power of the Holy Ghost
Scheduled for study July 1-7, 2019. The power of the Holy Ghost is graphically demonstrated in this week’s lessons. We also look at the purpose of miracles in the Church and how the first principles and ordinances help us come unto Christ.

Day 1

Acts 1:1-8; 15-26; 2:1-42; 4:1-13, 31-33 – Jesus Christ directs His Church through the Holy Ghost.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Acts 1-5, the Holy Ghost can inspire you to find truths that are relevant for your life. Take note of verses that impress you, and look for opportunities to share what you are learning.

When the Apostles were first called by Jesus and sent out to preach and heal, they regularly found themselves stumped as to what to do next or about how to solve a problem. They would go back to Jesus and he would have to instruct them as to what to do next. They were primarily working without the companionship of the Holy Ghost, because they could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until Jesus left them for good. There is some unwritten law that says that no two members of the Godhead can be in charge at the same time. So as long as Jesus was with the Apostles, the Spirit had to treat them, more or less, like He would an investigator, where they felt His influence when they were around Jesus or when they were praying, but most of the time they were on their own.

Look at the difference in their behavior before Jesus ascended to heaven and what the scriptures record once the day of Pentecost arrives and they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Up to this point Jesus had only promised them that everything would be different once they received the Spirit after he left. Let’s review a few verses from Acts to see how things changed once the gift of the Spirit was actually given to them. The Church was very small, only about 120 people in all. As they were all gathered together they were greeted with the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and each person had “cloven tongues” of fire appear over their head. Acts 2:4 says this:

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Was this for no purpose? Was the gift of tongues just the Spirit showing off? No, the Spirit doesn’t do that. The purpose for the gift of tongues was for what was to happen immediately afterwards. People heard about what was happening with the members of the Church and gathered their friends and came running. They were celebrating a major holiday in the crossroads of the world, and people were there from all over the Mediterranean. Merchants from many lands were there, and they were all astonished to hear these people each speaking the merchants’ own native languages. They list 17 different tongues or languages being spoken by these simple people from Galilee. Most of these Galileans would have had no reason to learn the trade languages needed for those traveling to Libya, Rome, or other far-flung countries.

At first some of the merchants thought the members of the Church might be drunk. How being drunk would explain such a marvel is beyond me, but Peter, acting as the head of the Church, stands up and tells them their explanation is not correct. It was only 9:00 o’clock in the morning, so they couldn’t be drunk at that hour. This was, in fact, a fulfillment of prophecy. He then quotes the prophecies and testifies of Christ and his resurrection. Peter delivers his first recorded sermon fueled by the power of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and as the Prophet of God.

What was the result of this Spirit-filled sermon? Acts 2:37 gives the typical response of people who have been moved or touched by the Holy Ghost.

37 ¶ Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Still speaking by the Spirit, Peter told them to repent and be baptized.

That day about 3,000 people joined the Church. Literally five minutes before sitting down to continue writing this day’s material, I realized something big about this day of Pentecost and what a difference the Spirit makes in the Church.

Jesus spent three years preaching the gospel and teaching his disciples in an effort to prepare them for the day he was gone and the Spirit directed the work of his Church. In that three year period, with all the miracles he performed, the wisdom he taught, and the following of adoring fans he had, on the day of Pentecost the membership of the Church was only about 120 people. These were almost all people who personally knew Jesus and had seen him minister. But with one experience with the Holy Ghost, so many lives were touched, hearts “pricked,” that three thousand people joined the Church that day.

Is it any wonder Jesus was so anxious for them to experience the gift of the Holy Ghost for themselves? He knew that the great converter was this third member of the Godhead. Jesus knew that true conversion doesn’t come from seeing then believing, but in believing so we can then see. This is why it is so important that we have the priesthood; it is so we can bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost. He is our teacher, our inspiration, the director that leads us to Christ. It is He who changes our hearts and opens our spiritual eyes to the truth and allows us to comprehend that which is spiritual in nature.

This day’s lesson is about the idea that Jesus directs the Church through the Holy Ghost. This lesson shows us in a powerful way how these two working together create an unstoppable power for doing good and teaching truth to the children of men. This is why Jesus taught the following doctrine to Thomas when he had doubted His resurrection (John 20:29).

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

This believing before seeing (understanding or comprehending) principle is what runs the Lord’s kingdom, his Church. And it is the gift of the Holy Ghost that makes it possible.

Day 2

Acts 2:1-18 – What is the purpose of the gift of tongues?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Acts 1-5, the Holy Ghost can inspire you to find truths that are relevant for your life. Take note of verses that impress you, and look for opportunities to share what you are learning.

