Authority & Spiritual Gifts

The prophet Nephi boldly preached of the coming of the Son of God as the Messiah in 1 Nephi 10. Nephi closed his testimony by citing the source of his authority.

And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not. (1 Nephi 10:22)

This is a subtle but important reminder that the Holy Ghost may grant authority to men. All spiritual gifts come from the Holy Ghost, and with those gifts comes the authority to exercise those gifts.

The apostle Paul gave the follow list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8–10.

  1. Word of wisdom
  2. Word of knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Gifts of healings
  5. Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Distinguishing between spirits
  8. Tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

See also Moroni 10.

There is a common belief in the LDS Church that any authority given from God to man is priesthood authority and that such keys are in the sole possession and control of the LDS Church President.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “These keys are the right of presidency; they are the power and authority to govern and direct all of the Lord’s affairs on earth. Those who hold them have power to govern and control the manner in which all others may serve in the priesthood. All of us may hold the priesthood, but we can only use it as authorized and directed so to do by those who hold the keys” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 98; or Ensign, July 1972, 87).

Whether authority granted by the Holy Ghost is the same as the priesthood keys referenced by President Smith is beyond the scope of this blog.

But the scriptures give us the following reminders.

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Moroni 10:17

And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.

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Numbers 11

[26] But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
[27] And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
[28] And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
[29] And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

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Luke 9

[49] And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
[50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

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Mark 9

[38] And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
[39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
[40] For he that is not against us is on our part.
[41] For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

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Doctrine and Covenants 93:30

All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. 

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Elder Dale G. Renlund

As we develop faith in Jesus Christ, we should also strive to become like Him. We then approach others with compassion and try to alleviate unfairness where we find it; we can try to make things right within our sphere of influence. Indeed, the Savior directed that we “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”

(Infuriating Unfairness, April 2021 General Conference)

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Elder Robert E. Wells

“Our eleventh Article of Faith states: ‘We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.’ One element of the commandment to not judge is the admonition to be tolerant and not criticize others for their religious beliefs. Religion is a matter of free agency, and each individual is responsible before God for his or her choice. If we are to follow Christ, we must not be fanatical, critical, or intolerant of others’ beliefs. John, the beloved apostle, showed a bit of that tendency when he saw someone casting out devils in the name of Christ. John forbade that person to do works in the name of the Master and reported it to the Savior. Jesus was much more tolerant. He said, ‘Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.’ (Mark 9:39-40.)

“Lack of tolerance, especially in matters of religion, leads some to want to force their opinions upon others. That was Satan’s way, perhaps, because he wanted to forgo free agency and force all to be saved without losing anyone. But force is no solution-not in politics, not in business, and, most important, not in things of the Spirit. There should be only harmony and unity of purpose between those professing different religious beliefs. The pure love of Christ should lead us to love others, no matter what church they belong to, and to truly put into practice in our lives the uplifting principles of tolerance and love that Paul and Moroni taught in their great sermons on charity.” (The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 168.)

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As members of the LDS Church, do we sometimes have a lack of tolerance for one another within the church? Do we judge one another based on family connections, church calling resume, education, wealth, gender, ethnicity, age, pioneer heritage, etc.? Do we allow others to exercise their spiritual gifts, both inside and outside of the Church, regardless of whether those gifts, and the exercise thereof, were preapproved by the Brethren?

What is it that we really are afraid of?

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And they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men;

2 Nephi 28:5

– Tom Irvine

One response

  1. […] Furthermore, the gift to heal is a “Gift of the Spirit.” When God grants this gift, He also confers the authority to exercise it. God may bestow the gift of healing on whomsoever He chooses including men, women, children and people who are outside of the LDS Church. God sometimes even gives dogs, horses and other animals the power to help people heal from trauma and PTSD. He has also given the power of healing to medicinal plants. See also: Authority & Spiritual Gifts […]

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