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Many passages in the Bible suggest the crucial importance of being filled with/full of the Holy Spirit and being led by the Spirit for an optimal Christian walk. Below a few examples:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. [Luke 4:1-2, ESV]

3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. [Acts 6:3, ESV]

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. [Ephesians 5:18-21, ESV]

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [Romans 8:12-17, ESV]

29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. [Acts 4:29-31, ESV]

Moreover, one of the promised functions of the Holy Spirit is that He would lead the Christian to all the truth:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [John 16:12-15, ESV]

Question: according to Latter-day Saints, if a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and then experiences the fullness of the Holy Spirit and begins to be led by the Holy Spirit, will the Holy Spirit unequivocally lead such a person to the truth of Mormonism? In other words, is it possible to be a Christian full of the Holy Spirit and simultaneously not be led by the Spirit to accept the Book of Mormon as divine revelation?

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  • It is possible to be a Christian and not believe the trinity - a doctrine, apparently mandatory for salvation, but never biblically expressed. Did the HS lead that too?
    – steveowen
    Jul 12 at 0:01
  • @user47952 - that's a good question! Feel free to ask it if you want! Jul 12 at 0:17
  • I already know the answer!
    – steveowen
    Jul 12 at 0:21
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Short answer

This question is nuanced enough that the short answer I can offer is I don't know. I know individual Latter-day Saints with opinions on both sides of this question, but there is no passage in the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that answers this question definitively.


Long answer

I suggest that the text that comes closest to answering this question is Moroni's promise (already cited by depperm) in Moroni 10:3-5.

It may be helpful to consider the way this promise is presented in the Introduction to the Book of Mormon:

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. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah.

I've bolded two words of particular interest--all & will. This says to me that all who put this promise to the test--according to the conditions provided--will be given the promised answer by the Holy Ghost (see also Appendix). It does not, however, indicate that the Holy Ghost will compel anyone to pursue this course.

I believe it is possible for:

  • A person to be led by the Holy Ghost as far as the person is willing to go, without going as far as the Holy Ghost is willing to take them
  • The Holy Ghost to lead people at different rates
  • A person to go an entire lifetime--even in the present day--without ever truly encountering and cognitively engaging with the restored gospel

Of this last group the Doctrine & Covenants teaches:

All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; (Doctrine & Covenants 137:7; the subsequent section explains at a high level how this happens)

This does not, however, as some have assumed, provide a Get out of Jail Free for those who reject the gospel message in this life in hopes of repenting in the next:

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. (Alma 34:34)

What counts as having the opportunity to receive the fullness of the gospel? Only God can judge.

It is important to remember that God's plan is a plan about becoming, so checking a box now versus later misses the point if we fail to become what we were sent here to become. Thus, even accepting the ordinances & teachings of the church is insufficient if we don't let them transform us.

--

Specifics from the OP

Much of this answer may hinge on what is meant by full of the Holy Spirit

if a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and then experiences the fullness of the Holy Spirit and begins to be led by the Holy Spirit, will the Holy Spirit unequivocally lead such a person to the truth of [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]?

If "fullness" of the Holy Spirit means receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, from a Latter-day Saint perspective the question is moot, as this comes after baptism into the church.

If "fullness" of the Holy Spirit can describe the power of the Holy Ghost (as experienced by Cornelius--see Acts 10:44) prior to baptism & the laying on of hands, then my nuanced answer to a nuanced question would be: No, it is not enough to begin, they would have to continue.

However, since that dodges the fundamental question =), I should probably respond to the rejoinder:

is it possible to be a Christian full of the Holy Spirit and simultaneously not be led by the Spirit to accept the Book of Mormon as divine revelation?

My personal opinion is:

  • Temporarily - yes
  • Permanently - no

--

Conclusion

I believe the Holy Ghost will lead people to as much truth as they are willing to receive; I cannot comment on the rate at which the Holy Ghost will lead an individual person.

I believe there are many people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who receive guidance from the Holy Ghost. I also believe that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is only available through authorized ordinances of the priesthood (see Articles of Faith 1:4-5), which was restored to the earth by Peter, James, and John to Joseph Smith. I further believe that the ordinances of the priesthood are essential to our eternal progression.


Appendix--why didn't I get an answer

I have encountered many people who have asked God if the Book of Mormon is true and gotten no answer (I was once there myself). The promise comes with serious conditions, because if we were to receive an answer and not act on it, we would be accountable for disobeying against greater knowledge (see Luke 12:47-48 & Doctrine & Covenants 82:3).

Moroni calls for faith in Christ, a sincere heart, and real intent. Each is a very serious matter; there is no minor premise to this promise.

