The Baptism of Fire

John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would come with the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)

Holy Ghost Came to Apostles

The Holy Ghost did not permanently come to the Apostles during Jesus’ ministry but came afterwards, as Jesus had promised.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:16-17,26)

Shortly before his ascension to heaven, Jesus told the Apostles the time was near for them to receive the Holy Ghost.

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:5,8)

On the Day of Pentecost, when thousands were assembled from all parts of the known world, the Holy Ghost came, and the Apostles were finally baptized in the Spirit.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? (Acts 2:1-8)

Holy Ghost Came to Others

In his great Pentecostal sermon, Peter taught the multitude that upon acceptance of Christ, they should be baptized in both water and the Spirit.

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

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. (Acts 2:37-38)

Later on, Peter, in speaking before the council of the Sadducees, bore a powerful testimony of Jesus and then said the Holy Ghost is given to those who obey God.

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:31-32)

In saying that the Holy Ghost is given to those who obey God, Peter was reaffirming his statement on the Day of Pentecost that we should accept Christ, repent, be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Philip, one of the seven men chosen to assist the Apostles (Acts 6:5-6) was teaching and baptizing. A man named Simon was converted to Christ and was baptized. Even though Philip had been selected by the Apostles and had received the Aaronic Priesthood from them by the laying on of the Apostle’s hands, he did not have the authority to give the Holy Ghost.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Who when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:12-17)

This conferring of the Holy Spirit so impressed Simon that he tried to buy the authority of the Apostles by which they gave the Spirit through the laying on of their hands.

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:18-19)

Peter, knowing the Melchizedek Priesthood can not be bought, rebuked Simon and told him to repent.

But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. (Acts 8:20-22)

Blessings from the Holy Ghost

In promising the Apostles that the Holy Ghost would come, Jesus described benefits we can receive from the Holy Ghost.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:16-17,26)

During times of depression and sadness, the Spirit can be a comfort to us. As we prayerfully study the scriptures, the Spirit can help us understand and live what we have learned. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost helped the Apostles overcome language barriers. In this modern century in which all nations of the world are in our back yard, the Holy Ghost can help us understand other cultures and communicate with them.

The Spirit can help us have personal testimonies of Jesus Christ. Knowledge, wisdom, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking and understanding languages all come from the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians chapter 12). Surely the Holy Ghost is a wondrous gift from God!

Witnesses of Truth

Nephi was a mighty speaker, and he knew his effectiveness was due to the Holy Ghost. He explained that the Holy Ghost gave a witness of truth to those who heard him teach.

And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (2 Nephi 33:1)

Another example of the Holy Ghost giving witnesses to people of religious truth can be found in a debate held between the Nephite prophet Jacob and a man named Sherem. Sherem denied Christ, and Jacob bore testimony to him of the atonement of Christ.

And I [Jacob] said unto him: Deniest thou the Christ who shall come? And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be.

And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.

And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ. Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.

And this is not all–it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost. (Jacob 7:9-12)

Moroni also taught that testimonies of Christ come by way of the Holy Ghost.

Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.

And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek [humble or teachable], and lowly of heart.

If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity. (Moroni 7:42-44)

The prophet Alma taught his people of Jesus Christ and then told them he knew his testimony of Christ was true because that testimony came from the Holy Ghost.

And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.

I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true; and I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name. (Alma 5:45-48)

Shortly before closing the Book of Mormon, Moroni explained how we can know if the Book of Mormon is of God. Since he wrote this shortly before burying the plates in the ground, he was not writing to his own people but was writing to us.

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.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:4-5)

Some people say the gifts of the Spirit were only for the New Testament church, and as a result we can not have testimonies of religious truths today. From reading the Book of Mormon, however, we know that is not true. While abridging the record of his people, Mormon recorded that the gifts of the Holy Ghost will always be available to us.

Wo unto him that spurneth at the doings of the Lord; yea, wo unto him that shall deny the Christ and his works!

Yea, wo unto him that shall deny the revelations of the Lord, and that shall say the Lord no longer worketh by revelation, or by prophecy, or by gifts, or by tongues, or by healings, or by the power of the Holy Ghost!

Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ! (3 Nephi 29:5-7)

As we have just seen, Mormon taught the gifts of the Spirit will always be among us. However, we do not automatically receive those gifts. Moroni clarified this matter by teaching we have to obey God and then the Holy Ghost comes to us.

And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins [through Christ’s atonement];

And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God. (Moroni 8:25-26)

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