I must admit, when I was taught the doctrine of Christ I was a bit naive and figured that the knowledge of the doctrine of Christ was enough. I mean, my world was turned upside down by this knowledge. What I had learned was so pure and so powerful that I really did think it was enough to just know the path, the milestones, and the way. I figured it was as if a person could just take that knowledge and open a door and begin receiving it all. I could not have been more wrong. The truth is, the knowledge of the doctrine of Christ was simply not enough! Instead, I discovered that it was only just the beginning.
The beginning to what? Well, it was the beginning to actually initiating “faith.” It was just the beginning to really understanding who the Lord is, what His ways are, and how He works with individuals that discover the real path. It was just the beginning to understanding how to have a personal relationship with the Lord. It was realizing that what I was missing or had yet to do was to fully embrace the gifts of the spirit.
So, what is the connection between the gifts of the spirit and the doctrine of Christ? Gifts of the spirit are essential to your personal journey in and through Jesus Christ. Spiritual gifts are the means of piercing the veil to see into the heavenly realms, even to opening the veil to move your entire self in and out of the heavenly realms. This is true whether I am learning the gift of revelation or the gift of speaking in tongues or the gift of healing or any other spiritual gift for that matter.
The purpose of this 2-part post is to help you understand why you should be actively and constantly seeking for gifts of the spirit in your journey. This will not necessarily discuss each gift of the spirit. Instead, it will be sharing what the Lord has taught me about the gifts of the spirit (including a teaching metaphor) so you too can utilize the gifts of the spirit to help you come to know the Lord. I invite you to also ponder on these things and seek for your own study and learning from the Lord.
Gifts and Grace
The gifts of the spirit are the grace, mercy, and love of God. The only thing we actually possess in either mortality or the eternities is our free will/agency. This too was a gift from God, but this is yours to keep and use as you wish both here in mortality and in the spirit realms. Everything (yes, everything) other than this gift of free will that we enjoy, experience, or receive is available to us by gift–through the gifts of the spirit. Even the most simple things that we take for granted are all made possible through the gifts of the spirit. Gaining knowledge (truth), for example, is not possible to enjoy, experience, or receive without the gift of revelation. The gift of revelation is the ability for God to communicate, impart, or share their truth through the veil to souls in mortality. Thus, everything is (and is possible) because of God.
Do you want to know what the connective tissue is to Deity? It is the gifts of the spirit. We are naturally connected to our heavenly parents through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God…like a tunnel or pipeline. This is the grace of God. Inside this tunnel or pipeline is the energy (like electricity) that flows back and forth. The amount of energy available in that tunnel is determined by exercising the gifts of the spirit.
Having rights to gifts of the spirit by itself does not make the energy flow back and forth necessarily. Gifts of the spirit must be exercised to move energy to and fro. The more seeking, knocking, asking, receiving, and the exercising of the gifts of the spirit, the more the bandwidth of the tunnel increases. The bandwidth of your own tunnel starts small enough to only receive the voice of the Lord like the bandwidth of a phone cord. However, by exercising the gifts of the spirit, that same tunnel that was once the bandwidth of a phone cord can grow immensely into a lifesize tunnel (or portal) where your entire spiritual self can ascend through it to the actual presence of the Lord, Himself.
Just as salvation comes in and through the Savior, the power of God is manifested in and through the gifts of the spirit. For example, a person that is asked to offer a blessing (or pray over a person), can be a conduit of God’s power by seeking for revelation (using the gift of revelation) on what to say, how to say it, what to do, how to do it, and any other specific instructions from the Lord. If personal revelation is received and adhered to, God’s power is manifested because his words through the gift of revelation (and other gifts) are His authority to say or do whatever is given.
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.” (Moroni 10:32-33)
The Purpose of Gifts
The following is a portion on gifts from Lecture One of Lectures on Truth. I highlight it here to encourage you to ponder a little deeper on the role and purpose of the gifts of the spirit.
13 Gifts are the means–the means of receiving and applying God’s truth, glory, power, or simply Their Holy Spirit. God is the giver of all Gifts. Gifts allow us to receive and righteously apply God’s truth and glory. Gifts are a spiritual bestowal of power or heavenly ability upon an individual. Gifts help that person spiritually progress to salvation, exaltation, and Godhood.
