Sunday, March 16, 2014

 Is The Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost the Same?

Today’s topic and the one to follow next week I will be discussing something that I have been pondering about over the last two weeks. I have been struggling with promptings and feelings that have come to me concerning opportunities to serve in church callings. I have struggled to know if these promptings are my own thoughts or if they are coming from the Lord. How can I know that these feelings are not my personal thoughts but that they come as inspiration from the Lord? This week I want to discuss what the difference is between the Spirit of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost? Next week I will discuss the importance of responding to the promptings of the Spirit when then come and how to know if they are from the Lord.

After we are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are then confirmed and told by the person confirming us “receive the Holy Ghost”. This is an invitation for us to receive the Holy Ghost as our constant companion. The scriptures say that all men have the “Spirit of Christ” (Moroni 7:16) so what is the difference between the Spirit of Christ, which we all have, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost that we are commanded to receive when we are baptized and confirmed a member of the Church? Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles explains the difference:

“In highlighting the gift of the Holy Ghost as a distinguishing characteristic of our faith, we need to understand the important differences between (1) the Light of Christ, (2) a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and (3) the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“The Light of Christ, which is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of God, “giveth light to every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 84:46). This is the light “which is in all things, which giveth life to all things” (D&C 88:13). The prophet Mormon taught that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moro. 7:16; see also Moro. 7:192 Ne. 2:5Hel. 14:31). Elder Lorenzo Snow spoke of this light when he said, “Everybody has the Spirit of God” (in Journal of Discourses, 14:304). The Light of Christ enlightens and gives understanding to all men (see D&C 88:11).

“In contrast, a manifestation of the Holy Ghost is more focused. This manifestation is given to acquaint sincere seekers with the truth about the Lord and his gospel. For example, the prophet Moroni promises that when we study the Book of Mormon and seek to know whether it is true, sincerely and with real intent, God will “manifest” the truth of it unto us, “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4). Moroni also records this promise from the Risen Lord: “He that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true” (Ether 4:11).

“These manifestations are available to everyone. The Book of Mormon declares that the Savior “manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (2 Ne. 26:13).

To repeat, the Light of Christ is given to all men and women that they may know good from evil; manifestations of the Holy Ghost are given to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism.
“The gift of the Holy Ghost is more comprehensive. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 199; emphasis added).

“The gift of the Holy Ghost includes the right to constant companionship, that we may “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77).”  (“Always Have His Spirit”, Dallin H. Oaks, General ConferenceAddress, October 1998)

In each publication of the Ensign Magazine there is a section where gospel questions can be asked and an answer is given.  In the 1989 June Ensign someone wrote in and asked the question: “What is the difference between the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Christ, and the Light of Christ?” Part of the answer was:

“The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit and a member of the Godhead. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith taught that “the Holy Ghost should not be confused with the Spirit [the Light of Christ] which fills the immensity of space and which is everywhere present. This other Spirit is impersonal and has no size, nor dimensions; it proceeds forth from the presence of the Father and the Son and is in all things. We should speak of the Holy Ghost as a personage as ‘he’ and this other Spirit as ‘it,’ although when we speak of the power or gift of the Holy Ghost we may properly say ‘it.’”1

“The terms “Spirit of Christ” and the “Light of Christ” are most often used in the scriptures synonymously. Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave this explanation about what the Light of Christ is: “There is a spirit—the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, the light of truth, the light of Christ—that defies description and is beyond mortal comprehension. It is in us and in all things; it is around us and around all things; it fills the earth and the heavens and the universe. It is everywhere, in all immensity, without exception; it is an indwelling, immanent, ever-present, never-absent spirit. It has neither shape nor form nor personality. It is not an entity nor a person nor a personage. It has no agency, does not act independently, and exists not to act but to be acted upon.” 

“The scriptures tell us that the Light of Christ, which “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space,” is “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God.” 3 It is manifested in the light of the sun, moon, and stars and is the power by which they and the earth were made. It is also the light that quickens our understanding. 

“Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that the Light of Christ “is the agency of God’s power; it is the means and way whereby ‘he comprehendeth all things,’ so that ‘all things are before him, and all things are round about him.’ It is the way whereby ‘he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things.’” 5

The Holy Ghost makes use of the Light of Christ to perform his work. “The Spirit of Christ (or Light of Christ) is the agency through which the Holy Ghost operates,” Elder McConkie explained. 6 Moroni wrote that all spiritual gifts come through the Spirit of Christ, 7 meaning that when the Holy Ghost works with us, he transmits his gifts by the agency of the light of Christ.

“After we are baptized and confirmed and we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we may enjoy the gifts of the Holy Ghost through the Holy Ghost’s ministration. Since the Holy Ghost uses the Spirit of Christ or Light of Christ to minister to the Saints of God, the term “Spirit of Christ” is sometimes used to refer to the Holy Ghost’s ministration through that Spirit.“ (“I Have A Question”, Ensign, June 1989)

So the things that I learn from these quotes are that all of Heavenly Father’s children are blessed with the Light of Christ or the Spirit of Christ. That spirit is give to us all to know the truth when it is taught. It also helps us distinguish between good an evil and also can testify of Jesus Christ.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is given to those who are baptized members of the Lord’s Church and can be our constant companion if we are worthy. The Apostle Paul when he was at Ephesus asked them if they had received the Holy Ghost and when he found out that they had not he baptized them and laid hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:2-6). The Lord told his apostles that the Father would send the Holy Ghost to be with them after he was gone:

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

Over the years I have felt the blessings of the Light of Christ as it has come brining light and knowledge and testifying of true principles whether spiritual or temporal. I have also felt the blessings of the gift of the Holy Ghost as I have prayed to know the Lord’s will for me and my family and have felt the whisperings of the spirit in my heart telling me when I am on the right path and warning me when a course correction needs to be made.

I am grateful to my Father in Heaven, my Savior Jesus Christ, and for the Holy Ghost that has brought comfort to me when I needed it and through the ministrations of the spirit I have been an instrument in blessing my family when they needed God’s healing and comforting powers to be with them. I testify that God is our Father and he does not leave us alone in this dark world where Satan roams to and fro on the earth. I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and through his atonement we can be cleansed and return to live with him after this life. I also testify that there is a third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost that he is a personage of spirit and because of that he can dwell in us and bless us through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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