Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in
Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost”
Understanding how the Holy Ghost communicates with us.
Cautions about personal revelation.
When revelation is not received or recognized.
A study of this lesson will help us learn to recognize personal revelation
through the Holy Ghost and to encourage us to seek this blessing in our lives.
Scripture references for study:
and Covenants 6,
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 6 Handout (PDF)
How Does The Holy Ghost Communicate To Us?
In Lesson 5
we discussed the need and means for obtaining revelation. This lesson
discusses revelation itself. How do we recognize it? How does
Revelation may come in a variety of ways:
Appearances by the Lord: the First Vision, the Kirtland Temple.
Appearances by the Lord's messengers: Moroni's visits to Joseph Smith,
John the Baptist to Joseph and Oliver.
Voices from the Lord or his messengers: as received by Noah.
Visions: Joseph F. Smith's vision of the dead.
Dream: Lehi's dream.
- Most revelation comes as the Holy Ghost communicates thoughts to our minds
and feelings in our hearts.
HOW DOES THE HOLY GHOST COMMUNICATE TO US?
He uses a still, small voice to communicate to our minds and our hearts.
D&C 8:2-3. The Lord explains the spirit of
As Oliver Cowdery continued to act as scribe for the Prophet, Oliver had
a desire to have the gift to translate as Joseph. Section 8 is
the Lord's response through the Prophet to Oliver's inquiry.
Revelation rarely comes in a dramatic manner, it usually comes through the quiet prompting of the
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "These delicate, refined
spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes nor heard with our
ears. And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one
feels more than one hears" (That All May Be Edified, p335).
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THIS PRINCIPLE OF HOW THE HOLY GHOST
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "Visions do happen.
Voices are heard from beyond the veil. I know this. But these experiences
are exceptional. …Most of the revelation that comes to leaders and members
of the Church comes by the still, small voice or by a feeling rather than
by a vision or a voice that speaks specific words we can hear. I testify
to the reality of that kind of revelation, which I have come to know as
a familiar, even daily, experience to guide me in the work of the Lord."
(Ensign, Mar 1997, p14)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "I have often
told the story of a young man who was promised safe return from World War
II but who found himself in a terrifying and hazardous situation on the
beach-heads of Italy. After three strong impressions came to him, he moved
from the spot where he was looking at his map to deploy his soldiers, and
immediately after his moving, a bomb came from the skies and blew up everything
in the area where he had stood." (Faith Precedes the
While traveling in New England, on assignment by Brigham Young, President
Woodruff drove his carriage into the yard of Brother Williams. Brother
Orson Hyde drove a wagon by the side of his carriage. "I
had my wife and children in the carriage. I had not been there but a few
minutes when the spirit said to me, 'Get up and move that carriage.' I
told my wife I had to get up and move the carriage. She said, 'What for?'
and I said, 'I don't know.' That's all she asked me on such occasions.
When I told her I did not know, that was enough. I got up and moved my
carriage four or five rods and put the off fore wheel against the corner
of the house. I then looked around me and went to bed. The same spirit
said, 'Go and move your animals from that oak tree.' They were two
hundred yards from where my carriage was. I went and moved my horses and
put them in a little hickory grove. I again went to bed.
"In thirty minutes
a whirlwind came up and broke that oak tree off within two feet from the
ground. It swept over three or four fences and fell square in that dooryard
near Brother Orson Hyde's wagon and right where mine had stood. What would
have been the consequences if I had not listened to that spirit? Why, myself,
wife and children doubtless would have been killed. That was the still
small voice to me. No earthquake, no thunder, no lightning but the still
small voice of the Spirit of God. It saved my life. It was a spirit of
revelation to me." (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp295-296)
IN WHAT WAYS HAS YOUR LIFE BEEN TOUCHED BY THE "STILL, SMALL VOICE"?
"Ye are swift to do iniquity
but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake
unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken
unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could
not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice
of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide
asunder." (1 Nephi 17:45)
WHAT DOES NEPHI MEAN WHEN HE TELLS HIS BROTHERS THAT
THEY WERE "PAST FEELING"?
HOW DOES ONE GET TO THE POINT WHERE HE OR SHE CANNOT
HEAR THE "STILL, SMALL VOICE"?
HOW DO WE AVOID BECOMING LIKE LAMAN AND LEMUEL?
- He enlightens our minds.
Joseph Smith: "The Spirit of Revelation
is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing
the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you
feel pure intelligence flowing unto you, it may give you sudden strokes
of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day
or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented into your minds by the
Spirit of God [Sec. 85:6; Enos 10], will come to pass; and thus by learning
the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle
of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." (HC,
A few years ago I had a remarkable manifestation in my life of what the Prophet
has stated. It is also a testimony that the Lord is concerned about
every aspect of our lives.
