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RS/MP Lesson 22: “The Gifts of the Spirit” (Gospel Principles Manual)

Posted by NathanG on November 14, 2010

This lesson refers primarily to D&C 46 which discusses many of the same gifts as in 1 Cor. 12 and Moroni 10. D&C 46 deals in general with principles related to governing and conducting meetings. Meetings are to be conducted as directed by the Holy Spirit. Verses7-8 issues a command and a warning, that by following the Spirit, “ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrine of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils. Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts…”

The purpose of the gifts of the spirit is, in part, to aid the saints in avoiding the deception of false doctrines which may be of men or of devils. It’s more than just having a gift, though. We are to earnestly seek the best gifts. When we ask we should remember the purpose of the gift, that we will not consume it upon our lusts. All these gifts come from God for the benefit of his children. As you consider individual gifts of the Spirit, consider how this can help you to avoid being deceived.

Another commonly discussed purpose of the gifts of the Spirit has been deleted from the prior manual: “Their presence is proof that this is the true church. However, because they are easily imitated, gifts of the Spirit are not the only proof of the true Church.” Now the manual simply says “These gifts have been given to members of the true Church whenever it has been on the earth.”

The tricky part with gifts of the Spirit is that whether we think of them as a sign of the true church, for the edification of the saints, or to avoid deception, they are easily imitated by Satan. Sometimes it is easy to see and understand the imitation, other times it may be more complicated.

The Gift of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues

In the church we commonly talk about the gift of tongues as it relates to missionaries learning a foreign language, or rarer instances where a missionary was able to momentarily speak fluently the language they had struggled to learn (as the example in the lesson manual demonstrates), or times when the language is not known at all, and the speaker is able to speak and be understood.

I searched the internet a little to see what other Christian sects have to say regarding tongues. There is much disagreement as to the correct meaning of the gift of tongues within the Christian community. Several hold a similar view as ours (although several reject the notion that the gift of tongues is ever for the preaching of the gospel) and they reject the notion of speaking a gibberish tongue for personal prayer or worship. The tone of the articles suggest that speaking of tongues has caused a fairly significant disturbance in the Christian world over the last couple decades.

I may be feeling sorry for myself for being an English speaking missionary, but I was always drawn to 2 Nephi 32 as another avenue by which the gift of tongues may be manifest. Verse 2-3 “Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?… Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.” There were definitely times when my words were just words, but other times when I truly spoke the words of Christ and they were carried by the power of the Holy Ghost to touch the hearts of listener, who also heard and understood by the Holy Ghost. Is not this the gift of tongues?

The Gift of Translation

This is an interesting addition to a typical lesson on gifts of the Spirit as it is referenced to Joseph Smith in D&C 5:4 when Martin Harris seeks to be one of the three witnesses. The manual then refers to the Lord’s response to Oliver Cowdery when he unsuccessfully attempted to translate. I have been puzzled by the answer in D&C 9:8-9. Does anyone know how it was reasonable to expect Oliver to study out the translation in his mind and then ask if it was right? This wasn’t like someone being asked to translate the Book of Mormon from English to Russian, where both languages are known and someone fluent in each language can study out a translation and ask if it was correct. What was really expected of Oliver?

Is this a gift that should be sought after by the general membership of the church? Or is this something reserved for those who are sustained as seers?

The Gifts of Wisdom and Knowledge and to Teach These Things

Does Satan imitate this by giving knowledge and wisdom by another source, or does he simply deceive with lies? Is knowledge as it is used here only dealing scriptural definition of truth? Can knowledge of truth be learned any other way than through the Spirit? Are those who attempt to learn truth without the Spirit like the manual says “always learning but never arrive at the truth”?

The Gift of Knowing That Jesus Christ Is the Son of God

This is the gift of prophets and apostles who are called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ. The manual suggests this gift can be given to others as well. I wonder, though, how appropriate it is to expand this gift to others than prophets and apostles. The next gift discussed is the gift of believing the testimony of others. This could account for the basis of many testimonies of Jesus Christ rather than broadening the first gift to others beyond the prophets and apostles.

