believes in false doctrine, it remains false doctrine. It’s not based on our perspective but on God’s.
As Hinckley quotes from Matthew, “let him who has ears, let him hear.”
The things of the Spirit enlighten, build, and uplift us.
How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil.
Hinckley asks, “How do we know that it is from God?” He says it’s by fruits, and I agree. The essential teachings of Mormonism contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Heresy is believed by millions of many nice people around the world who accept the words of men speaking in Salt Lake city as gospel truth while remaining ignorant clear teachings of the Bible. What the Mormon may think leads to godliness may actually be the opposite. For instance, having to get a temple recommend to be allowed into a Mormon temple can easily foster pride. Thinking “good” works are being done for God (limiting one’s activities on a Sunday, not drinking alcohol or coffee, gathering together with family members on Mondays, etc.) may cause a person to be distanced from godliness. Arbitrary rule-keeping was certainly criticized by Jesus when it came to His reaction to the Pharisees. It depends on the person’s viewpoint if “the things of the Spirit enlighten, build, and uplift us.” For the Mormon, personal righteousness is the pathway to godhood. For the Christian, personal righteousness is a result of the work that God has done in us and can be defined by the fruit of the Spirit talked about by Paul in Galatians 5.
You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God. That which tears down, which leads us into forbidden paths—that is of the adversary. I think it is just that plain, just that simple.
Hinckley says “it is just that plain, just that simple.” Is it? The “forbidden paths” mentioned can mean different things. For the Mormon, it might mean not attending church or temple regularly, drinking coffee, and mowing the grass on a Sunday. The more important question is what does the Bible have to say. I encourage every Latter-day Saint to read the book of Romans and see if what Paul says here is the same type of salvation encouraged in Mormonism. Click here for more.
A scholar once expressed the view that the Church is an enemy of intellectualism. If he meant by intellectualism that branch of philosophy which teaches “the doctrine that knowledge is wholly or chiefly derived from pure reason” and “that reason is the final principle of reality,” then, yes, we are opposed to so narrow an interpretation as applicable to religion. (Quotations from the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, p. 738.) Such an interpretation excludes the power of the Holy Spirit in speaking to and through [us]. Of course we believe in the cultivation of the mind, but the intellect is not the only source of knowledge. There is a promise, given under inspiration from the Almighty, set forth in these beautiful words: “God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.” (D&C 121:26.)
We must remember that our mind is the doorstep to the pathway of our heart. Teachings that go against reason (i.e. contradict biblical doctrine) ought to be rejected. Another dictionary definition of “intellectualism” says this is “the theory that knowledge is wholly or mainly derived from pure reason; rationalism.” Evangelical Christianity does not advocate rationalism or the dependence on reason alone to determine truth. At the same time, we do not advocate fideism, which is the reliance on faith even when it goes against reason. Rather, reason and faith are friends. God intends for believers to take a leap of faith into the light (not the darkness) and make wise decisions. There is such a thing as “Reasonable Faith.” Hinckley does acknowledge the importance of “the cultivation of the mind” and that “intellect is not the only source of knowledge.” Yet that knowledge that contradicts the teachings of Mormonism—including the information that comes through a proper interpretation of the Bible—is criticized. Unless a person does the first part well (cultivation of the mind), it will be impossible to do the second part (receive “knowledge by his Holy Spirit”). The LDS leadership would rather their members listen their teaching as the primary source and then depend on the feelings they have in their hearts rather than to critically analyze what the LDS Church is feeding them.
The humanists who criticize the Lord’s work, the so-called intellectualists who demean, speak only from ignorance of spiritual manifestation. They have not heard the voice of the Spirit. They have not heard it because they have not sought after it and prepared themselves to be worthy of it. Then, supposing that knowledge comes only of reasoning and of the workings of the mind, they deny that which comes by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Hinckley refers to “humanists” who “have not heard the voice of the Spirit.” Could he also mean Christians who disagree with Mormonism? Christians are believers in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. That Spirit is real. To those who have experienced its workings, the knowledge so gained is as real as that which is acquired through the operation of the five senses. I testify of this. And I am confident that most members of the Church can so testify. I urge each of us to continue to cultivate a heart in tune with the Spirit. If we will do so, our lives will be enriched. We will feel a kinship with God our Eternal Father. We will taste a sweetness of joy that can be had in no other way.
