His Spirit


There is an indistinct understanding in the world regarding the sacrament prayers, and whose spirit we are to receive in response to always remembering Him, taking upon us His name and keeping His commandments. The question is, is it the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and is there a difference? Rather than repeat myself on there being a difference, I will reference you to a previous Un-Blog entitled “The Holy Ghost & Light of Christ”.

The difference is both eternally significant and confusing. It is significant because Jesus Christ gave His life to become the “Light of truth” (D&C 88:6) and we depend upon His atonement and His grace for everything. Not only is Christ’s voice our only source of truth, the source of our conscience, and the source of all spiritual gifts, it is also the power by which all of what we observe as “nature” functions. D&C 88:6-38, 67 is a great witness to this truth. This is the “Light of Christ”.

Our understanding is indistinct because the operation of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost are interwoven. We receive daily guidance from Christ through His voice (which we perceive as our conscience and the Still Small Voice) and we receive testimony, revelation, prophecy and all greater gifts involving the opening of the heavens, through the ministry of the Holy Ghost. They work hand-in-glove throughout our lives.

We speak of “following the Spirit” but would be more correct to say we are “following Jesus Christ” by harkening to His Spirit.

Elder McConkie explained it this way:

“Truly, man does not stand alone. God governs in all the affairs of men, and he does it by the power of his Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the light of Christ, which is in all things. In reciting all these things, the scriptures speak as though this light or power or influence or spirit strives and entices and enlightens, although it is in reality the agency through which the Lord himself does all these things.” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 259, emphasis added)

The preparatory influence and striving of the Light of Christ, leads us moment by moment until we are worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. This is not to say, to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but to progress far beyond to the moment when that member of the Godhead takes up constant residency in our being and the heavens begin to open before us. Thus, we partake of the sacrament each week to recommit ourselves to those acts and obediences and remembrances, which will bring us “His Spirit” because there is no other way to arrive at the revelatory blessings of the Holy Ghost.

Elder McConkie again:

“Truly, “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19.) The Holy Ghost does not strive or entice; his mission is to teach and testify. But those who heed the enticements and submit to the strivings of the Holy Spirit (which is the light of Christ) are enabled to receive the Holy Spirit (which is the Holy Ghost).” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 260, parenthetical comments in original, emphasis added.)

In the latter-day church we have a tendency to lump all spiritual manifestations under the heading of “Holy Ghost”. Many authorities, general and otherwise, speak without differentiating between the two, which is not problematic at all, because it continues to operate no matter how we speak of it.

However, the language of the sacrament prayers is not confusing. The language is that we always remember Him (Christ) and keep His (Christ’s) commandments so that we may always have His (Christ’s) Spirit to be with us. Here is the reason we must understand the distinction between the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost at all, because we are covenanting ourselves continually to obedience so that the Spirit of Christ will lead us through the coming week, and throughout our lives.

Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

“But the ordinance means more than this. When we eat the bread and drink the water, we covenant that we will eat and drink in remembrance of the sacrifice which he made for us in the breaking of his body and the shedding of his blood; that we are willing to take upon us the name of the Son; that we will always remember him; that we will always keep his commandments which he has given us, In this act we witness to the Father, by solemn covenant in the name of the Son, that we will do all of these things. Through our faithfulness to these covenants, we are promised that we will always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us to guide us in all truth and righteousness.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, p.339, emphasis added)

In other words, the outcome of fulfilling our baptismal covenants, and of worthily partaking of the sacrament and keeping all covenants embodied therein, is that we may “always” have the Spirit of Christ to be with us.

As Elder McConkie noted in the quote above, the Holy Ghost is made available to us through obedience to an even greater law than those in the sacrament covenant. This law is that after we first obtain the “always” presence of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, that we then follow that guiding voice to those greater blessings. This is step one and step two of the Gospel, and all other steps are similar in function, construct and design.

______________________

I apologize for these several tangential Un-Blogs, but I thought it worth responding to these questions, especially ones that are doctrinally key to our continuing spiritual evolution. For further reading on this subject, consider picking up my first book “Following the Light of  Christ into His Presence”.