The Gift of Prophecy

Paul compares prophecy with tongues in 1 Cor 14. This is a gift which clearly benefits the saints, but which also seems to be one which causes commotion when excercised by those who are not in the proper position. Several instances in the Doctrine and Covenants define the proper order to receive revelation for the church. (The manual does use prophecy and revelation fairly interchangeably). The two keys for avoiding deception when someone prophecies is that a person will only receive revelation for an appropriate stewardship. Revelations will be consistent with what is present in the scriptures.

The Gift of Healing

There is a gift to heal and gift of faith to be healed. D&C 42:48 is referenced. I might go through D&C 42:43-52 and ask how well we follow what was laid out in the early church today.

Satan Imitates the Gifts of the Spirit

The question listed in the manual in this section is the most useful part of this section. “How can we discern between the true gifts of the Spirit and Satan’s imitations?” A discussion on this would likely be to compare apparent manifestations of these gifts from outside the church to manifestations from within the church. Do we think it is likely that there are imitations of these gifts within members of the church? Even from members within our own wards? How do we discern these imitations?

This lesson seems incomplete. We have talked about how it is important that we seek after the best gifts. The last gift discussed in the manual is the Gift of Faith (probably should have been placed first). This must be the foundational gift (although the scripture cited refers to exceedingly great faith, which may not be granted to all). Without faith we cannot hope to appropriately ask for any other gifts. Once we have faith it should lead on to hope and to the best gift, which will be discussed in Chapter 30: Charity.

24 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 22: “The Gifts of the Spirit” (Gospel Principles Manual)”

  1. Justin said

    In the church we commonly talk about the gift of tongues as it relates to missionaries learning a foreign language
    This wouldn’t this better be rendered, The Gift of Foreign Language Aptitude? When Paul says that, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God,” I can’t help but think that the gift of tongues is not associated with foreign language communication by Sisters and Elders.

    2 Nephi 32: 2-3…Is not this the gift of tongues?
    Sure, if you want to broaden, generalize, and spiritualize everything in the scriptures so as to ensure everyone feels included in having manifested the gifts of the Spirit.

    Can knowledge of truth be learned any other way than through the Spirit?
    Yes. People who lack faith are told that they can use study to obtain knowledge. This is the kind of knowledge President Hinckley was fond of urging the saints to obtain. However — as is true of all the gifts — there is a difference in obtaining knowledge (or healings or wisdom or knowledge of events to come, or the ability to speak of foreign language, etc) and obtaining knowledge as a gift of the Spirit. One comes from your own efforts, while the other comes as a manifestation of the Spirit working in you in accordance with your faith. We must be like Ammon, who could answer Lamoni by saying, “No one hath told me, save it be God.”

    The manual does use prophecy and revelation fairly interchangeably
    Which is strange considering: (a)They pertain to different time periods, i.e. prophecy is a message concerning future events or events yet to have happened while revelation is a message concerning the state of things as they are now, or as they truly were in the past. (b) The gift of prophecy is a listed gift of the Spirit, while the gift of revelation is not.

    How can we discern between the true gifts of the Spirit and Satan’s imitations?
    Simple. One engenders faith and is shared among a congregation so that all can be edified — and the other does not.

    For me, I was left wondering why the list in the manual is dissimilar to the list of the 14 best gifts that the Gentile LDS church was given, as recorded in D&C 46. I felt the lesson would have been best directed by classes opening the scriptures and reading the Lord’s words to our church.

  2. Ananas said

    You stated: “How can we discern between the true gifts of the Spirit and Satan’s imitations?” A discussion on this would likely be to compare apparent manifestations of these gifts from outside the church to manifestations from within the church.”

    However, that takes the presumptive stance (or merely assumes) that the LDS church holds in its hands the true manifestations while those of other denominations or faiths hold the false (or more readily discountable) manifestations. Is that a correct portrayal of how you view the manifestations?