13.1 The following are only a few examples of Gifts–there are so many.
- To Heal
- To Be Healed
- Working of Miracles
- Word of Wisdom
- Believe on words that Jesus is the Christ
- Ministering of Angels
- Visions & Dreams
- Interpretation of Tongues
- Working of Miracles
- Word of Wisdom
- Word of Knowledge
- Know Diversities of Operations
- Differences of Administration
13.2 Gifts received are personal. Gifts are bestowed because of the love and mercy of God. Gifts are rooted in the omnibenevolence (all-lovingness) of God. Because salvation and exaltation are individual, God works with each person to bestow appropriate Gifts. The Gifts of the Spirit that lead to Christ are for our personal benefit, and without them, we would perish (be fruitless). All the Gifts of the Spirit are given to help us to receive more of God’s glory.
13.3 God is perfectly just and merciful. He bestowed spiritual gifts upon you as part of being born into mortality. In addition, you can receive additional Gifts. The additional gifts can be acquired by exercising Principles or conditions in which that Gift is governed by. Examples of this might include an offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit, faith, desire, seeking, knocking, asking, or many other Principles.
13.4 The Gifts that one receives are always correct because of the omniscience of God. Because God is omniscient, God will allow you to receive and use Gifts only that you are prepared to use. You will also receive Gifts that are relevant for you to fulfill your individual mission.
I have been describing and even encouraging each person to seek for a special type of relationship with the Lord. I describe this as a master-apprentice relationship. To help you understand more about what I mean, I want to share with you what the Lord has taught me personally about the gifts of the spirit through a metaphor of art. I invite you to ponder on this and determine whether there is something specific to your journey in and through the Lord.
God’s works of art are unique masterpieces. God’s work is superhuman and spiritual–His work is within. There is nothing we possess that has the ability to change ourselves from within. All of it requires Godly power. His divine works are works of art; His canvas is each of the souls of mankind, and each work of art is 100% unique–no two alike–and there is never any reason to compare them. Each work of art (soul) is a masterpiece in various stages of development. The ability for the Master to do His divine work within each soul is dependent upon whether each soul is willing to give up control–have a broken heart and contrite spirit. This is the only condition in which we can work with the Lord in a unique master-apprentice relationship. We contribute our personal will (broken heart and contrite spirit) and He provides the power to transform.
The Master’s Style
Starts with understanding The Relationship. Master-apprentice is about roles. Roles describe your standing or position in relation to another. Friendship on the other hand is about the quality of your relationship–whether it is founded in love, respect, desire, etc. Friendship could also be the opposite of dictatorship, fear, or even controlling. Instead, friendship is a symbiotic relationship–a relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. It is about trust, respect, and even love. It requires respect because the Master has the omniscience and experience and only He knows what the end result is supposed to look like. It’s in this type of relationship that the end result will be a mystery to you the entire way until the masterpiece is completed. Even the timing of when it is complete is totally up to the Master.
Co-Creation. The Master’s style is one where your hand is comfortably inside His at all times. Your hand inside of His is symbolic of your own free will. To take your hand out of His will stop all work on the piece. Relinquishing your own will or desire is to try and allow the Lord’s hand to guide. This is an offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit. It is a required sacrifice for a masterpiece work of art–there is no other way. Attempting to move or create in directions other than where they are supposed to move is also not offering up your free will. These types of undesirable movements will affect the amount of time needed to finish the piece. Each mistake will have to be redone or fixed by only the movements of the Master’s hand.
Instruments. For any artist, instruments are essential to make any masterpiece. Even bare hands are instruments. A carpenter has their instruments, an engineer has their instruments, a painter has their instruments, and so forth. The Lord also has His master instruments. But the Lord’s master instruments are not completely handed over to apprentices. The Lord’s way is that each instrument is meant to be used together (your hand inside of His–like His hand on ours showing the right stroke of a brush). God’s Master instruments are the gifts of the spirit.
Each instrument (gift of the spirit) has its own purpose and abilities and are meant to be used in specific types of situations to get specific outcomes. Just like a carpenter would never attempt to use a hammer to unscrew a bolt, the Lord knows which Master instrument (gift of the spirit) is best used in each specific type of situation. For you to know which instrument/gift to use in each unique situation requires you to ask the Master. You even have to ask for permission to use His instruments/gifts with His guiding hand. His instruments work (have divine power) only when His hand is coupled with yours.
The purposes of these instruments/gifts are to learn how to become a true servant because gifts serve the Lord’s purposes. Some might say that gifts are not meant to be self-serving, and while technically that is true, by exercising the instruments/gifts in their proper way, your own soul naturally benefits from the experience (a fruit of the spirit). Thus, gifts are used in co-creation. We can only create with the creative power of God, not of our own human self. Remember, we need the Master’s hand to guide ours always.
