Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Faith talk

This picture courtesy of Evelyn

Today in church I gave a talk  on Faith.  For my own future reference and for anyone who's interested I decided to post it.

Good morning brothers and sisters. This morning I’ve been asked to speak on the 4th article of faith, in particular the 4th principle.  So for those of you, like myself, that need a recap in case you can’t remember what the 4th principle is i’d like to begin by reciting the 4th article of faith.  If you know it feel free to recite it in you head with me as I go.  It states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Second, repentance.  Third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.  Fourth, laying on of hands, for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

So the basic principles of the church are faith in Christ, repentance, baptism and fourth and finally the gift of the Holy Ghost which is what I will focus my attention on today.  First of all the way I approach any topic is by asking and answering a serious of questions.  The first of which I want to ask is simply “What is the Holy Ghost?”  The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead.  He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones.  He is often referred to as the spirit, the spirit of god, the spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.  The Holy Ghost works in perfect unity with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fulfilling several roles to help us live righteously and receive the blessings of the gospel.

So the next question I want to ask is “What are some of the roles of the Holy Ghost or what is his purpose?”  The Holy Ghost has many roles.  First and foremost in 2 Nephi 31:18 we learn that he is a witness of the Father and the Son.  He helps to strengthen our testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and he testifies of their divinity.  In Moroni 10:5 which states “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things”, we learn that the Holy Ghost can also reveal and teach us the truth of all things.  His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.  The Holy Ghost can also serve as our guide.  Often times he is compared to a compass.  As we strive to stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.  Another role of the Holy Ghost is found in John 14: 26 which refers the Holy Ghost as a comforter.  As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the spirit can calm our fears, hush the nagging worries of our life, and comfort us when we grieve.  As it says in the scriptures, the Holy Ghost can fill us “with hope and perfect love” and teach us the peaceable things of the kingdom”.  Through the scriptures and through modern revelation we have learned that the Holy Ghost plays many important roles in our lives.  Some of those as I mentioned are as a teacher, a testifier, a guide, a comforter, a revelator and a companion.

The Holy Ghost is obviously an important gift for us to receive so “How do we obtain it?”  It’s important for us to know that all honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost whether they are baptized or not.  However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.  After a person is baptized into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders lay their hands on the person’s head and, in a sacred priesthood ordinance, called confirmation, the person is given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost.  Bruce R. McConkie once described a testimony before baptism as a flash of lightning blazing forth in a dark and stormy night to light the path.  Then he compared the gift of the Holy Ghost to “the continuing blaze of the sun at noonday, shedding it’s rays on the path of life and on all that surrounds it.”  Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time.  After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead.

So, now that we know what the Holy Ghost is, what is does and how it is obtained the next question is how do we keep it?  Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost does not automatically ensure that we will be able to feel his promptings.  So what must we do for the Holy Ghost to be with us continually?  To this question President Joseph Fielding Smith responded, “The Holy Ghost will not dwell with that person who is unwilling to obey and keep the commandments of god or who violates those commandments willfully.”  At my own baptism I remember very clearly learning this concept.  As a way to present this idea the speaker invited me to come and join her at the front of the room.  She asked me to stand back from her about 6 or 7 feet which I did.  She then whispered to me in a still small voice.  Other than her voice the room was completely silent and in a whisper she asked if I could hear her.  I said yes.  She then invited someone else to come up and stand in between us.  She handed them 2 pie tins and asked them to slowly drum them together.  Again she whispered in a still small voice over the sound of the pie tin and asked me if I could still hear her.  I’ll admit the pie tins made it more difficult but her voice was still audible so again I said yes.  Then for a second time she asked someone to step forward and she repeated the process, this time with two people drumming.  When she asked me again if I could hear her I could not.  She continued on to explain that as we keep the commandments and choose the right then we will be able to hear and feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  But when we make bad choices we are essentially putting a pie tin between ourselves and the Holy Ghost and if we continue to make those bad choices then eventually we will lose our connection with the Holy Ghost. 

  In a talk given by LeGrand Richards he once said, “To me, the gift of the Holy Ghost is as important to man as sunshine and water are to the plants.  You take them away, and the plants would die.  You take the Holy Ghost out of this church, and this church would not be any different than any other church.  And it is manifest in so many ways in the lives and the devotion of the members of the church.”

  I’d like to bare my testimony that I know that the gift of the Holy Ghost is a great blessing.  It is given to those who have been confirmed members of the church.  I believe that his spirit is essential for us to complete our mission successfully here on earth.  I have felt the companionship of the Holy Ghost in my own life and I am truly grateful for such a wonderful blessing.  At times I don’t know what I would have done without him.  I know that the Holy Ghost will help us in all areas of our lives if we will be worthy of his companionship. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.