Just before Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and then gave His life for us on the cross at Calvary, He did His best to prepare His apostles for His absence, for the future leadership of Christ’s kingdom on earth, and for the coming gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, a spirit without a body, who can dwell within us if we present to Him clean and pure tabernacles willing to keep the commandments of God. There are many things the Holy Ghost does to lead us back into the presence of God. He conveys knowledge from God in the form of revelation, mostly as inspiration. In this way, he teaches us. He comforts us, and is therefore called “the Comforter.” This is the peace we can only get through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost brings to our remembrance truths that we have already learned, or that we brought with us from pre-mortal existence. The Holy Ghost guides us to the Savior and helps us to discern what is true. He can show us things of the future, and testifies that Jesus is the Son of God.
The Holy Ghost can prompt any person with faith in Christ, but he abides permanently in those who have been baptized by immersion by one holding the true and holy priesthood of God, and who have been confirmed by the conferring of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, again by those with the proper priesthood power and authority. This priesthood power and authority in ancient times came from Christ. The apostles received it on the day of Pentecost directly from heaven. The priesthood power was lost over time, but it has been restored in modern times through heavenly messengers sent by Christ who possessed this priesthood anciently. Worthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
“A newly baptized member told me what she felt when she received that gift. This was a faithful Christian woman who had spent her life in service to others. She knew and loved the Lord, and she had felt the manifestations of His Spirit. When she received the added light of the restored gospel, she was baptized and the elders placed their hands upon her head and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost. She recalled, ‘I felt the influence of the Holy Ghost settle upon me with greater intensity than I had ever felt before. He was like an old friend who had guided me in the past but now had come to stay’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 80; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 60).
In a dream given to President Brigham Young, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed him to teach the Saints that “the Spirit of the Lord … will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847, comp. Elden J. Watson , 529).
Jesus tried to prepare the apostles for His coming death and resurrection, but they seem not to have fully understood. Thus, their disarray upon the crucifixion and following dangerous days. We Christians have to remind ourselves that Christ was the first person ever to rise from the dead, so although the scriptures foretold and explained the afterlife, rising from the dead was entirely a novel occurrence.
In John 17 we find Jesus’ “great intercessory prayer.” This prayer is often called the great intercessory prayer because as Jesus prayed, he interceded, or stood between us and Heavenly Father, to plead for our salvation.
Several times in His prayer, Christ referred to His relationship with the Father “before the foundation of the world.” Most Christians accept that Christ is eternal, and that He existed before the world was. But part of the truth Latter-day Saints wish to teach is that we all existed before the world was and dwelt in the presence of the Lord before we were born on earth. Christ shared in His Father’s glory then, and was about to rejoin His Father and become one with Him once more. This does not mean that God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son, are of the same essence — as Trinitarian belief states. They are separate beings, but are perfectly unified in knowledge, power, and motive.
Speaking of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “They are distinct beings, but they are one in purpose and effort. They are united as one in bringing to pass the grand, divine plan for the salvation and exaltation of the children of God. … It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 69; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51).
Christ prayed not for the world, but for those who had turned from the world to Him. He desires for us to be one with Him and with His Father, just as He and His father are one — to share in their glory. This is knowing God, and His Son whom He has sent. Christ also desired that His apostles remain in the world, to reclaim it.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said:
“In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ As we observe television shows that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the world in some way and isolate our families from it all. …
“Perhaps we should state the couplet previously mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80).
Every person will be required to stand at the judgment bar of God. Christ will be there to intercede for and to mediate for all those who have chosen to follow Him, to plead with the Father to have mercy, that those may belong to Christ and become co-heirs with Him in glory.
They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
…Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (Doctrine and Covenants 76:55, 59).