As we continue the work required by the Doctrine of Christ of bringing those who are seeking truth into the waters of baptism, we bump against the question which is asked by this inquiring individual:
“As I’ve been studying in the scriptures about baptism by water and baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost I’ve also been wondering about receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, per 3 Nephi and D&C 20. Are there any individuals that you are aware of that have received authority from the Lord to perform this ordinance? If so, how does one qualify or seek out the reception of such?”
The following is my answer to this individual. It, in no way is presented as a discouragement against attempting to receive this great blessing, but is a presentation of scripture which indicates that there is, more than one way for an individual to effect that which he/she so greatly desires, upon themselves.
The Lord set the pattern for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands when He touched each of the twelve Disciples during his visit to the Americas after His resurrection. (See 3 Nephi 18: 36-37.) It was His (Christ’s) laying His hands upon the Disciples, along with the words which He spoke, which gave them the power to do the same. (See Moroni 2: 1-3 for the words which He spoke.)
It is the same today.
When a man is brought into the presence of Christ, and He lays His hands upon him, and speaks to him the authority to bestow it in like manner, he then can have power to do this by calling upon the name of the Father in mighty prayer for permission or approval to bestow it in such like manner upon him or her whose desire it is, from the Father, to have it bestowed in this manner. They will then do so in the name of Jesus Christ.
The authority and the power to do this is very limited, and would seem to belong in that same category of ordinances which are mentioned in JST Genesis 14: 30-31, where is says, “For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; …etc.” These things have always been, and still are very tightly controlled by that which follows in verse 31 where it says “…According to His will, according to His command.” The person capable of doing this has already met the requirement as mentioned in Helaman 10: 5, which is, “…For thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.”
This thing is not the prerogative of the seeker, but is that of the Lord. I would propose that if someone wants this thing he should approach the Lord God in humble and mighty prayer himself, and if it is the will of the Father, He will send His disciple to the seeker, and give him what he seeks. But, let him be prepared, for it comes not alone, but as part of a greater whole, and with consequences that are staggering.
On the other hand, there is the promise of the Father to every person who seeks to be obedient to the “Doctrine of Christ” through baptism or re-baptism, that if he/she truly repents and believes in Jesus Christ, and then is baptized, Christ bears record from the Father that, that person will be visited by the Father with the Baptism of Fire, and with the Holy Ghost. (See 3 Nephi 11: 35.) It is also the promise made by Moroni that when a person studies the things of the Book Of Mormon, and actually receives them unto himself, if he then asks of the Father in the name of Christ, he can receive a manifestation of the truth of those (and all things) by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10: 4-5.)
It is a fable taught to us by leaders and others who do not understand the role of the Holy Ghost that these things and this great gift cannot remain with us. They are with us for as long as we seek, and strive to remain worthy.
Consider Joseph and Oliver Cowdery: When they came up out of the waters of baptism on May 15, 1829, the Holy Ghost descended upon them. They both prophesied immediately afterward, and then found that they had increased powers to understand the more mysterious parts of the scriptures in their true meaning and intention, (See Joseph Smith – History 1: 73-74.) which remained with Joseph all the rest of his life. And then consider the Lamanites, which Christ spoke of, who had been baptized by fire, and the Holy Ghost after their conversion, and knew it not. (3 Nephi 9: 20.)
The promise is already there. It is up to us to accept it, and awaken to it.