LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXIII
Article IV, Laying on of Hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost
The fourth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” We have discussed the first three points of Article IV, so now we will consider the last point: “Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” which includes “confirmation” as a member of the LDS Church. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “Laying on of Hands. In the name of Christ and the Authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, baptized persons are confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of this ordinance of confirmation the gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed. (D. & C. 20:38-43; 33:15.) It is also proper for the legal administrators performing the ordinance to give expression, as led by the Spirit, to a few brief words of blessing, promise, counsel, and exhortation” (Mormon Doctrine, p.156). Confirmation is not even mentioned in the Bible, nor does the Bible say that after baptism, laying on of hands by Melchizedek Priesthood holders must be done to convey the Holy Ghost or to confirm members of the church. Local churches have a memberships, but there is no Biblical command to “join the (one true) church” as LDS often say. No one can join Christ’s Church, which is not an organization, but it is His Body (Eph. 1:22-23) and consists of all believers in Christ everywhere and throughout all time. In Matt. 16:18 Jesus said “I will build MY Church.” After He was raised from the dead, Acts 1:9-11 says He ascended into heaven. Yet, while Jesus was in heaven, Acts 2:47 says “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
LDS Apostle, John A. Widtsoe said, “The Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Comforter, is the third member of the Godhead, and is a personage distinct from the Holy Spirit. As a personage, the Holy Ghost cannot any more than the Father and Son be everywhere present in person” (Evidences and Reconciliations, p.76). Widtsoe said on p. 62 that the Holy Ghost is limited because He is a “personage of Spirit” in the form a physical man (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22). Also on pp. 62-63 Widtsoe said, “The chief agent or agency by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes his work, is usually spoken of as the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God. It is a universe-filling medium, or influence, by which divine messages may be transmitted to man, and man’s desires carried to the powers of heaven.” Such LDS teachings show that LDS leaders either don’t know the original Greek language of the New Testament or they want to teach things not in the Bible. “Holy Ghost” is the 1611 old English of way of speaking about the “Holy Spirit.” In recent translations of the New Testament “Holy Ghost” is translated as “Holy Spirit” because “Ghost” and “Spirit” is the same word in the original Greek language! The difference is 1611 old English vs. modern English. There is no Holy Ghost AND Holy Spirit as two different entities like Widtsoe and other LDS leaders claim! Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th LDS Prophet said, “The Holy Ghost should not be confused with the Spirit which fills the immensity of space and which is everywhere present. This other Spirit is impersonal and has no size, nor dimension; it proceeds forth from the presence of the Father and the Son and is in all things. We should speak of the Holy Ghost as a personage as “he” and this other Spirit as “it,” although when we speak of the power or gift of the Holy Ghost we may properly say “it.” LDS leaders often tell people exactly what to say and do, like other groups trying to earn their salvation. Smith claimed to be a Prophet who received his messages from the Lord, but the LDS doctrine that the Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit are two separate entities is not Biblical!
In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 199 Smith said, “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him; for the spirits might say unto him, as they did to the sons of Sceva: ‘Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who are ye?’”
The story of Cornelius is in Acts 10:17-48 but it does not contain what Joseph Smith said. Smith referred specifically to what happened in Acts 10:44-48. In vs. 44-45 it says, “While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Ghost (Spirit) fell on all them that were listening. All of the circumcised believers (Jews) were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) had been poured out upon the Gentiles.” But Joseph Smith said Cornelius (and those with him) received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized, but they couldn’t receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after they were baptized and then that gift could only be received “by the laying on of hands". But Acts 10:44-48 shows they received the gift of the Holy Ghost while Peter spoke and were baptized afterwards with no mention of “laying on of hands” in that context. In v. 47 Peter explicitly said, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Ghost (Spirit) just as we did.” Notice that Peter clearly says that they had already received the Holy Spirit "just as we did". So, Smith either didn’t read the context carefully or he deliberately tried to change what the text said to make it agree with what he taught! Smith changed what the Bible says many other times. He said, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 328). The Bible does not say that everyone who receives the Holy Spirit will receive revelations. Smith’s very next words on p. 328 are, “I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawal of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation. This generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ.” He said that on Oct. 15, 1843, but the generation living in 1843 wasn’t any more corrupt than any other generation and there is no evidence that it suffered “anguish, wrath, tribulation and utter desolation. IF the Spirit of God was withdrawn in that generation, WHY do LDS claim to have the Spirit of God today? Those things didn’t happen, so what Smith said was a false prophecy! Smith claimed he had the Spirit of God and that he received revelations and prophecies. In the last sentence of the paragraph quoted above Smith said, “I prophesy that they (his enemies) never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die.” But eight months later he was killed! Was his work was finished or was what he said a false prophecy? True prophets of God don’t give false prophecies, so was Smith a true prophet of God?
Next time we will continue our discussion of “the Laying on of Hands.”