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In the LDS Church, there is what is known as the power of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of the Holy Ghost (not to be confused with the gifts of the Holy Ghost).

The power of the Holy Ghost is when some truth or principle is taught or testified to you by the Holy Ghost, or, in other words, it is His authority to testify. For example, the Holy Ghost can testify that the Jesus is the Christ, or that the Bible is the word of God. It often comes when we ask God questions through earnest prayer.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have the Holy Ghost as your constant companion at all times and in all places, as you remain worthy. It is received by the laying on of hands.

Under what conditions can one experience the power of the Holy Ghost?

(Ref: https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/holy-spirit)

  • 1
    This is a more ambigious question than you might think. Alma the Younger experienced the Power of the Holy Ghost despite being, like Saul/Paul, an antagonist toward the church of his day. His ancestor Nephi spoke with the Holy Ghost in vision. As written, the only practical answer is "any" and is pretty much addressed by you in your second paragraph. Can you be more specific? – JBH Jul 1 '17 at 14:49
  • Fasting. In secret ideally. Also keeping the commandments. – Karimson Safehold Jul 1 '17 at 18:45
  • @JBH I'm guessing what conditions are conducive to it. Being drunk, for example, would not help. – PyRulez Jul 1 '17 at 19:42
  • @JBH also, those two aren't really examples of the power of the holy ghost. The first example was an angel, and the second example was the gift of prophecy. These both may have involved the holy ghost (especially the second one), but the power of the holy ghost is different. – PyRulez Jul 1 '17 at 20:14
  • Are you asking for necessary or sufficient conditions? – Matt Jul 1 '17 at 22:11
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Generally speaking, the "power of the Holy Ghost" is simply the manner in which He accomplishes His mission. Again, generally speaking, LDS members don't distinguish a difference between the "power of the Holy Ghost" or any other of His duties or blessings. So, let's explore a moment.

1) You mentioned the "Gifts of the Spirit" such as tongues, healing, prophecy, etc. Certainly these occur through the power of the Holy Ghost, but they are an inexclusive application of that power. Indeed, though personal unrighteousness may bury the gift or gifts, we believe that everyone has at least one gift of the Spirit, no matter who they are or what they believe (D&C 46:11). Since this affects everyone and is conditioned only on personal righteousness, we'll set this aside as insufficient to answer your question.

Condition(s): Personal Righteousness

2) You mentioned the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This isn't a specific power, but the ability (assuming once again personal righteousness) to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. Let's start with Acts 2:38:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

and end with D&C 20:26:

...but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost....

From the LDS perspective, before Baptism and giving the formal Gift of the Holy Ghost people can be inspired by Him (He primarily acting in His role as testator), but they are not going to receive more from Him. No revelations, no prophecy, no second comforter, no spirit of promise. The goal of the Holy Ghost before Baptism is to lead people (a) to do good and (b) to Baptism. Now, this technically answers your question about the Power of the Holy Ghost, but let's delve a bit more.

Condition(s): personal righteousness, baptism by proper authority

(Authority is a discussion all its own. In our belief, Baptism can only be authoritatively performed by an ordained priest of the Aaronic Priesthood in the LDS Church or any member of the Melchizedek Priesthood. We don't recognize any other baptisms.)

3) The Holy Ghost has specific roles. The scriptures I list below are by no means exhaustive.

All these things are done with the Power of the Holy Ghost, but most won't happen consistently unless given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

(a-e) Conditions: personal righteousness & authorized baptism.

(f) and (g) are specific issues and rare.

(f) The Holy Spirit of Promise (i) seals a person's calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10) and (ii) seals a temple marriage for time and all eternity. Both are required for the Celestial Kingdom and for our own families to persist forever.

(f.i) Conditions: exceptional personal righteousness, baptism, temple endowment.

(f.ii) Conditions: exceptional personal righteousness, exceptional personal relationship with your spouse, baptism, temple marriage.

(g) is, perhaps, entirely unique. One example was Adam's baptism, referenced above. There are a handful of unique baptisms like his in scripture (another being Alma the elder). In this role, the Holy Ghost is a unique "go-to" person to make a specific thing happen. This is not an "achievable" condition. You must be the right person, in the right place, at the right time, foreordained for the event.

Everything I have discussed happens by the "Power of the Holy Ghost," but I suspect that (3.f) is the most specific example of His unique power.

Please let me know if this addressed your question. Thanks for giving me the chance to answer!

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Short Answer:

The only condition is that a person has to be sincerely and earnestly seeking God's light and truth, which generally means there has to be some effort on their part. God determines when this condition has been sufficiently met, and it may be different depending on the person and their situation.

Long Anwer:

Joseph Fielding Smith, a former President of the Church, taught:

"Every man can receive a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, even when he is out of the Church, if he is earnestly seeking for the light and for the truth. The Holy Ghost will come and give the man the testimony he is seeking, and then withdraw; and the man does not have a claim upon another visit or constant visits and manifestations from him." (Doctrines of Salvation 1:42)

This is clearly speaking of the power of the Holy Ghost rather than the gift or gifts of the Holy Ghost, since the Holy Ghost "then withdraws" and the person has no "claim upon another visit". The only condition President Smith lays out for receiving such a manifestation is that the person "is earnestly seeking for the light and for the truth."

