I taught Relief Society again this week. Below is my lesson outline concerning Gifts of the Spirit. See here for the manual.
Lesson 33: The Spiritual Gifts of Healing, Tongues, Prophecy, and Discerning of Spirits
“We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.”
D&C 46:7-9, 11-12 7. But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil sprits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.
8. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
9. For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me…
11. For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.
1. The phrase “that all may be profited thereby” is a very important concept to understand about the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts given to each individual are given not only for the one who receives, but also for those who can benefit when the gift is shared with others. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
(Page 382) The sick may be healed through faith and the exercise of priesthood power, according to the Lord’s will.
Vs. 19-20 To some it is given to have faith to be healed; and to others it is given to have faith to heal.
2. There have been times when I have laid hands upon one who was ill and felt their spirit and their faith so strongly that they would be healed that I felt a surge of the power of their faith. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the faith to be healed is one of the greatest gifts an individual can have. On the other hand, I have seen the faith of parents when fathers and mothers desired their children to be healed. Through great faith, their children have been blessed. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
Pg 382 “Sunday 28. –Meeting was held as usual…. I spoke, and admonished the members of the Church individually to set their houses in order, to make clean the inside of the platter, and to meet on the next Sabbath to partake of the Sacrament, in order that by our obedience to the ordinances, we might be enabled to prevail with God against the destroyer, and that the sick might be healed.
Pg. 381 “We crossed the public square, and entered Brother [Elijah] Fordham’s house. Brother Fordham had been dying for an hour, and we expected each minute would be his last. I felt the power of God that was overwhelming his Prophet. When we entered the house, Brother Joseph walked up to Brother Fordham, and took him by the right hand. … He saw that Brother Fordham’s eyes were glazed, and that he was speechless and unconscious. “After taking hold of his hand, [the Prophet] looked down into the dying man’s face and said: ‘Brother Fordham, do you not know me?’ At first he made no reply; but we could all see the effect of the Spirit of God resting upon him. “[Joseph] again said: ‘Elijah, do you not know me?’ With a low whisper, Brother Fordham answered, ‘Yes!’ The Prophet then said, ‘Have you not faith to be healed?’ “The answer, which was a little plainer than before, was: ‘I am afraid it is too late. If you had come sooner, I think I might have been.’ He had the appearance of a man awaking from sleep. It was the sleep of death. Joseph then said: ‘Do you not believe that Jesus is the Christ?’ ‘I do, Brother Joseph,’ was the response. “Then the Prophet of God spoke with a loud voice, as in the majesty of the Godhead: ‘Elijah, I command you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to arise and be made whole!’ “The words of the Prophet were not like the words of man, but like the voice of God. It seemed to me that the house shook from its foundation. Elijah Fordham leaped from his bed like a man raised from the dead. A healthy color came to his face, and life was manifested in every act. His feet were done up in [cornmeal] poultices. He kicked them off his feet, scattering the contents, and then called for his clothes and put them on. He asked for a bowl of bread and milk, and ate it; then put on his hat and followed us into the street, to visit others who were sick.” Pg. 382 Many of the righteous shall fall prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
(page 382) The purpose of the gift of tongues is to teach the gospel to others.
D&C 46: 24-25 And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues; and to another it is given the interpretation of tongues.
Pg. 383 As to the gift of tongues, all we can say is, that in this place, we have received it as the ancients did: we wish you, however, to be careful lest in this you be deceived…. Satan will no doubt trouble you about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you cannot watch him too closely, nor pray too much. May the Lord give you wisdom in all things.
3. Many of you who have gone to foreign lands have been given the gift to speak with tongues and to translate, or have the interpretation of tongues.
We are told by prophets in this dispensation that revelation for the direction of the Church will not be given through the gift of tongues. The reason for this is that it is very easy for Lucifer to falsely duplicate the gift of tongues and confuse the members of the Church.
Satan has the power to trick us as it pertains to some of the gifts of the Spirit. One in which he is the most deceptive is the gift of tongues. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (1801–77) explained the need to be cautious when considering the gift of tongues.
“You may speak in tongues for your own comfort, but I lay this down for a rule, that if anything is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 229).
“Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues” (Teachings, 162).
The gift of tongues is used by missionaries to teach the gospel to the nations of the world. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
Pg. 384 Do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues. The gifts of God are all useful in their place, but when they are applied to that which God does not intend, they prove an injury, a snare and a curse instead of a blessing.
We have also had brethren and sisters who have had the gift of tongues falsely; they would speak in a muttering, unnatural voice, and their bodies be distorted…; whereas, there is nothing unnatural in the Spirit of God.
