The Spirit, the Witness

I was told recently that my faith is blind. My belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. My belief that the Book of Mormon, alongside the Bible, is scripture that testifies of Jesus Christ. My belief in the entire set of doctrines outlined in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of this… all that I hold dear to me and believe with every fiber of my being… is blind following.

And why is it blind? According to my accuser, because…

1. There is an apparent lack of archeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon, and…

2. The teachings of the Book of Mormon are obviously, according to my accuser’s opinion, in contradiction to the Bible’s doctrine.

Both of these arguments are, in my opinion, weak excuses. I bore my testimony to this man, but his heart wasn’t sufficiently softened to receive it. Honestly, that’s fine. I told him straight up that I didn’t expect to convince him, and I wouldn’t want to anyway. But to accuse me of blind faith? No, I won’t have it. Heck, he even insinuated that what I believed to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit confirming my beliefs was in reality a trick of Satan.

Last time I checked, Satan doesn’t have influence over my spirit. Yes, he can make evil appear good, and he is a grand master manipulator. He can deceive us by affecting our carnal senses. Our sight. Our hearing. Our physical sense of feeling. These are often what he attacks, but our spirits? No, that’s God’s territory. Satan can make sin seem appealing, but only God’s Spirit can touch my own spirit and manifest truth. If Satan could manipulate the very spirit within us, how awful our circumstances would be! You couldn’t trust anything! You wouldn’t be able to trust any thought or feeling you have, no matter how righteous and peaceful it feels.

But now I’m rambling, and perhaps that particular topic should be given its own blog post, just like how Venom should’ve been the spotlight of Spiderman 3.

I’m going to just focus on the first reason now. No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon? Anyone that has ever honestly looked into this topic knows that such a claim is complete nonsense. However, evidence for the Book of Mormon is not what helps an individual gain a testimony and a spiritual witness of its divinity. It is through a witness of the Holy Spirit that that is accomplished. For the sake of those who might be curious though, here’s a great link to a website dedicated to phyiscal evidences of the Book of Mormon.

Concerning the Spirit, the apostle Paul teaches us,

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath preparedfor them that love him.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

It is through the Holy Spirit that the things of God are revealed to man. Indeed, studious research is beneficial, but without a firm testimony from the Spirit, an unshakable conviction in any particular truth will never stand up to persecution and the storms of life. I marvelled somewhat that despite the fact that my accuser was a strong Christian man (and I had no reason to doubt this of him), he denied my testimony of the Spirit and claimed I was blindly following my beliefs because of an apparent lack of physical evidence. He should know very well that if something is of God, it cannot be understood or known except through His spirit.

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)

The Power and the Gift

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. You can read more about Him and His role here, in one of my previous posts. In the Church of Jesus Christ, when one is baptized, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is a difference, however, between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost can descend upon anyone, guiding him or her in whatever way God wants. There’s a simple anology that can be made. The power of the Holy Ghost is like a bolt of lightning. You can imagine life as a journey through a dark forest. Everything is black; nothing can be seen. Just as lightning may strike, illuminating the path for a second, the Holy Ghost may dwell for a moment and give needed guidance to continue onward.

Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is like receiving a flashlight. It’s constantly with us, lighting the trail every second of the way, so long as we are worthy of it.

We can see instances of this in the scriptures.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the wordof God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:14-17)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. (Acts 19:5-6)

I know that only through the complete authority, found only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can one be endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that said gift is needed to enter into the kingdom of God.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

Tender Mercies: A Refuge from the Storm

Everywhere I go, every place I have lived, the Lord has watched out for me. I’m not terribly outgoing, and I don’t like to travel. Yet my family and I have lived in three different states, and I’ve attended four different high schools. And now, here I am, on a mission in Montan and Wyoming, away from home and surrounded by people I don’t know. To be quite honest, it’s a miracle I haven’t given up, because Satan has placed that thought into my mind more than a dozen times.

Something that has been a tremendous support to me is the Lord’s comfort and His tender mercies. When I moved to a different city, attended a new high school, and met new people, I was always given comfort to deal with the anxiety that fell upon me each time. And now here on my mission, I’ve served in four different areas. Two in Wyoming and two in Montana. Just as before, each time I was given comfort and tender mercies from the Lord.

Moving around as a kid, the tender mercies often came in more outward things. I always had a place to call home. I had my family (and my awesome cat). I made friends without even having to try and I remained in contact with my old friends. I quickly grew accustomed to the change of scenery and pace, helping me to simply be more comfortable with my surroundings. This had been the case wherever we settled down.

