As members of the Lord’s church, sometimes we act as though we feel like just showing up to meetings on Sunday is fulfilling our obligations to God. When people start to talk about our need to participate in missionary work or temple work (same thing, just on different sides of the veil), we inwardly cringe because that will require that we step outside our comfort zone and get involved in someone else’s life, adding more stress to our already stressful lives.
The Holy Ghost converts
How many times have we been told that we do not convert people, the Spirit does? We cannot teach unless the Spirit is present. Why? Because it is the Spirit that conveys our words and the truth of those words into the heart of the listener. If it is the Spirit who does all the teaching, and the Spirit who converts, then why do we need to be so involved in the conversion process?
While it is true that it is the Holy Ghost who gives the witness of the truth, and the Holy Ghost who does the teaching to the individual’s soul, the mortal experience was never meant to be a one-man show, with the Holy Ghost doing all the work.
Mortality is a family effort. We will not be saved (exalted) as individuals, but as families. Even limiting ourselves to our immediate family could prevent us from being exalted. While our most important work must be within the walls of our own home, Christlike love is not, and cannot be confined to just a few individuals who live close to us. Christlike love extends to all of God’s children.
In the premortal world, when we accepted our Father in Heaven’s plan for our future happiness, we accepted it as a family, with the understanding that as a family we would work together for each other’s happiness and salvation. This understanding and assumption is built into all of the covenants we make, starting with our baptismal covenant. In the April 2015 General Conference, President Eyring said this:
My message to you tonight is that you can and must be an important part of His giving comfort to those who need comfort. You can play your part best if you know more of how He answers those prayers for help. …
The burden of sin can be taken away, but the trials of mortal life for good people can still be heavy burdens.
You have seen such tests in the lives of good people you love. You have felt a desire to help them. There is a reason for your feeling of compassion for them.
You are a covenant member of the Church of Jesus Christ. A great change began in your heart when you came into the Church. You made a covenant, and you received a promise that began changing your very nature. …
That is why you have a feeling to want to help a person struggling to move forward under a load of grief and difficulty. You promised that you would help the Lord make their burdens light and be comforted. You were given the power to help lighten those loads when you received the gift of the Holy Ghost. …
We lighten the loads of others best by helping the Lord strengthen them. That is why the Lord included in our charge to comfort others the command to be His witnesses at all times and in all places. …
The Father and the Son send the Holy Ghost to comfort and strengthen disciples of the Master in their journey. …
I can know only partially how much He feels joy each time you, as His disciple, help Him bring a moment of peace and joy to a child of our Heavenly Father.
I bear my witness that the Lord has asked each of us, His disciples, to help bear one another’s burdens. We have promised to do it. I bear my testimony that the Lord, through His Atonement and Resurrection, has broken the power of death. I give my witness that the living Christ sends the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to those we are pledged to help Him comfort.
Wow! That’s a lot to take in. When we get baptized we make the covenant to stand in the place of Christ, to do what He would do for those around us in his absence. In order to help us fulfill this covenant the gift of the Holy Ghost begins to change our soul, making us more empathetic, more compassionate, and increasing our desire to do good.
By reaching out to others and doing good, we bring solace to the sorrowful, comfort to the grieving, help to the distressed, and peace to the lonely.
Salvation is a joint effort
The Holy Ghost cannot teach discussions to potential converts. He needs missionaries, ordained or otherwise, to do that. But we cannot convert those we teach, that is His responsibility. This requires that we work hand-in-hand with the third member of the Godhead, our tutor and guide, to bring about the salvation of all God’s children who are willing to listen and obey. We cannot do it alone. The Spirit cannot do it alone.
Elder Robert D. Hales gave an example of how the Spirit works with us to accomplish the needed tasks of saving souls. This example is from the April 2016 General Conference.
Once, following a serious illness, I presided at a stake conference. To conserve my energy, I planned to leave the chapel immediately after the priesthood leadership session. However, following the benediction, the Holy Ghost said to me, “Where are you going?” I was inspired to shake hands with everyone as they left the room. As one young elder stepped forward, I was prompted to give him a special message.
He was looking down, and I waited for his eyes to come up and meet mine, and I was able to say, “Pray to Heavenly Father, listen to the Holy Ghost, follow the promptings you are given, and all will be well in your life.” Later the stake president told me that the young man had just returned early from his mission. The stake president, acting on a clear impression, had promised the young man’s father that if he brought his son to the priesthood meeting, Elder Hales would speak with him. Why did I stop to shake everyone’s hand? Why did I pause to talk to this special young man? What was the source of my counsel? It’s simple: the Holy Ghost.
We have all heard stories like this, and if we are truthful to our own experiences, chances are these kinds of things have happened to us in one form or another. This is the Lord’s work, and one way or another His work will move forward. But our lives are blessed as we act as saviors on Mt. Zion by following the guidance of the Holy Ghost to accomplish God’s work of salvation for His children.
As Elder Hales closed his talk he taught this lesson: When we deliberately seek to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our life will be filled with a “constant flow of daily guidance.” It is by following the feelings we get to do good at all times that our lives will be filled with “the multitude of [Christ’s] tender mercies and miracles that do not cease.”
To my own posterity and all within the sound of my voice, I offer my testimony of the personal revelation and constant flow of daily guidance, caution, encouragement, strength, spiritual cleansing, comfort, and peace that have come to our family through the Holy Ghost. Through the Holy Ghost, we experience “the multitude of [Christ’s] tender mercies” and miracles that do not cease.
I will end this article with a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley. He recounted an experience of a young man he baptized on his mission, who was lost to the truth because of the harshness of a member. To the end of his days this was a source of great sorrow to President Hinckley.
The lesson he wants us to take away from his talk is that it is the responsibility of every member of the Church to seek for the welfare of those both inside and outside of the covenants of baptism. It is our responsibility as covenant makers to work with the Holy Ghost for the salvation of others, for the Spirit cannot do this alone.
In these days as in those days, converts are “numbered among the people of the church … [to] be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer.” Brethren, let us help them as they take their first steps as members.
This is a work for everyone. It is a work for home teachers and visiting teachers. It is a work for the bishopric, for the priesthood quorums, for the Relief Society, the young men and young women, even the Primary. …
Now, brethren, I ask each of you to please help in this undertaking. Your friendly ways are needed. Your sense of responsibility is needed. The Savior of all mankind left the ninety and nine to find the one lost. That one who was lost need not have become lost. But if he is out there somewhere in the shadows, and if it means leaving the ninety and nine, we must do so to find him. (See Luke 15:3–7.)
Now, I think that is all I will say this evening about this, except to say that in my view nothing is of greater importance.
The Holy Ghost By Elder Robert D. Hales, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The Comforter By President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency
Converts and Young Men Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.