    • Ananas said

      Still curious as to a response to the question I asked above – was/am still hoping for a reply.

      • NathanG said

        The assumption that I meant to make is that members of the church are more likely to discuss Satan’s imitations as they may occur external to the church without addressing the possibility that every apparent manifestation of the spirit seen within members of the church is not necessarily from the Spirit, but also an imitation. It is dangerous to simply assume that all supposed manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit within the church are truly the gifts of the Spirit and not an imitation.

        Your question addresses a different matter altogether. Consider the deleted passage referred to in the third paragraph of the initial post. If gifts of the Spirit prove the true church, then true manifestations of the Spirit would only be found within members of the church, otherwise the gifts would cause confusion. However, this has been deleted from the lesson for some reason. I don’t know if we should then assume that the gifts are only found within the church. Take for instance the gift to believe on the words of those whose gift it was to know that Christ is the Savior. It would seem that this would describe many who are not already members of the church, but investigating the church (or maybe not even investigating the church at all). Another example: when Joseph and Oliver received the Aaronic Priesthood and baptized each other, they then prophesied many things. They were not technically members of the church as the church was not yet organized. How about the miracles Joseph brought about in the years before 1830. The timing of what I assume to be true manifestations of the Spirit and full membership in the church does not line up well. Perhaps this isn’t important as these people shortly become part of the church and the initial deleted question could still be true, but to me it is an awfully blurry line.

      • Justin said

        Wow, NathanG — where to start?

        Consider the deleted passage referred to in the third paragraph of the initial post. If gifts of the Spirit prove the true church, then true manifestations of the Spirit would only be found within members of the church, otherwise the gifts would cause confusion.
        Yet the gifts of the Spirit do prove the true church. Jesus Christ stated that signs follow them that believe — in order that his church might be discerned. If the best gifts of the Spirit were fully operative within a church, then it would be easy to discern which was the church of God — no confusion.

        When Joseph and Oliver received the Aaronic Priesthood and baptized each other, they then prophesied many things. They were not technically members of the church as the church was not yet organized.
        Quite the contrary — at the banks of that river, Joseph and Oliver made up a gathering of two or more people who had repented and come unto Christ via the ordinance of baptism. Any definition of “the church” that is more or less than this [according to the Savior] is evil. I’m hoping by, “They were not technically members of the church as the church was not yet organized,” that you were not referring to the corporate Church(TM) structure — because that is more than the stated definition in D&C 10:67-68. You wouldn’t want to be evil would you?

        How about the miracles Joseph brought about in the years before 1830.
        You mean like during the time before 6 April 1830 — when the church of Jesus Christ was fully organized by Him, complete with 3 branches and 70 members [including elders, priests, and teachers]?

        but to me it is an awfully blurry line.
        Then I would suggest you read up on the importance of the best gifts of the Spirit that were given to the Gentile LDS church for the express purpose that we be not deceived.

    • Justin said

      Ananas:

      I’m interested — do you think that people who have not been baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can manifest one of the fourteen best gifts of the Spirit? Why or why not?

  3. zo-ma-rah said

    Justin you are right in that prophecy and revelation are different. There are prophets and there are also revelators. They are not the same thing. A prophet gives prophecy. Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit. Also the testimony of Christ is the spirit of Prophecy.

    The way to discern between true Gifts of the Spirit and imitations is simply this:

    D&C 46:22
    27 And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.

  4. Okay, so there are 3 sources of information and 2 sources of power.

    1st, the Holy Ghost is a source of information (doctrine of Christ) and power (gifts of the Spirit).

    2nd, the devils is a source of information (doctrine of devils) and power (evil spirits).

    3rd, man is a source of information (commandments of men) but there is no associated power (no manifestations).

    This section, in talking about our church meetings (sacrament and confirmation meetings), shows that in order for us not to be deceived by men and devils, the gifts of the Spirit must be sought after and manifesting in our meetings.

