Question: After the Savior’s Ascension, did He direct His Church by revelation through the Holy Ghost?
Answer: The book of Acts records the Apostles’ efforts to establish the Church of Jesus Christ after the Savior’s Ascension. Although Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth, He directed the Church by revelation through the Holy Ghost.
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1 The former treatise (the Gospel of Luke) have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed (showed) himself alive after his passion (JST “sufferings”) by many infallible (absolute) proofs, being seen of them (his apostles) forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father (that they would receive the full power of the Holy Ghost), which, saith he, ye have heard of me (which, Jesus reminded them, they had heard of from him).
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence (from now).
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel (is the time for the Second Coming about here)?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons (the exact time of these things), which the Father hath put in his own power (the Father is the one who will say when these things will happen).
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you (in full power): and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost (most distant) part of the earth.
1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come (had arrived), they (the apostles and other faithful saints) were all with one accord in one place.
Note: “Pentecost” means “fiftieth” in Greek. This feast of gratitude to God was held fifty days after Passover. Large numbers of faithful Jews gathered to Jerusalem to celebrate this special festival.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire (what appeared to be tongues of fire which separated), and it sat upon each of them (JST “and it rested upon each of them”).
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (the ability to speak).
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James E. Faust
It was a profoundly moving event those centuries ago when the Savior led his beloved disciples into the favored Garden of Gethsemane for the last time. Jesus was mindful of the great ordeal ahead of him. He agonized, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.” (Mark 14:34.) He was ready for the unspeakable agony. Said he, “The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38.)
The eleven Apostles no doubt sensed—but could not understand—that some portentous event would happen. Jesus had spoken of leaving them. They knew that the Master whom they loved and depended upon was going somewhere, but where, they did not know. They had heard him say, “I will not leave you comfortless. … 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 14:18, 26.)
It is of this Comforter that I wish to speak today. I do so because I am persuaded that there is a greater need for divine oversight in our lives today than ever before. I wish to testify that, by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, we can know what to do and what not to do to bring happiness and peace to our lives.
Elder LeGrand Richards stated, “It must … be understood that the Holy Ghost is the medium through whom God and his Son, Jesus Christ, communicate with men [and women] upon the earth.”... All men are enlightened by the Spirit of God, or Light of Christ—sometimes called conscience. Job stated, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8.) This is the Spirit of God emanating from Deity. This power of God is the means by which, as President Joseph F. Smith stated, “every man is enlightened, the wicked as well as the good, the intelligent and the ignorant, the high and the low, each in accordance with his capacity to receive the light.” ...
The gift of the Holy Ghost, however, in distinction from the Spirit of God, does not come to all men and women. The ministrations of the Holy Ghost are, however, limited without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “there is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”... Many outside the Church have received revelation from the Holy Ghost, convincing them of the truth of the gospel. Cornelius, as well as many in attendance on the day of Pentecost, received the Holy Ghost before baptism. (See Acts 2:1–12; Acts 10:30–44.) It is through this power that seekers after truth acquire a testimony of the Book of Mormon and the principles of the gospel.
The gift of the Holy Ghost comes after one repents and becomes worthy. It is received after baptism by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority. On the day of Pentecost, Peter instructed those who had previously been touched spiritually by the Holy Ghost, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38.) Those possessing the gift of the Holy Ghost can come to a greater light and testimony. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge. (See 2 Ne. 31:18.)
The Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other scriptures, along with the guidance of modern prophets, provide true standards of conduct. In addition, the gift of the Holy Ghost is available as a sure guide, as the voice of conscience, and as a moral compass. This guiding compass is personal to each of us. It is unerring. It is unfailing. However, we must listen to it in order to steer clear of the shoals which will cause our lives to sink into unhappiness and self-doubt...
The gift of the Holy Ghost entitles a person who is desirous and worthy to enjoy “the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost.” ...The comforting Spirit of the Holy Ghost can abide with us twenty-four hours a day: when we work, when we play, when we rest. Its strengthening influence can be with us year in and year out. That sustaining influence can be with us in joy and sorrow, when we rejoice as well as when we grieve.
I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness...
In simple terms, the gift of the Holy Ghost is an enhanced spiritual power permitting those entitled thereto to receive it, to receive a greater knowledge and enjoyment of the influence of Deity...If in this life we cannot live in the presence of the Savior as did Simon Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, and the others, then the gift of the Holy Ghost can be our Comforter and sure compass.
I testify that as we mature spiritually under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our sense of personal worth, of belonging, and of identity increases. I further testify that I would rather have every person enjoy the Spirit of the Holy Ghost than any other association, for they will be led by that Spirit to light and truth and pure intelligence, which can carry them back into the presence of God.
I pray that the promise of the Lord will be fulfilled for each of us, that “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion, and [our] scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and [our] dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto [us] forever and ever.” (D&C 121:46.) In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 103; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 1-4; Excerpts from General Conference, “The Gift of the Holy Ghost—A Sure Compass,” by James E. Faust, April 1989.