The Holy Ghost & Light of Christ


In response to several comments and questions, let’s take another look at the difference between the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ.

The Light of Christ emanates from Christ and is disseminated to us through the Holy Ghost. This function of the third member of the godhead is commonly referred to as the Holy Spirit. (As an example see Mosiah 3:19) It is also appropriately called the light of truth, the voice of Christ, the voice of truth, the spirit of truth, the word(s) of Christ, the Word, His voice, my voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, and the Light of Christ.

The function of the Light of Christ is to teach us good from evil, and right from wrong. Any time we hear or feel a prompting to choose the right, to do good, to be kind, to express love, to serve or bear testimony, that knowledge came from Christ.

The Holy Spirit also is the source of our conscience, is a free gift to all mankind because of the Atonement of Christ. It has power to warn, entice, enlighten, and urge to obedience. It will expand its mission to become a teacher of great eloquence as we give heed to its guiding voice.

Even in its most powerful role, the Holy Spirit generally remains a “Still Small Voice”, and even profound truths can come silently, and require faith to hear and obey. Through righteous experience, and obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the Light of Christ becomes more powerful. It communicates greater and greater truths, and in time administers the spiritual gifts, such as faith, hope, prophecy, knowledge, teaching, believing, healings, and other miracles. (See: Moroni 10:1-34)

“Moroni says that the gifts of God come from Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost and by the Spirit of Christ. (Moroni 10) In other words, the gifts come by the power of that Spirit who is the Holy Ghost, but the Spirit of Christ (or light of Christ) is the agency through which the Holy Ghost operates.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine p. 314, parenthetical comments in original)

The operation of the Holy Spirit should not be confused with that of the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Ghost speaks in His role as a revelator, the voice (knowledge, feeling or impression) is louder and cannot easily be mistaken. The Holy Ghost communicates truth in a more powerful way, which enlightens the soul with poignant truth. When we are so blessed to enjoy profound revelation, and glorious manifestations, these also come through the Holy Ghost.

This type of grand communiqué becomes an abundant part of our lives only after we have learned to faithfully follow the lesser gift of the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this the Holy Ghost only speaks on inspiring occasions, and for a special witness, such as when we first gained a testimony that Jesus Christ truly is our Savior.

The Holy Ghost is also referred to as the Holy Spirit, or other terms which apply to the light of Christ due to the fact that the operation of the agency of the Holy Spirit, and that of the Holy Ghost, becomes nearly indistinguishable as one grows nearer and nearer to sanctification. The Holy Ghost is also correctly referred to as the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of Promise, and the Spirit of God.

For the sake of clarity, throughout this Un-Blog the term “Holy Spirit” refers to the Holy Ghost acting in His assigned role as the light of Christ. Whenever the term “Holy Ghost” is used, reference is being made to the third member of the Godhead speaking in His role as a revelator.

Both the Father and the Son use the Holy Ghost to communicate truth to mankind. The Father speaks via the Holy Ghost in accordance with divine law. There is a law attached to all blessings (D&C 130:21-22). The Father administers blessings when we have obeyed the associated laws. This is due to the justice which is one of the inalterable attributes of the Father.

When Jesus Christ speaks through the Holy Ghost as our conscience, He speaks to us without the requirement for us to be worthy or even qualified. The Light of Christ comes to us essentially prepaid through the Grace and Mercy of the Atonement which Jesus paid for by the shedding of his own blood. (D&C 88:5-6). Because of the Atonement, Christ can extend mercy to us, and reach us via the Holy Spirit even when we don’t want it, or know how much we need it.

The following diagram may help clarify the roles of the Godhead.

Brother John

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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3 Responses to The Holy Ghost & Light of Christ

  1. A Reader says:

    Brother Pontius,
    Last year I asked a question about the Holy Ghost in reference to the sacrament prayer, “that we may always have his spirit to be with them”. You have said that the spirit spoken of is the Spirit of Christ. You addressed my question, however, in “Preach my Gospel” and talks given by General Authorities, they speak of the spirit as the Holy Ghost. Here are a couple of examples.
    Elder Bednar – Apr. 2006 Ensign “The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead”.
    Dallin H. Oaks – Oct. 1996 Ensign “When we consciously and sincerely renew our baptismal covenants as we partake of the sacrament, we renew our qualification for the promise “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (D&C 20:77). We cannot overstate the importance of that promise. President Wilford Woodruff called the gift of the Holy Ghost the greatest gift we can receive in mortality.”
    I have not been able to find a reference to the spirit as the Spirit of Christ and many references to it as the Holy Ghost. I am still missing something. Maybe you can help me with my confusion. Thanks

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    • Debbie says:

      To “a reader” A most beautiful talk on the difference between the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ is by Boyd K Packer, Apr 2005 Ensign. It’s entitled The Light of Christ. I highly recommend it for a clear answer to your question.

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  2. Karen says:

    I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I am the woman that talked to you in the foyer on your way out of the fireside regarding this topic. Having your explanation written down has allowed me to have a better grasp on the subject and what you were explaining to me. I have been pondering and studying this for the past few days. It has actually opened up some new questions that I have regarding gifts of the spirit….but I will save those for later, as I am enjoying that you are proceeding with covering the many important topics you listed a few days ago. I especially enjoyed the one today (16th) that you wrote regarding the ministry of angels. Thanks for taking the time required to write these un-blogs. I look forward to learning each day and am always uplifted and motivated to keep my eye single to what the Lord’s ultimate objective is for me to attain in this life.

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