We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
By 1842 when the Prophet penned the Articles of Faith, the Age of Reason was old news. Western philosophy had embraced rationalism and skepticism. Neither of these ideas embraced religious traditions of supernatural events. Certainly, religion was the opium of the masses and miracles were a coping mechanism for man to explain the unexplainable.
Defending the previous works of John Locke, Scottish philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776) argued that "Miracles by definition are singular events that differ from the established Laws of Nature. The Laws of Nature are codified as a result of past experiences. Therefore a miracle is a violation of all prior experience. However the probability that something has occurred in contradiction of all past experience should always be judged to be less than the probability that either my senses have deceived me or the person recounting the miraculous occurrence is lying or mistaken." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume)
"Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history:
- People often lie, and they have good reasons to lie about miracles occurring either because they believe they are doing so for the benefit of their religion or because of the fame that results.
- People by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even where false.
- Hume notes that miracles seem to occur mostly in "ignorant" and "barbarous" nations and times, and the reason they don't occur in the "civilized" societies is such societies aren't awed by what they know to be natural events.
- The miracles of each religion argue against all other religions and their miracles, and so even if a proportion of all reported miracles across the world fit Hume's requirement for belief, the miracles of each religion make the other less likely.
"Despite all this Hume observes that belief in miracles is popular, and that 'The gazing populace receive greedily, without examination, whatever soothes superstition and promotes wonder'." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hume)
Hume's arguments against miracles were also applied to prophecy, which also seemed to defy the Laws of Nature. Inevitably, these ideas permeated Christian thought at the time. While visions, revelation, healings, and tongues may have occurred in New Testament times, surely these miraculous events had ceased.
Some modern Christians still hold to this idea. Hugo McCord wrote:
In a Sunday morning Bible class I was emphasizing that, since the last person died on whom an apostle had laid hands, there have been no miracles (Acts 8:18). A visitor, a neatly dressed young man, came to me after class, and was shocked. He told me that he had thought of the words, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), as proof that Jesus still performs miracles today, and that his pastor's wife is an example of a miracle cure by prayer from cancer. I asked for his address, and I am mailing a copy of this article to him.
Jesus healed many sick people, but the main reason why he performed miracles (as calming a storm, walking on water, finding a coin in a fish's mouth, casting out demons, raising the dead, multiplying loaves and fish, etc.) was not to be a "divine healer," but "that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in his name" (John 20:31). His miracles proved that "no one can do these signs which you are doing, unless God is with him" (John 3:2; 5:36; 10:25, 37-38).
But today Jesus is not opening blind eyes nor turning water into wine. He still could perform those miracles, even from heaven, for he himself is unchangeable (truly "the same yesterday and today and forever"), but he does not need to prove a second time that he is the Son of God, for he did that convincingly while he was on the earth...
Only the apostles were given the power to pass on miraculous power to others (Acts 8:18; 19:5; Romans 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:6). It follows therefore that when the last person died on whom an apostle laid hands all miracles have ceased (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 13:8-10). (http://www.christianarticles.org/Articles/McCord/Miracles%20No%20More.htm)
Another gospel blog teaches:
We today have the complete revelation of God's will in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16,17). We need no further revelation today. The purpose of the gifts of direct revelation has been fulfilled... The clear pattern is that God ceases to do works, including miraculous works, when their purpose has been accomplished. All miracles have now accomplished their purpose, so the pattern of God's past works should convince us that He ceased them all...
Whether by Holy Spirit baptism or by laying on of apostles' hands, no one ever received miraculous powers after Jesus' resurrection except with the direct, personal involvement of an apostle.
But we have also seen that no one today meets the qualifications of apostles.
- No one works the true signs of apostles.
- No one is directly guided by the Spirit as apostles were.
- No one is a personal eyewitness of the resurrected Christ.
- No one has been called directly by Jesus to serve as an apostle.
So apostles were always involved whenever anyone received miraculous powers of the Spirit, but there are no apostles today. Therefore, there is no way for people to receive the gifts today. The gifts must have ceased around the time when all apostles had passed away. (http://www.gospelway.com/god/miracles_duration.php)
Book of Mormon Response
Having seen our day in vision, Moroni recorded his father Mormon's teachings on this doctrine as follows:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness...
And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. (Moro. 7:27-37)
Marion G. Romney
The gifts named in the Seventh Article of Faith, quoted above, are gifts or the Holy Ghost. The enjoyment or them has always been a distinctive characteristic of the Church of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, without the gift of revelation, which is one of the gifts or the Holy Ghost, there could be no Church of Jesus Christ. This is apparent from the obvious fact that in order for his Church to exist, there must be a society of people who individually have testimonies that Jesus is the Christ. (Conference Report, April 1956, Afternoon Meeting 68 - 69)
M. Russell Ballard
It is our testimony to the world that the spiritual gifts that existed in such rich abundance during the time of Christ and His holy Apostles are again active and vibrant in the lives of God's children today. According to the Savior, these spiritual gifts "are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited." (D&C 46:9.)