It was my privilege to serve as president of
a relatively small, but nationwide local (union) of government employees. We
met with management representatives in Washington, D.C., for three two-week
negotiation sessions in January 2000, June 2000, and September 2000. We
continued with an additional one week session in January 2001, which included a federal mediator. The
mediator worked with us for three days. At the beginning of the last session we still had no agreement on 13 of 37 articles in the contract. After three days of mediation there were still 12 open articles. The
without the mediator for one additional day. Based on our work with the
mediator we were able to complete the language for 5 additional articles, still
leaving 7 articles open as we prepared to return home. An agreement seemed
impossible and we were resigned to submitting the contract to the Federal
Services Impasse Panel for final arbitration.
Earlier that day, after morning prayers, as I dressed
and prepared for the day, I had "sudden strokes" of ideas. It was the kind of
spirit and feeling of which
the Prophet spoke. I was able to see a way to resolve the contract. In my mind I went through each of the 7 articles and knew just what to
do to resolve each article. Late that afternoon, after completing
the language on the 5 articles that had been agreed to in principle, we took a break and
I shared my earlier thoughts with our team. My associates agreed that the
proposals were worth trying. We presented our package to management. The
management team took a ten minute break and came back and accepted the complete offer. After seven weeks of
difficult face-to-face negotiations, the contract was resolved in
a moment. It was not my doing, but the "enlightening" that I received
as a result of my prayers and the prayers of others. I was simply a conduit.
The chief negotiator, who had a life long career
in labor negotiations, came up to us after and said that in his career
he had never seen an offer like this come from a labor group. What a blessing
to be a member of the Church and have the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit can guide us in remarkable ways if we live worthy of his
guidance and listen when he speaks.
- He brings peace to our minds.
The Lord spoke peace to Oliver's mind
Even though Oliver Cowdery was convinced of the validity of the work, there
have been some degree of doubt. The Lord witnessed to him through Joseph.
Wrote Joseph Smith: "After we had received this revelation, Oliver Cowdery
stated to me that after he had gone to my father's to board, and after
the family had communicated to him concerning my having obtained the plates,
that one night after he had retired to bed he called upon the Lord to know
if these things were so, and the Lord manifested to him that they were
true, but he had kept the circumstance entirely secret, and had mentioned
it to no one; so that after this revelation was given, he knew that the
work was true, because no being living knew of the thing alluded to in
the revelation, but God and himself." (HC, 1:35)
Receiving peace in our minds is another way of receiving revelation.
WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD THAT TESTIFY OF THIS WITNESS OF PEACE?
In the 23rd month of my mission my grandmother passed away. I was
extremely disappointed that I was not able to return home and report to
her of the glorious experience I had enjoyed in serving the Lord for two
years. She had been a great supporter of missionary work. After
grandpa died, she served two missions herself. She supported me financially,
by writing letters, and with her prayers. I was devastated that I would not
see her again in this life. On the evening I learned of her death
I knelt in prayer. While doing so, the sweetest, comforting peace
came over me and wiped out the pain of disappointment. It was an
incredible experience beyond description.
- He may cause a burning in the bosom.
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "It seems
probable that Oliver Cowdery desired to translate out of curiosity, and the Lord
taught him his place by showing him that translating was not the easy thing he
had thought it to be. In a subsequent revelation (Sec. 9), the explanation was
made that Oliver's failure came because he did not continue as he commenced, and
the task being a difficult one, his faith deserted him. The lesson he learned
was very necessary, for he was shown that his place was to act as scribe for
Joseph Smith and that it was the latter who was called and appointed by command
of the Lord to do the translating. There must have been some impatience in
having to sit and act as scribe, but when he failed to master the gift of
translating, he was then willing to accept the will of the Lord....
"A similar privilege is
given to any member of the Church who seeks knowledge of the spirit of
prayer and faith. The Lord will cause the feeling of security and truth
to take hold of the individual and burn within the bosom, and there will
be overwhelming feeling that the thing is right. . . ." (Church
History and Modern Revelation, 1:47-48)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE "YOUR BOSOM . . . BURN WITHIN YOU"?
President Boyd K. Packer: "This burning
in the bosom is not purely a physical sensation. It is more like a warm
light shining within your being." (Ensign, Nov 1994, p60)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "I have met persons
who told me they have never had a witness from the Holy Ghost because they
have never felt their bosom ‘burn within’ them. What does a ‘burning in
the bosom’ mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the
burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had
a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies
a feeling of comfort and serenity." (Ensign, Mar 1997, p13)
- He often reveals things "line upon line, precept upon precept" rather
than all at once.
"For he will give unto the faithful line upon
line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith"
HOW DOES THE LORD DO THIS? DO YOU HAVE ANY EXAMPLES?