A general principle behind all gifts of the Spirit is that we don’t control them, God does. If we are blessed with a gift of the Spirit it is because there is a purpose behind that gift. We must always assume the Lord does nothing without purpose behind the action. In the case of the day of Pentecost the gift of tongues did two things immediately. First it was a dramatic demonstration that rewarded the faith being exercised by the members of the Church, who were all covenant makers and keepers. Second, the demonstration of the Spirit’s power attracted the attention of those who spoke other languages where the gospel needed to be preached. It led to the conversion of 3,000 people that day.

We can’t always point to one specific reason for someone experiencing a gift of the Spirit, but there is always at least one good reason or it wouldn’t be on display. For those members of the Church who experienced the cloven tongues of fire and the gift of tongues, that day served to inspire and strengthen them through the many hardships they would face in the years to come. For many who were converted partly because of this gift, it opened doors in other countries for the time when the missionaries would go to those different locations with the gospel message.

The most widely seen use of the gift of tongues today is with our missionaries who need to speak foreign languages. Our missionary training facilities are the envy of every government on earth. No one can teach people to speak a foreign language like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Governments desperately try to duplicate what we do in the missionary language program in order to train their spies, diplomates, couriers, etc. the languages they need them to speak. No one comes even remotely close to the success rate of our missionaries no matter how much money they throw at their programs. The fact of the matter is, our missionaries have been blessed with the gift of tongues, and that is not something you can buy or duplicate.

Day 3

Acts 2:36-47; 3:13-32 – The first principles and ordinances of the gospel help me come unto Christ.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Acts 1-5, the Holy Ghost can inspire you to find truths that are relevant for your life. Take note of verses that impress you, and look for opportunities to share what you are learning.

How does repentance bring us to baptism and to Christ? Please refer to Why the “First Fruits of Repentance” is Baptism. This regular pattern of repent, covenant (sacrament), live righteously, improve  is what brings us closer to the Christlike ideal.

Day 4

Acts 3:19-21 – What are “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things”?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Acts 1-5, the Holy Ghost can inspire you to find truths that are relevant for your life. Take note of verses that impress you, and look for opportunities to share what you are learning.

Times of refreshing

The “times of refreshing” is one of those wonderfully descriptive phrases that paints the perfect picture. Think of a house that has been built, and the family has moved into it. Now, after many decades of family living, the original owners of the house die and their children come in to set things right again. They tear out the old, worn out carpets and put new carpets and flooring down. They paint the walls, giving them a fresh, clean look again. They fix the wiring to bring it up to code, and repair all the holes in the walls. They fix the squeaky stairs and put in new light fixtures to brighten up the house, and finally give the whole outside of the house a makeover and new treatment to update the look of the house. For this house, this is the time of refreshing, making it like it was when it was first built.

When the Savior comes again, the world will go back to its Terrestrial glory. Everything will be put back the way it was before the Fall of Adam and Eve. All the damage and destruction, the wear and the tear of humanity on the face of the earth will be gone, and the earth will be like new again.

Restitution of all things

With regards to “the times of restitution of all things” the Lord has told us over and over again that everything, every doctrine, every priesthood key, every practice, would be given to his people in the last days. This will be a time for the gathering together of all truth in preparation for the Lord’s personal reign on the earth. The restoration of the gospel only began in the early 1800’s, it did not finish then. As we witness all the changes that are taking place in the Church from year to year we are witnessing the continuation of the restoration of all things.

You might ask, “What does changing Church meeting times or changing to a home-centered, Church-supported Sunday School curriculum have to do with the restoration of all things?” I would answer that the Lord needs to move us and prepare us to be of the same caliber of people as the City of Enoch. When the Savior returns the City of Enoch will return as well, and we need to be a people who are prepared to live in harmony with them. That means we need to become a more holy people, more united in all things. The changes in the Church are incremental steps to get us where we need to be for the Savior’s return. There will be continual changes made from now until the Lord’s second coming.

There are so many things still to look forward to. We will receive new scripture. The New Jerusalem will be built. The missionaries will gain access to every nation on earth, and the government of the Lord’s Church will change according to the needs of its people. We have so much to look forward to!

Day 5

Acts 3; 4:1-31; 5:12-42 – Disciples of Jesus christ are given power to perform miracles in His name.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Acts 1-5, the Holy Ghost can inspire you to find truths that are relevant for your life. Take note of verses that impress you, and look for opportunities to share what you are learning.

Before continuing on ponder this question: Why do you think Jesus did miracles during his ministry?

