By guest author, P.D. Wiles.
The seventh Article of Faith explains that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in various spiritual gifts:
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
Members of the church believe that these gifts are bestowed upon those who desire to serve God, through the power of the Holy Ghost. We do not hold all of these gifts at the same time. We are given these gifts at times when they are needed to fulfill God’s purposes upon the earth, and when they can be used to benefit and bless the lives of others.
“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
Let’s review the purposes of each spiritual gift listed in this article of faith.
The gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues: Latter-day Saints believe that the gift of tongues is the ability to speak that others might understand, and the ability to interpret spiritual truths by the power of the Holy Ghost. When one is given the gift of tongues, it will always be given so that there is understanding between the speaker and the listener. The gift of tongues is not present in speech that cannot be interpreted. Joseph Fielding Smith gave this response when asked about the gift of tongues:
“There has been no cessation of the gift of tongues. Perhaps the idea of some members of the Church is that this gift belongs to the testimony meetings of the fast day. It is true that messages have been given in such meetings, and when this was so, it was evidently for the benefit of a portion of the congregation who may have had the gift of interpretation. Manifestations of this character are, and should be, rare, for this is not the real purpose of this great gift. The gift of tongues is not something for the entertainment of members, nor is it for the purpose of creating awe or to increase faith in those who are weak. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues are given for the purpose of helping to build up and strengthen the kingdom of God.”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 26.)
The gifts of prophecy, vision and revelation: Latter-day Saints believe in a modern-day prophet, a man who has been called by God to receive revelation pertaining to the administration of the Lord’s church upon the earth and to the spreading of the gospel and the authorization to hold all the keys to priesthood authority. He is assisted in his duties by a Quorum of Twelve Apostles, with whom he consults and delegates authority. This continues down to Area Authorities, Stake Presidents, and Bishops/Branch Presidents, who receive revelation concerning their realm of responsibility. All those who are called to serve, whether they be home/visiting teachers, primary teachers, Elders Quorum Presidents, or nursery leaders, are authorized by the priesthood blessing administered as they were set apart for their calling, to receive revelation pertaining to their responsibilities. For example, a teacher would be inspired to know the needs of a student in her class if she prayerfully sought inspiration from the Lord on how best to meet that student’s needs.
Many people in the world believe that direct revelation from God does not occur in this day. Elder Hugh B. Brown addressed this concern:
“I am here to, in sincerity and humility, bear my witness that Jesus is the Christ and that He has spoken again to the earth, that there has been a new revelation from heaven, that the gospel has been restored, that the Priesthood of God is upon the earth, that there are apostles and prophets living in the world. The Lord has not cut us off, the heavens are not closed, the lines of communication are still open and God is still at the helm.
I say to you, my brethren and sisters, that if my last statement is correct, namely that the line of communication is open and God is still at the helm; if the people of the world, the Christians of the world, if our Western allies could believe that statement, that God is in charge and that the heavens are open and that there is revelation; if they could believe that it would be the most inspiring and reassuring message in the world today. Hundreds of millions of people are being systematically indoctrinated with the abominable idea that there is no God, that Jesus is a myth, and that religion is an opiate. I say to you tonight that in anticipation of the very times in which we live, the God of Heaven has spoken again, the heavens have been opened and revelation has come, and we, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ, are trying to carry this message to all parts of the earth, for we were commanded, as were the apostles of old, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The promise is made that all who believe and are baptized shall be saved, and certain signs shall follow them that believe.
I want to say to you, that I know that those signs have followed the believers. I know there is prophecy and the gift of tongues and healing and revelation and other gifts that were enjoyed in the days when the apostles were on the earth. I know this from my personal knowledge-I am not telling only what I have heard others say.
If what we say is true, it is the greatest truth that has come to this earth since the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ the Lord-the greatest truth because it announces that he has come again and spoken to men, organized his church, given men the priesthood, and set up his kingdom pursuant to the prophecy of Daniel and of John.”
(Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965], 33.)
The gift of healing: People of all faiths can testify to the healing power of prayer. As Latter-day Saints, we hold sacred the priesthood ordinance of anointing the sick that can give comfort, either emotionally or physically, during times of illness. James E. Talmadge offers an excellent explanation of the gift to heal, or be healed:
“The Gift of Healing was exercised extensively in the times of the Savior and the apostles; indeed, healing constituted by far the greater part of the recorded miracles wrought in that period. By authoritative ministrations the eyes of the blind were opened, the dumb were made to speak, the deaf to hear, the lame to leap for joy; afflicted mortals, bowed with infirmity, were lifted erect and enjoyed the vigor of youth; the palsied were made well; lepers were cleansed, impotence was banished, and fevers were assuaged. In the present day, the dispensation of the fullness of times, this power is possessed in the Church and its manifestation is of frequent occurrence among the Latter-day Saints. Thousands of recipients can testify to the fulfillment of the Lord's promise, that if His servants lay hands on the sick they shall recover.
The usual method of administering to the afflicted is by the imposition of hands of those who possess the requisite authority of the Priesthood, this being agreeable to the Savior's instructions in former days and according to divine revelation in the present day. This part of the ordinance is usually preceded by an anointing with oil previously consecrated. The Latter-day Saints profess to abide by the counsel of James of old: "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
Though the authority to administer to the sick belongs to the elders of the Church in general, some possess this power in an unusual degree, having received it as an especial endowment of the Spirit. Another gift, allied to this, is that of having faith to be healed, which is manifested in varying degrees. Not always are the administrations of the elders followed by immediate healings; the afflicted may be permitted to suffer in body, perhaps for the accomplishment of good purposes, and in the time appointed all must experience bodily death. But let the counsels of God be observed in administering to the afflicted; then if they recover, they live unto the Lord; and the assuring promise is added that those who die under such conditions die unto the Lord.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 205.)