Lesson 15: “Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts”
1910: The Story of the Restoration (Young Ladies’ MIA Lessons)
Lesson 11: The Spiritual Gifts
Less than a month after the organization of the Church in 1830, there happened at Colesville, New York, one of the most remarkable manifestations in the history of the modern world. Joseph Smith had gone to Colesville to visit at the home of Joseph Knight. The Knights were Universalists. They were interested, however, in the message of the young Prophet. One of them, particularly – a son named Newel Knight – seemed to be much affected by the Prophet’s teachings. Says the Prophet in his simple narrative:
He and I had many serious conversations on the important subject of man’s eternal salvation. We got into the habit of praying much at our meetings, and Newel had said that he would try and take up his cross, and pray vocally during meeting; but when we again met together, he rather excused himself. I tried to prevail upon him. * * * He replied that * * * he would wait until he could get into the woods by himself, and there he would pray. Accordingly, he deferred praying until next morning, when he retired into the woods; where, according to his own account afterwards, he made several attempts to pray, but could scarcely do so, feeling that he had not done his duty, in refusing to pray in the presence of others. He began to feel uneasy, and continued to feel worse both in mind and body, until, upon reaching his own house, his appearance was such as to alarm his wife very much. He requested her to go and bring me to him. I went, and found him suffering very much in his mind, and his body acted upon in a very strange manner; his visage and limbs distorted and twisted in every shape and appearance possible to imagine; and finally he was caught up off the floor of the apartment, and tossed about most fearfully.
His situation was soon made known to his neighbors and relatives, and in a short time as many as eight or nine grown persons had got together to witness the scene. After he had thus suffered for a time, I succeeded in getting hold of him by the hand, when almost immediately he spoke to me, and with great earnestness requested me to cast the devil out of him, saying that he knew he was in him, and that he also knew I could cast him out.
I replied, ‘If you know that I can, it shall be done;’ and then almost unconsciously I rebuked the devil, and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart from him; when immediately Newel spoke out and said that he saw the devil leave him and vanish from his sight. this was the first miracle which was done in the Church, or by any member of it, and it was done not by man, nor by the power of man, but it was done by God, and by the power of godliness; therefore, let the honor and the praise, the dominion and the glory, be ascribed to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. (Hist. of Church, Vol. I, pp. 82, 83.)
Concerning the truth of this ungarnished account there can be no doubt. It has appeared in print for many years, and has never been called in question. Moreover, the miracle was witnessed by several adult persons, and was strongly attested by Newel Knight himself. Without question, then, with the very beginning of the Church, the gifts of healing, so common with Jesus and His disciples, were restored to those holding the Holy Priesthood.
Not more than a year and a half after the performance of this remarkable miracle, there was performed another which the Prophet passed over in his narrative with scarcely a notice. He says:
About this time (September 12, 1831) Ezra Booth came out as an apostate. He came into the Church upon seeing a person healed of an infirmity of many years’ standing. (Hist. of Church, Vol. I, p. 215.)
That is all. Fortunately, however, there is preserved for us an account of this case of healing; and it is the more valuable because it is written by a Campbellite historian, who did not accept the message of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The historian says:
Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place (Hiram, Ohio,) visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, ‘Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on earth to cure her?’ A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: ‘Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,’ and immediately left the room. The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock – I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact – electrified the rheumatic arm – Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain. (Hayden’s History of the disciples, pp. 250, 251; quoted in Hist. of Church, Vol. I, pp. 215, 216, footnote.)
We can easily believe that the company was amazed at the manifestation of such power. The like of it had not been seen since the days of the Savior Himself; and by the imparting of such miraculous power to the young Prophet, another act in the great drama of the Restoration was accomplished. It was not the will of God, however, that the great Prophet alone should possess the power to heal the sick. On the contrary, it was known to be a gift bestowed upon all the Higher Priesthood. From the first the elders had practiced the order of anointing the sick and praying for them. But in 1832, a little more than two years after the organization of the Church, the Lord gave a revelation in which he declared to the elders that certain signs should follow the operation of faith. The words of the Lord are:
As I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy ghost: and these signs shall follow them that believe:
In my name they shall do many wonderful works;
In my name they shall cast out devils;
In my name they shall heal the sick;
In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;
And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;
And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;
And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to hurt them. (Doc. and Cov. 84:63-72. See mark 16:16-18.)
Thus wonderfully did the Lord repeat the promise made to the apostles of old. (Hist. of church, Vol. I, pp. 296, 297.) And the promise has been fulfilled in an equally wonderful manner. The number of miraculous healings since 1832 is far too large to bear detailing here. On almost every page of church history, from that day to the present, may be found the account of wonderful healings. And hundreds of thousands testify that the gift of healing is indeed operative among the Latter-day Saints.
The gift of healing is not the only supernatural gift, however, that has been restored in latter days.
About the 8th of November, [writes Joseph Smith,] I received a visit from Elders Joseph Young, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball of Mendon, Monroe county, New York. They spent four or five days in Kirtland, during which we had many interesting moments. At one of our interviews, Brother Brigham young and John P. Greene spoke in tongues, which was the first time I had heard this gift amogn the brethren; others also spoke, and I received the gift myself. (Hist. of Church, Vol. I, pp. 296, 297.)
So briefly does the Prophet mention the reappearance of the strange gift of tongues. Fortunately, however, we have again another and fuller account. Writing of the same incident, President Brigham Young says:
A few weeks after my baptism I was at Brother Kimball’s house one morning, and while family prayer was being offered up, Brother Alpheus Gifford commenced speaking in tongues. Soon the Spirit came on me, and I spoke in tongues, and we thought only of the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were clothed upon with cloven tongues of fire.