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  • "I also believe that the Gift of the Holy Ghost is only available through authorized ordinances of the priesthood (see Articles of Faith 1:4-5), which was restored to the earth by Peter, James, and John to Joseph Smith" - does it follow from this that non-LDS Christians do not have the Gift of the Holy Ghost? Jul 13 at 22:05
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Yes. We believe that today, as in the days of the apostles (see Acts 8:14-20) priesthood authority is required to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. The claim of restored priesthood authority is core to the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe that authority was taken from the earth after the time of the ancient apostles & prophets, and was restored in modern times. Without it, people may experience the power of the Holy Ghost but not receive the gift, which comes by covenant. Jul 14 at 0:44
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator see discussion of gift vs. power of the Holy Ghost in Gospel Principles ch. 21 Jul 14 at 0:45
  • I see. So what are your thoughts on non-LDS ministries that also practice the laying on of hands in order to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost (as in here, here, here, here and here)? Here is also a very powerful testimony of a young lady who received the Holy Spirit in a Pentecostal or Charismatic (non-LDS anyways) youth camp by the laying on of hands. Jul 14 at 1:38
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator good question; that could be a lengthy discussion all on its own. I don't wish to denigrate anyone else's experience with God; Luke 9:49-50 & Articles of Faith 1:6 come to mind. I submit that casting out devils & conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost are distinct though. My own experience with personal revelation is not like those of the first 4 videos, and I admit some discomfort with efforts to video-record performing works in God's name (Matt 7:22 comes to mind but that's for God to judge). I don't believe that miracles produce faith; it's the other way around. Jul 14 at 3:09
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Yes if one is full of the Holy Spirit they will be led to the truth of the Church of Jesus Christ (if they have knowledge of it). Others can of course be touched by the Holy Spirit or be inspired.

The promise shared at the end of the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10:4 specifies

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

As further explanation Elder Anderson1 says:

President Dallin H. Oaks visited our mission in Bordeaux, France, in 1991. He explained to our missionaries that real intent means that the person praying is saying to the Lord something like this: “I do not ask out of curiosity but with total sincerity to act on the answer to my prayer. If Thou wilt give me this answer, I will act to change my life. I will respond.”

Please note the LDS also believe:

All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel.2

Or put another way:

I quoted Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21: “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”

I then told him that “if anyone obeys any eternal principle he will automatically reap the reward for living that law. God will give any and all men his or their reward.” We as Latter-day Saints do indeed believe that there is truth in many religions and philosophies. Many good and great religious leaders have walked the earth. Through their teachings, they have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people.

When we speak of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only true church, we mean that it is the only organization authorized to administer the ordinances of salvation. We mean that it is the only organization led by Jesus Christ, through the earthly ministries of prophets and Apostles. Although the Church teaches the true doctrines of salvation, we do not mean that it is the only teacher of truth.3

1 Spiritually Defining Memories footnote 19

2 Holy Ghost

3 What is the relationship of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the non Christian Religions of the World

See also Living with Purpose: The Importance of Real Intent

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  • "Yes if one is full of the Holy Spirit they will be led to the truth of the Church of Jesus Christ (if they have knowledge of it)" - I'm not sure if I understood this correctly: does this include being led to read the Book of Mormon? Are all Christians full of the HS eventually led to read the Book of Mormon? Say, person X in Asia gets full of the HS and remains full of the HS for several years in a row. Will such as person be led by the HS to read the book of Mormon? Yes or no? Jul 8 at 12:25
  • there is truth in multiple religions. If one is not exposed to the BOM or LDS they can't always be led to the LDS church (for example if the church is not in a country(China)). They could be guided to where they could be exposed to the church, but this doesn't happen to everyone, plenty of people never hear about the BOM or the LDS faith. If they are exposed to the church and are full of the Holy Spirit then yes they will be led to the truth of it. What they do with that knowledge is up to them
    – depperm
    Jul 8 at 12:28
  • "If they are exposed to the church and are full of the Holy Spirit then yes they will be led to the truth of it" - what counts as "being exposed to the church"? I would say that hundreds of millions of Christians are aware of the existence of the LDS church, although they aren't LDS themselves. Does that count as being exposed to the church? Jul 8 at 12:32
  • 2
    The Spirit teaches us "line upon line, precept upon precept." A person may be led by the Holy Spirit through a variety of experiences, perhaps even different religions and denominations, that teach him different things. Eventually, over the course of this life and perhaps into the next, the sincere seeker is led into all truth. Deep and meaningful conversion doesn't usually happen overnight or on a whim, but a sincere seeker of truth will have a life punctuated with divine experiences that lead him along towards eternity. Jul 13 at 3:58
  • 2
    Ultimately, conversion is a deeply personal experience. One comes to know God, and as part of that process, comes to realize that God knows him or her. God knows what experiences I need for my progression, and he has a plan that is uniquely tailored to me. He also has a plan, perfectly designed, that's uniquely tailored to you. All of these unique plans intertwine, masterfully centering around the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and bringing us back to Him. Jul 13 at 4:09
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I see at least two possible interpretations of the word "fullness" here. One is a temporary fullness, which is a term used to describe what was felt by many who experienced a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. However, having such an experience does not entail a permanent change or lasting fullness. So the greater fullness must be continuous rather than temporary, which requires reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is not only the principle of revelation, but is also the promise of eternal life. A person cannot be completely "filled" without this ongoing assurance from the Lord or without continued experiences safeguarded by covenants and faithfulness.

