I invested a lot of time this week to studying the verses in 3 Nephi 19 for my Come, Follow Me lesson this week. As you may remember, 3 Nephi 17 gives us the story of Jesus Christ telling the Nephite to go to their homes and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again” (verse 3).
The Savior sees that the people do not want him to go, so He calls for all the sick, lame, blind, halt, maimed, leprous, withered, deaf, or afflicted in any way to be brought to Him. He “did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him” (3 Nephi 17:9). Then He calls for the children to be brought forward, “and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Nephi 17:21). Angels came down out of heaven and ministered to the little children, and this was witnessed by “two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children” (3 Nephi 17:25).
Jesus Christ told His disciples to bring some bread and wine. While they were gone to get it, He commanded the multitude to sit down. When the bread and wine were brought, Christ blessed the bread and gave some to His disciples. When they were filled, they gave it to the multitude, and they were filled. Christ taught the Nephites that partaking of the bread was “a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7).
Then Christ blessed the wine and gave it to His disciples. They drank of it and were filled. Then they gave it to the multitude, and the multitude was filled. Christ told the disciples that the wine was “in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:11).
After the sacramental service, Christ taught the Nephites about prayer. In both verse 15 and verse 18, He told them to “watch and pray always” to avoid Satan’s temptations. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20). They were told to pray in their families that their “wives and their children may be blessed” (3 Nephi 18:21). They were told to “meet together oft” (3 Nephi 18:22) and to “hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up – that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24). The Savior gave some instructions to the disciples and “ascended into heaven” (3 Nephi 18:39).
After Christ ascended into heaven, the multitude dispersed to their homes and told everyone about seeing Jesus Christ. An “exceedingly great number [of people] did labor exceedingly all that night” in preparation to be in attendance the next day (3 Nephi 19:1-3). The next morning the people gathered, and the twelve disciples divided the multitude into twelve groups and began to teach the people all that the Savior had taught the previous day. This teaching session brought everyone to the point of being ready to learn more from the Savior.
The disciples caused the multitude to kneel and then “pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus” (3 Nephi 19:6). They arose and ministered to the people and then knelt in prayer again to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ.
And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them (3 Nephi 19:9).
Following this heartfelt prayer, the disciples went down to the water’s edge and were followed by the multitude. “Nephi went down into the water and was baptized” and then “he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen” (3 Nephi 19:11-12).
And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them (3 Nephi 19:13-15).
There are at least two principles in this experience. The first principle is that all those who desire the gift of the Holy Ghost may receive it after being baptized by the Lord’s authorized servants. The second principle is that disciples of Jesus Christ seek the gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explained the meaning behind the disciples’ request to receive the Holy Ghost.
There is … a difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the enjoyment of the gift. All saints after baptism receive the gift or right to the sanctifying power of the Spirit; only those who are worthy and who keep the commandments actually enjoy the promised reward. In practice, members of the Church enjoy the companionship of the Spirit from time to time as they manage, by obedience, to get in tune with the infinite.
The actual enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost is a supernal gift that a man can receive in mortality. The fact of its receipt is a witness that the saints so blessed are reconciled to God and are doing the things that will assure them of eternal life in the realms ahead (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 257).
According to Elder McConkie, it is possible to have the gift of the Holy Ghost and seldom or never enjoy the companionship of the Spirit. To be blessed with the frequent or constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, we must be living a righteous life. President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) suggested that we ask God twice each day for the guidance of the Spirit.
I have little or no fear for the boy or the girl, the young man or the young woman, who honestly and conscientiously supplicate God twice a day for the guidance of His Spirit. I am sure that when temptation comes they will have the strength to overcome it by the inspiration that shall be given to them. Supplicating the Lord for the guidance of His Spirit places around us a safeguard, and if we earnestly and honestly seek the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, I can assure you that we will receive it (Gospel Standards , 26).
This statement by President Grant tells us that we will receive guidance from the Holy Ghost if we sincerely seek it and if we are living worthy of His presence. President Marion G. Romney (1897-1988), Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gave a four-point program to obtain and keep the Spirit.
If you want to obtain and keep the guidance of the Spirit, you can do so by following this simple four-point program. One, pray. Pray diligently…. Second, study and learn the gospel. Third, live righteously; repent of your sins…. Fourth, give service in the Church (“Guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, 5).
President Romney’s words support we learned in earlier studies of 2 Nephi 32:3 that if we “feast upon the words of Christ,” then “the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” Then in 2 Nephi 32:5, we learn that the Holy Ghost “will show unto you all things what ye should do.” In other words, we can learn general directions and instructions by studying the scriptures and the words of the living prophets and apostles. Then the Holy Ghost will help us to apply those teachings in our individuals lives.
Since studying this material earlier this week, I have sincerely asked for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in my life. I have not been consistent enough to ask for this blessing twice a day, but I am working in that direction. I know that the Holy Ghost can and will help me to receive and understand the words of Christ and then apply them to my life. I want this blessing enough to pray twice daily for it. Do you want it badly enough to seek it?