Receive the Holy Ghost

And not the gift of the Holy Ghost

Sunday January 21, 2024


Today at church someone was confirmed a member of the Church after having been baptized yesterday. This taught me something new about the sacrament and the covenant we make with Him every week.

Receive the Holy Ghost

Entry into His Church by Baptism

After baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:

But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old. Doctrine and Covenants 35.6

There is precedence for this, as the Savior gave the gift of the Holy Ghost to his apostles after he was no longer tarrying with them:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: John 20.22

Pausing on that thought for a moment, let’s consider the last sentence in the sacrament prayer on the bread:

that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Moroni 4.3

Also consider that the last of the water prayer omits that word “always”:

that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Moroni 5.2

Are they contradictory? No. Because the full last sentence of the water prayer says:

that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Moroni 5.2

This tells us that if we always remember him (the Savior), we’ll have His spirit to be with us.

Back to the New Teatament. The Lord taught His disciples that the comforter would come to them once He left:

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. John 16.7

And in a prior chapter, Jesus had instructed that this was the plan - that he would give them the gift of the Comforter when He was gone. Notice the word “another”:

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. John 14.16–18

Perhaps He said “another” Comforter because He is the first?

He further promised the role of the Holy Ghost is to teach of truth and testify of the Savior:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: John 15.26

The Lord also explained how He works with the Holy Ghost. It appears that, because the Savior was with them, He was their source of truth. But as He was planning to leave them He needed to leave them with a source of truth. As such, they were being prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 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 14.25–26

This doesn’t mean they didn’t have the spirit - how else could Peter have received His spiritual witness of the Savior? matthew-16.15-17

What do these scriptures all teach me?

  • If we always remember the Savior, we’ll have His spirit to be with us
  • His spirit teaches us what is truth: it testifies of Christ
  • He gave this gift because we can’t always be in His presence.
  • Even if we were in His presence, we’d need the spirit to let us know that He is the Christ
  • When we receive the Holy Ghost after baptism, we are commanded to “receive the Holy Ghost” by confirmation into the church.

What is the “gift” of the Holy Ghost?

This last one is powerful, because of a clarifying point in the handbook of the church:

  1. States “receive the Holy Ghost” (not “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”).
    18. Performing Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings

Or, the “gift” of the Holy Ghost perhaps isn’t a thing like the priesthood - something bestowed upon us. (This is something I’ve thought it was my whole life - a gift I receive.) why aren’t we told to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

What, then, is legally binding about the Lord’s covenant? And what is the “gift of the Holy Ghost” as mentioned in the scriptures? (Articles of Faith 1.4, Moses 5.58, Jacob 6.8, Doctrine and Covenants 39.23, Doctrine and Covenants 49.14, Acts 10.45, and like 4 other references…it’s referenced in every standard work!)

Even the Lord says he’ll bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost:

And whoso having faith you shall confirm in my church, by the laying on of the hands, and I will bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them. Doctrine and Covenants 33.15

Because we don’t “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”, perhaps the gift of the Holy Ghost is instead the promised blessing of the constant companionship as a result of keeping our covenant. Things consistent with the definitions in the Guide to the Scriptures:

It is the right of every worthy baptized member of the Church to have the constant influence of the Holy Ghost. Following a person’s baptism into the true Church of Jesus Christ, he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands from one who has the proper authority Gift of the Holy Ghost

Anyone on earth can enjoy the Holy Ghost. It teaches those of truth. But only those of the covenant of baptism, who keep that covenant and the Sacrament Covenant (To always remember Him, keep His commandments, and take His name upon us), are blessed always with His spirit. Things the gift of the Holy Ghost: its constant companionship.

While someone is being confirmed a member of the Church, he or she is told to “receive the Holy Ghost.” The gift of the Holy Ghost is not forced on anyone. It becomes the responsibility of members to invite the Holy Ghost to be with them Gift of the Holy Ghost

And perhaps the ordinance of the confirmation is to start that covenant: “receive the Holy Ghost now, and always as you remember Me.”

And why do we always want His spirit to be with us? Because the spirit is a proxy for Him: the Comforter, the Source of Truth, the Light and Life of the World. When we have that spirit, we are of the Kingdom of Heaven (on earth).

So when I take the sacrament every week, I’m making the covenant to always remember Him so that I can enjoy the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost always.

Why is this relevant to me personally?

  • the gift isn’t some separate power that I can offend or please. It’s not some separate God. Instead, the gift is a covenant. This changes my focus away from a relationship with the Holy Ghost and instead a relationship with the Savior. The purpose of the holy ghost is to point me to the Savior. And if I’m not feeling the spirit, it’s not about trying to please the Holy Ghost - I just need to begin remembering the savior in that moment.


Bryan lives somewhere at the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and futurism and writes about tech, books, Christianity, gratitude, and whatever’s on his mind. If you liked reading, perhaps you’ll also like subscribing: