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What is the Holy Spirit of Promise? How is it to be obtained? Is it necessary for salvation? On what grounds can we hope to receive it?

D&C 76:52-53

52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

D&C 88:3

3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.

D&C 124:124

124 First, I give unto you Hyrum Smith to be a patriarch unto you, to hold the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption, that ye may not fall notwithstanding the hour of temptation that may come upon you.

D&C 132:7

7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.

D&C 132:26

26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.

D&C 132:18

18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

D&C 132:19

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

Ephesians 1:13

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Holy Spirit of Promise — The Guide to the Scriptures

The Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit of Promise (Acts 2:33). He confirms as acceptable to God the righteous acts, ordinances, and covenants of men. The Holy Spirit of Promise witnesses to the Father that the saving ordinances have been performed

 

Joseph Smith

Words of Joseph Smith

The Doctrine of Election

St Paul exhorts us to make our Calling & Election shure. This is that sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places (See Eph I. 13.14. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the work of truth; the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory.) That we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption, this principle ought, (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed any thing to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve & even the least Saint may know all things as fast a$ he is able to — bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor know ye the Lord for all shall know him (who Remain) from the least to the greatest, How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power & the other comforter spoken of which will be manifest by Revelation. There is two Comforters spoken of is the Holy Ghost the same as given on the day of pentecost and that all Saints receive after faith. Repentance & Baptism. This first comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure inteligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind enlightening the understanding & storeing the intellect with present knowledge of a man who is of the literal Seed of Abraham than one that is a gentile though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the Literal Seed of Abraham it is calm & serene & his whole soul & body are only exercised by the pure spirit of Inteligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile is to purge out the old blood & make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost, in such a case there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body & visible to the eye than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure inteligence.1

Before 8 August 1839 – Willard Richards Pocket Companion

There are certain characters that walked with God, saw him, conversed about heaven &c. [verse 26] but the comforter that I will send, (not the other comforter) shall teach you all things. — who? — He that loveth me &c — This shall bring all things to remembrance whatsoever things I have said unto you, he shall teach you until ye come to me & my father. God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege. Come to God weary him until he blesses you &c — we are entitled to the same blessings, Jesus, revelations, Just Men & — Angels &c. &c. not Laying again the doctrine of Christ go on unto perfection. Obtain that holy Spirit of promise — Then you can be sealed to Eternal Life.2

June 1843 209 – James Burgess Notebook

First Chapter second Epistle of Peter. The first four verses are the preface to the whole subject. There are three grand Keys to unlock the whole subject. First what is the knowledge of God, Second what is it to make our calling and election sure. Third and last is how to make our calling and election sure. Ans, it is to obtain a promise from God for myself that I shall have Eternal life, that is the more sure word of prophycy.'” Peter was writeing to those of like precious faith with them the Apostles First to be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise that is the testimony of Jesus Second how is he to get that Holy Spirit; Ans except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God; second except a man be born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God:’ 2 Ques. What is it for a man to obtain salvation Ans, It is to triumph over every foe or ascend far above all enemies for the last enimey to conquor is death and untill that is done you have not obtained salvation J. Smith Prophet. Nauvoo.3

27 August 1843

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead (D&C 132:5-7).4

Joseph Fielding Smith

Letter, October 26, 1948

. . . I will make an explanation of the expression, “Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise,” first. This does not have reference to marriage for time and all eternity only; but to every ordinance and blessing of the Gospel. Baptism unto the Church is sealed by this spirit; likewise confirmation, ordination, etc. as well as marriage for time and all eternity. The meaning of this expression is this: Every covenant, contract, bond, obligation, oath, vow, performance that man receives through covenant and blessing of the Gospel, is sealed by the Holy Spirit and with a promise. The promise is that the blessing will be obeyed if those who seek it are true and faithful to the end. If they are not faithful, then the Holy spirit will withdraw the blessing, and the promise comes to an end. See Sections 76:53-54, 88:3, 124:124, 132:7. . .

. . . the Lord has no prepared for favoritism. He has not placed exemption upon some because they have received marriage for time and for all eternity and had it sealed by the “Holy Spirit of Promise,” and thus given them the privilege of blaspheming his name, or committing any sin whatever, and they come forth to receive an exaltation. We should all be grateful for the wonderful principle of repentance. We all need it; but we must not lose sight of the fact that the celestial kingdom is reserved for those who are sanctified, and none others. Read Mormon 9:3–4.5

Doctrines of Salvation

I will make an explanation of the expression, “Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” This does not have reference to marriage for time and all eternity only, but to every ordinance and blessing of the gospel. Baptism into the Church is sealed by this Spirit, likewise confirmation, ordination, and all ordinances as well as marriage for time and all eternity.
The meaning of this expression is this: Every covenant, contract, bond, obligation, oath, vow, and performance, that man receives through the covenants and blessings of the gospel, is sealed by the Holy Spirit with a promise. The promise is that the blessing will be obtained, if those who seek it are true and faithful to the end. If they are not faithful, then the Holy Spirit will withdraw the blessing, and the promise comes to an end. 6

Harold B. Lee (Quorum of the Twelve)

I shall inject here another phrase that is oft discussed (and I think is misunderstood) and to which we try to attach some mysteries. This phrase, where the Lord directs that all of these things are to be eternal, is: “must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.” Let me refer first to the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Speaking of those who are candidates for celestial glory, the Lord says:

“They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands . . . And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true” (D&C 76:51-53.)

In other words, baptism is only efficacious, and the initiary ordinance is applicable, when it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. We have that same phrase repeated in section 132, verse 19, for the Lord is speaking now of celestial marriage.

“. . . if a man marry a wife by my word and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of Promise, they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things. . . .”

And with reference to the priesthood, when the Lord discusses in the 84th section the oath and covenant, exactly the same principle is implied. By the laying on of hands we get the promise of power and authority, but it will not be ours — worlds without end–unless we keep our part of the covenant. 7

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

One of the functions assigned and delegated to the Holy spirit is to seal, and the following expressions are identical in thought content:

To be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise;
To be justified by the Spirit;
To be approved by the Lord; and
To be ratified by the Holy Ghost.

Accordingly, any act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is justified by the Spirit, one which is approved by the Lord, one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost….

As revealed to Joseph Smith, the Lord’s law in this respect is: “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.” (D. & C. 132:7.)

By way of illustration, this means that baptism, partaking of the sacrament, administering to the sick, marriage, and every covenant that man ever makes with the Lord—plus all other “contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, associations, or expectations”—must be performed in righteousness by and for people who are worthy to receive whatever blessing is involved, otherwise whatever is done has no binding and sealing effect in eternity.

Since “the Comforter knoweth all things” (D. & C. 42:17), it follows that it is not possible “to lie to the Holy Ghost” and thereby gain an unearned or undeserved blessing, as Ananias and Sapphira found out to their sorrow. (Acts 5:1-11.) And so this provision that all things must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, if they are to have “efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead” (D. & C. 132:7), is the Lord’s system for dealing with absolute impartiality with all men, and for giving all men exactly what they merit, neither adding to nor diminishing from.

When the Holy Spirit of Promise places his ratifying seal upon a baptism, or a marriage, or any covenant, except that of having one’s calling and election made sure, the seal is a conditional approval or ratification; it is binding in eternity only in the event of subsequent obedience to the terms and conditions of whatever covenant is involved.

But when the ratifying seal of approval is placed upon someone whose calling and election is thereby made sure—because there are no more conditions to be met by the obedient person—this act of being sealed up unto eternal life is of such transcendent import that of itself it is called being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, which means that in this crowning sense, being so sealed is the same as having one’s calling and election made sure. Thus, to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is to be sealed up unto eternal life; and to be sealed up unto eternal life is to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. And of this usage of terms, a usage which is wholly misunderstood unless the whole concept of the sealing power of the Spirit is understood, the scriptures and other prophetic utterances bear repeated witness. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:335-336)

One of our revelations speaks of “the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true” (D&C 76:53), meaning that every person who walks uprightly, does the best that he can, overcomes the world, rises above carnality, and walks in paths of righteousness will have his acts and his deeds sealed and approved by the Holy Spirit. He will be, as Paul would have expressed it, “justified … by the Spirit” (See 1 Cor. 6:11)

In order to get a proper marriage one must do this: first, search for and seek out celestial marriage—find the right ordinance; second, look for a legal administrator, someone who holds the sealing power—and that power is exercised only in the temples that the Lord has had built by the tithing and sacrifice of his people in our day; and third, so live in righteousness, uprightness, integrity, virtue, and morality that he is entitled to have the Holy Spirit of God ratify and seal and justify and approve, and in that event his marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and is binding in time and in eternity. (“Celestial Marriage,” New Era, June 1978, pp.16-17)

To seal is to ratify, to justify, or to approve. Thus an act which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise is one which is ratified by the Holy Ghost; it is one which is approved by the Lord; and the person who has taken the obligation upon himself is justified by the Spirit in the thing he has done. The ratifying seal of approval is put upon an act only if those entering the contract are worthy as a result of personal righteousness to receive the divine approbation. They “are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.” (D. & C. 76:53.) If they are not just and true and worthy the ratifying seal is withheld.

When any ordinance or contract is sealed by the Spirit, it is approved with a promise of reward, provided unrighteousness does not thereafter break the seal, remove the ratifying approval, and cause loss of the promised blessing. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 55; vol. 2, pp. 94-99) Seals are placed on contracts through righteousness.

The operation and power of the Holy Spirit of Promise is best illustrated by the ordinance and contract of baptism. An unworthy candidate for baptism might deceive the elders and get the ordinance performed, but no one can lie to the Holy Ghost and get by undetected. Accordingly, the baptism of an unworthy and unrepentant person would not be sealed by the Spirit; it would not be ratified by the Holy Ghost; the unworthy person would not be justified by the Spirit in his actions. If thereafter he became worthy through repentance and obedience, the seal would then be put in force. Similarly, if a worthy person is baptized with the ratifying approval of the Holy Ghost attending the performance, yet the seal may be broken by subsequent sin.

These principles also apply to every other ordinance and performance in the Church. Thus if both parties are “just and true,” if they are worthy, a ratifying seal is placed on their temple marriage; if they are unworthy, they are not justified by the Spirit and the ratification of the Holy Ghost is withheld. Subsequent worthiness will put the seal in force, and unrighteousness will break any seal. 8

  1. Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith. Andrew Ehat. pg. 4
  2. Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith. Andrew Ehat. pg. 14
  3. Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith. Andrew Ehat. pg. 209
  4. Words of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith. Andrew Ehat. pg. 284
  5. A letter from Joseph Fielding Smith in regards to a question about the Holy Spirit of Promise. October 26, 1948
  6. Doctrines of Salvation, 2:94-95
  7. Stand Ye In Holy Places, p.53
  8. Mormon Doctrine, p.362

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