In September, 1832, Brother Heber C. Kimball took his horse and wagon, brother Joseph Young and myself accompanying him, and started for Kirtland to see the Prophet Joseph. We visited many friends on the way, and some branches of the Church. We exhorted them and prayed with them, and I spoke in tongues. Some pronounced it genuine and from the Lord, and others pronounced it from the devil.
We proceeded to Kirtland and stopped at John P. Greene’s, who had just arrived there with his family. We rested a few minutes, took some refreshment, and started to see the prophet. * * * *
In the evening a few of the brethren came in, and we conversed together upon the things of the kingdom. he called upon me to pray; in my prayer I spoke in tongues. As soon as we arose from our knees the brethren flocked around him, and asked his opinion concerning the gift of tongues that was upon me. He told them that it was the pure Adamic language. Some said to him they expected he would condemn the gift Brother Brigham had, but he said, ‘No, it is of God.’ (Millennial Star, Vol. 25, p. 439; also quoted in part I Hist. of Church, Vol. I, p. 297, footnote.
Since the incident here related, many hundreds of the Saints of God have been blessed with this divine gift. Some are given to speak in tongues and others to interpret. Always the miracle comes to those who have faith, to strengthen their faith; and never merely to create faith, nor to convert. Again, however, the number of these miraculous manifestations is far too large to be considered here. Hundreds of thousands, however, bear witness to the restoration of the marvelous gift. And it is the fact of restoration about which we are most concerned.
Besides the gift of performing miracles and of healing, and the gift of speaking in tongues and of interpreting tongues, there are yet other supernatural gifts restored in this dispensation. To Joseph Smith was given very early the gift of prophecy. In the book of Doctrine and Covenants may be found many remarkable predictions made by him. All these predictions have been literally fulfilled, in so far as the time has come for their fulfillment; and the fulfillment happened in many cases long after the martyrdom of the great Prophet. Not only Joseph Smith, however, but many others in the Church have been blessed with the same gift of prophecy. All the presidents of the church have displayed the divine gift. Many men in exalted position, and many men of low degree, have likewise manifested the prophetic inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The gift of prophecy is common among the restored gifts of the Church. So also is the gift of discernment, and the gift of wisdom, and the gift of knowledge, and the gift of faith. Indeed, through the ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith have been restored to man all the spiritual gifts known to the saints of old. To the great modern Church of Christ have been given those things enumerated by the Apostle Paul.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant, [wrote Paul tot he Corinthians]. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. for to one is given by the Spirit, the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit; to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Cor. 12:1-11.)
1. What relationships existed between Joseph Smith and the family of Joseph Knight?
2. What was the attitude of the Knights toward the message of the Prophet Joseph?
3. What promise did Newel Knight fail to keep when he met with the Saints in service?
4. How was he affected when he tried to pray alone in the wood?
5. Relate the story of the first miracle.
6. What is the Prophet’s testimony concerning this miracle?
7. Show why the story as related by the Prophet is above the suspicion of a doubt.
8. What does the Prophet say about the miracle that brought Ezra Booth into the Church?
9. Tell how Mrs. Johnson’s lame arm was healed.
10. Why is the testimony of the Campbellite historian of incalculable value?
11. Upon whom was the gift of healing bestowed in this dispensation?
12. Repeat what the Lord said on the subject in the revelation of 1832.
13. When and where was the gift of tongues first made manifest in this dispensation?
14. What did the Prophet Joseph say about Brigham Young’s gift?
15. How extensively has this gift been made manifest in the Church?
16. How is the gift of pr9phecy shown to be restored with other spiritual gifts?
17. Can you name a prediction made by the Prophet Joseph Smith that has been fulfilled since his martyrdom?
18. What other spiritual gifts have been restored besides those enumerated above?
19. Cite a particular instance of your own – one well-supported by evidence – of the operation of some miraculous gift.
20. Discuss the words of Paul concerning spiritual gifts.
A. Study carefully what the folk of the middle ages believed concerning spiritual gifts; study also the beliefs of the modern sectarian world. Compare what you learn with what is taught in the New Testament, and with what is taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
B. Read carefully the articles entitled “Remarkable Parallels,” by Osborne J.P. Widtsoe, printed in Vol. 17 of the Young Woman’s Journal. Can Joseph Smith be accepted on the evidence as a divinely inspired prophet of God?
1933: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 30: Gifts of the Spirit
1. Obedience the Basis of Rewards. In the light of what has been revealed to the Latter-day Saints, gifts of the Spirit should not be regarded as unmerited rewards extended to individuals regardless of their behavior or conduct. Rather they should be regarded as the result of obedience to the law upon which their receipt is based. The Lord does not distribute blessings indiscriminately to the deserving and undeserving alike. He has emphatically stated that whoever receives a blessing at his hands must yield obedience to the law upon which the blessing is predicated. (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:21, 22; 132:5.)
2. Determining Factors. The Lord has said that, “The Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world,” (Ibid. 84:46.) which of course warrants the conclusion that in their pre-mortal state all me yielded obedience, at least in part, to the commandments of God, otherwise they would have no reward. But to some is given one gift, and to some another; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift of the spirit. (Ibid. 46:11, 112.) Indeed, it is easily conceivable that there are as many gifts, at least in the matter of degree, as there are individuals; and, moreover, that these gifts vary both in kind and amount with the conduct of those who receive them. (Read Section 46.)
3. Then, too, it is not improbable that the gifts and tendencies of life are influenced to a considerable degree by parental conduct. it has been said that the sins, likewise the good deeds of the parents are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations. This also is the result of attitude toward law. Some children, for example, are handicapped from birth by disease, such as syphilis arising from parental sin. On the other hand, the greatest blessing that parents can bequeath to a child is a strong body and a strong mind, undeterred by parental misbehavior or neglect.