There is a mortal tendency to ask for help and then quickly try to take over and start doing it ourselves. However, that is not the Lord’s way when it comes to exercising the gifts of the spirit. Artistically speaking, His hand is required in every stroke of the brush.
The Master does not repeat His works of art—not one—each is 100% unique. The more we recognize the touch of the Master’s hand and trust in it, we will create the right artistic move. It works that way because our hand is inside of His hand and we learn to relinquish our own muscles and allow His hand to literally move your hand and the brush (instruments/gifts) at the same time.
The Finished Piece. The Lord determines when the masterpiece is complete–no sooner or later. It’s then that you can look at it. You’ll squint and slowly realize the masterpiece is you. But you didn’t create you. But you did co-create it. It’s complete because your willing heart and willing mind enabled a willing hand.
Because it’s a totally unique work of art, the Master gives it a name–your name. But since it is not the same you that would have been painted long before, it is a new version of your name or even a new name. Your new name is the eternal you. It will enlighten you and have a totally new meaning than it has ever had before.
You will look at the masterpiece with new eyes. You will see that it is the image of “a servant.” Through the co-creation process, you were naturally transformed from an apprentice into a servant.
There are all sorts of artistic trades—carpenters, masons, engineers, designers, and thousands more. However, the Lord’s artistic trade is that He is a Master Servant-Maker. Yes, He makes true servants. He turns apprentices into servants and servants into Masters. Think about that–apprentices become servants. The Master is also a Servant. The Servant is also a Master (John 14).
Like any type of art, there can be unique processes and steps. The Lord’s art is no different. He sees (visualizes) the end result in His mind before even the first stroke. Because of the veil, you have the disadvantage of not knowing what the end result is supposed to look like. This is why the Master’s hand is necessary in every stroke or movement. If you create your own strokes without the Master’s hand, it delays the final outcome. You must have sufficient hope that the Master truly is a master artist. You must exercise faith–which is to subject your hand to His. This is the way of the Master and the way a Master’s masterpiece is created.
The 4 P’s of the Gifts of the Spirit
To help you better spiritual gifts and how to interact with them, I am going to share at least four qualities that all gifts have in common. These have been taught to me and I share them as the “4 P’s of gifts of the spirit.” As always, use the spirit of truth to help you learn and discern for yourself.
Prerequisite–what is required before you can begin to use this particular instrument. It is true that the gifts of the spirit are for all and that they are a necessary part of our mortal journey to be able to connect with God.
“And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.” (Moroni 10:8)
Some gifts of the spirit are available to all at any time and in their diverse manners. The simplest example of this is the gift of revelation. The ability to communicate through the spiritual veil to heavenly beings in heavenly realms. In some cases, it could be the gift of communicating through the spiritual veil with ministering angelic beings who are temporarily representing the Lord that is actually at an extremely long distance away further into the universe or galaxy. That is an incredible gift and one that is almost foundational.
The idea that spiritual gifts are meant for all can even go beyond your traditional thinking or boundaries–as it should because possibilities are endless with God. An example of this is that Joseph Smith both taught and encouraged women in the early Relief Society meetings to exercise the gifts of the spirit. These gifts include the ability to heal others whether it be woman, child or man. Yes, in the name of God and by authority (permission of God) all women, men, and children have the ability to offer blessings of healing. This was not even limited to a specific time or era in history. Instead, this same gift is available to all yesterday, today and forever. There are even recorded witnesses in JosephSmithProject.org of these very women having been taught by Joseph and exercising the gifts with record of successful healings. Remember, “priesthood” is one’s personal relationship with God and as that relationship is developed so does the exercising of God’s gifts. Unfortunately, this practice of teaching and encouraging all (women, men, children) to use some of these freely available gifts (i.e. healing) was unrighteously altered by church leaders after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.
However, in every case there are both general and specific conditions in order to be able to exercise some gifts of the spirit. In all events, a person must ask for permission (authority) remembering that all gifts come from God and that we don’t actually possess the gifts but rather we only possess the ability to exercise them. As God giveth, He also taketh away. In some cases of being able to exercise certain gifts, a person must first exercise other righteous principles (laws). These might include, for example, preparation (line upon line, precept upon precept, practice, learning, etc), listening/discerning, forgiveness, sacrifice and whatever else the Lord does with you in your own special and unique relationship to help you progress.