I frequently ponder how to keep reaching higher with the Un-Blog without alienating new and beginning readers. There are foundation principles which undergird everything else that resonates spiritually, which becomes a part of our testimony and faith, which propel us powerfully upward. I have written almost 400 Un-Blog articles trying to lay forth these principles carefully and sequentially. I hope, but doubt that most will, read from the beginning of the Un-Blog to prepare themselves for those things which pull so powerfully upward. Mostly what I hope won’t happen, but expect it will, is that someone will read something lofty they are not prepared to embrace into their spiritual paradigm.

I am still working on the next Un-Blog “The Second Coming” but have found that these deep topics take considerable and careful study on my part. I enjoy every moment of it, but it does not produce daily Un-Blogs. Thank you for your patience and love.

Brother John

Still coming up: “The Second Coming”

© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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24 Responses to His Spirit

  1. Linda Ayre says:

    Brother John, I have read some of your books and have listened to all of your firesides from your website. Words could never express my gratitude for what you have brought into my life. I am new to the Unblog and am working my way through the posts as quickly as I can. I have a question that may have already been addressed. It is embarressingly basic, but here goes.

    I share this problem assuming that others can relate and hopefully shed some light. Just a little background–I am a 63 year old woman and have been fully and devotedly active in the Church all my life. I have struggled, however, to recognize the promptings of the Spirit. For years I have prayed daily about this, fasted, studied, talked to others and have still not really figured this out. When I was growing up, people didn’t talk much about recognizing the Spirit. Most references to the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ were misleading to me because of phrases like “listen to the still, small voice”. “Listen” and “voice” implied to me that I would be literally hearing a voice other than my own thoughts. For a long time, I actually tried to shut down my own thoughts when seeking answers so I could “hear” this other voice. Bro. Pontius’ book, Following the Light of Christ into His Presence, was helpful when I read it several years ago. At least I realized then that the “voice” was really going to come in the form of thoughts in my own head. I know…you’re probably all thinking, “Well, duh!” I am learning to pay closer attention to my thoughts (and feelings ) now and trying to discern between my own, the Spirt and the adversary, as Bro. Pontius has taught.

    So, here is the question: is every good idea a prompting (which makes it a commandment) from the Lord? One of my favorite religion teachers once said, “A disciple of Christ will always want to do more than they are capable of doing.” I can’t tell the difference between thoughts that come in the form of knowledge and/or desire to do a good thing and an actual prompting. For instance, I came home from work the other day so tired I could hardly get out of my car. I made it to my bed and collapsed. As I was settling into a nap, I mentally reviewed some of the things I needed to do. I thought of an elderly woman I wanted to visit. Because I have been listening to Bro. Pontius’ firesides lately and I am trying to obey every prompting, I became alarmed, thinking, “What was that? Was that a prompting? Or was it just my mind reviewing my to-do list?” The fact is, I planned to visit her; I knew I would visit her (which I have). But that thought made me wonder if I needed to drag myself off the bed and get over there right that second. If it was a prompting, then it was a commandment and I must obey, no matter the hazard.

    As long as I can’t really tell the difference, it makes it hard to know how seriously I should take the thought. I’m sure some would say, (as I understand Elder Bednar said…althought I didn’t personally hear it), if it’s a good idea, just do it. But that isn’t the point. The point is knowing when it is a commandment. If it is just a thought but not a commandment, it is hard to have the faith to do the really challenging things. Here is another example. I was at a store the other day, waiting in line. The clerk was a young woman with a few tattoos and piercings. That reminded me of Bro. Pontius’ fireside wherein he told the story of Pres. Kimball being prompted to bear his testimony to a scary biker-dude. I imagined how I would feel if I got that prompting in that moment. As that popped into my head, I thought, “Oh no. What was that? Was that a prompting or just my mind bouncing around?” You could say, “Well, it’s a good idea. Just go ahead and do it.” But if it wasn’t a true prompting from the Spirit, I worried that I could actually do more harm than good because of the timing and situation (people were waiting behind me.) So I didn’t do it.

