Former Relief Society General President Julie B. Beck said that learning to comprehend and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost is one of the most important things we will do in our lifetimes. I converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called the Mormon Church) when I was sixteen. I’ve now celebrated my fiftieth year in the Church of Jesus Christ, and I know what she means that communing with Holy Ghost is a learning process.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is something unique to members of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is the permanent residing of the Holy Spirit within a person who remains a worthy vessel. The Holy Ghost may manifest himself to anyone at any given time, especially to lead him or her to a solid faith that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, but the permanent gift comes only after baptism by immersion by one having true authority from God, and the bestowal of the gift (called “confirmation”) also by someone with authority.
As one focuses more and more on the things of God and less and less on the things of the world, the promptings of the Holy Ghost become more frequent until they are more or less constant and wholly recognizable. For those who are prophets, the Holy Ghost enables communication with heaven and personal visits of holy messengers, visions, etc. These are more commonplace than most people realize. But most of the time, manifestations of the Holy Ghost come as inspiration, thoughts that are epiphanies, having a “still, small voice” imprint a message on one’s heart—more felt than heard, but so impressive, that the recollection is imprinted forever.
When someone who is a seeker first visits with Mormon missionaries, those missionaries never “sell the gospel of Christ” or try to convince by logic someone to join the Church. Instead, they teach the gospel, and then ask the person to go directly to God to receive spiritual confirmation from Him if what they are teaching is true. After baptism by water, comes the baptism by fire, which is the receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and this can also result in a spiritual confirmation that burns inside. Prophet Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the last dispensation of time before the Second Coming of Christ, said that baptism by water is only “half a baptism,” that baptism by fire is the whole point, and without the gift of the Holy Ghost, we haven’t really begun on our journey which we hope will lead to entering God’s presence.
Late Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow experienced a baptism by fire somewhat later than his actual confirmation into the Church of Jesus Christ. He had been aiming for a renowned military career and an advanced formal education when he was introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it had been restored in its fullness upon the earth. He had to make a 180 degree turn in his life to become a spiritual person and abandon to some degree his worldly goals. He had always relied on his intellect, and at first, it was prominent in his conversion. This is his story:
I believed they [the Latter-day Saints] had the true religion, and I joined the Church. So far my conversion was merely a matter of reason.”1 He remembered, “I was perfectly satisfied that I had done what was wisdom for me to do under the circumstances.”2 Although he was content for a time with this understanding, he soon yearned for a special manifestation of the Holy Ghost. He said, “I had had no manifestation, but I expected one.”3
This manifestation did not immediately follow my baptism, as I expected,” he recalled. “But, although the time was deferred, when I did receive it, its realization was more perfect, tangible and miraculous than even my strongest hopes had led me to anticipate. One day while engaged in my studies, some two or three weeks after I was baptized, I began to reflect upon the fact that I had not obtained a knowledge of the truth of the work—that I had not realized the fulfillment of the promise: ‘He that doeth my will shall know of the doctrine;’ [see John 7:17] and I began to feel very uneasy.
I laid aside my books, left the house and wandered around through the fields under the oppressive influence of a gloomy, disconsolate spirit, while an indescribable cloud of darkness seemed to envelop me. I had been accustomed, at the close of the day, to retire for secret prayer to a grove, a short distance from my lodgings, but at this time I felt no inclination to do so.
The spirit of prayer had departed, and the heavens seemed like brass over my head. At length, realizing that the usual time had come for secret prayer, I concluded I would not forego my evening service, and, as a matter of formality, knelt as I was in the habit of doing, and in my accustomed retired place, but not feeling as I was wont to feel.
I had no sooner opened my lips in an effort to pray, than I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and O, the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge, as it was at that time imparted to my understanding. I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the Holy Priesthood, and the fulness of the gospel.
It was a complete baptism—a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion by water; dispelling forever, so long as reason and memory last, all possibility of doubt or fear in relation to the fact handed down to us historically, that the ‘Babe of Bethlehem’ is truly the Son of God; also the fact that He is now being revealed to the children of men, and communicating knowledge, the same as in the apostolic times. I was perfectly satisfied, as well I might be, for my expectations were more than realized, I think I may safely say, in an infinite degree.
I cannot tell how long I remained in the full flow of this blissful enjoyment and divine enlightenment, but it was several minutes before the celestial element, which filled and surrounded me, began gradually to withdraw. On arising from my kneeling posture, with my heart swelling with gratitude to God beyond the power of expression, I felt—I knew that he had conferred on me what only an Omnipotent Being can confer—that which is of greater value than all the wealth and honors worlds can bestow.
Gale is a former fibro and CMP sufferer. She hopes this information will help other sufferers on their journey to good health.