The holy ghost is most correctly understood as the individual spirit within each man or woman — it is the heavenly record from each one’s prior experiences, although now veiled. In that sense it is a he (or, if one is female, a she). The holy ghost is the light of truth. In that sense, it is an it. The holy ghost is also the received communication, inspiration, or light from above, and the source of that light can be any number of holy beings sent to shed that light upon mankind. In that sense, it is a they. But mankind wants it to be singular, because that makes it easier to grasp.1 The holy ghost is a personage. It is an individual. It is a spirit that will dwell inside man. The holy ghost, which resides inside of each person, receives intelligence from Christ. The holy ghost is the record of heaven that man has lost contact with because of the veil. It is a personage of spirit who resides inside each man or woman, and one must “receive” it after baptism by finally listening to that inner truth of all things or record of the Father and the Son (Genesis 4:9–10). The holy ghost bears record of the Father and the Son (see Genesis 3:4). When the Son speaks to individuals through the holy ghost, they hear the words in the first person — hence, the holy ghost speaking that it is the Son in Genesis 3:4.2 “Your spirit or your ghost is within you, connected to heaven to such a degree through this process that you are in possession of a ‘holy spirit’ or a holy ghost within you.”3 From Adam until Christ, the holy ghost was the primary voice by which revelation was delivered from God to mankind. It is active and has been active in delivering the words of prophecy to “holy men” throughout history.4 The scriptures have explained that the holy ghost which dwells in man — this personage of spirit — has the following other descriptions or attributes: the Record of Heaven, the Comforter, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, the truth of all things, that which quickens all things — which makes alive all things, that which knows all things, and has all power according to Wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment (Genesis 4:9). This is a description of the personage of spirit that dwells inside each person. This is the holy ghost. This is something that can be in contact with the holy spirit, or the mind of the Father and Son.5
There are many times when the term “ghost” and the term “spirit” are used interchangeably. The distinction is not appreciated by some translators. Therefore, if there is a difference between these two, one will need to be careful about trusting different translator’s use of the terms. They may not have any distinction in mind.6 “No man can receive the holy ghost without receiving revelations. The holy ghost is a revelator.”7 God is no respecter of persons and makes the holy ghost available and accessible to all (see Acts 6:3–6; Epistle of Jacob 1:2,5). The holy ghost, which is the mind of the Father and the Son, can be communicated by pure intelligence, light poured into the mind of a man, a ministering angel sent with a message, a ministering spirit sent with a message, an open vision, a voice from heaven, or any other means designed to convey into the mind of the man receiving it the truth of things from God.8 “This first comforter, or holy ghost, has no other effect than pure intelligence.”9
“By doing as the Father and Son have asked, you receive the holy ghost. Did you notice the Father and Son promise the holy ghost, and when you receive it, the holy ghost bears witness of the Father and Son? Ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son, and ye have received the holy ghost, which witness of the Father and the Son unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made (2 Nephi 13:3). The first promises to you the last, and the last bears witness of the first. In one eternal round, the Doctrine of Christ includes all members of the Godhead combined into a witness that will come to you, take up residence within you, and make you a vessel of the promises fulfilled. You are to return home and take your abode again. Or, more correctly, permit Them to take up Their abode with you (John 9:8). You become the record of God’s dealings with mankind. You become the promise of God’s presence, for you fulfill the promise which He hath made. You receive the record of Heaven or, more correctly, the Record of Heaven, for it is a proper name and title (Genesis 4:9). When it has come to you, then this Record of Heaven will abide with you…. You will know the truth of all things for it will reside within you (Genesis 4:9). You will understand Wisdom, for she will be with you. You will know mercy, possess truth, and be capable of performing judgment, for the judgment you judge will not be yours, but will be given to you (3 Nephi 13:1). God will dwell within you. When He appears to you, you will see Him as He is, for you will be at last like Him (1 John 1:13). If you can understand this, then you will purify yourself to receive it (1 John 1:13). For the baptism of fire and the holy ghost will purge and purify, refining you with that holy fire (Malachi 1:6).”10 The purpose of the holy ghost is to allow you to see things in their true light with the underlying intent behind them and to allow you to do that without distortion and without confusion.11 “The holy ghost bears record. And record, recordare, means ‘to put back into the heart.’ It means ‘to intensify in the heart, to have knowledge and remembrance of what you had before.’ This has to do with your previous existence. See, your heart is your core. To record is to stir up again in the heart. And [Christ] says this is why the Father will bear record of [Christ], and the holy ghost will bear record (3 Nephi 5:9). That will recall things to you. That’s what a record is.”12 The holy ghost allows one to resonate with the same frequency as the writer and to “hear” what he is writing about. The process is far more abstract than logic, reason, rhetoric, and historic precedent will uncover. Capturing the thought of the inspired fisherman requires an inspired reader. The holy ghost is a guide to speak to man as he studies the scriptures. It will lead each person to understanding, harmony, clarity, and truth. If one has not experienced this kind of awareness while studying the scriptures, then it needs to be attempted13See also GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST.
1 Email to Scripture Committee, Jan. 9, 2018.
2 “Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit,” April 28, 2010, blog post.
3 “God’s Many Works, Part 5,” Aug. 17, 2012, blog post.
4 “God’s Many Works, Part 4,” Aug. 16, 2012, blog post.
5 “Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit,” Aug. 10, 2012, blog post.
6 “Holy Ghost vs. The Holy Spirit,” Aug. 10, 2012, blog post.
8 Emails to Scripture Committee, May 21–22, 2017.
10 “2 Nephi 31:18,” Aug. 29, 2010, blog post.
11 “The Temple,” Oct. 28, 2012, transcript of talk, 15.
12 Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 3 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), 331, 332.
13 The Second Comforter, 49.