    I realize that no one can really tell me how the Spirit will work for me. But I wonder if others have struggled with this question and if they can shed any light on this dilemma.

    Thank you,
    Linda

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    • Dear Linda,

      Here are several articles I wrote on this subject. See if the answer to your question is in there, and then let me know if it is still confusing. Another point I might make is that the result of promptings does not bring fear, anxiety, confusion or recrimination. The prompting may urge you to take action, but it comes surrounded by peace and love.

      https://unblogmysoul.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/the-mountain-peaks-of-prophetic-insight/

      https://unblogmysoul.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/the-cost-of-exaltation/

      https://unblogmysoul.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/the-coin-of-the-realm/

      Brother John

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      • Linda Ayre says:

        I love your answer…that promptings come with peace and love, not fear and anxiety. That is very helpful but I have to admit that I wonder if it is always the way it works. Didn’t Pres. Kimball have some fear when he got the prompting to bear his testimony to the scary guy? Didn’t Abinadi have some trepidation about preaching repentence to people who were inclined to kill such messengers? Nephi surely struggled with feelings of doubt and confusion when prompted to kill Laban. Of course, I know that these people were familiar enough with the promptings from the Lord to overcome their doubts and fears. I hate to admit that at my age I feel like such a beginner.

        With sincere appreciation for your great work,
        Linda

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        • Promptings don’t create fear, they create peace. It is our response to the unknown that creates the fear. Fear and peace are not necessarily opposing emotions. The natural man can be afraid, and the spirit at peace. The key is to not let whatever fear we experience stop us from obedience, or to let disobedience turn into anxiety and doubt. I am actually fairly fussy about what I embrace as a prompting. I try to hear everything, and then chose those things which bring me peace and do them – even if I feel fearful. When I know what is right, I am learning to ignore the voice of fear.

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  2. jimmy tetuanui says:

    Sorry for the delay in answering to your inquiries about the church here in Japan. We are building a third temple here in Japan for a population of 130 million people. the first temple was built in 1980 then within 15 years another one and then another 5 years for the third on. Judging from this, we can conclude that the church is doing alright. But speaking on what I see/experience, we are probably on the ‘not all is well in Zion’ mode/state. Baptism is at its lowest rate. 3 years ago the leaders announced a cut of 50% in US missionaries who will be sent here because the number of missionaries being sent here and the results expected didn’t match. they said these missionaries would be sent to other ‘more productive’ areas in the world. We keep losing many of our youths at a very alarming rate. Home teaching is under the 50% bar. I personally feel that we might have entered the D&C 88:88-91 phase…I hope not though!

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  3. Kyle says:

    It seems that you unnecessarily worry about posting daily unblogs to your website. I think everyone understands your busy schedule and greatly appreciate all that you are doing each day. I have appreciated your tangical explainiations on topics the spirit has directed you to express prior to completing your thoughts/unblog on a desired topic. I have so enjoyed your books and have given and recommended them to many, whom I have felt impressed, we’re ready to receive them. On another topic, a few of my friends and I would be interested to know your thoughts regarding Denver Snuffer’s latest book “Passing the Heavenly Gift”. Please know up front, for us, we believe his book does not diminish the importance of the church or the ordinances and covenants it provides. However, it expresses the consequences of the church currently remaining under condemnation. Could you please express your thoughts and feelings regarding this matter.

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  4. Mike says:

    Thanks Brother John, another blog post that gives powerful insight to this misunderstood doctrine. Thank you especially for the way you answered Toni’s question. How loving, kind, and interested in her you were. The poem you penned in your book “Following the Light” tells us again, that God is no respecter of persons, and that all of the blessings of the ancients are once again available to “His” people in this day. Abraham’s words in Abrahamn 2:12 echo your poetic statements. God bless you.