We have missionaries throughout the world who have experienced the gift of tongues that they might teach the gospel in its fulness to people who speak a different language. We have prophets who receive revelation from God-even visions-that they might communicate the will of the Father to His children. And we have miracles of healing wrought through the power of faith and the authority of the priesthood "that all may be benefited."
"And all these gifts come from God," the Lord told Joseph Smith, "for the benefit of the children of God." (D&C 46:26.)
Several years ago I was sitting at my desk when I suddenly felt that I needed to go to a nearby hospital to see a neighbor who had been admitted with a heart problem. At first I thought I would stop by on my way home from work, as there had been no indication that my friend's condition was serious. But the spiritual prompting was strong: I must go immediately. By this time in my life I had learned to respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, so I went, though I didn't know exactly why.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that my friend had suffered a major heart attack. Even though he was alone in his room and seemed to be asleep, I felt I should give him a blessing of health and total recovery. So I placed my hands upon his head and blessed him through the authority of the priesthood.
I have since learned that my neighbor's vital signs began changing soon after I gave him the blessing. Within five days he was out of the hospital, and he experienced a remarkable recovery within a month.
"It has been eight years now," my friend wrote recently. "Today I still work eight to ten hours a day. I play golf. I walk each day. I even water ski. And I never forget that by all accounts I should be dead. Thank you for these last eight years. And thank God!"
Is the age of miracles over? Not by a long shot. God continues to do miraculous things among His children through the gifts of the Spirit. (Our Search for Happiness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 94-95)
Bruce R. McConkie
Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness-in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord. He is no respecter of persons nor of sexes and he blesses those men and those women who seek him and serve him and keep his commandments. (Ensign, Jan. 1979, p. 61)
Gift of tongues
The prototypical scriptural example of the gift of tongues occurred on the Day of Pentecost. The fullest manifestation is a man who preaches the gospel fluently in a language he has never studied:
And they were all amazed... (Acts 2:1-12)
Tongues were given for the purpose of preaching among those whose language is not understood; as on the day of Pentecost, etc., and it is not necessary for tongues to be taught to the Church particularly, for any man that has the Holy Ghost, can speak of the things of God in his own tongue as well as to speak in another; for faith comes not by signs, but by hearing the word of God. (History of The Church, 7 Vols. 3:379)
Heber C. Kimball
In September, 1832, Brothers Brigham and Joseph Young and myself went to Kirtland, Ohio. We saw Brother Joseph Smith and had a glorious time, during which Brother Brigham spoke in tongues, this being the first time Joseph had heard the gift. The Prophet rose up and testified that it was from God. The gift then fell upon him, and he spoke in tongues himself. (Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet, p. 36)
Joseph F. Smith
I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit unto men, but I do not want the gift of tongues, except when I need it. I needed the gift of tongues once, and the Lord gave it to me. I was in a foreign land, sent to preach the gospel to a people whose language I could not understand. Then I sought earnestly for the gift of tongues, and by this gift and by study, in a hundred days after landing upon those islands I could talk to the people in their language as I now talk to you in my native tongue. This was a gift that was worthy of the gospel. There was a purpose in it. There was something in it to strengthen my faith, to encourage me and to help me in my ministry. If you have need of this gift of tongues, seek for it and God will help you in it. But I do not ask you to be very hungry for the gift of tongues, for if you are not careful the devil will deceive you in it. He can talk by the gift of tongues as well as the Lord can. (Gospel Doctrine, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 201)
Gift of prophecy
"(Sunday, March 27, 1836 on the occasion of the Kirtland Temple Dedication) I met the quorums in the evening... and gave them instructions in relation to the spirit of prophecy, and called upon the congregation to speak, and not to fear to prophesy good concerning the Saints...Do not quench the Spirit, for the first one that opens his mouth shall receive the spirit of prophecy.
"Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the temple), and were astonished at what was taking place. This continued until the meeting closed at eleven p.m." (History of the Church 2:428.)
Harold B. Lee
No group of people have a gift so widely diffused as the gift of prophecy. You recall the definition as contained in the book of Revelation. John quoted the angelic messenger who came to him as saying, "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).
...In other words, anyone who enjoys the gift by which he may have God revealed has the spirit of prophecy, the power of revelation, and, in a sense, is a prophet within the sphere of responsibility and authority given to him.