Faith comes not by signs, but by hearing the word of God. … If anything is taught by the gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine.
4. “The human family are very apt to run to extremes, especially in religious matters, and hence people in general either want some miraculous display, or they will not believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost at all. If an Elder lays his hands upon a person, it is thought by many that the person must immediately rise and speak in tongues and prophesy; this idea is gathered from the circumstance of Paul laying his hands upon certain individuals who had been previously (as they stated) baptized unto John’s baptism; which when he had done, they ‘spake in tongues and prophesied.’ [See Acts 19:1–6.] … “We believe that the Holy Ghost is imparted by the laying on of hands of those in authority, and that the gift of tongues, and also the gift of prophecy are gifts of the Spirit, and are obtained through that medium; but then to say that men always prophesied and spoke in tongues when they had the imposition of hands, would be to state that which is untrue, contrary to the practice of the Apostles, and at variance with holy writ. … “Chapter 9: Gifts of the Spirit,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2007),114–24
(page 384) Though only one man speaks as the prophet of the Church, the spirit of prophecy enables all to testify of Jesus Christ.
Pg.384 John the Revelator says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Now if any man has the testimony of Jesus, has he not the spirit of prophecy? And if he has the spirit of prophecy, I ask, is he not a prophet? And if a prophet, will he not receive revelation? And any man that does not receive revelation for himself must be damned, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. For Christ says, ask and you shall receive; and if he happens to receive anything, I ask, will it not be revelation? And if any man has not the testimony of Jesus or the spirit of God, he is none of his, namely Christ’s. And if not his, he must be damned.
5. Of the sacred gifts of the Spirit, one that I believe has impact on each of our lives is the gift of prophecy or revelation. This gift is different from the priesthood office of prophet. The gift of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. The Apostle Paul taught that Christians should “desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy [meaning to testify of the Savior]” (1 Cor. 14:1). President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught, “All members of the Church should seek for the gift of prophecy, for their own guidance” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:201). Every Church member, if faithful, has the right to receive revelation for his or her personal blessing. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
6. Too often people feel that answers to their prayers and their pleading for guidance and direction will be given in dramatic manifestations or through a direct voice giving specific directions from a heavenly host. My personal experience and my observation of the Brethren as they guide and direct the Church and solve problems has taught me that the answers come oftentimes over an extended period of time with almost a natural solution whereby people take actions on the feelings of their hearts—which bring them peace and comfort—rather than through dramatic revelation. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
(Page 385) The gift of discerning of spirits allows the faithful to distinguish between the influence of good and evil spirits.
7. We can have the gift of discerning of spirits. George Q. Cannon has called the gift of discerning of spirits “a gift that is of exceeding value and one that should be enjoyed by every Latter-day Saint. … No Latter-day Saint should be without this gift, because there is such a variety of spirits in the world which seek to deceive and lead astray” (Gospel Truth, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist, 2 vols. in 1 , 156–57). Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
Pg. 386 There always did, in every age, seem to be a lack of intelligence pertaining to this subject. Spirits of all kinds have been manifested, in every age, and almost amongst all people… All have their spirits, all have a supernatural agency, and all contend that their spirits are of God. Who shall solve the mystery? “Try the spirits,” says John, but who is to do it? The learned, the eloquent, the philosopher, the sage, the divine –all are ignorant…. Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as “no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,” So no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices.
Nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.
8. How does one distinguish between manifestations of the Spirit and counterfeits? One might ask these questions: Is the manifestation edifying? Spiritual gifts are not given to satisfy one’s lusts or curiosities, but are given as a blessing and benefit to those who love God and keep His commandments Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
Pg 387 A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained without revelation? “Christ ascended into heaven, and gave gifts to men; and He gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers.” And how were Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of hands: -by divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance –through the medium of the Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment.
Pg 388 Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true…. Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God…. The gift of discerning spirits will be given to the Presiding Elder. Pray for him that he may have this gift.
Conclusion To find the gifts we have been given, we must pray and fast. Often patriarchal blessings tell us the gifts we have received and declare the promise of gifts we can receive if we seek after them. I urge you each to discover your gifts and to seek after those that will bring direction to your life’s work and that will further the work of heaven. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12
During our time here on earth, we have been charged to develop the natural gifts and capabilities Heavenly Father has blessed us with. Then it will be our opportunity to use these gifts to become teachers and leaders of God’s children wherever they may be found on earth. To exercise these gifts, we must develop a purity of heart. Robert D. Hales, “Gifts of the Spirit,” Ensign, Feb 2002, 12