The Holy Ghost is often referred to as the Holy Spirit. He is the third member of the Godhead, which consists of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is different from the other two in that He does not have a body. This allows Him to perform a variety of functions that would be difficult with a body. Mormons believe that the Godhead is one in every way except physically. They are three entirely separate beings.
The Holy Ghost has many functions. Jesus Christ, promising to send the Holy Ghost to the apostles after He was gone, referred to Him as the Comforter. Providing comfort is one role of the Holy Ghost. When we are frightened or alone, we can call on Him to be our companion through the very hardest moments of our lives. He is sent to us as a gift from God in those times.
The Holy Ghost sometimes sends warnings to us. These can warn us of impending physical danger, such as a falling tree or a car about to careen towards us. The warnings can also be spiritual. For instance, we might be warned that we are speaking with someone who is out to harm our testimonies of God or that we are neglecting to do something of spiritual importance.
The Holy Ghost can help us to make decisions. When we’re faced with choices, both spiritual and temporal, we can pray to God and He will make His will known to us through the Holy Spirit.
Another role, and the most important, is to testify. Most people gain a testimony of God and of Jesus Christ and His Church first through others. We read what someone else has written or listen to what that person says. This is an excellent starting point for a testimony, but it is not enough. We can’t live our lives on borrowed testimonies, but must eventually find our own. This way our testimony is not impacted by our relationship with that person. The only way to gain a testimony that cannot be shaken is to obtain it through the Holy Spirit. God knows for certain what is true and we can trust what He sends us. The Holy Ghost can speak only what God tells Him to say.
In order to gain a testimony through the Holy Ghost, we have to approach the topic with an open mind and a commitment to follow through on what the Holy Spirit tells us. We must never ask and then decide we don’t like the answer and will ignore it. Begin by studying it out in your own mind—read the scriptures and learn about the topic you need help with. Then make a decision based on what you’ve learned. Finally, pray for confirmation of your decision. This confirmation will come in the form of a burning in the heart or a feeling a warmth, peace, safety, love, and comfort. Sometimes the answers will come as thoughts.
The more time we spend in prayer the easier it becomes to recognize how God speaks to us and to know He is the one sending the answers to us. We need to create an atmosphere that invites personal revelation. This means to live the commandments of God, to pray often, and to study God’s word in the scriptures. We need to surround ourselves as much as possible with things and people that are moral and good. The Holy Ghost cannot stay in an unworthy environment if you refuse to flee it when warned.
The Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit comes to us in two forms. Initially, it comes as a periodic guest to testify to us of truth and to guide us from time to time. However, once we have been baptized by someone who holds the authority to do so, we can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. At this time, we are entitled to have the Holy Ghost with us all the time, as long as we are living in a manner that invites Him to stay. This is a powerful gift that can protect us from danger and help us safely navigate the challenges of life so we can return home to God.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.