4. Development by Use. Nor must it be overlooked that our native gifts – sometimes called talents – can be developed and intensified by use. Some years ago the writer of this lesson performed missionary work under the direction of a church leader of outstanding spiritual acumen. He possessed not only the spirit of prophecy but of discernment as well. Upon being asked how he acquired the priceless treasures, he explained that they had been developed through use, as other worthwhile things are also developed. A life of devotion to the cause of the Lord, coupled with a consistent use of his native gifts, was the secret of his success.
5. At a slightly later time an elder in a foreign mission was drowned as he attempted to cross a stream in flood, while his companion, who demurred at crossing it, was saved. In speaking at the funeral service of this elder, President Joseph F. Smith explained that eventually we will learn to detect the promptings of the Spirit which come to us on such occasions and thus avoid calamity and untimely death. he further explained that the promptings of the Spirit come to all people, who are attempting to serve the Lord, but that they are often unheard, because people generally have not learned how to detect them. Success, however, will gradually come to those who herd such as they hear. It is a gift of God to those who obey. Development comes only through intelligent use – never through idleness or indifference.
6. The Miracle Wrought by Work. A railroad locomotive or other mechanical device becomes less efficient with use and eventually wears out. Neither does it improve with successive efforts at the accomplishment of a task. If, for example, under favorable conditions a locomotive cannot climb a given hill on the occasion of its first trial, repetitions are unnecessary, for machines are designed with a given capacity and no matter how many times they are used the capacity is not increased.
7. But not so with man. From infancy to the time of his greatest efficiency, practically every organ and impulse of his body responds to improvement through use. Originally, he cannot walk and on the occasion of his first effort he invariably falls; as the result of repeated efforts, however, he gradually improves and eventually becomes master of his organs of locomotion. Originally, eh cannot talk, or dance, or think, or sing, but by repeated efforts he gradually succeeds. The entire human organism develops and becomes more efficient with intelligent use; were this not so attainment would be impossible and life a failure.
8. Just why one learns to sing by singing, to think by thinking, to pray by praying has not been discovered. As yet it is a secret known only to God. It is one of Deity’s choicest gifts to his children. The reality of this condition has been known from time immemorial, and at present, as through the ages, it is regarded by educators as the basic principle of human progress. It is Deity’s way of rewarding effort, and, so far as known, it is his sole way. Only those who “walk in obedience to the commandments” are heirs to his promise. for, saith the Lord, “that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.” (Ibid. 88:34.) Idleness receives no reward because it obeys not the law.
9. Purpose of the Gifts. Thus in harmony with well-established law, and as a result of varied obedience thereto, human beings find themselves in possession of various talents and endowments – the gifts of the Spirit – given for the benefit of not only those who love the Lord and keep his commandments, but those who desire so to do, that all the children of God may be benefitted thereby. Gifts are not given for the benefit of those who seek for a sign to consume them upon their lusts. (Ibid. 46:8, 9.0 it is important, says the Lord, that we shall always remember what these gifts are and the purpose for which they are given. Concerning certain elders of the Church who had received most unusual gifts, the Lord warned that they should “not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation.” (Ibid. 84:73.) Rewards, of course, are a part of the general plan of salvation and are designed of Deity to lead man back into his presence. Eventually, those who are faithful shall inherit “all that the Father hath,” for “they shall overcome all things.”
10. In an effort to emphasize the unity of source from which the various blessings come and the unity of purpose for which they are given, Paul wrote as follows to the saints at Corinth: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink unto one spirit. for the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? if the whole were hearing, where were the smelling. But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. *** The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the head to the feet, I have no need of you. *** there should be no schism in the body. *** Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (I Corinthians 12:13-27.) “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” Accordingly, every individual is under obligation to use his gift for the benefit of those about him.
11. The Gift of Prophecy. Latter-day Saint history is replete with utterances given under the spirit of prophecy. the following may be cited as illustrations: the Prophet’s declaration concerning the civil War in America, given nearly thirty years before the conflict actually began. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 87 and 130:12, 13.) the Prophet’s declaration that the Saints would go to the Rocky Mountains and there become a mighty people; the Prophet’s declaration concerning Stephen A. Douglas and his aspiration to the presidency of the Untied States. (For all of the foregoing and others, see Roberts’ New Witnesses for God, Vol. I*, p. 252-314.) Many other notable prophecies, both by Joseph Smith and his successors, might be cited. The First Presidency and Twelve apostles are sustained annually by the membership of the church as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.
12. The gift of prophecy is not confined to leaders of the Church. It may be possessed by any individual upon whom God chooses to bestow it. In such cases, however, the gift is not to be exercised for the benefit of the church at large but rather for its possessor and the members of his own immediate family over whom he presides.
13. The Gift of Wisdom. Wisdom may be defined as the ability to discern what is right and true, or what is conducive to the highest interests; good practical judgment; ordinary sagacity; common sense. this, although not a rare gift, is an exceedingly valuable one. Its possessor is always welcome in council, for by the exercise of his gift he is able to determine the most advisable course of action and thus to avoid the evil consequences which otherwise would follow. then, too, he is able to manage his own affairs efficiently and well. Wisdom enables its possessor to build safely for both the present and the future.
14. The gift of Knowledge. As pointed out in another lesson, Knowledge is the stairway by which man may climb to the very presence of God. Advancement without knowledge is impossible; with it there are no limits to man’s possible attainment. Some individuals have an almost uncanny ability to discover new things, to push the frontier of human knowledge continuously farther back, to clear the way for progress. Knowledge alone, however, is not a saving gift; it must be coupled with a desire to do good; then it becomes an instrument of righteousness and power unto salvation. Without it men cannot be saved.
