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.
Still coming up: “The Second Coming”
© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.