“LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tounge, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour… He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand)”
“Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord.”
Doctrine and Covenants 87:3
The Holy Place is the first room of the inner sanctuary. On the north and south it was bordered by the sideboards. On the east was the door of the tabernacle, and on the west was the veil. Only the priests and high priest were permitted to enter into this room. Before they were allowed to enter into this room, they were required to perform certain ordinances as set forth in the discussion of the door. This room was set apart from the world. The sideboards and door provided solitude and quiet reverence. The light of the seven lamps of the golden candlestick would have reflected off the polished gold walls to the north and south creating an eternal mirrored image. The smell of burning incense from off the altar of incense would have filled the room. On the north sat the table of shewbread, with its twelve loaves and jars of wine. The golden dishes would have sparkled in the glowing light. The ceiling of the inner sanctuary was the curtain of the tabernacle, which contained beautifully embroidered cherubic imagery. This was the first room of the House of the Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Man of Holiness, this was the Holy Place.
Of all the rooms in the tabernacle, the Holy Place is perhaps the most important during our mortal lives. This is where the Father wants us to be up until the point he calls us home to his presence in the Most Holy Place. In other words, and spiritually speaking, you want to be in the Holy Place when you physically die. Only those who have prepared themselves by following the example of Jesus Christ are permitted into this room. There should be no other object in a persons life which supersedes their desire to enter and remain in this room (spiritually speaking).
Faith in Jesus Christ (the gate) and repentance (altar of burnt offerings), prepare us for the ordinances of baptism (laver) and confirmation (the door). The ordinance of confirmation is in essence, right of membership in the Kingdom of God. It is the right to enter the Holy Place (spiritually speaking). When we offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit by following Jesus Christ, we have his promise, that he will bless us with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Confirmation gives an individual the right to enter into this room, it is up to the individual to actually enter and remain. Entering into the Holy Place and remaining is therefore a symbol of receiving the Holy Ghost.
Receive the Holy Ghost
The ordinance of the confirmation is performed in the following manner:
A person is confirmed a member of the Church and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost after being baptized (see D&C 20:41). A person becomes a member of the Church only after the ordinances of baptism and confirmation are both completed and properly recorded (see John 3:5; D&C 33:11).
Under the direction of the bishopric, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders may participate in a confirmation. They place their hands lightly on the person’s head. Then the person who performs the ordinance:
- States the person’s full name.
- States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” (not “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”).
- Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
- Closes in the name of Jesus Christ. [Source]
The use of the phrase “Receive the Holy Ghost” vs. ‘Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’ is extremely important. Elder David A. Bednar gives the following instruction on this point:
The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed “receive the Holy Ghost” and its attendant spiritual gifts. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33). [Source]
Elder Bednar then provides true and excellent council on how we are to accomplish this ‘priesthood injunction’ so as to continually receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost. So important is this principle and so powerfully has he presented it, that I will quote his words at length. Here are his three suggestions on how we are to receive the Holy Ghost into our lives. (1) Sincerely desire to receive the Holy Ghost, (2) appropriately invite the Holy Ghost into our lives, and (3) faithfully obey God’s commandments. By doing these things we always remain in the Holy Place (spiritually speaking).
We first should desire, yearn for, and seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You and I can learn a great lesson about righteous desires from the faithful disciples of the Master described in the Book of Mormon:“And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold, they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus. …
“And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them” (3 Nephi 19:6, 9).
Do we likewise remember to pray earnestly and consistently for that which we should most desire, even the Holy Ghost? Or do we become distracted by the cares of the world and the routine of daily living and take for granted or even neglect this most valuable of all gifts? Receiving the Holy Ghost starts with our sincere and constant desire for His companionship in our lives.
We more readily receive and recognize the Spirit of the Lord as we appropriately invite Him into our lives. We cannot compel, coerce, or command the Holy Ghost. Rather, we should invite Him into our lives with the same gentleness and tenderness by which He entreats us (see D&C 42:14).Our invitations for the companionship of the Holy Ghost occur in many ways: through the making and keeping of covenants; by praying sincerely as individuals and families; by searching the scriptures diligently; through strengthening appropriate relationships with family members and friends; by seeking after virtuous thoughts, actions, and language; and by worshipping in our homes, in the holy temple, and at church. Conversely, casualness about or the breaking of covenants and commitments, failing to pray and study the scriptures, and inappropriate thoughts, actions, and language cause the Spirit to withdraw from or to avoid us altogether.
As King Benjamin taught his people, “And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah 2:36).
Faithfully obeying God’s commandments is essential to receiving the Holy Ghost. We are reminded of this truth each week as we listen to the sacrament prayers and worthily partake of the bread and water. As we pledge our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments, we are promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77). Thus, everything the Savior’s gospel teaches us to do and become is intended to bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Consider the reasons we pray and study the scriptures. Yes, we yearn to communicate in prayer with Heavenly Father in the name of His Son. And yes, we desire to obtain the light and knowledge available in the standard works. But please remember that these holy habits primarily are ways whereby we always remember Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son and are prerequisites to the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Reflect on the reasons we worship in the house of the Lord and in our Sabbath meetings. Yes, we serve our kindred dead in the temple—and our families and friends in the wards and branches in which we live. And yes, we enjoy the righteous sociality we find among our brothers and sisters. But we primarily gather together in unity to seek the blessings of and instruction from the Holy Ghost.
Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost. The commandments from God we obey and the inspired counsel from Church leaders we follow principally focus upon obtaining the companionship of the Spirit. Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives.
You and I should strive to become like the stripling warriors described in the Book of Mormon, who did “perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them. …
“… And they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually” (Alma 57:21; 58:40). [Source]
The symbolism of the vessels of the Holy Place, the candlestick, the altar of incense, and the table of shewbread, all teach and instruct us on what we must do to continually receive the Holy Ghost into our lives.
My Spirit Shall Not Always Strive With Man
A confirmed member of the Church can choose to enter the Holy Place (spiritually speaking), they can just as easily choose to walk out. By choosing to walk out, we voluntarily withdraw ourselves from the Lord’s Holy Spirit.
“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (see Gen. 6:3, Topical Guide – Holy Ghost, Loss of)