After we are baptized, we have the opportunity and privilege to receive the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. This is the way we can be “baptized of the water and of the Spirit” as Jesus Christ once was, setting that perfect example for us. When we receive that Gift of the Holy Ghost and we are blessed to have that Spirit with us always, we can take advantage of what we call the “Gifts of the Spirit.” These gifts are given to us according to our faith and as we put forth an effort to have the Spirit with us. They are the ways that our Heavenly Father can bless us and how the Spirit is able to testify to us, comfort us, and give us strength.
I’ve broken this subject down into 4 different questions and I will be using the scriptures to try to answer all of them. These scriptures can be found in Moroni 10 and Doctrine & Covenants 46. These scriptures can help us more fully understand how the Spirit works, and how we can obtain and use these Gifts of the Spirit so that we can reach our full potential as children of a loving Heavenly Father.
But before I get into that, I must point out and impress upon you that all of these gifts are given to us from the grace and love of our Heavenly Father, through the Holy Spirit, and by our faith. These gifts are for the use of the righteous and given to us so that we can do good things. As we work to bring to pass righteous things, we can use these gifts to help our efforts and make those righteous things happen. God will certainly bless us with gifts if we are trying to do His will.
“And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.” (Moroni 10: 24-25)
“Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts. And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church. For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46: 8-11)
We are all created differently, and as promised in the scriptures: “to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.” We all have at least one of these gifts, and they have blessed us all in our lives up to this point, but we don’t all have the same gifts. To some of us is given personal knowledge while to others is given greater ability to teach and guide others. God has created us all differently and given these gifts to us individually so that we may be able to support and help one another and use these gifts to bring forth His righteous purposes! This, in and of itself, is such a great and profound blessing to all of Heavenly Father’s children.
Listed below are many of the Gifts of the Spirit as found in Doctrine & Covenants 46 and Moroni 10. After reading this article, it would be good to go and study those two chapters and perhaps add your own insights to my thoughts that I am sharing with you now. Something to note is that all Gifts of the Spirit connect to one another in some way or another, but also are of great individual worth.
Knowledge & Wisdom | The gifts of knowledge & wisdom by the Spirit is not necessarily a gift of secular knowledge or a high IQ, but the remarkable talent of quick learning and great understanding that is given to many of God’s children is certainly included as part of this gift. I would definitely say that people like Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, etc., were definitely blessed with this gift. The important difference is if we use our knowledge and wisdom to given to us so that we can build up God’s Kingdom and help bring to pass His will!
The most important part of this gift is that of spiritual knowledge, or rather a knowledge of things that are of a spiritual nature. Spencer W. Kimball said: “Spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is … like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously.” One of my favorite things about spiritual knowledge is that it is never-ending and you can always eventually understand, value, obey, remember, and expand on the knowledge you already have received. Remember, it is not so much about what gifts we can receive, but how we use those gifts to do the will of our Father in Heaven.
Belief & Faith | All of us need to develop and become strong in our faith as we move forward through our lives. By having a strong faith and belief in Christ and Heavenly Father, we are able to access other gifts of the Spirit. Faith is a basis and foundation for everything, and it is the first principle of the Gospel. As a Missionary, our purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ..”! Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Faith is the basis of testimony. Faith underlies loyalty to the Church. Faith represents sacrifice, gladly given in moving forward the work of the Lord.” As we act on the faith that we do have, we can build upon it and strengthen it.
All of us are given different levels of faith. Some of us are born with the ability and gift to have faith and belief come to us easily. But others of us struggle and get confused and worry. But we shouldn’t focus on what we do not have. We must focus on what we do have. This gift of the Spirit is a life-long endeavor and goal. Even if all you have is a tiny hint of belief, you should fan the flame of your faith, as Jeffrey R. Holland said:
Discernment | This reminds me of a scripture from 1 Samuel, 16:7. It says: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” This gift is the way that we can discern through the Spirit what others need, what their intentions are, and see them for who they truly are. We can look deeper than just the outer shell and perceive the true character of others. It helps us to know what is truly good and what is truly evil. As Isaiah once said: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Let us remember to rely on the Lord and the Spirit to discern good from evil, rather than relying upon our own knowledge.
Teaching | Boyd K. Packer said that “The gift of teaching has to be earned, but it can come.” This is not something that comes naturally to us and is given to us regardless of what we do to earn it. This gift does not mean that you are a master teacher or that you have great wisdom and can speak boldly or with big words. To gain this gift, you must pray for it, and you must be in tune with the Spirit. Richard G. Scott related this story: “A humble, unschooled … priesthood leader struggled to communicate truths of the gospel. It was obvious how deeply they had touched his life. I noted his intense desire to communicate those principles. He recognized they were of great worth to the brethren he loved. He read from the lesson manual, yet his manner was of pure love of the Savior and those he taught. That love, sincerity, and purity of intent allowed the influence of the Holy Ghost to envelop the room.” We must recognize the great worth of what we are sharing with those that we love, and teach from that love and devotion and pure sincerity of our heart that will allow the Spirit to grace us with the Gift of Teaching.