As a missionary, many of those things are the same. I’m able to write my family and friends and hear from them. There have been friendly people wherever I have been. I’ve always had a comfortable place to reside, to relax. Though coming to a new place throws me out of my comfort zone each time, I eventually become familiar with the surroundings and grow to appreciate them.

In Isaiah 51:3, we learn of the Lord’s comfort,

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.

Our wilderness, whether it’s a trial or an unfamiar place, can be made like Eden. In chapter 25, verse 4, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah’s comforting powers,

For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

Christ is a strength to the needy and poor. He is a refuge from our storms. He is a shadow from the heat of our afflictions. He is the wall that can shield us from Satan’s blasting winds.

Each day, I feel a moment of comforting assurance that the Lord is there. I know it is the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Sometimes it’s triggered by the circumstances, and sometimes it’s random, or seems random. I can’t explain it, other than that every day, for at least short moment, I feel like everything is right in the world, and that my troubles are but a small matter when confronted with the marvelous truth that The Church of Jesus Christ is back on the earth today, that Jesus Christ lives, and that I have a Father in Heaven that knows me and watches out for me.

I know that we receive tender mercies from the Lord each day if we only pause to reflect upon them. I know that Christ is our refuge from the storm, and that the Spirit can touch our hearts at any moment and make every last bit of our heartache and anxiety disappear. Whatever you may be going through at this time, I know that it can be made light by taking Jesus Christ’s yoke upon you.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you ~ John 14:18

All things done in order.

At the beginning of each day, we may find ourselves with a list of things to do. Chores to complete, work to finish, people to see, things to study, etc. Whether it’s a lengthy list or a mercifully short one, we often want it to be done all at once. Sometimes we might glance at each item listed, or review them in our minds, and think that it’s simply impossible. We may wonder how God could possibly think we can do all the things that are placed before us.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin gave some solid advice pertaining to this subject. In Mosiah 4:27 it reads,

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

see that all these things are done in wisdom and order – Stop. Slow down. Think about the things that need to be accomplished. When our chores are piled high, the last thing we need to do is rush through them.

it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength – Heavenly Father does not expect us to do more than we are able. Think of Jesus’s parable of the widow’s mite. She only gave two coins, though others gave many. But it was all she had to offer, and from a righteous perspective, she gave more than the rich.

God does not issue us a challenge we do not have the strength to overcome. He will not put a mountain before you if you can only climb a hill. Honestly review your strengths and weaknesses, and then put an honest effort into your tasks. That is all your Father in Heaven asks of you.

expedient that he should diligent, that thereby he might win the prize – Diligence is sincere, zealous obedience. If we expect to accomplish our goals, we must strive to do all we can. If we can climb that hill, we are expected to do so, even if we have to strain a bit to get over the top.

all things must be done in order – Going full circle now. Slow down and take the time needed to perform the work. When you encounter a speed bump while driving, you slow down. And so it is with life.

Slow down. Review strengths and weaknesses. Understand that God does not send us something we cannot overcome. Listen to the Spirit. Do all things in wisdom and order.

I know that by doing these things, we can accomplish anything we have set to do. God knows you and knows that you can succeed. He wants your success. Put your trust in Him, your faith in Christ, and listen to the Holy Spirit.

I will not leave you comfortless.

John 14: 16-18

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. His divine role in our lives is to strengthen, comfort, guide, teach, warn us of danger, and testify of truth. Christ explained to His apostles that when He (Christ) left, the Father would send the Spirit to be their Comforter in His place to give peace and teach them.

26 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.

Just like our Father in Heaven, and just like our Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost is a person, a being, with a personality. He loves us and wants to help us in any way He can. He has played an enormous role in my own life, guiding me countless times by warning me of dangers and prompting me in specific directions.

However, we must be in the correct state of mind and heart in order to receive the Spirit’s guidance. In 1 Kings chapter 19, we learn how the Spirit will often communicate with us from one of the prophet Elijah’s experiences.

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Amidst the tumult of noise, the Spirit spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. The same applies to us. If our minds are racing with thoughts, if our hearts are raging with unrighteous motives and desires, we will be deaf to the subtle whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It takes an earnest, concentrated effort on our part to receive His instruction.

Turn off the radio. Turn off the television. Remove yourself from the world’s distractions. Find time to meditate, to read and ponder the scriptures. Find time to connect with the Spirit.

I testify that the Holy Ghost can teach us all things. I testify that He can give us the strength and peace we need to withstand all that the world may throw at us. I testify that the Holy Ghost loves us, and I know that He speaks to us. Are we willing to take a moment to listen?