The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes nicknamed Mormons, believe the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, is the third member of the Godhead. The Godhead consists of God, the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Mormons do not accept the trinity, a post-Biblical belief that the Godhead is not made up of three separate and individual beings.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me (John 17).
These verses are taken from the King James translation of the Great Intercessory Prayer given by Jesus Christ. In other places, Jesus had said that He and His Father were one, and in these verses, we are given an understanding of what He meant by this. He is saying He wants His apostles to be one in the same way God and Jesus Christ are one—unified. It is obvious He did not mean to add them to the trinity.
Mormons believe that God and Jesus Christ have physical, but perfected and glorified bodies, but that the Holy Ghost is a spirit without a body. Stephen’s vision demonstrated that both God and Jesus Christ are physically visible and are separate beings:
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7)
It is important to note that Stephen was murdered for daring to testify of this.
However, the Holy Ghost does not have a body, in order to better fulfill His role in the Godhead. One responsibility of the Holy Ghost is to testify of God and Jesus Christ, as well as of other gospel truths. When we want to know what is true, we can pray and ask God. The answer will be given to us through the Holy Ghost.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (John 16:13).
We understand from this verse that we can trust the promptings of the Holy Ghost because He never offers His own opinions. He tells us only what God tells Him to say. God has promised us that if we ask Him for wisdom and knowledge He will give it to us.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).
Mormons consider this to be a critical scripture. It helps us understand that the only way to know what is true is to ask God, who will answer us through the Holy Ghost. Mormons are taught not to trust the testimony of other mortals. While hearing the testimony of others is helpful and important, it must not be our final source of truth. If we pray and ask God what is true, we will never be misled. Although there are some who reject the Mormon teaching to pray about truth, suggesting we can’t tell where the answer is coming from, Mormons trust the Bible and they trust God. Mormons know that God keeps His promises. If He promises He will answer our religious questions, then He will also ensure the Holy Ghost can present those answers in a way the person praying can recognize as coming from God. One way this happens is that when a person tells God he believes something to be true, and asks for confirmation of this—the proper way to approach a request for wisdom—the petitioner will have a feeling of peace and joy. Satan cannot bring about peace and joy. Many people feel a stirring in their heart that feels warm and comforting. Satan cannot bring comfort. The more often we turn to God for advice, the better we become at recognizing how He answers us. These answers always come through the Holy Ghost.
Another role of the Holy Ghost is to provide comfort. The Savior called the Holy Ghost the Comforter for this reason. He can comfort our hearts when we are frightened, worried, or struggling. This comfort reassures us that God is in charge and is helping us through our trials.
A third role of the Holy Ghost is protection. When we are trying to do the right thing, the Holy Ghost will accompany us and warn us of danger or that we are about to sin. When we listen to these promptings, we have increased safety, sometimes physically, and always spiritually.
It is through the Holy Ghost that we’re sanctified when we repent. This sanctification also occurs when we receive special ordinances, such as baptism.
Everyone, from birth, is entitled to the influence of the Holy Ghost. Otherwise, we would be unable to learn what is true. However, to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which is to have Him with us every moment if we are worthy, we must first be baptized by someone who has the appropriate priesthood authority and confirmed a member of the Church. At the time of confirmation, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is given. Mormon children are baptized at the age of eight, which is considered the age of accountability—the age when they are old enough to understand right from wrong if taught.
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 2:38).
With this gift, a person has the right to receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. However, this is contingent on worthiness. If we are living unworthily or if we ignore the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we lose His companionship. If we intentionally put ourselves in danger—particularly spiritual danger—and ignore the warnings of the Holy Ghost to flee—we will lose His companionship because He can’t accompany us into evil settings we have chosen for ourselves. It is our responsibility to live in a manner that is worthy of His companionship and to obey His promptings.
Following are some thoughts Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of the Mormons, has offered concerning the Holy Ghost:
When you, my dear young friends, frame your life with faith, you will merit the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You will have “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20). (From “The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church,” Ensign, Feb. 2001, 2–7.)
Long years ago a divine command was given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as He said to His beloved eleven disciples: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”1 Mark records that “they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them.”2
This sacred charge has not been rescinded. Rather, it has been reemphasized. The Prophet Joseph Smith set forth the purpose of the Church when he declared: “It is the bringing of men and women to a knowledge of the eternal truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world, and that only through belief in Him, and faith which manifests itself in good works, can men and nations enjoy peace” (That All May Hear, General Conference, April 1995).
Precious young people, make every decision you contemplate pass this test: What does it do to me? What does it do for me? And let your code of conduct emphasize not “What will others think?” but rather “What will I think of myself?” Be influenced by that still, small voice. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head at the time of your confirmation and said, “Receive the Holy Ghost.” Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice that testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised, “Thine ears shall hear a word … saying, This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21) (Standards of Strength, New Era, October 2008).
A Mormon apostle testifies of the Holy Ghost in this video:
Terrie Lynn Bittner
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.