Moroni 10:8-18 — gifts of the Spirit — wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles in Moroni 10:8-18, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, D&C 46:8-33.– LeGrand Baker

Like much of the scriptures, Moroni’s list of gifts may be understood in our every-day language like we might discuss it in Sunday School, or it might be read as having to do only with priesthood authority and responsibility. That is the way I wish to discuss it here.

In the scriptures there are three comparable lists of the spiritual gifts. But since each one lists the gifts in the same order, and that order is a progression upward, we are probably correct in concluding that they are not lists at all but sequences. If sequences, then the order in which they appear teaches us almost as much about the gifts as naming them does.

These sequences are in Moroni 10:8-18, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Doctrine and Covenants 46:8-33.

While each begins with a testimony of the Savior, that testimony is also a warning about resisting the truth. Moroni’s is in the conclusion of his exhortation that we must pray to know the truth of “these things.”

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever (Moroni 10:5-7).

Paul’s is similar, a testimony and also a warning.

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

The Prophet Joseph’s revelation is also a warning and a testimony. However, in this case the warning is more specific. The gifts are not toys to be used for entertainment nor to be sought after as a sign. The reason for the warning, though not spelled out here, is that most of these gifts can be counterfeited. Unscrupulous religionists use such counterfeited signs as evidence of their spiritual superiority. The Lord instructed the early Saints:

8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
9 For verily I say unto you, they 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 that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God (D&C 46:8-11).

After the testimonies and warnings in each sequence, there is a statement about how the gifts are administered and for whom they are appropriate.

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them (Moroni 10:8).

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

15 And again, to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know the differences of administration, as it will be pleasing unto the same Lord, according as the Lord will, suiting his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men.
16 And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal (D&C 46:15-16).

TEACH THE WORD OF WISDOM

9 For behold, to one is given by the Spirit of God, that he may teach the word of wisdom (Moroni 10:9);

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8);

17 And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom (D&C 46:17).

Wisdom is knowing the mind and ways of God. She is personified in the first three chapters of Proverbs as a woman who instructs youth about the purposes of God. The Proverbs are purportedly the teachings of King Solomon to his son.

1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.
9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;
13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness (Proverbs 2:1-13).
…..
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine (Proverbs 3:5-10).

This says that wisdom is our personal power, and by its use we can judge good from evil, right from wrong. Following chapter 3, Proverbs becomes a long list of the things one must do to live equitably, honestly, and comfortably in this world. Ultimately, wisdom is “The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them.” {1}

The power of wisdom in the first chapters of Proverbs is very much like the power of light in Mormon’s sermon:

18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ (Moroni 7:18-19).

To teach wisdom is to teach the covenants and commandments of God. Abinadi understood this when he challenged king Noah and his priests:

27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?
28 And they said: We teach the law of Moses (Mosiah 12:27-28).

KNOWLEDGE

10 And to another, that he may teach the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (Moroni 10:10);

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8);

18 To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge (D&C 46:18).

One can know lots of things in our world, and many of them are doors to our social, emotional, and material comfort. Their use can bring us security, power, pleasure, money, and even peace. But very little of what we learn in the universities of this world is actually “truth.” Truth is knowledge of reality in sacred time:

24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things (D&C 93:24-28).

Even in this world, we can know some things that are eternal truth. That Jesus is the Christ is truth. That the priesthood is real is truth. The principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are true; they are not truth, but truth is embedded within them.

Like Wisdom, knowledge of truth is a gift of the Spirit to the meek, that is, to those who keep their eternal covenants. {2} The Lord said:

1 Verily I say unto you my friends, I speak unto you with my voice, even the voice of my Spirit, that I may show unto you my will concerning your brethren in the land of Zion, many of whom are truly humble and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth.
2 Verily, verily I say unto you, blessed are such, for they shall obtain; for I, the Lord, show mercy unto all the meek, and upon all whomsoever I will, that I may be justified when I shall bring them unto judgment (D&C 97:1-2).

Truth is a delicate flower that must be nurtured and protected by the uses of wisdom. But, as the Savior warned Nicodemus, it is to be shared very judiciously.

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness (John 3:11).

In the Savior’s warning the word “ye” is plural. He is not saying that Nicodemus will not receive his witness, but that the Pharisees will not receive their witnesses. Implicit in that statement is the dual ideas the Savior expressed in the Sermon on the Mount:

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:6-7).

In Alma’s challenge to Zeezrom, he spelled out those principles very clearly:

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell (Alma 12:9-11).

FAITH

11 And to another, exceedingly great faith (Moroni 10:11);

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9);

19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed (D&C 46:19).

As I have explained many times, faith in the New Testament and Book of Mormon is pistis, meaning a legal covenant or contract. {3} To act in faith is to act in accordance with the terms of the covenant. The Savior is the personification of his Father’s covenant. In the Atonement he fulfilled all of the terms of that covenant. On our part, the terms are that we live and act according to the covenants we have made. As the Father’s covenant was validated by the Savior’s life and the ordinances of the Atonement, even so, on our part, the covenants must be validated by the appropriate ordinances and the lives we live in fulfillment of our covenants. Since there is always a new name associated with each new covenant, the word “name” is often code for the covenant. As we pray, we do it in the name of Jesus Christ, thereby evoking the terms of the covenant, just as Mormon explained:

38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made (Moroni 7:38).

One of the best examples of the way faith/pistis works is the story told in a single verse of the book of Ether.

30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith (Ether 12:30).

I understand that to read this way: “if he had not had faith [That is, if he had not properly executed the terms of the covenant by the words he spoke to the mountain, the authority with which he spoke, and probably the way held his arm to the square] it would not have moved….wherefore thou workest after men have faith.” That is, the brother of Jared could not have decided on his own to move the mountain. Rather, the covenant with God had to be in place before the brother of Jared could move the mountain.
HEALING

11 and to another, the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (Moroni 10:11);

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9);

19 And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;
20 And to others it is given to have faith to heal (D&C 46:19-20).

As it is usually done, healing by priesthood and by faith follows the form of a covenant. The oil and the placement of the hands are the visible ordinances. They, plus the evoking of the powers of the priesthood in the name of the Savior, are the validation of the covenant. The terms of the covenant are dictated by the Holy Ghost and are spoken by the man performing the ordinance.
WORKING OF MIRACLES

12 And again, to another, that he may work mighty miracles (Moroni 10:12);

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10):

21 And again, to some is given the working of miracles (D&C 46:21);

Mormon teaches that all miracles performed by proper priesthood authority are performed according to the terms of a covenant (Moroni 7:25-38). However, as we can all testify, not all miracles come about through observable, formal priesthood authority — at least not by priesthood intervention that we are aware of. Mormon assured us:

35 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?
36 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?
37 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 (Moroni 7:35-37).

This discussion of the gifts of the Spirit will be continued next week with prophecy, angels, tongues, interpretation of tongues .

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FOOTNOTES

{1}Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.

{2}See my discussion of Psalm 25 in this website. There we read, “The secret [sode] of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant (Psalms 25:14).”

{3} See my discussion of faith/pistis in “Moroni 7:19-39 — ‘faith in Christ’ — pistis, covenant, contract – LeGrand Baker

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