    As Zo-ma-rah pointed out, the Lord has given a mechanism whereby we can discern between devilish gifts and gifts of the Spirit. But what of the commandments of men? How do we know if our meetings are based upon the commandments of men, which do not manifest any power?

    Obviously, as the commandments of men do not manifest any powers, if the 14 gifts of the Spirit do not manifest during the meeting that would be evidence that the meeting is based upon the commandments of men.

    Another clue would be whether the meeting is conducted as directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. And how does the Spirit direct meetings? A couple of scriptures come to mind:

    Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. (D&C 100: 5-6)

    And thou shalt continue in calling upon God in my name, and writing the things which shall be given thee by the Comforter, and expounding all scriptures unto the church. And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write, and they shall hear it, or I will send unto them a cursing instead of a blessing. (D&C 24: 5-6)

    This leads me to believe that our current practice of assigning everything before the meeting is based upon commandments of men, which is why there is no prophesying or healing or speaking in tongues, etc., during our sacrament and confirmation meetings, for the commandments of men are not attended by power.

    To get back to a reliance upon the Spirit, in which it is the Spirit that directs and guides the conducting and not any man or group of men, nobody must be selected beforehand to say prayers, or prepare talks, or prepare musical numbers, or given talk topics, or be given talk material from which to base a talk on, etc. Everything must be done in the moment, as the Spirit directs, even as was done in the Nephite church:

    And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done. (Moro. 6: 9)

    • What is testimony meeting, if not unassigned speakers standing and saying what the Spirit directs them to say. 2 months ago, a woman stood up and spoke for a minute then invited her family to join her where they sang a hymn and sat down. Not all meetings are conducted in this way, but some definitely are.

      • Justin said

        I guess if we only let the Spirit be capable of controlling 12 meetings a year — that’s better than nothing.

      • kirkcaudle said

        I would question if that woman (or anyone other than the Bishop) had the authority to “conduct” a meeting in the form of calling anyone to the stand for a performance.

      • Justin said

        Kirk:

        The bishop’s sole position within a congregation’s meeting is to preside — not conduct.

      • kirkcaudle said

        I meant conduct in the form of “conducts the affairs of the meeting,” not actually standing up and conducting. Or in other words, the Bishop presides by overseeing. The presiding authority is in charge of making sure everything is going as it should go. Therefore, I do not think anyone can add (or take away) an additional performance/speaker to the sacrament meeting program without his consent. It is never our job as members to “invite” others onto the stand.

      • Justin said

        The bishop’s duty in presiding over a meeting is to manifest his gift of discerning all the best gifts of the Spirit lest there shall be any among the members professing and yet be not of God.

        You are right: The presiding authority is in charge of making sure everything is going as it should go. “It should go” according to the Spirit’s direction. Therefore, should a member be prompted by the Spirit to invite to testify, exhort, sing, preach, prophecy, etc. — then the bishop’s only duty is to discern whether the Spirit was manifesting in that invitation or not.

        The problem that I think LDSA was referring to in the original comment is that we are organizing performances/speakers into a sacrament meeting program in the first place.

  5. zo-ma-rah said

    Oh, those are some great points LDSA. And know that I have actually begun to search and study the scriptures, make them part of me and apply them in my life, I would have lots of thing to speak about spur of the moment. What I mean is that I would not be afraid and worry about what I should talk about. I think the biggest fear about speaking spur of the moent is that nobody knows what to say.

    I hope that makes sense, and doesn’t sound like we should use our wisdom and learning to speak.

  6. Justin said

    I get the impression that no one here wants to discuss the gifts of the Spirit — rather, would only be interested in discussing the Sunday School lesson on the gifts of the Spirit.

    Is that accurate for the rest of this site — or just a particularity I noticed with this one post?

  7. joespencer said

    Feast is dedicated first and foremost to discussions about teaching and scripture, and to providing notes for the lessons to be taught.