Yes, Jesus was doing the works of his Father, showing the people the grace and mercy our Father would have shown them were He here in person. It is true that Jesus did them out of love for his brothers and sisters, in large measure because he could. They needed what he could do for them, and he found joy in that service.

But why else did Jesus do miracles?

One of the Savior’s responsibilities while in mortality was to teach and train those who would bear his name to all the people of the earth through their testimony and witness of his divinity. These miracles were also teaching moments and opportunities to show the Apostles what was possible to those who have faith in Christ, and to those who bear the priesthood of God. Jesus was a living example of how the priesthood can be an active part in people’s everyday lives.

It is important to remember that the miracles performed using the Savior’s priesthood power were not just for the glorifying of the Son of God. Those miracles were meant to be typical of those who bear his priesthood and who have faith in God. Between these two things, all the works of Jesus of Nazareth are possible, and actually happen, in our modern world.

Miracles are meant to bless the lives of those who put their faith in Christ. These are they who not only believe him to be the Redeemer of mankind, but who believe him to be the creator of the world and the source of all good things. Those who exercise their faith in Christ live as though those statements are absolutely true, not mere philosophical statements of possibility. They choose to believe that their creator loves them enough that they can be healed or that they can be rescued in times of distress, or any one of a thousand other scenarios. This active believe that is demonstrated by the way in which they live day to day is what enables the Spirit to create miracles in their behalf.

Remember that miracles are science-based events that we we don’t understand. They are events using laws, the likes of which we have no knowledge. It is not magic. Everything the Lord does is through law and faith. So when we exercise our faith in God’s Son, God uses His power to perform things in our behalf for which we have no explanation, for we don’t know how those higher laws work. But God knows, and He rewards our Faith in His Son with the limited use of these higher laws to confirm our faith that we might believe all the more. It is because He loves us.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Acts 2:37 – Feeling “pricked in [our] heart.”

I find it fascinating that different cultures look at the seat of emotion differently. Anciently, many people felt that the heart was the seat of emotion and reason. Some felt that the bowels were the seat of emotion, because of the pains we experience in that location when we feel emotions strongly. Modern society tries to put everything in the head, since it is the center of thought. But the scriptures always refer to the heart as the center of the soul.

The description of being “pricked in [our] heart” is very graphic. We all know what it is like to have a finger pricked. There is a sharp stabbing sensation, followed often by a tightness (for lack of a better word to describe the feeling) around the area that was pricked. Following a pricking of the finger, and the oozing of the blood, there comes a throbbing of the finger that can last for a long while, depending on how deeply you were pricked.

With that experience in mind, think of how you feel when someone taught you a gospel principle you hadn’t ever heard before. Did you experience a sudden sensation in the center of your chest or being? Was there a quickening of the pulse, a throbbing. Did your blood pressure maybe elevate a little as you became anxious about how you were supposed to respond to this new experience? This is a common way in which people experience the Holy Ghost for the first time when they hear the truth about the gospel.

They have their hearts pricked, and they become anxious, because they feel a need or urgency to do something about what they have just felt or experienced, but they aren’t sure how they are supposed to respond. This is normal for someone who has never felt the Spirit before. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to intimate that feeling the Spirit is or is supposed to be an uncomfortable experience. What many feel is a wave of peace, but with an urgency to act on something, but they don’t know what. For many it is a realization that answers they have always sought for are being revealed, and they become excited, like someone who is starving and is just given their first bite of food. They crave more at any cost.

There are so many ways in which people experience this pricking of the heart that it is difficult to give any clear, single example that applies to all. But the result of Peter’s preaching on the day of Pentecost is typical of those who have had their hearts pricked by the Spirit. They have had their first taste of eternal truth, that truth for which most of the world has starved for during most of the world’s history. They have had their first hint of relief from the spiritual hunger they have always felt, and they don’t want it to end. So people ask what more they can do to learn more or experience this feeling more or again. A spiritual high is like a hit of endorphins, you don’t want it to end.

What happens to someone who has their heart pricked by the Spirit, but they do nothing about it?

What happens to someone who has their heart pricked by the Spirit then seeks to act on what they have been taught?

How does this principle of acting on what we have had revealed to us make all the difference in our lives?

This is how you explain the Savior’s statement that to those who seek more will have more given, but those who don’t want more will have taken away from them even that which they already have. The path of righteousness is not a static path, but a dynamic path. We are moving constantly either forward or backward on the path. As soon as we stop moving forward, our direction slowly reverses itself and we begin to slide backwards in our progression. If not caught and turned around, eventually everything we have learned will become just a distant memory, without the emotional intensity we once had. We have to learn the truths all over again.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 27