"Earnestly seeking" is not a passive desire; it is an active desire that causes us to do something. In the introduction of the Book of Mormon, Church leaders present a specific instance of this idea:

"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

In this instance, earnestly "seeking light and truth" consists of reading the book, pondering it, and praying about it. This is more than just wanting to know if it is true; it is demonstrating our sincerity and earnest in seeking the truth, by which we can receive the manifestation of the Holy Ghost letting us know that the book is true.

In Moroni 10:5 of the Book of Mormon, it says that "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Let's pick an arbitrary example. Let's say I want to know if Jesus Christ really is the Savior of the world. The Holy Ghost can manifest the truth of that statement to me, but only if I am sincerely and earnestly seeking God's truth. If I am truly sincere and earnest, I would probably do some of the following things:

  • Read scriptures pertaining to Christ and/or the Savior
  • Study the subject in other ways
  • Consider as many aspects of the subject as possible
  • Pray about it
  • Be open minded, willing to accept whatever the answer is
  • etc

None of these are "requirements" for getting the answer; they are just some possible things you might naturally do if you were sincere and earnest. You may do none of these things or all of them plus ten more. It depends on the person and the situation. Sometimes being sincere and earnest means studying for years; other times it is as simple as asking God in a prayer. God decides when you are ready.

Good Question! I hope this helped.

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As long as we are alive, we are under somewhat of the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost.

Check "Spiritual death" in the scripture helps.

(Unpacking that a little:)

The exact nature of the Holy Ghost is a little beyond our ability to define.

However, Jesus says he is the light and the life of this world. (John chapter one, for starters.) Some people think He is being metaphorical, but I don't think it is just metaphor.

I can't find a scriptural basis for differentiating between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost in this context, and Joseph Smith, in the Lectures on Faith, did not seem to, either.

We are told that sin leads us to death. (See, for instance, Romans 6: 23.)

Sin takes us away from the Spirit of God. The longer we continue in sin, the farther it takes us away. JBH mentions 1 John 3 in the comments, and it talks about continuing in sin. Choosing to continue in sin, because (for example) trying to repent is too hard, will definitely take us away from the influence of the Holy Spirit. And it becomes habit-forming.

If we try to break the chains of sin for the right reasons, we return to the influence of the Holy Spirit.

At first, the light may difficult to bear, and evil spirits will often try to convince us to think things are impossible. But if we continue to try, God teaches us how to obey the commandments we can obey, and then He teaches us to obey more. The last three (or so) chapters of 2nd Nephi talk about this in a fair amount of depth.

My understanding is that as long as we are truly trying to live the commandments as we understand them, and as long as we are willing to receive the additional truth promised us (line upon line -- Isaiah 28: 10,13; D&C 98: 11,12; 2 Nephi 28: 30), we will definitely have the influence of the Holy Ghost to help us.

It is true that there is sin which is unforgivable, which completely removes us from the light of Christ, but we should leave that judgment up to God. As long as there is life, we should believe there is hope.

And we really should leave judging the dead up to God, as well. No reason I can think of to ever refuse to do proxy work or submit information to have it done for our ancestors. Too many things we don't know about the past. Let God sort it out with them. (The prophet actually has keys to discern such things, but I understand that he rarely, if ever, uses them to direct the refusal of proxy ordinances.)

(End unpacking that a little.)

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  • There are unpardonable sins that can be committed in this life. Alma 39.6 and Matt 12:36. Indeed, anyone who becomes a son/daughter of perdition will permanently lose the influence of the Holy Ghost. D&C 76:31-35. – JBH Jul 3 '17 at 22:57
  • Rats, mistyped: Matt 12:32. – JBH Jul 3 '17 at 23:03
  • Here's how I see it: We know that there is no ordinance or revelation that irrevocably earns one a place in the celestial kingdom. By corollary, it seems rather obvious that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost that earns one outer darkness is the unrepented refusal to hear/listen. However, that is a consequence of the principal I mentioned in my answer, not a reason. What is life? – Joel Rees Jul 4 '17 at 0:41
  • Just because there's no way to guarantee entrance does not mean there's no way to guarantee expulsion. Nothing forces me to get a driver's license, but there are a fair number of infractions that will get it taken away permanently. Conveniently, scripture supports my logic. From Alma, (1) The H.G. has place in me (I earned the privilege through study and obedience) and (2) I know I'm denying it (I'm practiced enough to know I'm violating the rule, there isn't a gray area) then I'm out. In short: if you know what you're doing, the consequence of failure is higher. D&C 82:3. – JBH Jul 4 '17 at 1:02
  • One more point, it's becoming common in the Church for people to believe that we can repent of any sin. The Natural Man hates being responsible or accountable. Regrettably, it simply isn't true. If I'm wrong, then the Lord's words in Matthew are a lie because it says "neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Your rationale denies the first half of that statement. – JBH Jul 4 '17 at 1:06

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