15. The Gift of Faith. Some individuals possess the gift of faith to such an extent that to hear the truth is to believe it. There are thousands of men and women in the church who believed the gospel almost the very instant they first heard it. It appealed ot them with such clarity and reason that doubt found no lodgment with them. At once, too, they were willing to abide by its teachings. Faith such as this is akin to that of a little child, steadfast and unwavering. Without faith, at least in some degree, it is impossible to please God, for they that come to him must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
16. The Gift of Healing. To some is given the gift of faith to heal, and to others the gift of faith to be healed. In practically every community of the church there are individuals who possess marked faith in administering to the sick; likewise there are many others who possess marked faith in being administered to. From the days of Joseph Smith to the present these gifts have been widely exercised throughout the Church. Thousands upon thousands of Latter-day Saints bear solemn testimony of the blessings of God that have come to them from this source.
17. other Gifts of the spirit. It should be understood that ever righteous desire of the human heart, every righteous motive, every righteous gift, comes from God. The gifts of the Spirit are, therefore, as wide, as infinite, as enduring as eternity, and as numerous as the praiseworthy impulses of the human soul. All truth comes from God, also all desire for truth.
18. The Gift of Discernment. Unto the bishop of the Church and other presiding officers, the Lord has promised the gift of discernment to know of the genuineness of the various gifts, lest there shall be some who profess and yet are not of God. (Doctrine and Covenants, 46:27, 29.) If this were not so there would be no leadership and hence no progress, for confusion would destroy unity. Wisdom is, of course, the very essence of this provision.
19. The Greatest Gift of All. The culminating and consummating gift of all is the gift of eternal life. It is the completion and sum total of all other gifts. Eternal life, let it be remembered, is a free gift from God, extended to those who have proved themselves worthy by obedience to his commandments. That it will be obtained only by the faithful, witness the following: “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have 3eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.’ (Ibid. 14:7.) Again: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no greater than the gift of salvation.” (Ibid. 6:13.)
20. The Parable of the talents. In this connection it would be well for every member of the class to read carefully the parable of the talents (Matthew 24:15-29( and to measure his own life by the lesson taught therein, not overlooking the fact that by proper use talents are improved, and by disuse destroyed.
1934: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 20: Gifts of the Spirit
I. All Meetings to be Conducted by Guidance of Holy Spirit. Note 1.
a. The Holy Ghost the guide in all meetings of the Church in all ages. (Sec. 46:2)
b. No one to be cast out of public meetings of the Church. (Sec. 46:3)
c. Investigators welcome at sacrament meetings. Saints who trespass not to partake until reconciliation is made. (Sec. 46:4-6) Note 2.
II. False Spirits Abroad in the Earth. Note 3.
a. Saints should seek the Lord in prayer and faith that they be not deceived. (Sec. 46:7-8; Sec. 50:1)
b. Many spirits abroad in earth, some of men and some of devils. (Sec. 46:7; Sec. 50:1-3)
c. Satan seeks to deceive. (Sec. 50:3)
d. Deceivers and hypocrites in the Church to be brought to judgment. (Sec. 50:4-9)
e. The Father to be asked regarding spirits, which are not understood. (Sec. 50:31-36)
f. Danger of railing accusations. (Sec. 50:33)
III. Gifts of the Spirit. Note 4.
a. Why gifts are granted and to whom. (Sec. 46:9)
b. Saints commanded to remember always why the gifts are given. (Sec. 46:10)
c. Diversity of gifts and why this is so. (Sec. 46:11-26)
d. To some are given many or all the gifts that they may guide the church and detect deceivers. (Sec. 46:27-29)
e. All things to be done in name of Christ in virtue and holiness. (Sec. 46:30-33)
IV. The Lord Instructs the elders. Note 5.
a. The Lord reasons by the Spirit. (Sec. 50:10-21_
b. A Question: “Unto what were ye ordained?” (Sec. 50:13-15_
c. The answer to the question. (Sec. 50:14-22)
d. “That which doth not edify is not of God.” (Sec. 50:23)
e. That which is of God is light, and he who continueth in God receiveth more light, until the perfect day. (Sec. 50:24)
f. All should know the truth that there be no darkness among us. (Sec. 50:25)
g. He who holds the keys (the President of the Church) entitled to all gifts. (Sec. 50:27-28)
h. The members of the Church to grow in grace and in knowledge and truth. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall. (Sec. 50:40-46)
1. Speaking to the members of the church in March, 1831, the Lord said: “Notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they were directed and guided by the Holy Ghost.” This is one of the marks of the church of Jesus Christ. In this manner the apostles and Elders of old conducted their meetings, but as time passed and false philosophy and pagan practices crept into the church this method was changed. It has become customary in most religious meetings for prepared sermons and services to be given so that the proceedings may be ready to print even before the meetings are held. When the church of Jesus Christ begins to conduct public and sacrament meetings in this manner, danger is at our door. We are commanded in this revelation to conduct such meetings as we are led and guided by the Holy Ghost. Meetings which partake of the inspiration of the hour are filled with interest and instruction. For these reasons, and that the Lord may be free to communicate his will as it may be needed, he instructs the elders of the Church to proceed as the elders have done from the beginning and as they are expected to do to the end of time. Studying meetings, such as the Gospel Doctrine Class and M.I.A. classes, can be, and are, properly outlined with a definite course of study, but this procedure should not be adopted in the general gatherings of the Saints, for the Lord has definitely instructed us to conduct them as stated in this revelation.
2. John Whitmer records in his history that “in the beginning of the Church, while yet in her infancy, the disciples used to exclude unbelievers which caused some to marvel and converse of this matter because of the things written in the book of Mormon. (III Nephi 18:22-34) Therefore the Lord deigned to speak on this subject, that his people might come to an understanding, and (he) said that he had always given to his Elders to conduct all meetings as they were led by the Spirit.” After the Lord gave this revelation this practice of forbidding non-members to attend the sacrament services ceased. the word of the Lord to the Nephites is very clear and positive on this point, he said:
“*** ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when he shall minister it.