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  5. Shauna Allen says:

    Brother Pontius,
    I sincerely thank you for answering my question on the spirit spoken of in the sacrament prayer. I am a teacher by profession and know that my students learn best when they ask questions. It humbles me to know that inspired individuals take the time to help answer questions and prayers. Your response today has helped me to understand Christ’s spirit spoken of in the sacrament prayer. It also helped me realize the importance of knowing the difference between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost. I thank you again and truly appreciate the time you took to answer. Thanks, Shauna

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  6. jimmy tetuanui says:

    Sorry, the reference by the First Presidency, Improvement Era, Mar.1916, 460 was actually quoted in President Boyd K. Packer’s article on this subject in April 2005 Ensign issue (also quoted in The Lord’s Errand).

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  7. jimmy tetuanui says:

    Jimmy,

    I have to thank you again and again and for ever brother Pontius for your powerful teaching on the Light of Christ (which has now become a center part in my life and that of my wife – we refer to it practically everyday as the LOC). It is the most powerful doctrine I’ve ever learned because it is the doctrine that has the greatest impact/influenced on me personally. I thought you may want to have these quotes (sorry if you already have them) which have helped me better understand the sacrament prayer and your wonderful interpretation of it, especially the ‘that we may always His spirit (LOC) with us’ part.

    Elder Scott: You learned that the Light of Christ would provide that guidance. It gives light and life to all things. It prompts all individuals throughout the earth to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. The Light of Christ is not a person. It is a power and influence that comes from God our Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, and, when followed, can lead a person to qualify for the more definite guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost (Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Twelve, General Conference, October 2005).

    Elder McConkie: Men are born again by following the light of Christ to the point where they receive the actual enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost (Mosiah 27:24-31; Alma 36) (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 447).

    We receive light of Christ in different degrees according to our faith, and obedience – my favorite one. Totally goes with what you teach!

    The First Presidency has written: There is a universal diffused essence which is the light and the life of the world, ‘which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,’ which proceedeth forth from the presence of God throughout the immensity of space, the light and power of which God bestows in different degrees to ‘them that ask him,’ according to their faith and obedience’ (“‘Receiving’ the Holy Ghost,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1916, 460.) (quoted in On the Lord’s Errand, by Boyd K. Packer).

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  8. Toni says:

    I have a question that I don’t want you to post if the answer is too personal. I have your book, Following the Light into His Presence, and I have read the most wonderfully inspiring words on your blog, but I am confused as to whether or not you have actually seen Jesus face to face, yourself. I don’t recall reading one way or the other in the book or on the blog.

    Are you sharing these wonderful words because of your own study and prayers, and you are still searching for His face – or have you actually reaped the results of seeing our Lord’s face? I have come across at least four instances in which people speak of having seen our Savior. I believe them (I have seen the name of one of them on your unblog’s comments).

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    • Toni, you are right, that is too personal of a statement to make on a public forum. Those who are close to me know the truth of that question, and those who read my writing carefully will realize that I have never proclaimed that such is the case. I was reading on a LDS website and someone was insisting that I had stated on one of my firesides that I had received the Second Comforter. This is not the case. All of my firesides are published, and could be reviewed.

      I hope to correct that misunderstanding here. I have never said I have experienced the Second Comforter in a fireside, or any other place. I have chosen to bear powerful testimony of many things, such as speaking to angels and the like, but I have felt impressed to neither affirm nor deny having the Second Comforter. I know that sounds politic, but the wisdom and inspiration of handling it this way may become apparent in the future.

      Even though the scriptures and prophetic writings urge us to seek an obtain these things, there is a certain level of disbelief leveled at those who do seek profound blessings and then claim to receive them. Most are laid under “a strict command” to not reveal these “greater things” So far I have been able to accomplish whatever work the Lord has laid before me without striking that match.

      Brother John

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  9. Eric says:

    May I propose that the purpose of the unblock is not to be sequential or cater to the various levels of understanding but, as is the nature of a blog, to be daily encouragement and enlightenment with intermittent reminders to keep us holding onto the rod and pointed towards Zion. The milk and the meat that you can provide us are equally valuable to each of your subscribers. I’m also going to guess that the nature of your subscriber’s are like-minded. They have found you (and stayed with you) on their own accord, or have been referred to your unblog by a member of your unblog who is like-minded. Write what you impressed to write without hesitation. 🙂 If they disagree because they don’t understand, let them. That is for them to work out. Thanks for all you have written and done.

