The Savior promised his followers that He would send the Holy Ghost to them after He ascended to heaven. The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He can teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance (see John 14:26). Part of our responsibility as gospel learners is to seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost to inspire us as we study the gospel whether we are studying individually or as a group. Learning by the Spirit involves praying for His influence and then listening for promptings to enlighten our understanding as the prophet Alma taught in the following scripture.
“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves – It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 32:28).
The Holy Ghost fills a variety of roles as explained in the following scriptures.
The Holy Ghost will guide us to the truth: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).
The things of God are understood only by the Holy Ghost: “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 prepared for 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.
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:9-14).
The Holy Ghost will reveal the mysteries of God if we diligently seek them. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 10:19).
Through the Holy Ghost we can know the truth for ourselves: “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
“Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me” (Book of Mormon, Alma 5:45-46).
We can know the truth of all things and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon through the Holy Ghost: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:3-5):
The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds: “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good – yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;
“And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-14).
As we can see from these scriptures, we must seek the influence of the Holy Spirit while we are studying the gospel of Jesus Christ; otherwise, we will not understand and know the truth. I know this from personal experience. If I fail to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost as I study the gospel, I merely read the scriptures; however, I discover the truths of the scriptures with the power the Holy Ghost.
Elder A. Roger Merrill suggested three things that we must do in order to learn by the Spirit. “As I have become more aware of this principle, I find that the scriptures are replete with the doctrine of receiving. As President Boy K. Packer has said, `No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, `Ask, and ye shall receive’” (“Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 21).
“At the very core of our mortal probation is the choice to receive Jesus as the Christ. The Apostle John taught: `He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God’ (John 1:11-12).
“One cannot help but wonder how many gifts and blessings surround us that we do not receive. The Lord has said: `For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift’ (D&C 88:33).
“In our Church meetings, in our personal and family scripture study, and even this day as we listen to the Lord’s prophets and apostles, some of us will receive more than others. Why? I am learning that those who truly receive do at least three things that others may not do.
“First, they seek. We live in an entertainment world, a spectator world. Without realizing it, we can find ourselves coming to conference or going to church with the attitude, `Here I am; now inspire me.’ We become spiritually passive.
“When we focus instead on seeking and receiving the Spirit, we become less concerned about a teacher or speaker holding our attention and more concerned about giving our attention to the Spirit. Remember, receive is a verb. It is a principle of action. It is a fundamental expression of faith.
“Second, those who receive, feel. While revelation comes to the mind and heart, it is most often felt. Until we learn to pay attention to these spiritual feelings, we usually do not even recognize the Spirit.
“In a recent conversation I had with one of our daughters-in-law, she suggested that we can help even young children become aware of these feelings of the Spirit. We can ask them questions such as `How do you feel as we read this scripture together? What do you feel the Spirit is prompting you to do?’ These are good questions for us all. They demonstrate the desire to receive.
“Third, those who receive by the Spirit intend to act. As the prophet Moroni instructed, to receive a witness of the Book of Mormon, we must ask `with real intent’ (Moroni 10:4). The Spirit teaches when we honestly intend to do something about what we learn.” (See Elder A. Roger Merrill, Sunday School General President, “Receiving by the Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 92-94.)
I am learning the same things as Elder Merrill listed. In order to learn through the power of the Holy Ghost, we must seek His influence, we must feel His presence, and we must act on what He tells us. I know that we can learn more and receive blessings as we study the word of God with the influence of the Holy Ghost.
“Your gospel study is most effective when you are taught by the Holy Ghost. Always begin your gospel
study by praying for the Holy Ghost to help you learn. He will bring knowledge and conviction that will bless your life and allow you to bless the lives of others. Your faith in Jesus Christ will increase. Your desire to repent and improve will grow.
“This kind of study prepares you for service, offers solace, resolves problems, and gives you the strength to endure to the end. Successful gospel study requires desire and action. “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old” (1 Nephi 10:19). Like Enos, as you hunger to know the words of eternal life and as you allow these words to `[sink] deep into [your] heart’ (Enos 1:3), the Holy Ghost will open your mind and heart to greater light and understanding.
“Learning the gospel is also a process of receiving revelation (see Jacob 4:8). To Oliver Cowdery the Lord said: `Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But behold, I say unto you that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right’ (D&C 9:7-8). As you study, pay careful attention to ideas that come to your mind and feelings that come to your heart, particularly regarding the people you are teaching.” (See Preach My Gospel, p 18.)
I know the value of acting on the impressions that come from the Holy Ghost. I have been blessed on many occasions by His promptings and intend to continue to seek His influence in my life. I know that we can know the truth of all things through the power of the Holy Ghost!