It seems to me that the process of spiritual learning and receiving revelation
is much like that of the process of learning in general. As a young
child, I did not start out by reading Dickens's Tale of Two Cities, but
Dick and Jane. I did not start out with algebra and geometry, but
by adding simple objects. Why should we think spiritual learning
is any different? The Lord will give us that which we need as we
Elder Richard G. Scott: "When we seek inspiration
to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings. These require
us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act. Seldom does the whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex
problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without
the end in sight." (Ensign, Nov 1989, p32)
Cautions About Personal Revelation
We should pray that the Lord's will be done--and then be willing to submit to
When Joseph Smith delivered the dedicatory prayer at the Kirtland Temple
he said, "Help thy servants to say, with thy grace
assisting them: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours" (D&C
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND WHEN A SINCERE PRAYER ABOUT SOMETHING WE DESIRE IS NOT ANSWERED THE WAY WE WANT? HOW CAN SUCH EXPERIENCES HELP
I think that this is often a test of our faith. If we are
doing our best to follow the Lord, then we must trust in him and realize
that he has the big picture. It may be that we are not ready for
the answer we desire. We may still be learning "line upon line."
We should remember that revelation will come in the Lord's own time and
"Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds
become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for
he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and
in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68)
In this modern world we live in an "on demand" society. We carry cell
phones so we can make contact in a moment. We pop food in the
microwave for an instant meal. We stop at an ATM machine for instant
money, even an instant loan. The Lord does not necessarily work in
this fashion. His revelation comes as we are prepared and in the Lord's
"own time" and in his "own way."
We receive revelation according to our stewardship and responsibilities.
"But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee,
no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this
church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even
as Moses." (D&C 28:2)
Joseph Smith: "It is contrary to the
economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction
for those in authority, higher than themselves." (TPJS, p21).
WHY IS THIS AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE TO UNDERSTAND?
First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose):
visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift
of inspiration, convey something out of harmony with accepted revelations
of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities,
Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible
it may appear. Also, they should understand that directions for the guidance
of the Church will come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful
members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for themselves,
their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained
to preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through
the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable.
In secular as well as spiritual affairs, saints may receive divine guidance
and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority
to direct others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants,
doctrine or discipline, or to known facts, demonstrated truths, or good
common sense. [Sec. 42:13; 97:8.] No person has the right to induce his
fellow members of the Church to engage in speculations or take stock in
ventures of any kind on the specious claim of divine revelation, or vision,
or dream, especially when it is in opposition to the voice of recognized
authority, local or general. The Lord's Church 'is a house of order.' [Sec.
132:8.] It is not governed by individual gifts or manifestations, but by
the order and power of the Holy Priesthood as sustained by the voice and
vote of the Church in its appointed conferences. [Sec. 124:143-44.]."
(Improvement Era, Sep 1913, 16:1148-49)
We should discern whether the revelation has come from God.
HOW CAN WE KNOW IF A REVELATION COMES FROM GOD?
"Sometimes what we think is a revelation may be
a projection of our own desires. And sometimes false revelations may come
from Satan." (Lesson Manual, p33)
D&C 11:12-14 &
It leads one to do good.
Enlightens the mind.
Fills the soul with joy.
It fills one with light, not darkness.
When Revelation Is Not Received or Recognized
Sometimes when answers do not come or we do not recognize them, we lose
"Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit
of prophecy, for wo unto him that denieth these things." (D&C 11:15)
President Joseph Fielding Smith commented on this verse: "This
is good counsel for all of us today. There are some members of the Church
who seemingly complain because the Lord is not giving revelations to be
placed in the Doctrine and Covenants as in the beginning and they ask why
revelation has ceased in the Church. Usually it is the case that
these critics are not faithfully keeping the commandments the Lord has
already given and their eyes are blind to the fact that revelation and
the guidance of the Lord is being meted out to the Church constantly.
No one with the spirit of discernment can fail to see that the hand of
the Lord has guided this people from the beginning and this guidance is
manifest today as in other times to all who are humble and have a contrite
spirit." (Church History & Modern Revelation, 1:53)
WHAT SHOULD WE DO WHEN PERSONAL REVELATION DOES NOT COME?
Consider these ideas from the Lesson Manual (p33):
Be patient and continue to wait faithfully on the Lord (D&C 98:2).
Increase our efforts to tune in spiritually, so we can receive and recognize
the whisperings of the Spirit.
Increase our efforts to study and pray, recognizing that we may not have
done this as long, as faithfully, or as honestly as we should.
Be more faithful in obeying the commandments (Isaiah 59:2).
As President Smith stated above, those critics of the lack revelation "are
not faithfully keeping the commandments the Lord has already given".
Set the matter aside for a while. Flashes of inspiration often come when
we least expect them, while our minds are no longer consumed by the matter.
Recognize that we may be seeking counsel on matters that we should determine
for ourselves, using our best judgment based on study and reason.
Evaluate whether we may have received an answer already, but have not accepted
it because it was not what we hoped for or expected. If we insist on what
we want, we may close off the Spirit's communication with us.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on personal revelation. What impact has personal
revelation had on your life? How can you better prepare to receive revelation
to guide you?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Church History and Modern Revelation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Discourses of Wilford Woodruff.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
History of the Church (HC).
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
That All May Be Edified by Boyd K. Packer.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
21 January 2017