What is the Holy Spirit? What is the light of Christ?

Study Topics

What is the Holy Spirit?

What is the Holy Spirit and is it different from the Holy Ghost?

Have you ever wondered what the mechanism is that allows God to communicate directly with us? How does he know our thoughts? How does he plant thoughts into our mind and heart?

In the last blog entry on Inspiration or Revelation, I mentioned a book by John Pontius called, “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence.” It was in this book that I first encountered the notion that there was a difference between the Holy Ghost, and something called the Holy Spirit. In past articles I have shared the idea that the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are not necessarily the same thing. Also in that last blog entry was a reference to 2 Nephi 33, where in verse 1, Nephi refers twice to the Holy Ghost, and then in verse 2 mentions “there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit.” We also saw in the tutorial about the Liahona and its spindles, the light of Christ was the first spindle pointing the way, and then greater understanding came when writing appeared on both spindles later, representing the greater light of the Holy Ghost. Then there was the fourth tutorial that studied the Sacrament prayers where we noticed that “His spirit” is referring to Jesus Christ and not the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes in scripture, the Holy Ghost is referred to as the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Ghost is a holy being of spirit without a physical body. This makes it appropriate to call the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, but this is something different. It’s the spirit substance controlled by Jesus Christ but not his own immortal spirit that gives him his identity.

In Moroni 7:16-18, Moroni tells us that the Spirit of Christ is the Light of Christ. It’s the thing inside us that tells us right from wrong. We refer to it as our conscience, and it emanates from God, operating under the power and authority of Jesus Christ. (And it may have been scientifically proven to exist – see bonus #1 at the end…)

In D&C 88:13, the Lord tells us something else about this light.

“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.”

We now understand that this light is in everything, animates all living things, and is the law that governs all things in this telestial world. It’s also the power of God. This makes sense. Jesus Christ is the creator and gives life to all things through some medium of power.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said this of the Light of Christ:

“There is a spirit — the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Christ, the light of truth, the light of Christ — that defies description and is beyond mortal comprehension. It is in us and in all things; it is around us and around all things; it fills the earth and the heavens and the universe. It is everywhere, in all immensity, without exception; it is an indwelling, immanent, ever-present, never-absent spirit. It has neither shape nor form nor personality. It is not an entity nor a person nor a personage. It has no agency, does not act independently, and exists not to act but to be acted upon. As far as we know, it has no substance and is not material, at least as we measure these things. It is variously described as light and life and law and truth and power. It is the light of Christ; it is the life that is in all things; it is the law by which all things are governed; it is truth shining forth in darkness; it is the power of God who sitteth upon his throne. It may be that it is also priesthood and faith and omnipotence, for these too are the power of God…

The light of Christ is neither the Holy Ghost nor the gift of the Holy Ghost; but that member of the Godhead, because he along with the Father and the Son is God, uses the light of Christ for his purposes. Thus spiritual gifts, the gifts of God meaning faith, miracles, prophecy, and all the rest — come from God by the power of the Holy Ghost. Men prophesy, for instance, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And yet Moroni says: “All these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ” (Moroni 10:17), meaning that the Holy Ghost uses the light of Christ to transmit his gifts. But the Spirit of Christ, by which the Holy Ghost operates, is no more the Holy Ghost himself than the light and heat of the sun are the sun itself.” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 257-8)

Elder Parley P. Pratt, an apostle in the days of Joseph Smith, was one of the most eloquent gospel writers of these latter-days. His short book, “Key to the Science of Theology,” contains this wonderful description of the Holy Spirit in chapter 5. It’s a little long, but you’ll want to keep this one.

This leads to the investigation of that substance called the Holy Spirit.

As the mind passes the boundaries of the visible world, and enters upon the confines of the more refined and subtle elements, it finds itself associated with certain substances in themselves invisible to our gross organs, but clearly manifested to our intellect by their tangible operations and effects.

