Thursday, March 1, 2018

President Wilford Woodruff on the importance of having God's spirit

President Wilford Woodruff  (born March 1, 1807—211 years ago today; died 1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles.... Among other things, he told me to get the Spirit of God; that all of us needed it....
"Brigham Young also visited me after his death.... And he told me what Joseph Smith had taught him in Winter Quarters, to teach the people to get the Spirit of God. He said, 'I want you to teach the people to get the Spirit of God. You cannot build up the Kingdom of God without that.'
"That is what I want to say to the brethren and sisters here today. Every man and woman in this Church should labor to get that Spirit. We are surrounded by these evil spirits that are at war against God and against everything looking to the building up of the kingdom of God; and we need this Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome these influences. I have had the Holy Ghost in my travels. Every man has that has gone out into the vineyard and labored faithfully for the cause of God. I have referred to the administration of angels to myself. What did these angels do? One of them taught me some things relating to the signs that should precede the coming of the Son of Man. Others came and saved my life. What then? They turned and left me.
"But how is it with the Holy Ghost? The Holy Ghost does not leave me if I do my duty. It does not leave any man who does his duty. We have known this all the way through. Joseph Smith told Brother John Taylor on one occasion to labor to get the Spirit of God, and to follow its dictation, and it would become a principle of revelation within him. God has blessed me with that, and everything I have done since I have been in this Church has been done upon that principle. The Spirit of God has told me what to do, and I have had to follow that."
- Wilford Woodruff, “Discourse,” The Deseret Weekly, Nov. 7, 1896, 642–43

It's interesting to learn about the communication that existed between the early Church leaders, even from beyond the veil. They had some sensitivity and gifts that were strong and unusual. In this case, both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young offered counsel on the importance of "getting the Spirit of God" in our lives. There is a war going on between God and the "evil spirits" that abound in the world, and we need toe Holy Spirit to counteract and overcome those influences:

President Woodruff seems to use terms interchangeably, including the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Ghost. They provide the "principle of revelation" that becomes so crucial to us in our lives. President Woodruff knew this from personal experience; his life was preserved and directed in dramatic ways because of his sensitivity to the promptings of the Spirit in his life. He surely heeded the counsel that he was given by his predecessors!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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