The Holy Ghost
Before Jesus died, He promised His apostles that He wouldn’t leave them without comfort. He would send them a comforter. Since His death, we’ve all had access to that comforter, if we want it.
The comforter is the Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Holy Spirit, a member of the three-personage Godhead. God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are known by Mormons to be three separate beings, unified in purpose and mission. The Holy Ghost serves a number of purposes in our mortal life, and is a treasured gift from our Father in Heaven. We all have access to the Holy Ghost, but after our baptisms, we can have Him with us all the time, as long as we’re living worthily. He can’t be where sin is, so if we ignore His warnings, He must flee our presence and we’re on our own.
The most important function of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. Through His promptings, we can know when we’re being taught truth, and so it’s always through the Holy Ghost we become members of God’s church.
“13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
It takes practice to learn to recognize the Holy Ghost, but God promised us in James 1:5 in the Bible that we could always turn to God when we need wisdom, and learning truth is essential to wisdom. Most people describe the Holy Ghost’s presence as a warm, safe, comforting feeling. When they’re making good choices or have come to the right decision, this is what they feel. When they are making a bad choice, they often feel sick to their stomach, confused, or simply unsafe.
How do we access that wisdom the Holy Ghost can offer? God knows it’s best for us if we have to make an effort to gain what we want. It’s never good to always be handed things without any personal responsibility-we don’t appreciate them and we learn less. We’re even less likely to accept an answer that comes too easily.
The first step, then, is to study the issue out. If a person were trying to find out if the Mormons had the truth, they would first read the Book of Mormon and explore Mormon.org to learn more about their beliefs, always praying for inspiration. Then, if the person is still interested, he would most likely invite missionaries to his home to teach him more and visit church services.
Using everything he has learned, he would then work through the information, studying, organizing, and coming to a decision. He would take that decision to God, who would send the Holy Ghost to respond.
Once a response is received-and this can take a long time of repeated prayer to show your true desire for truth-the person must act on the answer. It would be disrespectful to receive an answer from God and then ignore it. This makes asking for truth a grave responsibility, but one that comes with great blessings.
Another role of the Holy Ghost is to provide protection. Many who have received the Holy Ghost have found times when a voice of warning came, most often as a feeling or a thought, but in rare occasions even as a voice. “Pull off the road-hurry!” “Check on your baby.” “Don’t go to that party.” When the promptings are followed, the person is kept safe from danger. Ignored warnings can lead to frustration or even great danger.
Finally, the Holy Ghost also provides comfort in times of trial, one reason He is known as the Comforter. A person praying for comfort will feel that burden lifted through the power of the Holy Ghost.
A person who has been properly baptized by someone with authority from God can have the Holy Ghost with him at all times, and it’s a gift worth sacrificing for.