The very air we breathe, although invisible to our sight, is clearly manifested to our sense of feeling. Its component parts may be analyzed. Nay more, the human system itself is an apparatus which performs a chemical process upon that element. It is received into the system by the act of respiration, and there immediately undergoes the separation of its component parts.

The one part retained and incorporated in the animal system, diffuses life and animation, by supplying the necessary animal heat, etc., while the other part, not adapted to the system, is discharged from the lungs to mingle with its native element.

There are several of these subtle, invisible substances but little understood as yet by man, and their existence is only demonstrated by their effects. Some of them are recognized under several terms, electricity, galvanism, essence, spirit, etc.

The purest, most refined and subtle of all these substances, and the one least understood, or even recognized by the less informed among mankind, is that substance called the Holy Spirit.

This substance, like all others, is one of the elements of material or physical existence, and therefore subject to the necessary laws which govern all matter as before enumerated.

Like all other elements its whole is composed of individual particles. Like them, each particle occupies space, possesses the power of motion, requires time to move from one part of space to another, and can in nowise occupy two spaces at once. In all these respects it differs nothing from all other matter.

This substance is widely diffused among the elements of space. This Holy Spirit, under the control of the Great Eloheim, is the grand moving cause of all intelligences and by which they act.

This is the great, positive, controlling element of all other elements. It is omnipresent by the infinitude of its particles, and it comprehends all things.

It is the controlling agent or executive, which organizes and puts in motion all worlds, and which, by the mandate of the Almighty, or any of His commissioned agents, performs all the mighty wonders, signs and miracles ever manifested in the name of the Lord, the turning of the earth backward on its axis, the dividing of the sea, the removing of a mountain, the raising of the dead, or the healing of the sick.

It penetrates the pores of the most solid substances, pierces the human system to its inward recesses, discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. It has power to move through space with inconceivable velocity, far exceeding the tardy motions of electricity, or of physical light.

It comprehends the past, present and future, in all their fullness. Its inherent properties embrace all the attributes of intelligence and affection.

It is endowed with knowledge, wisdom, truth, love, charity, justice and mercy, in all their ramifications.

In short, it is the attributes of the eternal power and Godhead.

Those beings who receive of its fullness are called sons of God, because they are perfected in all its attributes and powers, and, being in communication with it, can, by its use, perform all things.

Those beings who receive not a fullness, but a measure of it, can know and perform some things, but not all.

This is the true light, which in some measure illuminates all men. It is, in its less refined particles, the physical light which reflects from the sun, moon and stars, and other substances; and by reflection on the eye, makes visible the truths of the outward world.

It is, also, in its higher degrees, the intellectual light of our inward and spiritual organs, by which we reason, discern, judge, compare, comprehend and remember the subjects within our reach.

Its inspiration constitutes instinct in animal life, reason in man, vision in the Prophets, and is continually flowing from the Godhead throughout all His creatures.”

The Power of the Holy Spirit

So what is the Holy Spirit? It is a substance, or medium, through which all things are connected. Some might refer to it as a “force” that connects all living things. 😉 It is utilized by the Gods to order and establish worlds, know all things across space and time, communicate instructions instantly with all creation, and reorganize the elements according to the faith of the one operating within that medium.

Jesus Christ created the worlds by faith (Hebrews 11:3) utilizing this medium to communicate with the elements, so they could carry out his instructions. He showed that this same channel of instruction would tell blind eyes to order themselves to the proper pattern that restored sight, and many other miracles. It allowed Moses to part the Red Sea by communicating and empowering those elements, and Joshua to tell the earth to stand still in its revolution around the sun.

When we are prompted to do something by inspiration, the instructions come from Jesus Christ through “his Spirit”, the Holy Spirit. When we receive enlightenment from the Holy Ghost, it also comes through the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is connected to our entire physical frame at something below a molecular level. When someone “feels the spirit”, they are having an experience where this substance is making their cells alive as it resonates the truth within them.

