Thursday, April 14, 2016

Robert D. Hales on the precious gift of the Holy Ghost

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932- ) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"As members of the Church, we may experience the companionship of the Holy Ghost continually. Through the restored priesthood of God, we are baptized by immersion for the remission of our sins and then confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this ordinance, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of the holders of the priesthood. Thereafter, we can receive and retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost by always remembering the Savior, keeping His commandments, repenting of our sins, and worthily partaking of the sacrament on the Sabbath day.
"The Holy Ghost provides personal revelation to help us make major life decisions about such things as education, missions, careers, marriage, children, where we will live with our families, and so on. In these matters, Heavenly Father expects us to use our agency, study the situation out in our minds according to gospel principles, and bring a decision to Him in prayer.
"Personal revelation is essential, but it is only one part of the work of the Holy Ghost. As the scriptures attest, the Holy Ghost also testifies of the Savior and God the Father (see John 15:26; Romans 8:16). He teaches us 'the peaceable things of the kingdom' (D&C 39:6) and causes us to 'abound in hope' (Romans 15:13). He 'leadeth [us] to do good... [and] to judge righteously' (D&C 11:12). He gives 'to every man [and woman]... a [spiritual] gift... that all may be profited thereby' (D&C 46:11-12; see also Moroni 10:8–17; D&C 13–16). He 'giveth [us] knowledge' (Alma 18:35) and 'bring[s] all things to [our] remembrance' (John 14:26). Through the Holy Ghost, we 'may be sanctified' (3 Nephi 27:20) and receive 'a remission of [our] sins' (2 Nephi 31;17). He is the 'Comforter,' the same who was 'promised unto [the Savior’s] disciples' (D&C 88:3).
"I remind all of us that the Holy Ghost is not given to control us. Some of us unwisely seek the Holy Ghost’s direction on every minor decision in our lives. This trivializes His sacred role. The Holy Ghost honors the principle of agency. He speaks to our minds and our hearts gently about many matters of consequence (see D&C 8:2-3)."
- Robert D. Hales, "The Holy Ghost," General Conference, April 2016, Sunday afternoon session
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Hales is the 5th oldest among the current apostles at 83 years old, but he seems to be aging rapidly and his messages bear the mark of one focusing on "things that matter most." This talk was one he specifically shared not just with the Church, but with his own posterity. His counsel about receiving and retaining the gift of the Holy Ghost was very personal and powerful—a wonderful reminder of the blessings available to all who have been given that wonderful gift.

We've been reminded many times of the process to receive the Holy Ghost's influence, reviewed by Elder Hales as:

  • always remembering the Savior
  • keeping His commandments
  • repenting of our sins
  • worthily partaking of the sacrament on the Sabbath day
Having that gift gives us the right to personal revelation in the important decisions of our lives. Elder Hales went on to enumerate other blessings from the Holy Ghost, as documented in the scriptures:

However, he also reminded us of the eternal gift of agency; the role of the Holy Ghost is not to dictate or force every decision, but to guide and sustain us in our own choices.

I appreciated this message as a timely reminder of fundamental truths and blessings available to me personally—a gift that I should seek and treasure.

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