“For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.
“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
“But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.
“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister, for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.”
3. From the time of the fall of man until now Satan and his followers who were cast out of heaven, have been deceiving men. today as in the beginning Lucifer is saying, “I am also a son of God * * * believe it or not,” and men today believe not for the same reason that they refused to believe in the beginning. “Some commandments are of men,” so the Savior informed Joseph Smith in the Great Vision. (Sec. 46:7) Some commandments are of devils, and these are also made manifest largely through the activities of men. “There are any spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.” These false spirits make themselves manifest in various ways and in all communities. Some of the most startling and prevalent forms of false manifestations are in the false gifts of tongues, and in religious meetings particularly among some sects, where the worshippers fall in fits, shout, sing and pray in disorderly fashion, sometimes frothing at the mouth and their bodies partaking of unnatural contortions. This influence of the devil entered into the Church in an early day and had to be rebuked by the Prophet, for such unseemly conduct was prevalent in that day among many religious groups and some of the Saints were deceived in thinking this disorderly conduct was a manifestation of the Spirit of the Lord. It was to correct this evil and to warn the Saints against all false spirits, whether of men or of devils, that this revelation (Sec. 50) was given. Members of the Church had already come in contact with the “Shakers,” or “Shaking Quakers” who believed in and were subject to these evil gifts.
Speaking of these manifestations as they crept into the church, Parley P. Pratt has written:
“As I went forth among the different branches, some very strange spiritual operations were manifested, which were disgusting, rather than edifying. Some persons would seem to swoon away, and make unseemly gestures, and be drawn or disfigured in their countenances. Others would fall into ecstasies and be drawn into contortions, cramps, fits, etc. Others would seem to have visions and revelations, which were not edifying, and which were not congenial to the doctrine and spirit of the gospel. In short, a false and lying spirit seemed to be creeping into the church.
“All these things were new and strange to me, and had originated in the Church during the absence, and previous to the arrival of President Joseph Smith from New York.
“Feeling our weakness and inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning the spiritual phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph Smith, and asked him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or manifestations.
“After we had joined in prayer in his translating room, he dictated in our presence the following revelation; each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each, sufficiently long for it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand.” (autobiography of P.P. Pratt, p. 65)
In this way and under these circumstances Section fifty was received for the church.
If the members of the Church will carefully consider the word of the Lord and follow the precepts here given, they will not be deceived by the evil spirits of man or devils. the promise is made in a positive manner that all “who buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.” Yet, sad to say, there are members of the Church who are ready to follow any theory, philosophy, or strange doctrine, especially if with it there is something mysterious.
Even in that day there were hypocrites and deceivers drawn into the church and with them they brought their abominations which had to be speedily eliminated by the Lord making known their evil practices.
4. That the Saints might not be deceived the Lord pointed out to them the proper gifts of the Spirit (Sec. 46) which are distributed among the members as the Lord sees good to bestow. Yet more than one gift may be received by any person who diligently seeks for these things. All members of the Church should seek for the gift of prophecy, for their own guidance, which is the spirit by which the word of the Lord is understood and his purposes made known. (See I Cor. 14:1) Men who are called to positions of responsibility in the government of the Church are entitled to have many gifts, and the President all of them, “lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.”
“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.”
5. The Lord’s rebuke and instruction to the Elders who went forth to teach Z(Sec. 50:10-26) should be thoroughly studied and taken to heart by all the brethren in the Church holding the Priesthood. How necessary it is that we should be in possession of the Spirit of God that we may teach. if we do not have that spirit we should not attempt to teach until, in the spirit of repentance, prayer and faith, we may obtain the guidance of the Holy Ghost. There is no saying of greater truth than “that which doth not edify is not of God.” And that which is not of God is darkness, it matters not whether it comes in the guise of religion, ethics, philosophy or revelation. No revelation from God will fail to edify and it is a wonderful promise which is here given that, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” There have been some foolish persons who have obtained a smattering of worldly knowledge and have concluded that they have become so wise that they have outgrown the Church and the revelations of the Lord. No truth is in conflict with the revealed word of the Lord and that which our Heavenly Father has given through his prophets shall stand for it is truth, eternal truth; while that which may appear as truth in the commandments of men and devils shall cease when the fulness of truth is come.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT (Section 46)
The Prophet records: “The next day, after the above was received, (referring to Sec. 45), I also received the following revelation relative to the gifts of the Holy Ghost.” This revelation was received in Kirtland, March 8, 1831. With reference to the matters mentioned in verses 1 to 7 in this revelation, John Whitmer writes: “In the beginning of the church while yet in her infancy, the disciples used to exclude unbelievers, which caused some to marvel and converse of this matter because of the things that were written in the Book of Mormon. (III Nephi, 28:22, 34.) Therefore, the Lord designed to speak on this subject, that His people might come to understanding, and said that he had always given to His elders to conduct all meetings as they were led by the Spirit.” (John Whitmer’s History of the Church, Chapter 4.)
Gift of the Holy Ghost
One of the distinctive features of the Church is that all people in their official capacity are entitled to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in their individual lives they are not left without a guide. After people are baptized and when they are confirmed members of the church, they have conferred upon them the Holy Ghost whose mission it is to guide them into all truth. This is a rare and precious gift, and sometimes we are not sufficiently mindful of it, and sometimes through carelessness and neglect we deny ourselves this privilege and blessing. We are to conduct all meetings as directed by the Holy Spirit. The Lord declares, verse 2, “But notwithstanding those things which are written, it always has been given to the elders of my church from the beginning and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit.” Quoting verse 7, “But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some of them are of men and others of devils.”