Study Project: The Holy Spirit will not Always Strive with Man

You may recall several instances in scripture where the Lord declares “my Spirit will not always strive with man.” Why does he refer to it in that way instead of saying “I will not always strive with man?” Now we know. It’s not his eternal self that he’s referring to, but this medium of transmission that acts as our conscience and direction-setter from Jesus Christ.

Strive has a few meanings but the two of interest to us are to make efforts or exertions, and to contend or struggle in opposition to another. The Lord has repeatedly condemned contention. It is of the devil. His Spirit definitely makes exertions toward us, but as soon as we contend against it, it departs, and we cut ourselves off from the guidance of Jesus Christ.

1) Open Scripture Notes and do a search for:

striv* and spirit

2) Remove the verses in Romans, Philippians, and Alma, which are unrelated to this exact study topic and create a collection note (CN).

3) Then do another search for the exact phrase “past feeling” and add those verses to this CN.

4) Next, find and add D&C 63:32 to the CN.

5) Then go find Luke 13:24 and drag that verse into the CN and in the verse note area copy/paste this:

JST: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for I say unto you, Many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able; for the Lord shall not always strive with man.”

The reason for adding this in is that this verse isn’t in the collection of verses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes in the JST section at the back of the Bible. Is it, however, in the Inspired Version of the Bible which the prophet Joseph Smith had been working on before his death (for information on accessing the full version see the resource lesson on the Joseph Smith Translation).

Now, keeping in mind what the Holy Spirit is, start going through these verses and identify some characteristics of what it is for the Lord’s spirit to cease striving with man. You might title this note “The Lord’s Spirit will not always strive with man” and consider giving it tags of Holy Spirit, Strive, and Past Feeling.


  1. What does it mean to be past feeling? Feeling what?
  2. Should we pray to have the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost with us? Or both? How is this similar to praying for inspiration vs. revelation?
  3. How can we tell when we strive with (disobey) the Holy Spirit?
  4. What are the consequences of disobeying the Holy Spirit?
  5. What are the consequences of fully rebelling against the Holy Spirit that it cannot influence us? Individually and as a society.
  6. What does it mean to always have “His Spirit” to be with us in the Sacrament prayers?
  7. What is the final consequence of one who completely rebels at and rejects the Holy Spirit?
  8. What is the Holy Spirit in your own words?


1) Dr. David Allen is a world renowned scientist who retired from BYU in 1992. He is, in a measure, responsible for helping create the timing between global GPS satellites. Very tricky stuff. Among the other discoveries he has made, is one called Diallel-field lines. This shows everything is connected and may be scientific proof of the Holy Spirit medium that permeates all creation and allows God to be instantly able to communicate with his creations. Here’s a short article he wrote about the discovery (http://www.allanstime.com/UnifiedFieldTheory/Overview/Sept00_CGSIC.htm). More importantly though, here’s a religious approach to the discovery (https://itsabouttimebook.com/the-power-of-prayer-science-path-to-god/).

2) President Joseph Fielding Smith explained what “spirit” is being referred to in D&C 1:33.

“Now the Lord has withdrawn His Spirit from the world. Do not let this thought become confused in your minds. The Spirit He has withdrawn from the world is not the Holy Ghost (for they never had that!), but it is the light of truth, spoken of in our scriptures as the Spirit of Christ, which is given to every man that cometh into the world, as you find recorded in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

“Now because of the wickedness of the world, that Spirit has been withdrawn, and when the Spirit of the Lord is not striving with men, the spirit of Satan is. Therefore, we may be sure that the time has come spoken of in Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants. . . . Peace has been taken from the earth. The devil has power over his own dominion. The Spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn. Not because the Lord desires to withdraw that Spirit, but because of the wickedness of mankind, it becomes necessary that this Spirit of the Lord be withdrawn.” (The Predicted Judgments, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 21 Mar. 1967], pp. 5-6.)

Please share something below that you learned from this study topic.

(image from Nickjoo © 123RF.com)

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God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

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