The power of God and His many methods of accomplishing His will are not conveniently reduced to a simple vocabulary. The Father and the Son are clearly able to accomplish all their works using the power which originates from the Father, in the midst of eternity, to build all creation. Not only to build, but to sustain all creation. It is the power which causes creation to exist in an organized and functioning order.
But when it comes to identifying something by the title of “the Holy Ghost” or “the Holy Spirit” or “the Holy Spirit of Promise” there are underlying concepts associated with each of these. Titles and proper nouns are inadequate.
For example, look at the following statement from Alma as he recounts the many blessings the Nephites had received in their generations: “Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation.” (Alma 9: 21.) According to Alma, these many blessings come from “the Spirit of God” and include “the gift of the Holy Ghost.” What are these two different blessings? Why does Alma see them as distinct enough to mention them separately and by different names? Is the “Holy Ghost” a function or part of “the Spirit of God?” Can Alma accurately describe it in this manner? If he can, then what is the underlying truth that connects them together?
Why is the “Holy Spirit of Promise” the topic Joseph Smith had in mind as he described the sin of “denying the Holy Ghost?” Is there a relationship between the Holy Spirit of Promise and the Holy Ghost? Are they the same? Are they different? Do they both come from the Holy Spirit of God? If so, then are they different in nature or only different in degree? Can something be different in degree and be called by a different name?
It should be clear to you that the use of the terms are in some respects inexact, even in scripture. They are referring to ideas. You need to understand the underlying concepts rather than to focus on just the words. If you are going to understand exactly what is being discussed, then relying only on vocabulary will be insufficient.
What, then, does “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” consist of? The effect (fire purges and removes sin) is to permit you to speak with the “tongue of angels.” (2 Ne. 31: 13.) But Nephi also cautions that once this gift has been conferred, if you then “deny Christ” you would be better off having never known Him. (2 Ne. 31: 14.) This process will come to you after repentance, baptism, and comes to “show all things” and to “teach the peaceable things of the kingdom.” (D&C 39: 6. Compare to Moses 6: 61.) These scriptures, baptism of “fire and the Holy Ghost” teach you and show you things, just like Joseph’s remark that the Holy Ghost is a revelator and you cannot receive it without also receiving revelations. But to “speak with the tongue of angels” means you are elevated, your knowledge and your inspiration reckons from heaven itself. You have been elevated by “fire” which purges sins and purifies. In effect, you receive holiness through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. This in turn makes your own spirit holy. 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.
Does this “baptism of fire” come from a personage, or from the “mind of God the Father and Christ,” or from the “light of Christ,” or the “Holy Spirit” or some source you can clearly define or describe. Or does it come from God, sitting in the midst of eternity as He sustains all His creations through His power? And if that is the source, can it be described in a specific term? What is the name of that term?
What do these terms mean:
-Holy (Who provides this to man?)
-Spirit (Whose? Yours? God’s? Both?)
-Promise (What promise? Given by Whom? Who recieves this promise?)
We need to consider language and terms, but more importantly we need to think about concepts that words alone can never convey adequately. Move beyond the limits of vocabulary and try to find a connection to the underlying concepts these words are attempting to convey. For in these are found connections which run from inside you back to the presence of God Himself. Or, more correctly, the Gods Themselves, for the Father and the Son are two distinct beings. They are sustaining you from moment to moment right now. You are more directly connected with Them than you can imagine. You are borrowing their power to exist at present.