This point may seem a little silly on the surface, but bear with me. If you want to become a great architect, do you hire a great basket weaver to teach you how? If you want to be a great swimmer, do you hire a great baseball player to teach you? Of course not. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are saying that you can become like God. If you are going to learn to be like God, doesn't it make sense that the Lord would provide a God to teach you how? I, for one, fail on a regular basis to appreciate that the gift of the Holy Ghost consists in the companionship of a God who is willing and anxious to teach me how to become like Christ and like my Father in Heaven. His responsibility is to testify of truth and to teach me to recognize truth wherever I find it. He shows us how to use truth, and teaches us how to learn to think like our Father thinks, and to love like Christ loves. He is the great revelator, the giver of knowledge. His presence in our lives is the greatest gift we could be given in mortality.
The Spirit of God speaking to the spirit of man has power to impart truth with greater effect and understanding than the truth can be imparted by personal contact even with heavenly beings. Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.We have been told that the memory of a visit from a heavenly being will fade with time, but a witness from the Spirit will linger and burn within us, even after years of separation from the truth. His witness to us becomes part of us, a part of us that will enable the Lord to judge us by the things we have received at His, the Spirit’s hands. Who can learn from the Holy Ghost? The influence of the Holy Ghost is everywhere. Anyone who is honestly seeking truth is entitled to inspiration from the Holy Ghost. The difference between an unbaptized person and someone who has been baptized and had the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred upon them, is apparent after knowledge has been given. To the unbaptized person the Holy Ghost can reveal truth, but then He must withdraw His presence, leaving the person alone, and more susceptible to the influences of Satan. To the person who has the gift of the Holy Ghost, His presence can be almost constant. This gift provides greater guidance and protection. All inspiration and good things come from God to man through the Holy Ghost. Any person in any culture at any time in history is entitled to His company, on a temporary basis. His presence helps the unbaptized person recognize and embrace truth wherever it is found. This helps to lead them to the gospel of Christ, and is what prepares a person to hear the message of the gospel. His influence is also felt in the lives of the members of Christ’s kingdom as the Holy Ghost prepares them to reach out to their neighbors and to strangers and share the gospel with those He has prepared to hear it. The Holy Ghost is the missionary coordinator for the whole family of God, working on both sides of the veil with those both inside and outside of the Lord’s church. How do you get the gift? The prophet Joseph Smith taught that the confirmation of one’s baptism then, by the laying on of hands by those who are authorized by God to bestow the gift, is the only way to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
You cannot get the gift of the Holy Ghost by praying for it, by paying your tithing, by keeping the Word of Wisdom—not even by being baptized in water for the remission of sins. You must complete that baptism with the baptism of the Spirit. The Prophet said on one occasion that you might as well baptize a bag of sand as not confirm a man and give him the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands. You cannot get it any other way.How do we exercise the gift? The only way to keep and use the gift of the Holy Ghost is by listening to His promptings and being obedient to the commandments. As long as we bring our lives into line with the teachings of the scriptures and the living prophets, and follow the prompts we receive from the Holy Ghost, we will continue to have His presence in our lives. As we are obedient the Holy Ghost can comfort us in times of trouble and sorrow, guide us when we need direction, teach us as we seek to learn about the Lord and His work, warn us when we are in danger or headed towards danger. His influence in our lives is as complete as God’s love for us. It is through the promptings of the Holy Spirit that we learn to forgive others and feel the peace that comes from acts of kindness. It is through His urging that repent and know what to repent for. There is no end to His knowledge and wisdom, no end to His love, no end to His power. He is our personal teacher and companion, whose soul purpose is to bring us home to our Father in heaven.