    That said, Feast is unquestionably a place for serious discussion of whatever has to do with Mormonism. If discussion doesn’t follow from a post or a comment, there can obviously be various reasons. My own reasons for not engaging in this conversation is because I share very few of your theological presuppositions, and so I have little to contribute myself without engaging in a long debate that would occupy time I’d rather spend on other projects. I’m very much an apologist for spiritual gifts, but I read the scriptures in a way and embrace philosophical underpinnings that are, I believe, quite outside this conversation.

  8. Justin said

    Makes sense — thanks

  9. kirkcaudle said

    Nice notes Nathan. The funny thing with this lesson is that the manual never really explains what any of these gifts are. It simply names them.

    “There were definitely times when my words were just words, but other times when I truly spoke the words of Christ and they were carried by the power of the Holy Ghost to touch the hearts of listener, who also heard and understood by the Holy Ghost. Is not this the gift of tongues?”
    -Nathan

    I tend to say the gift of tongues extends far beyond verbal and earthly languages.

    “Does Satan imitate this [gift of wisdom and knowledge] by giving knowledge and wisdom by another source, or does he simply deceive with lies?” –Nathan

    This question reminds me of something my Grandmother used to tell me when I was young. I used to really be into Metallica when I was younger (and maybe still am somewhat). However, my Grandmother hated that “evil noise.” She would tell me that the reason “those guys could play guitars so well was because Satan was ‘blessing’ them for following him.”

    I realize that is somewhat of a goofy example, but I still hear forms of that argument in church today when I hear of the business and monetary success of those who are not living by church standards. More than a few times I have heard implied in Sunday School lessons that Satan is somehow “helping” them.

  10. Kirk Caudle said

    “Does Satan imitate this [gift of wisdom and knowledge] by giving knowledge and wisdom by another source, or does he simply deceive with lies?” –Nathan

    As I was reading the BOM today a verse caught my eye that again reminded me of this question.

    “And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land” (Mormon 1:19).

    It appears that Mormon seemed to think Satan worked his “power” through these types of people. Might we say then modern-day “sorceries . . . witchcrats, and magics” are more than “deceived with lies” by Satan, but rather they gain very real “knowledge and wisdom” from him that leads to worldly power?

    Maybe this is one way that Satan fools the world using spiritual gifts?

    However, I am not sure about this. Just floating an idea out there.

    • Justin said

      Does Satan…[give] knowledge and wisdom by another source, or does he simply deceive with lies?”

      Satan has a real problem on his hands: First, all mankind receives a portion of the Light of Christ when they enter mortality. Light cleaves unto light, truth unto truth — therefore, he cannot present pure, unadulterated lies to humans because we will not typically believe something that contains no element of truth at all. Since it is Satan’s intent to deceive humans, he must always present partial truths — either more or less than the truth. At the same time however, it is dangerous for him to allow too much truth because then people might be able to figure out the deception and liberate themselves from his grasp.

      Any study of the occult shows that Lucifer, the bearer of light, is all about knowledge. Lucifer [or Satan] gives occult [or hidden] knowledge [or science] without faith. Since he has no faith, he therefore has no faith to give.

      Yet, Satan has knowledge — lots of it — and those who worship him on earth are seekers of knowledge, not of faith. They look for signs and wonders and cold hard facts that they can see with their own two eyes.

      All of the Luciferian knowledge, though, is borrowed. It doesn’t come from the heart of man — as there is no planted seed of faith to produce it. As such, those who seek knowledge to the exclusion of faith are doomed to hell, as Satan always abandons all his servants, leaving them in darkness and despair.

  11. Charmaine said

    I am teaching this lesson next week and I love object lessons. I want to wrap up a item representing each “gift”. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    C

  12. kirkcaudle said

    I don’t have any ideas off of the top of my head Charmaine but that sounds like a very inventive way to approach this topic!

  13. Christmas gifts…

    RS/MP Lesson 22: “The Gifts of the Spirit” (Gospel Principles Manual) « Feast upon the Word Blog…

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