One of the apostles asked a Stake President what the biggest problem in his Stake is? The Stake President reply is telling. He said that “Programs and activities of the church are becoming a substitute for testimonies.” When I heard Elder Packer relate this story I immediately thought of an old saying, “active in the church but not the gospel”.
How is it possible to be active in the church, and yet, somehow be inactive in the gospel?
To answer this question a few definitions are needed. First, to be a member of the church is to have your name officially on record with church headquarters. Based on this kind of record keeping there are over fifteen million members today.
That said, the Lord doesn’t look at the membership tally, the Lord defines His church in a different way:
…whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. D&C 10:67
Apparently, the Stake President sees members in his Stake being more dedicated to the programs and activities of the church than they are to the gospel of repentance, or as Nephi refers to it—the doctrine of Christ.
The main difference between the two groups is—one group has access to the Holy Ghost, and the other group doesn’t—just like the parable of the 10 virgins dramatically illustrates.
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
However, it is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who have never received that gift, that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they go through life without that knowledge, and they have not the understanding. Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, October 1958, p.21 – p.22
The Savior taught that those who diligently seek for the gift of the Holy Ghost will have it. Some members ask, how do I know if I have received the Holy Ghost? This question is answered in the following scripture:
Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men. D&C 18:18