From beginning to end, the Book of Mormon testifies of the gifts of the Spirit. It would be interesting to know the number of times the concept of gifts of the Spirit is portrayed in the Book of Mormon. A computer search of the word “spirit” shows it appears 234 times in the Book of Mormon, and 880 times in the Standard Works. Without doubt Heavenly Father wants church members to be informed about things of the Spirit.
Whenever a manifestation of the Spirit occurs it can be considered a gift from God. We’re taught that the gifts of the Spirit come through the Holy Ghost to men and women as they seek to follow Christ.
The following verses explain how the four sons of Mosiah were able to acquire the gifts of the Spirit:
“They had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” Alma 17:2-3
What did they do to acquire the gifts of the Spirit?
- Searched the scriptures diligently
- Much prayer and fasting
What gifts of the Spirit did they acquire?
- Spirit of prophecy
- Spirit of revelation
- Taught with the power and authority of God
The four sons of Mosiah taught the gospel to the Lamanites. They had great success. Many thousands of the Lamanites joined the church and became stalwart examples to the Nephites.
It is important to understand, that even with the marvelous gifts of the Spirit they acquired, things didn’t always go smoothly. Consider this exchange between Aaron and an Amalekite:
“Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him, saying: What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people?
Thou also sayest, except we repent we shall perish. How knowest thou the thought and intent of our hearts? How knowest thou that we have cause to repent? How knowest thou that we are not a righteous people? Behold, we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to worship God. We do believe that God will save all men.” Alma 21:5-6
Aaron even related his conversion experience, explaining that an angel appeared to him and his brothers. The sons of Mosiah and Alma didn’t hesitate to bear testimony of their conversion experience. It didn’t always go over well, but they testified nonetheless (Mosiah 27:32-35).
Aaron’s experience teaches that obtaining the gifts of the Spirit doesn’t guarantee success. The Amalekite was hard hearted and rejected the Spirit of the Lord that accompanied Aaron’s teachings.
There is another aspect of the gifts of the Spirit to consider.
Question: In the Indian Ridge Ward meetings how often do you observe or experience gifts of the Spirit? A. Often B. Rarely C. Not Sure
Question: Do you consistently search the scriptures diligently, and offer much prayer and fasting? A. Yes B. No C. Not Concerned
Our bodies need food to sustain health and well being. Likewise, our spirits need nourishment as well, otherwise we will suffer spiritual anemia.
The spirit is nurtured by eternal truths we learn at church and by searching the scriptures and much prayer and fasting, just like the four sons of Mosiah.
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” D&C 88:33
Moroni could have closed the last chapter of the Book of Mormon focusing on any number of important gospel topics. He determined the most important topic he could pass on to the followers of Christ in our day was the gifts of the Spirit.
He cautions those in our day: “deny not the gifts of God”.
“If the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief…I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift.” Moroni 10:24, 30
We learn from the Nephite experience that church members seek God’s blessings in times of trouble and difficulty. But when things are going well, in prosperous times, they begin to dwindle in unbelief because of the easiness of the way.
Somewhere along the line, each church member needs to become grounded and rooted in the gospel. Gifts of the Spirit can bless our lives in manifold ways that will ground and root our testimonies, and we never will fall away.
The good news about acquiring the gifts of the Spirit is that we don’t have to be perfect or hold high office in the church.
Robert Millet, former Dean of BYU Religion Department wrote:
“Such gifts are of almost infinite worth. They bless our lives in myriad ways. Certain gifts come to us more naturally than others, perhaps because these gifts were developed in our first estate (McConkie, New Witness, 359). Nevertheless, they must be received and developed in this life as well, in order for them to prove a blessing to the Saints. Though we must strive to be worthy of such gifts, they come to us almost in spite of ourselves. Because the Lord desires to bless the people of the covenant, he works his mysterious wonders through fallible, mortal creatures.” The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth by Robert L. Millet, p. 58
Church members attend fast and testimony meeting each month. We could just as well call them fast and gifts of the Spirit meetings. Why? Because we testify of our experiences with the gifts of the Spirit. Our testimonies, answers to prayer, healings, support in our trials and afflictions, come to us through the Holy Ghost and are gifts of the Spirit.
When the saints gather together to bear testimony, Brigham Young offered his thoughts on what he liked best:
“It is always peculiarly interesting to me to hear the Saints tell their experience. It is to me one of the best of sermons to hear men and women relate to each other how the Lord has wrought upon their understanding, and brought them into the path of truth, life, and salvation. I would rather hear men tell their own experience, and testify that Joseph was a Prophet of the Lord, and that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other revelations of God, are true; that they know it by the gift and power of God; that they have conversed with angels, have had the power of the Holy Ghost upon them giving them visions and revelations, than hear any other kind of preaching that ever saluted my ears.” Brigham Young, JD 1:90-91
Our lives can be rich in things of the Spirit if we will follow the example set by the sons of Mosiah. God bless us in our efforts to draw near to our Father in Heaven.