We are commanded in this revelation to conduct meetings as we are led and guided by the Holy Ghost. Meetings which partake of the inspiration of the hour are filled with interest and instruction. Under such circumstances, the Lord is free to indicate His will as it may be needed. He instructs the elders of the church to proceed as the elders have done from the beginning and as they are expected to do to the end of time. Does that mean a haphazard, unplanned and shiftless meeting? No. We are told to do all things with a prayerful heart, and with an eye single to the glory of God. This does not imply that those who take part in the services may not have an opportunity to make preparations, nor that an order of business should not be followed. There should be order in all things, but in the conduct of the meetings, the presiding elder should be guided by the Holy Ghost. It is customary in many churches today to have the sermons and services printed or ready to print before the services are held. There is not the slightest deviation from the outlined program. This gives no opportunity for the inspiration of the hour. Of course, in the auxiliary classes outlines and well-planned courses should be followed and an orderly procedure maintained, but the general meetings of the Saints should be conducted as stated in this revelation. A good example of this is the manner in which the meetings of the general conference of the church are conducted.
Seek Earnestly for the Best Gifts
In this revelation we are further admonished: “… seek ye earnestly the best gifts … they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, … I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.” (D & C 46:8-10.)
“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. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.” (D & C 46:11-13.) “And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom. To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge. And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed; And to others it is given to have faith to heal. And again, to some is given the working of miracles; And to others it is given to prophesy; And to others the discerning of spirits. And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues; And to another is given the interpretation of tongues. And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.” (D & C 46:17-26.)
Quoting from page 177 of the Compendium, 18872: ‘In the Churches established by our savior and His apostles, the Holy Ghost manifested itself in the development of a variety of gifts. Of so great importance did the Apostle Paul consider these gifts, to the well-being and edification of the Saints in Rome, that he wrote: ‘For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.’ (Rom. 1:11.)” These gifts, according to the scriptures, characterize the operation of the Holy Spirit.
The seventh Article of Faith states: “We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.” Spiritual gifts are one of the essential characteristics of the true church. Moroni, standing upon the threshold of the grave, bore this solid testimony: “And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.” (Moroni 10:109.) He further declares: “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5.)
Let us consider the meaning of some of these terms: (1) A miracle may be defined as an event or effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of these laws: that which is divinely natural but which must be learned humanly. All miracles of the scriptures were accomplished in strict accordance with the laws of nature, which are the laws of God, but all of which we do not understand. (2) The gift of tongues was among the special signs promised by the Savior to follow the believers. “In my name they shall speak with new tongues.” This was witnessed with power on the day of Pentecost. (3) The gift of the interpretation of tongues may be possessed by the one speaking in tongues. More commonly, however, the separate powers are exercised by different persons. This gift must be exercised with caution.
(4) In a previous lesson we have referred to the gift of healing. (5) Visions and dreams have constituted a means of communication between God and His children in every dispensation of the priesthood. Visions are manifest to the waking sense, while dreams are manifest during sleep. There are numerous references to dreams and visions in the scriptures, for instance, Pharaoh’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s, interpreted by Joseph and Daniel respectively.
(6) The gift of prophecy has as its distinguished possessor, a prophet. A prophet is anyone who speaks for another, specifically one who speaks for God. It is distinguished by Paul as one of the most desirable spiritual endowments. (I Cor. 14:1-9.) The Lord has promised that he will do nothing except as he reveals his will to his servants, the prophets. These chosen oracles stand as mediators between God and mortals. In this present dispensation, this great gift of prophecy has been enjoyed as fully as in any preceding time. The Lord has and does make known his will through his chosen servants, the prophets.
(7) Revelation is a means by which the will of the Lord is declared to man. through the influence of inspiration or revelation, man’s mind is enlightened and his energies quickened and he is able to accomplish wonders in the world of progress. The words of him who speaks by revelation in its highest forms are not his own. They are the words of God. The mortal mouthpiece is but the trusted instrument in the conveyance of these heavenly messages with the authority, “Thus saith the Lord.” the revelator delivers the message entrusted to his care.
(8) To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was crucified for the sins of the world. This is one of the most precious gifts that the almighty confers upon his children – the assurance which comes into one’s heart through the presence of the Spirit of God, of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Christ declared to Peter, “… flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. … and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:17, 18.)
(9) The scriptures declare that eternal life is the greatest gift of God to man. Only those shall receive it who are cleansed from all sin. It is promised to those “who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.” (D&C 76:53.)
1955: Teachings of the Doctrine and Covenants, by William E. Berrett
Chapter 32: Gifts of the Spirit
The Effects of the Holy Ghost
After Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had received authority to act in God’s name, and in the exercise of that authority had baptized each other, they had conferred upon them the gift of the Holy ghost.
The effect of the Holy Ghost is portrayed in the Prophet’s journal:
Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed to us in a manner which we never could attain to previously nor ever before had thought of. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 43.)
A spirit of missionary work which they had not previuosly experienced came upon them. Despite the opposition which was gathering against them and the necessity for secrecy in their work, this spirit would not be stilled. Joseph says:
After a few days … feeling it to be our duty, we commenced to reason out the Scriptures with our acquaintances and friends as we happened to meet them. (Ibid., p. 44.)
The Lord’s Great Promise
That spirit which came upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery was promised all the members of the Church who keep God’s commandments:
For thus saith the Lord – I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.
Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.
And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.
For by my Spirit will I enlighten them and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man. (Doc. & Cov. 76:5-10.)
The Various Gifts of the Spirit
All of the gifts of the Spirit as promised anciently to the Apostles were restored again to Joseph Smith and those who entered the church:
But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.
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.
To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
To others it is given to believe on heir words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
And again, to some it is given by the Holy ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
And again, it is given by the Holy ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.
And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.
To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.