Faith in Blessings & Miracles (Healing/Being Healed) | As we grow in our faith and exercise it, one way that we can be blessed is in the power of the Priesthood. As a Missionary, we are told to always explain to investigators that all blessings given are dependent on the faith of those receiving the blessing and upon those giving the blessing. Both sides are important. James A. Cullimore, in the October 1974 General Conference said: “[Melchizedek Priesthood holders] should always be ready to exercise this power in behalf of those who need a blessing. They should seek to have and develop the gift of faith, faith to heal and faith to be healed. ‘And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith,’ the Lord has said, ‘they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.’ (D&C 35:9.)”
Prophesying | The gift of prophecy does not necessarily mean that we are going to be able to have visions of the future or receive revelation for other people. What this gift really is, is our testimony. As we strengthen and build upon our testimony of the Savior, the Spirit works through that testimony. Elder Maxwell said: “As we read in the Book of Revelation, ‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev. 19:10.) The Prophet Joseph Smith relied on this scripture in teaching that ‘every other man who has the testimony of Jesus’ is a prophet.’ Similarly, the Apostle Paul states that ‘he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.'” As we go about to edify, encourage, and comfort others through charity, we prophesy to them not only by our words but by our example.
“Ministering of Angels” | Although Moroni, Alma and Amaleki all list the beholding of angels and spirits among the gifts of the Spirit, the part of this gift that is most common and of most importance to us is the gift of personal revelation, by the ministering of angels. Our ability to learn things and understand things through spiritual revelation is part of this gift. Alma tells us of this: “And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32:23)
When we struggle with personal needs/problems, we need comfort, or we need answers to questions, we are often told to get on our knees and pray. One of my favorite quotes is “when life becomes too difficult to stand, kneel.” As we do so, we are blessed with this gift of personal revelation or “the ministering of angels” as God answers our prayers and helps us through our deepest and most sincere thoughts. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
Tongues (Interpretation & Speaking of) | About these two gifts, Elder Maxwell says:”These two gifts should always be manifest together because the purpose of spiritual gifts having to do with communication is to edify the people of God. If a person spoke in tongues without someone to interpret, there would be no edification.” There are many ways that we see examples of this. In times where we may not explain something quite as clearly as we wanted to, if the Spirit is present, those we are teaching can interpret and understand the principles we seek to teach them. Therefore they were blessed with the gift of interpretation of tongues. It can also apply to the way that was discern others thoughts and desires, and how we can more fully understand their needs. As we interpret and understand and discern, we can more easily “edify the people of God” and do God’s will for them. This is how we can be servants unto Christ.
The other part of this gift is that literal speaking of and interpretation of languages (tongues). I don’t have any personal experience with this part of the gift as I haven’t tried very diligently to learn or understand foreign languages. But, it is evident throughout the church and especially in missionary work that this gift is very prominent and real. As missionaries, many of us are given at the very most 9 weeks to try to learn a foreign language that we will be speaking and teaching within the field. That is a remarkably small amount of time to be able to teach the gospel in! And yet, missionaries across the world are speaking, understanding, and proclaiming the gospel to all corners of the earth. It truly is amazing.
“And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit; He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh. And again, I say unto you, all things must be done in the name of Christ, whatsoever you do in the Spirit; And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with. And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46: 28, 30-33)
We must repent to gain the Gifts of the Spirit. Repentance means to change, and by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and allowing God to carry our burdens, we can make those changes more easily. As we make those changes and try to follow Christ, we can have access to the Spirit and all the gifts that it brings to us. So long as we are righteous, the Spirit will reside with us and therefore can bless us in everything that we do. As we seek to listen and understand the Spirit, we will!
Often times, we grow impatient and confused about how the Spirit works and how we can understand it. Instead of searching so hard and tiring our minds by our endless worry about if one thought is from the Spirit of not or if we are being impressed to do something or not, we need to understand that as long as we are striving to be righteous, the Spirit will guide us.
As we seek these gifts of the Spirit, the question arises: What can we do to continue to grow in our relationship with God and therefore increasing our ability to understand the language of the Spirit? First of all, we ought not deny these gifts or reject them when God so graciously tries to give them to us:
“And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever. And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them. And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.” (Moroni 10:7-8, 18)
So, we shouldn’t reject or deny these gifts. Have faith in them and His ability to give them to us through the Spirit. Know that they come from Him, and remember that “every good gift cometh of Christ.” To increase and strengthen our relationship with the Savior and with God so that we can access and more fully understand these gifts, we do things that would strengthen any relationship: Communication that is consistent, honest, and sincere (Prayer). Doing those things that we are asked and obeying (Church attendance, following the commandments). Being truly sorry and trying to resolve any problems that we may have caused (Repentance). The list goes on. So long as we are striving to be closer to our Heavenly Father, He will help us to know in what ways we can do so and He will gather us in close to Him. Let us be honest with Him, let us talk with Him and allow Him to be a part of our lives. We ought to do all we can to bring ourselves closer to our Father in Heaven. As we do so, we will certainly be given gifts, even the gifts of the Spirit.
“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10: 3-5)