Leaders have a right to revelation. As stake presidents, or whatever call is yours, you have a right to receive, and you are expected to so prepare yourselves to receive [and] be spiritually directed [by], inspiration. When we talk about prophecy, prophecy in the Church and the kingdom of God is not confined to one man. This is a nation of prophets. Every person who has the Holy Ghost has a right to prophecy, the gift of prophecy, within the sphere which is designated and outlined by the imposition of hands for each calling for which the individual is called. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 419)
George Q. Cannon
The genius of the kingdom with which we are associated is to disseminate knowledge through all the ranks of the people, and to make every man a prophet and every woman a prophetess, that they may understand the plans and purposes of God. For this purpose the gospel has been sent to us, and the humblest may obtain its spirit and testimony (Journal of Discourses, 12:46).
Gift of revelation
M. Russell Ballard
Among the most wondrous of all the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of revelation. As the Old Testament prophet Amos declared, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.) As one who has had the privilege of knowing and associating with God's living prophets, I humbly testify that the heavens are not sealed. While there have been times during the earth's history when, because of apostasy and unbelief, the Lord's church has not been present upon the earth and therefore revelation to and through chosen prophets has ceased for a time, that is not the case in our day. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, and God continues to reveal His will through men whom He has called to be His representatives on earth. (Our Search for Happiness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 96)
Joseph F. Smith
The gift of revelation... is not confined to the presiding authorities of the Church, it belongs to every individual member of the Church; and it is the right and privilege of every man, every woman, and every child who has reached the years of accountability to enjoy the spirit of revelation, and to be possessed of the spirit of inspiration in the discharge of their duties as members of the Church. It is the privilege of every individual member of the Church to have revelation for his own guidance, for the direction of his life and conduct; and therefore I aver... that there is not another church in the world, or an organization of religious people, who are so universally spiritual in their lives, and who are so universally entitled to the gifts of the Spirit of God as are the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are all entitled to revelation. (Conference Report, April 1912, 4 - 5)
Bruce R. McConkie
As members of the church and kingdom of God on earth, we enjoy the gifts of the Spirit-those wonders and glories and miracles that a gracious and benevolent God always has bestowed upon his faithful saints. The first of these gifts listed in our modern revelation on spiritual gifts is the gift of testimony, the gift of revelation, the gift of knowing of the truth and divinity of the work. This gift is elsewhere described as the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. This is my gift. I know this work is true.
I have a perfect knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God through whose instrumentality the fullness of the everlasting gospel has been restored again in our day. And I know that this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth, and that as now constituted, with President Harold B. Lee at its head, it has the approval and approbation of the Lord, is in the line of its duty, and is preparing a people for the second coming of the Son of Man.
And I know further that the Lord pours out upon his people today the same glorious and wondrous gifts enjoyed by the ancient saints. To us in this day he gives the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, even as he did to them of old. "I will tell you" the glories and wonders of the everlasting gospel, he says; "I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation." (D&C 8:2-3.)
I know there is revelation in the Church because I have received revelation. I know God speaks in this day because he has spoken to me. ("I Know That My Redeemer Lives," Ensign, Jan. 1973, 36)
Gift of visions
"As a child [John Taylor] had a vision in which he saw an angel holding a trumpet to his lips and sounding a message to the nations. Though he did not know then the meaning of the vision, it had significant impact on him. (Roger R. Keller, "Prepared for the Fulness," Ensign, Jan. 1993, 24)
"President [Brigham] Young did not often speak publicly about his special experiences of the spirit, but on 12 October 1856 his first counselor Heber C. Kimball told the Saints that President Young had received ministrations of Jesus Christ, Michael, Elijah, Moses, and the ancient apostles. As he neared the end of his own mortal ministry, President Young told the Saints on 18 May 1873: 'I have had many revelations, I have seen and heard for myself.'" (D. Michael Quinn, "Brigham Young: Man of the Spirit," Ensign, Aug. 1977, 36)
Spencer W. Kimball
As the thoughtful student reads the numerous experiences of the modern leaders and the revelations and dreams and visions, it is apparent that they compare well with all those of the ancient past.
The visions of Wilford Woodruff and Joseph F. Smith would certainly be on a par with the visions of Peter and Paul. The visions and revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple and in the Sacred Grove in New York were awesome, like the manifestations to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Certainly, if there is no variableness in the Lord, if there is no shadow of changing, and if, as he said, he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then we may fully expect that the same revelations, visions healings, and tongues are all available today as in any other day. (Conference Report, October 1966, Afternoon Meeting 23)
Bruce R. McConkie
Because he is no respecter of persons and chooses to honor and bless all those who love and serve him, the Lord pours out revelations and gives glorious visions to all those who obey the laws upon which the receipt of these spiritual gifts is predicated. Their receipt is not limited to prophets and apostles. All are alike unto God where the outpouring of his gifts is concerned. Indeed, one of the revealed reasons why the Lord ushered in the great age of restoration in which we live is so "that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world." (D&C 1:20.) And whatever any elder says when moved upon by the Holy Ghost is scripture. It is the will and mind and word and voice of the Lord. (D&C 68:1-4.) (Ensign, Aug. 1976, 7)
Gift of healing
"The attention of many Hawaiian people was turned to the gospel by outpourings of the gift of healing. A woman who wished to be baptized but who hadn't been able to walk upright for five years asked the elders for a blessing. George Q. Cannon records that Elder Napela and other native elders 'laid their hands upon her and commanded her in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to arise and walk. She immediately stood up and walked, and went and was baptized.' (Cannon, p. 181.)