For more sophisticated gifts, it is required that your own soul has received a certain spiritual estate (i.e. third estate, fourth, estate, fifth estate, etc.). Again, these spiritual estates are made available to each person as they progress in their personal relationship with the Lord in and through the doctrine of Christ (i.e. Sufficient hope and faith; Overcome unbelief—unbelief in some specific form or in all of its manifestations in your personal life; Repentance; Baptism of Repentance; Broken heart contrite spirit; Baptism of fire and Holy Ghost; Eternal life and second comforter).
Purpose–each spiritual gift serves a specific function even a specific art technique for each unique situation. Remember, gifts of the spirit are the Master’s instruments. In general, we know that each gift is meant “to profit” (Moroni 10:8) all mankind. However, each gift of the spirit serves a specific purpose to further the Lord’s purposes. Otherwise, why is it that “there are different ways that these gifts are administered” (Moroni 10:8). This is one reason we need to study and ponder on each gift of the spirit–that we know what each gift’s purpose is and how to use it.
It is through this knowledge of each gift that each person can develop their personal Master-apprentice relationship with the Lord. Your Master-apprentice relationship will require you to develop your gift of revelation—to receive God’s knowledge and God’s answers to your unceasing questions. It is an on-going dialogue, learning the art of seeking, knocking, asking, praising, and receiving. Your relationship will also include learning to be a servant–performing God’s service to others.
Power–the ability to do something superhuman; above the capacity of mortals. In keeping with our metaphor, exercising the gifts of the spirit is to do an artistic element that you could never have done on your own—it required the Master’s hand. Even one of the most readily available spiritual gifts, like the gift of revelation, is not possible without God’s Holy Spirit. They are titled “the gifts of the spirit” because God’s Holy Spirit is the means in which they are manifested.
Let us never forget, it is always God’s power and never our own. It is made available to any person and any person can only seize, use or receive God’s power through the special relationship you have with God—known as priesthood. Priesthood is the Master-apprentice or even the Master-servant relationship. Spiritual gifts are the means of developing/maturing that relationship. To be clear, you may behold God’s power as a witness of it, but you will never be a permanent holder of it.
Phruit (Fruit)–The Signs that Follow—the righteous outcome, the mark of a Master’s technique. I’m hilarious (Phruit), I know [definite sarcasm]. It’s just a fun and easy way to keep with our “P” theme.
On a serious note, when a person exercises the gifts of the spirit, a sign follows as a witness. When a person righteously exercises a spiritual gift it is recorded in your spirit—like a video recording that will never be erased and will forever be a part of you. Using our metaphor, it’s like an artistic stroke or technique that becomes a permanent part of the masterpiece. It is imprinted into time with no need to ever undo it because it is part of who you are, because after all, you are a masterpiece and an original.
In the scriptures, especially in the Book of Mormon, you can see many different gifts discussed or demonstrated. When a person does exercise any of these gifts, there will be signs that follow. The purpose of these signs is so that the sign(s) stands as a witness of the Lord God, His glory, His power, His truth and more. For some spiritual gifts that are exercised, the signs are immediate, while others take more time. Consider this example:
And Alma went forth, and also Amulek, among the people, to declare the words of God unto them; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost. And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them. (Alma 8:30-31)
“Wait, aren’t signs not good? Shouldn’t we not seek for signs?” Yes, seeking for a sign without first believing is not the Lord’s method. However, for those that first believe, there will be signs of righteousness that follow. To “first believe” is part of the doctrine of Christ. It is to have sufficient hope (believing and trusting in the divine nature of God) and acting on personal commandments from the Lord (faith in God).
Here are just a few examples from the scriptures. As you study the gifts of the spirit in the scriptures, notice the spiritual state of each person in each situation. Some are early in their journey in and through the doctrine of Christ while others have received salvation (baptism of fire and Holy Ghost; remission of sins), and even some have received eternal life. In each case, their gifts are relevant to where they are on the path (doctrine of Christ).
“And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mormon 9:24)
“Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name.” (Ether 4:18)
“Verily, I say unto you, there are those among you who seek signs, and there have been such even from the beginning; But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.” (D&C 63:8-9)
“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” (Mark 16:17, 20)
“And he that believeth shall be blest with signs following, even as it is written.” (D&C 68:10)
“For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe.” (D&C 58:64)
“And these signs shall follow them that believe—In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick; In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And the tongue of the dumb shall speak; And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them…” (D&C 84:65)
“And these signs shall follow him—he shall heal the sick, he shall cast out devils, and shall be delivered from those who would administer unto him deadly poison” (D&C 124:98)
… to be continued
This is blog post part 1 of 2 about the gifts of the spirit. In part 2, we will uncover the warning to those that are spiritually unbelieving of spiritual gifts in both the latter and last days.
Part 1 | Part 2
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