It is not possible to experience ongoing fullness of the Holy Ghost (which implies His constant companionship) without first being baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So yes, everyone who meets that description (a Christian continually full of the Holy Ghost) has to have been converted to the Savior's true Church and received this gift by the one authorized by God to administer it.

A person may have experiences with the Holy Ghost before he is baptized, and the effect of these experiences is to lead him to the truth, so that he desires to be baptized and confirmed so as to be able to enjoy His presence as a gift in perpetuity:

"Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him." Joseph Smith Jr.

Can a transient experience with the Holy Ghost be termed a "fullness"? If so, it is not the fullest fullness, and so cannot be the fullness spoken of by Scripture, whereby a man is saved.

is it possible to be a Christian full of the Holy Spirit and simultaneously not be led by the Spirit to accept the Book of Mormon as divine revelation?

Ultimately, no. To reject the testimonies of The Book of Mormon is one and the same as rejecting Jesus, Whose words they are.

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  • If I understood the implications of your answer correctly, all Christians from non-LDS denominations (e.g. Baptists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Seventh-day Adventists, Messianic Jews, etc.) who claim to have experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit must be lying, correct? Jul 11 at 20:55
  • Any who claim to have the gift of the Holy Ghost outside of the authorized ordinances within that same Church of Jesus Christ would be wrong in that claim, yes.
    – pygosceles
    Jul 11 at 21:41
  • 1
    What are your thoughts on non-LSD preachers who stress the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit, like Paul Washer? Do you think he has ever been truly full of the Holy Spirit? Jul 11 at 21:54
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator No one can have the gift of the Holy Ghost without the laying on of hands by those who are in authority. A person may be moved upon by the Holy Ghost regardless of his denomination or religious affiliation, as Cornelius was in his testimony, but in order to have the Holy Ghost remain with any, this ordinance must be received in an unbroken line from the Savior. I do not know Paul Washer at all and so I could not vouch for his teachings, nor could I ultimately vouch for the teachings of any ministers not called according to the pattern outlined in Hebrews chapter 5.
    – pygosceles
    Jul 11 at 23:51
  • 4
    I wouldn't go so far as to say that others who claim to have experienced a fullness of the Holy Spirit are "lying." Many likely have had meaningful and true spiritual experiences. From the perspective of a Latter-day Saint, they just don't know yet that God has more to give them. Doctrine and Covenants 50 teaches that "he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." Receiving light doesn't start at baptism, nor does it end with receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. But as we receive, light will grow. Jul 13 at 4:39
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I agree with Hold to the Rod's opinion,

is it possible to be a Christian full of the Holy Spirit and simultaneously not be led by the Spirit to accept the Book of Mormon as divine revelation?

My personal opinion is:

Temporarily - yes

Permanently - no

I wanted to offer some scriptural evidence for why the "Temporarily - yes" portion of the answer holds.

Scriptures

Joseph Smith taught that there are honest seekers of truth (I don't know if that's an exact parallel for having a fullness of the Holy Ghost) who do not find the truth,

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. (Doctrine & Covenants 123:12)

Again, I don't know if the "pure in heart" this is specifically in reference to (see verse 11) match what the OP is asking about, those with a fullness of the Holy Ghost, but the teaching is there that there are those who would presumably seize upon the truth if they know where to find it, and if they weren't "blinded by the subtle craftiness of men."

Joseph Smith also taught,

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; (Doctrine & Covenants 137:7-8)

There is the strong implication in these verses that there are those who would receive the truth who, for whatever reason, are kept from it or do not find it while they are alive.

Additionally, Latter-day Saint teachings speak of the "spirit world," a place where our spirits dwell between death and the resurrection, where the gospel is taught to those who have not yet received it. This is taught throughout Doctrine & Covenants Section 138. The existence of missionary work among the dead, as well as the proxy ordinances of salvation (such as baptism) performed by living Latter-day Saints in temples, bear powerful testimony of the belief that there are many among the dead who have not yet received the gospel as taught and practiced by Latter-day Saints but either have after they died or will yet after they die.

Why

This brings up the question, why would God not provide opportunity for some seekers of truth to find the Book of Mormon and restored fullness of the gospel? I'm sure there are many reasons not know to us, but one that occurs to me is that life is a personal classroom for each one of us. God knows what we need to experience to help us achieve maximum happiness in the eternities, and as different as we all are, each of our needed life experiences are also vastly different. Since He has provided a way for people to learn and receive the fullness of the gospel after they had died, if a needed life experience for a person does not involve them knowing the fullness of the gospel yet, He can provide that and still have their eventual learning of the fullness of the gospel covered. This last bit is speculation by me, in that I don't know if I have ever actually seen in taught in official Latter-day Saint sources.

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