"On one occasion, Elder Napela was called to accompany a party of elders to the island of Hawaii to settle some difficulties which had arisen there. After matters were taken care of, the missionaries, ready to return, were prevented by several weeks of torrential rain-common to that district. One morning the brethren asked Elder Napela to pray that the rain would cease. This he did, and before the elders were off their knees, the skies had begun to clear. They began their journey that day." (Joseph H. Spurrier, "Jonathon Napela: Quiet Hero of Hawaii," Ensign, Aug. 1978, 50-51)
All these gifts come from the Holy Ghost. They are not products of the Priesthood but manifestations of the power of the Spirit. Therefore, they are available, all of them, to the sisters as much as they are to the Brethren.
M. Russell Ballard
Great-grandmother Ballard also used the spiritual gift of healing, as she had been promised in her patriarchal blessing. She recorded that once, when her husband lay near death, she heard a voice instruct her to pray for him. Feeling timid about doing so because he had just been administered to, she hesitated. But when the voice came twice more, she obeyed. "The Spirit of the Holy Ghost was with me and I was filled with a Divine strength," she wrote. "When I had finished my husband had gone to sleep and slept quietly." She also recorded incidents when her son Melvin and her son Henry were healed through her faith. ("Margaret McNeil Ballard's Legacy of Faith," Ensign, July 1989, 19)
James A. Cullimore
The accounts of miraculous healings in the Church are numerous. They warm one's soul and give great strength of testimony as to the divinity of this great work. But the Lord has instructed us that we are not to boast of these great blessings. He said, "But a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation." (D&C 84:73.)
It was not intended that we make merchandise out of the gifts of God and shout to the world the result of these most wonderful gifts. They are given to us for our salvation, to strengthen our testimony and the testimonies of others as we bear humble witness of them in our meetings, quietly, by the Spirit but not before the world. ("Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, Nov. 1974, 28)
Gift of interpretation of tongues
Heber J. Grant
I was a child playing on the floor in a Relief Society meeting (my mother was president of the Thirteenth ward Relief Society for thirty long years and only resigned because of her hearing having failed) when Eliza R. Snow blessed by the gift of tongues each of the presidents that happened to be in that meeting, and Zina D. Young gave the interpretation. After doing this she turned to the child (myself) playing upon the floor, and gave me a blessing, and Zina D. Young gave the interpretation.
My mother often said to me. "Heber, behave yourself and you will some day be an Apostle."
I laughed and told her I had no ambitions along that line. I said: "Get it out of your head. Every mother thinks that her son will be the President of the United States, or something wonderful. I do not want any Church position, I want to be a business man."
"Never mind," she said, "if you behave yourself you will be an Apostle."
When I was made an Apostle she asked me if I remembered that meeting. I told her I did.
"Do you remember anything that Sister Snow said?" I said: "No, I did not understand her."
"Of course you did not, because she was speaking in an unknown tongue." (Conference Report, April 1935, First Day-Morning Meeting 12)
Harold B. Lee
I have in my office [a file I call] "Modern Miracles." Somehow, I opened this file the other day and I came across a clipping from the Deseret News dated October 4, 1959. Here it recited an experience down in Montevideo, Uruguay, where with my wife we were then touring the Uruguay Mission. Speaking through an interpreter, that morning I had said: "When we bear our testimonies we do not think to do it in so many words, but we speak from our hearts when we declare our faith. Scripture may be understood, but when a speaker talks by the Spirit of God, and an honest person listens by that same Spirit, both are edified together. So I pray this morning that I might speak by that Spirit, and that you might listen by that Spirit." And then as I talked through this interpreter, as I would speak a sentence or so, all over the audience they were nodding and smiling. They didn't need an interpreter. And I thought, "Well, this is strange-these people understand English down here." But to my amazement, when the service ended no one understood English. But they were listening by the Spirit, and they had a gift that we would call the gift of understanding a strange language which they had not learned, because they were listening by the Spirit. And the Spirit was accompanying that one who was speaking by the Spirit-and both were edified together. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 131)