Hinckley seems to be referring to those who have a Mormon testimony, referred to earlier in this review. If they have experienced this, he says, they will know it is true. My question is, “How can a Mormon really know it’s true?” To the Latter-day Saints, what do you do with the many former Mormons who would have agreed with you in the past but who now disagree? Did they once have the Spirit and then were later deceived? Or did they never have it in the first place? I know many former Mormons, now Christian, who believe they were led astray by those guiding this religion. They cling to the promises of God as found in the Bible—not the LDS leadership—and have a testimony regarding their relationship with the true God of creation.
Let us not be trapped by the sophistry of the world, which for the most part is negative and which so often bears sour fruit. Let us walk with faith in the future, speaking affirmatively and cultivating an attitude of confidence. As we do so, our strength will give strength to others.
I make a plea that we constantly seek the inspiration of the Lord and the companionship of His Holy Spirit to bless us in keeping our efforts on a high spiritual plane. Those prayers will not go unanswered.
My prayer would be the same. I pray “constantly” for “the inspiration for the Lord.” I pray for the filling of His Spirit.
“The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. That Spirit is real.”
The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion as we live for this blessing.
It is the Lord who has said that if we keep the commandments, “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion” (D&C 121:46) to buoy us up, to teach us, lead us, comfort us, and sustain us. To obtain this companionship, we need to ask for it, to live for it, to be loyal to the Lord. “How do you keep the Spirit of the Lord with you at all times?” Well, you live worthy of it; you live worthy of the Spirit of the Lord. That is what you do.
Once again, I say that anyone who is a true believer in the everlasting Gospel has the Spirit of God. Yet Christians are leaky vessels that need to be continually filled. Mormons misunderstand the difference between baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. When they are not keeping the commandments, many believe that they have lost any security of their soul. Their unique scriptures are full of passages that convey this idea that their works are what makes them acceptable to God. As Hinckley puts it, “you (must) live worthy of it.” This is not a biblical idea.
And you will have it. … Just live right. Stay away from the sleaze. Stay away from pornography. Stay away from these things that pull you down. The books you read, the magazines you read, the videos you look at, the television programs you look at, the shows you go to, all have an effect on you and will do if you subject yourself to the influence of those titillating kinds of things which are designed to make you poor and somebody else rich. Stay away from them.
Easier said than done! But I would agree that Christians should stay away from those worldly things that have a way of stealing our joy and making us a slave to the flesh.
You impose upon yourselves each Sunday a renewal of your pledge and covenant to take upon yourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you ever think of that, of how important that is, of what it means to take upon yourselves the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with a pledge and a promise to keep His commandments? And He makes a pledge and a promise to you that He will give you His Spirit to be with you. What a wonderful thing that is.
This is where a Mormon hears when Hinckley speaks: “If you don’t keep the covenants that you make, then you are not fulfilling the second part of 2 Nephi 25:23 and are therefore not worthy of the celestial kingdom.” Salvation in Mormonism must be earned and not just be received. Rarely do I meet Mormons who have truly repented and stopped their sin, as D&C 58:43 says must be done. They realize that they fall short of God’s glory. They have no idea that salvation is freely given and is not dependent on anything they do. In other words, they live in bondage and can never experience the freedom offered by Christ. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Second Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” And Galatians 5:1 adds, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Latter-day Saints, can you claim the freedom talked about in the Bible? Or do you run on commandment-keeping principles and yet regularly fall a day late and a dollar short? There is freedom that is found in Christ that goes beyond attempting to earn God’s favor by striving “after all you can do.” This can never be accomplished. Rather, it was accomplished on the cross when Jesus said “it is finished.” Check out this article on what salvation is really all about.
How great a blessing it is to have the ministering influence of a member of the Godhead, having received that gift under the hands of those who acted with divine authority.
The Mormon must put all faith in the men who founded this religion and run it today. However, as stated earlier, if Mormonism is not true, then the Holy Spirit of God is not available to a Mormon seeking Him through LDS principles.
If we continue to walk in virtue, we may enjoy the fulfillment of the promise made by the Lord when He said: “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (D&C 121:46.)
It seems like an oxymoron: “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion” that will last “forever and ever” but it’s only true “if we continue to walk in virtue.” According to the gospel of Mormonism, this assurance sure seems short-lived because no Mormon is able to do everything that has been commanded or covenanted.