“Deny Not the Gifts of God”

Monte S. Nyman

There are three places in the scriptures where the gifts of the Spirit are enumerated: 1 Corinthians 12; Doctrine and Covenants 46; and in this chapter in the book of Moroni. Each of the three passages have similarities, and each have differences. The Prophet Joseph Smith also gave three great sermons on the subject (see TPJS, 202–215; 223–229; and 242–248). All six of these sources are highly recommended to be read and studied, but we will leave an in depth analysis of the individual gifts for another time. We will discuss some of the ones listed by Moroni, but first of all, why did Moroni insert them in the end of the book? In the writer’s opinion, this was the eighth requirement given by Moroni: to teach that a testimony of the Book of Mormon may come through any of these gifts. Just as the power of God may be manifest in various ways, so may the gifts of the Spirit come, but they will come from the same God (Moroni 10:8). When a testimony is borne of someone receiving a witness of the Book of Mormon being true, the listener must remember that each person may be given that same knowledge, but it may be given through a different gift of the Spirit. We should not expect a gift that is given to someone else will be given to us in the same way, or through the same gift, although it could be.

The first two gifts mentioned by Moroni were to teach by the word of wisdom and to teach by the word of knowledge (vv. 9–10). These two gifts are obviously related, but are there differences? To teach by the word of wisdom is to be given the ability to share a few choice principles or examples that best pertain to the person being taught. To teach by the word of knowledge is to be given an extensive combination of scriptures, factual world knowledge, and various sources of information to convince the reader of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Again the Spirit knows what the listener needs and will inspire the teacher to convey that necessary knowledge in an organized manner. The gift that the teacher is given will be what is most profitable to the listener (v. 8).

Moroni lists four somewhat different gifts next. The gift of exceedingly great faith (v. 11) may be used in a broad category of things; faith to learn, faith to discern, faith to endure trials, or faith to do other activities. The gifts of healing (v. 11) are plural, suggesting faith to be healed as well as faith to heal. It also implies faith to heal plural types of diseases or injuries. The gift to prophesy concerning all things (v. 13) is to foretell unnatural things that are going to happen rather than to make them happen. Any of these gifts may work upon the reader of the Book of Mormon, some directly and some indirectly or through observation.

The gift of beholding angels and ministering spirits (v. 14) recognizes two types of heavenly beings. Angels “are resurrected personages, having bodies of flesh and bones,” and ministering spirits “are not resurrected, but inherit the same glory.” Therefore, they minister without the body (D&C 129:1–3). Both types of angels minister behind the scenes, but some people have, or are given, a gift to see or recognize that these messengers are extra terrestrial. The purpose of these angels and spirits ministering were discussed under Moroni 7:30–32. Wherefore, the purpose of their appearing may determine whether or not they need to be discerned. As the Apostle Paul taught, “many have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). Certainly Joseph Smith needed to see the angel and the plates. Those who are given a copy of the Book of Mormon do not need to see an angel, the book is tangible evidence, but a spirit may still need to minister to the reader for other needs.

The gift of tongues or languages are related but may vary. The gift of all kinds of tongues (Moroni 10:15) implies the ability to speak in other tongues. The gift to interpret languages and divers or different tongues (v. 16) is the ability to listen to or read another language and get the meaning. This ability may come through study or by instant revelation when necessary. Any one of these gifts may come when one is being introduced to the Book of Mormon.

All of these gifts come by or are administered by Christ. Through his ability to know all things, he determines which gift is needed, and will bestow the best gift for the situation when the Book of Mormon is made available (v. 17). The reader should remember that the source is Christ from whom all good gifts come (v. 18).

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Mormon Make a Record