And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;
And to others it is given to have faith to heal.
And again, to some is given the working of miracles;
And to others it is given to prophesy;
And to others the discerning of spirits.
And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;
And to another is given the interpretation of tongues;
And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.
And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.
And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in spirit;
That unto some it may be given to have all those gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby. (Ibid., 46:7-29. See also I Cor. 12:1-11.)
These gifts come to individuals only as they seek God and prepare themselves to receive them:
And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will. (Moroni 10:17.)
Most of the greater gifts of the Spirit would be unknown to an observer but are quietly enjoyed by those who have believed and accepted the Gospel. Their enjoyment is the basis of true testimony. Indeed, we may say such testimony will continue so long and just so long as the gifts of the Spirit are enjoyed by Church members.
The various gifts of the Spirit are not usually manifest at the time of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and will become manifest during the life of the individual only as the occasion arises and the proper faith is exercised. The Prophet Joseph said:
There are several gifts mentioned here, yet which of them all could be known by an observer at the imposition of hands? The word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, are as much gifts as any other, yet if a person possessed both of these gifts, or received them by the imposition of hands, who would know it? Another might receive the gift of faith, and they would be as ignorant of it. or suppose a man had the gift of healing or power to work miracles, that would not then be known; it would require time and circumstances to call these gifts into operation. Suppose a man had the discerning of spirits, who would be the wiser for it? Or if he had the interpretation of tongues, unless someone spoke in an unknown tongue, he of course would have to be silent; there are only two gifts that could be made visible – the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy. these are things that are the most talked about, and yet if a person spoke in an unknown tongue, according to Paul’s testimony, he would be a barbarian to those present. They would say that it was gibberish; and if he prophesied they would call it nonsense. The gift of tongues is the smallest gift perhaps of the whole, and yet it is one that is the most sought after. … The greatest, the best, and the most useful gifts would be known nothing about by an observer. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 246.)
The manner in which the Holy Ghost may aid a member of Christ’s Church depends upon the individual, his faith, and his desires. all members should desire true knowledge of God, a testimony concerning the mission of His Son, Jesus Christ, comfort in times of sorrow, and guidance in meeting the problems of life. To the degree these gifts are sought in humility and righteousness they may be had in abundance.
All of the Gifts Upon the President of the Church
The President of the Church, by virtue of his position, is entitled to all of the gifts of the Spirit as occasion requires:
Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church. (Op. cit., 108:92.)
1966: The Priesthood and You: Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study
Lesson 14: Spiritual Gifts
To help Priesthood members realize that: “To every man is given a gift by the spirit of God.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:11.)
Let us begin with a thrilling story of the power of god’s Priesthood at work among men today. This account came out of the attack upon Kwajalein during World War II.
The men of the United States Marines were moving in to the beach. As they edged closer, the splatter of machine guns laid a death pattern on the men wading toward shore. part of the account follows:
As I was a war correspondent, my boat was going in behind the first line of men, and we came upon these two wounded marines in the water. One from the stain of red around him, we could tell was wounded badly; the other, wounded too, was holding the other’s head above water. We picked them up, amidst a hail of shots from shore, then pulled back toward safer retreat to render first aid. the one seemed too far gone to need much help, but the other refused aid until his wounded buddy was attended. But our help seemed insufficient, as we soon realized, and we announced our decision to his comrade. then it happened.
This young man, the better of the two, bronzed by the tropical sun, … slowly got to his knees. His one arm was nearly gone, but with the other, he lifted the head of his unconscious pal into his lap, placed his good hand on the other’s pale brow and uttered what to us seemed to be incredible words – words which to this moment are emblazoned in unforgettable letters across the doorway of my memory: “In the name of Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood which I hold, I command you to remain alive until the necessary help can be obtained to secure the preservation of your life.”
Today, the three of us are here in Honolulu, and he is still alive. In fact, we walked down the beach together today, as we convalesce. He is the wonder of the medical unit, for – they say – he should be dead. (See Tanner, Paul B., “Are Souls Perishable?” The Instructor, July, 1962, pp. 240-241.)
How did this bearer of the Holy Priesthood know that he could be instrumental in saving his companion? By faith. In his heart burned the testimony of truth – “that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart. …” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:7.) There are many spiritual gifts, and each Priesthood bearer is capable of exercising those gifts with which he is endowed. This lesson is given to inspire us to exercise this power.
WHAT SPIRITUAL GIFTS EXIST IN THE CHURCH?
In a world of hard reality, we ofttimes forget that powers beyond our understanding lie within our grasp if we but exercise them in righteousness. the Lord has exhorted us to remember these powers and has given us a listing of some of them and has told us how to use them and why we have them. In a revelation through the Prophet Joseph smith we are told:
… 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 toe very man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
To some, it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
… to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration …
… to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God …
… to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom …
… to another is given the word of knowledge …
… to some it is given to have faith to be healed.
… to others it is given to have faith to heal.
… to some is given the working of miracles;
… to others it is given to prophesy;
… to others the discerning of spirits.
… to some to speak with tongues;
… to another is given the interpretation of tongues.
… to the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church … to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.
… unto some it may be given to have all those gifts. … (Doctrine & Covenants 46:10-27, 29.)
WHAT SIGNS SHALL FOLLOW THEM THAT BELIEVE?
We are cautioned by the Lord not to seek signs as such.
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. (Doctrine & Covenants 46:9.)
That signs shall follow baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost is made clear in this revelation:
And these signs shall follow them that believe –
In my name they shall do many wonderful works;
In my name they shall cast out devils;
In my name they shall heal the sick;
In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf.
And the tongue of the dumb shall speak;
And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them;
And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.
But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation. (Doctrine & Covenants 84:65-73.)
ARE THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT WITH US TODAY?
