Missionaries, taught Elder D. Todd Christofferson, can find in the fourth chapter of “Preach My Gospel” an “excellent treatise” on how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit — and the absolute necessity of working by the Spirit.
“It states, simply and profoundly: ‘The power of the Holy Ghost is central to conversion.’ ”
In his June 27 remarks at the 2020 Mission Leadership Seminar, Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared that the “authority of God, the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy” are all crucial to preaching the gospel.
“First, as regards to the divine authority by which you teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and testify of Him, let me emphasize that you and your missionaries act under apostolic keys in helping to fulfill the great commission Jesus gave His ancient Apostles and renewed in this last dispensation to ‘preach [His] gospel unto every creature who has not received it’” (Doctrine and Covenants 112:28).
Meanwhile, both the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy are manifestations of the Holy Spirit bearing record — essential in proclaiming the gospel.
Missionaries need to become broadly familiar with the Christ-centered revelations found in scripture so they can teach them with clarity and conviction, said Elder Christofferson.
“The two hours of scripture study programmed into missionaries’ daily schedule are essential for this purpose. These two hours each day are a gift that they are likely to enjoy only during their mission. Help them appreciate and take full advantage of this blessing. It is crucial for teaching with the spirit of revelation to know the scriptures.”
The spirit of revelation is also “the witness of the Spirit” in the teacher that what is being taught is true. “In this sense, missionaries teach with the spirit of revelation when they teach gospel principles that the Spirit has personally confirmed to them are true.”
Ultimately, teaching by the spirit of revelation “means to open the way for the Holy Spirit to teach,” said Elder Christofferson.
“With the spirit of revelation, we can say with Paul, ‘And my speech and my preaching [are] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God’” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
The spirit of prophecy and the spirit of revelation, he added, are “companion manifestations” of the Holy Spirit that work together to bring a missionary a converting power in teaching the gospel. “I think of the spirit of revelation as primarily having to do with the declaration of truth and the spirit of prophecy as the confirmation or testimony of truth.”
Elder Christofferson said that the spirit of prophecy centers on the teaching of Jesus Christ and the promise of His Atonement.
“Our teachings are prophecies about future blessings for all who have faith in Christ, repent, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. These prophecies regarding salvation and exaltation, attested by the Holy Spirit and rooted in Christ, are foundational to faith and conversion.
“The Lord says, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ ” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).
Elder Christofferson referenced his recent General Conference talk where he related the experience of Jason M. Olson, a man who joined the Church after receiving a life-changing witness from the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon was true. That personal revelation caused Jason to make the difficult decision to leave the Jewish faith he had been raised in to become a Latter-day Saint. He experienced painful resistance. Still, he could not deny the truths the Holy Spirit had revealed to him regarding the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ.
Olson eventually served as a Latter-day Saint chaplain in the U.S. Navy and is now a Navy Foreign Area Officer. His “perfect knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon” allowed for him to be baptized and sustain a life of full activity in the Church with his wife, Sara, and their young family.
“May I underline the critical role of the Book of Mormon in this story, as in millions of other stories since the Restoration began,” said Elder Christofferson. “The Book of Mormon is the Lord’s instrument of conversion. Anyone reading it with a sincere heart and real intent, wanting and praying to know if it is true, will receive that testimony from the Holy Ghost. After that witness, there can be no doubt.”
The divine origin of the Book of Mormon, he added, is “convincing evidence” that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, that the Church he established is the Church of Jesus Christ and, most importantly, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Only Begotten Son of God.
“We could say that, in reality, we do not want people to be baptized without a knowledge of the truth of the Book of Mormon for fear their conversion will not be deep-rooted and enduring.”
A person’s conversion is real only if it is founded on the witness of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord has warned those who are authorized to use His name to do so “only as guided by the Holy Spirit,” said Elder Christofferson.
“At times we may fail to show proper reverence and care for the sacred things entrusted to us, including the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of that we need to repent quickly,” he said. “Nevertheless, if we are striving to teach these things to all who have not yet received them, as He has commanded, and diligently pray for the Spirit so that we may act ‘by constraint of the Spirit,’ I believe the Lord is pleased and that He will hear our prayers and grant His Spirit to be with us.”