Articles of Faith: Seven

3 Apr

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Today I will discuss briefly the seventh of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

First to note is the ‘and so forth.’ Joseph Smith is not attempting to list all the gifts of the spirit here, and in truth he does not list even all the gifts that are listed in the other scriptures. There are two other places that a list is given, both having a longer list than what Joseph Smith gives here.

Paul gives a list of the Gifts of the Spirit

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 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: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11)

This is what is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants.

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. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.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.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.And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge.And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed;And to others it is given to have faith to heal.And again, to some is given the working of miracles;And to others it is given to prophesy;And to others the discerning of spirits.And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues;And to another is given the interpretation of tongues.And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46: 11-26)

Even these lists are hardly exhaustive, but they give us a clearer idea of what is included. Let us again consider the order. This is the only one that I can honestly say that I don’t think the order has any real importance. No gift is greater than any other, and not all have all gifts. We are counseled to seek out the best gifts, but what is best for me is not going to be what is best for others. As such, if we were to list the gifts in order of greatness the order of the gifts would be different for each person. So, let us now look at the actual gifts.

Each gift is unique, and I am not going to take the time to go over each one. The important thing to note is that all of the gifts listed in all these references refer to what would be called supernatural ability or divine power. A person may be born with a great ability to learn languages, but this does not mean they have the Gift of Tongues from the spirit. Another may be born with great skill in medicine, but that does not mean they have the Gift of Healing from the spirit. The Gifts of the Spirit refer to God granting us, through his spirit, power beyond what we would be capable of on our own. A skilled doctor that rejects the gospel cannot claim to have any gift from the Spirit, and yet still be able to heal people. Why? Because he has a natural talent within himself. A person who has no such talent and yet, through their faith in Christ is able to heal others can claim to have the Gift of Healing.

While I think it proper and good to thank God for our natural talents and credit his goodness that we have them, we should not confuse our talents with the Gifts of the Spirit.

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