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    • Thank you Eric. I agree. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been that pensive on the Un-Blog. I do feel the guiding hand upon me as I write. It may be that I over think it, and should just move forward, pausing when apropriate, answering questions when moved upon, and on and on.

      John

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  10. Steve says:

    A question: James Farrell, in “The Holy Secret,” gives his interpretation of the sacrament prayers as law is written, “that they are: a) willing to take upon them the name of thy son, and b) always remember him and c) keep his commandments…that they may always have…” In essence that all three crriteria need to be adhered to to “always have his spirit.” I’m inclined to read it like this, “that they are willing to a) take upon…” Essentially Ferrell says unless we keep his commandments we cannot always have his spirit. I’ve seen that as very rigid and wonder if it shouldn’t be read differently, because it seems those sincerely trying, being willing, should always have his spirit. I know this is wordy, it’s hard to express the thought even as wordy as it is, but what are your thoughts?

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    • I haven’t read James Farrell’s book and can’t comment on it. Blessings are given by obedience to law, but they also come by mercy, and by the will of God. I do completely believe that accomplishing all of the sacrament promises will definitely qualify us for “His Spirit”, and that most abundantly. But, there is large space for grace before that, while we are struggling to obey, and struggling to learn, and struggling to yield to “the enticings of the Holy Spirit”.

      Without having read Farrell’s book, I am going to assume he also acknowledges this earlier process of growth. He may be right though, that in order to “always” have his spirit, we must grow into this greater obedience. It is interesting that the blessing on the water has a slightly different recipe that we may “have His Spirit” without the “always” blessing. I had never looked at it that way. Very interesting.

      JMP

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      • Steve says:

        Ferrell also wrote “The Peacegiver.” I found it poingnant, although he is one to belabor a point. I suppose we could over speculate on the deeper meanings of the blessings, but then again, they are very important ordinances, and pondering upon them can only help us grow.

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      • cheyenne brashear says:

        Brother Steve, I read your comment and I felt I wanted to share a few of my personal insights with you.

        When I read the sacrament prayer I see the obligation on our part is the desire and willingness; The power resides in His court, the willingness is what we bring forward. I see it in essence as follows: I’m willing to enter into a covenant with Christ so that He can change me so that I can take upon me His name, always remember Him, and keep His commandments that he does, and will give me.

        The word of God(Christ) is quick and powerful, meaning it has power and can quicken us. To quicken means to impart life, motion, or activity to something that previously lacked such a quality(Oxford dictionary).

        I feel that Christ does all the works in us first before we can can outwardly do them. we have to receive His grace first before we can give it out. Sorry this is so long. Brother C.

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  11. kenh says:

    Thank you for revisiting this important topic again. I recently wrote a five piece article based on D&C 93:1. Understanding and following the Light of Christ is a very important part of that process. In reality, it is the part that makes possible the glorious event happen in the first place. Obeying His voice is how we finally come to truly know our Savior. Yes, obedience is the first law of heaven. But hearkening unto the Savior’s voice gives us the strength to obey the commandments. The Light of Christ reminds each of us what they are and coupled with our desire to observe and do is how we obey them. A little story might help. When I was a missionary in Iceland, the corner bake shops would position their oven vents on the two walls of the cross streets and the wind in Iceland also blew. Several blocks away, my companion and I were tracting and we would get a whiff of those fresh baked goods and decide it was time for a break and follow our noses to the near sacred spot of origin. To two hard working, hungry missionaries, a store that made and sold fresh baked goods was a near sacred spot indeed. The Light of Christ desires to lead us to the most sacred spot in our lives. The presence of the Lord. By following the promptings of the Spirit of Jesus Christ we will be filled with joy and happiness beyond measure. Thank you, John once more for another great post.

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