We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
The Mormon Church is a church of miracles. It was so when Joseph Smith wrote the Articles of Faith, and it remains so today. The miracles found in the Mormon Church are the gifts of the Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12, and attendant to the followers of Christ who have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The gift of tongues was one gift of the Spirit manifested to the ancient apostles. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended upon them, and when they spoke to the multitude, every one heard them in their own language (Acts 2). In the Mormon Church, the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues is often found in the great missionary effort throughout the world. Many Mormon missionaries are called to serve in nations where foreign languages are spoken. The success with which they quickly learn to communicate is a miracle. The gift of tongues is not always manifest in instant fluency, though some Mormon missionaries have reported experiences similar to the day of Pentecost. For most, with diligent effort, this gift is granted them, and they achieve an accelerated and thorough grasp of the language. However, this “modern” view of a miracle has not replaced the gift of tongues as a form of praise to the Lord. Paul said that a manifestation of the gift of tongues is for God to hear (1 Corinthians 14:2). In the Mormon Church, this miracle has, does, and will continue to occur. However, speaking in tongues is not a regular form of worship in the Mormon Church. A person should not expect to miraculously speak in tongues, and the frequent occurrence of this would likely be pretended. Worship and reverence go hand-in-hand, and the commotion of many speaking in tongues is not conducive to the communication of the Holy Spirit. Joseph Smith said that the gift of tongues is the gift most mimicked by Satan, is only fully functional when understanding is increased, and is meant to impart the gospel.
Miraculous healings comprise the majority of the recorded miracles of the Lord’s ministry. By the Savior’s authority, the blind received their sight, the deaf heard, and the lame walked. It is by this same authority that the Mormon Church administers the ordinance of healing to the sick. By the power of the priesthood, the elders of the Church lay their hands on the sick and bless them. These blessings are according to the faith of those involved. Not every blessing of the sick results in an immediate restoration to perfect health. All elders of the priesthood have the authority to bless the sick, but the gift of healing, as well as the faith to be healed, is found in varying degrees. He who blesses the sick must also be sensitive to the Spirit. It is by the power of God that healing is accomplished, so it must be the will of God to be done. Although the blessing may call for the sick to be healed, it may not be in the Lord’s plan at that time. However, blessings of the sick are not a rare occurrence and countless members of the Mormon Church have had experiences with the gift of healing. It should be noted that although the gift of healing is commonplace in the Church, the Church also upholds medical practice. Sometimes a healing blessing performed by priesthood holders will assuage pain, comfort the sufferer, and then prompt the sufferer to obtain immediate medical help. Or the blessing might promise help to the surgeon. Or it might state that the end of life is approaching and commend the sufferer into the Lord’s hands. Healing blessings are revelatory and thus convey the will of God. Therefore, they are endless in the variety of messages they convey.
Visions and dreams are two of the methods by which the Lord communicates with man. Records of waking visions are had mostly by the prophets of God in the scriptures. These include meeting heavenly beings or seeing another place in past, present, or future. Moses spoke with the Lord on Mount Sinai, and Enoch was shown the entire course of humanity. The Mormon Church began with a vision. Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820 and would experience many more visitations by angels to help him establish God’s kingdom on earth. Subsequent Mormon Church presidents have related visions when preaching to the general membership or when they felt it would strengthen the faith of the hearers. Dreams, too, are chronicled in ancient scripture as a means of communication from God to His prophets. The anecdotal evidence of the entire world is filled with experiences of divine communication in dreams to the individual. To the members of the Mormon Church, these are not merely fables of antiquity. God communicates to man still, in both visions and dreams.
The gift of prophecy is the ability to see things which are, things which were, and things which are to come. One who prophesies speaks in the name of God. Much more than fortune telling, the prophet works under the guidance of the Lord for the benefit of man. A prophet may relate information that has been known for centuries, but with the gift of prophecy, it is what the Lord desires people to hear at that time. Likewise a prophet can assure us of things past, such as the literal existence of Adam and Eve, Moses and the Exodus, and, most importantly, the divine ministry of Jesus Christ. The prediction of the future is never to inspire faith or convert the unbeliever, but is usually a voice of warning to the believers, that they may prepare and have their faith confirmed. The Mormon Church teaches that its president is the Lord’s prophet on earth, and to heed his counsel is to know the will of God.
Revelation is the communication of God to man in any of its forms. This may come as visions, dreams, inspiration, hearing the voice of the Holy Ghost, or prophecy. Some have claimed to hear the voice of the Lord. The Mormon Church teaches that God communicates most often to man through the Holy Ghost, described as a still, small voice. This is not like the vision of Saul on the road to Damascus, but quiet promptings heard only by those listening. In the Mormon Church, revelation is not the territory of a select few, but the privilege of every individual. It is taught that only by personal revelation can anyone know a certain doctrine or belief to be true. And so each time the Holy Ghost visits a person to communicate, that is revelation. It is also the doctrine of the Mormon Church that revelation for the Church is bestowed according to stewardship. In the organization of the priesthood, an individual may only receive revelation in behalf of those over whom he presides: the president for the whole church, a bishop for his congregation, and a father or mother for their family. In this way, a member holding no position and claiming revelation for the entire church may be known to be false. For examples of revelation in the Mormon Church, in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, each section is a separate revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith or his successors.
Miracles have not ceased. The Mormon Church emphatically teaches this principle. But neither are they on display for amusement or curiosity. Faith must precede such gifts of the Spirit. These are gifts given to confirm and strengthen the faith of believers. As is written in Mark 16:17, “these signs shall follow them that believe.”