Each member of the Melchizedek Priesthood can and should bear testimony of the spiritual gifts that have blessed him. The gift of healing is widespread throughout the Church, and protection from harm and evil has saved many lives and souls.
Class members at this point could be invited to briefly relate how the power of the Priesthood has blessed their own lives or those of others they know through faith-building experiences.
SOME EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Among recorded incidents of gifts, the following are only indicative of the rich abundance of such manifestations among faithful Latter-day Saints:
the following account is told by Clarence D. Taylor (See The Instructor, January, 1963, p. 3.):
It was called the most remarkable steamship iceberg collision on record in an 1891 issue of Windsor Magazine. Somehow the badly damaged Arizona managed to make it to Port St. John, Newfoundland, and land safely all its crew and passengers, after the ship had collided with an iceberg in the wake of an angry, storm-tossed sea.
Behind this story reposes an example of faith and the power of the Priesthood, for the Lord did provide for His servants in their time of need and blessed them with His authority to carry out the mission to which He had called them. Henry Aldous Dixon held such authority and used it during this incident.
he was a South African convert of 1856 and a man of great faith and humility. Elder Dixon and three other missionaries – Joseph Vickers, William H. Coray, and J.L. Jones – were aboard the Arizona bound for Great Britain. As the elders prepared for evening prayers, the ship’s engines suddenly stopped and a great crunching noise of crumbling timbers and sheet metal rang through the cold, clear night.
Rushing on deck with all the other passengers, the missionaries beheld an immense, blue-white mass of ice on the forecastle deck in front of the bow of the vessel. The ship Arizona, travelling at full sped, had struck an iceberg. The force of the collision was so great as to cave in completely the ship’s bow and to break off and pile up more than 20 tons of ice on top of the deck. Both anchors were broken; and the anchor chains, tested to hold 12 tons, were severed. The huge hole in the bow, 30-feet deep by 20-feet wide, extended below the water mark; and the break extended along the whole length of the keel. More than 4,000 gallons of water filled the front compartments; and several of the sailors were buried in the avalanche of ice when it settled on the forecastle decks, so that it took some time to dig them out.
With such a huge hole in the ship’s bow, the front compartments filled with water, and with the weight of 20 tons of ice on the front decks, the sea had to be calm to enable the captain and crew to get the ship to the nearest port without sinking.
The four elders frequently knelt together and prayed for the safety of the ship and passengers. But this night of tragedy was unusually special. It demanded great faith and the blessings of the Master. With righteous faith and in exercise of the Holy Priesthood, Elder Henry A. Dixon went alone on deck and there rebuked the wind and the waves and prayed for a calm sea.
Thirty-six hours later the ship limped into Port St. John. The prayers of the elders had been answered; and the promise which Elder Dixon had given the passengers that no lies would be lost, that the ship would safely reach port, and that all would reach their destination in safety, had been fulfilled.
A most remarkable manifestation of tongues is related by Karl G. Maeser. (Pratt, Orson, Masterful Discourses and Writings of Orson Pratt, Salt lake City, Bookcraft, Inc., p. 316.) this is his account of the incident that occurred at the time of his baptism:
It was in October, 1855, that President (Franklin D.) Richards arrived. With Elder Budge acting as interpreter, he held with us a few interviews, and we were ready for baptism. Accordingly on Sunday, October 14, 1855, myself, Edward Schoenfeldt, and Edward Martin were baptized. This was the first of such ordinances to be performed after the order of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that country. On October 19th, my wife, anna, her sisters, Ottilie Schoenfeldt, and Camilla Meith, and their mother, Henrietta Meith, and their brother, Emil, were also initiated into the Church through baptism, making now eight souls in all. this service took place in the famous Elbe River, at a spot opposite the farthest linden trees in the so-called “Ostra Begerge.”
On coming out of the water, I lifted both my hands to heaven and said, “Father, if what I have done just now is pleasing unto Thee, give me a testimony, and whatever Thou shouldst require of my hands I shall do, even to the laying down of my life for this cause.”
There seemed to be no response to my fervent appeal, and we walked home together. President Richards and Elder Budge at the right and left of me, while the other men walked some distance behind us so as not to attract attention. Our conversation was on the subject of the authority of the Priesthood. Suddenly I stopped Elder Budge from interpreting the President’s remarks to me, as I understood them perfectly. I replied to him in German, and again the interpretation was not necessary, as I was also understood by the President. thus we kept on conversing until we arrived at the point of separation, when the manifestation as suddenly ceased as it had come. It did not appear to be strange at all, while it lasted, but as soon as it stopped, I asked Brother Budge what that all meant and received the answer that God had given me a testimony.
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT CAN BE YOURS
To be worthy of spiritual gifts one must overcome evil and live righteously. In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul said: “… walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other. …” (Galatians 5:16-17.) then Paul lists the works of the flesh as “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revilings, and such like.” (Galatians 5:19-21.) Paul then calls all men to live by the spirit, and he lists the fruits of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. …” (Galatians 5:22, 23.) Paul realized the need for us to help one another and gave us the key to quorum activity. He said,
If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1, 2.)
The key that unlocks the treasure of spiritual gifts is the key of clean living. By power of the Holy Priesthood, a worthy man can open the windows of heaven and bring showers of blessings upon those whom he loves. “to every man is given a gift by the spirit of God.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:11.) To exercise that gift, we are cautioned to observe two conditions: “… 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 blessings ye are blessed with.” (Doctrine & Covenants 46:31-32.)
Study your children and learn the longings of their hearts. When the occasion is right, give a father’s blessing. Strengthen your child’s will to live righteously and confer those blessings which are brought to your mind by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Give thanks to God for all blessings and speak in the name of Jesus Christ. do this and the love of Christ will descend upon you and bring peace to your soul and to the one whom you bless.