Whilst I was a missionary in California, I talked to many people about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but I had to explain to all of them the importance of receive this great gift. The Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun. explains it best. Said he,
"You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost (HC, 5:499)".
He also explained the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost in these words:
"There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him (HC 4:555)."
We see explained here that one must receive the Holy Ghost after baptism as a permanent guide. Cornelius was guided by the Holy Ghost temperarily to know of the truth of Peter's words, but in order for that guidance to stay with him, he needed the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The gift of the Holy Ghost, when once received properly, acts as a guide and a protector to the recipient. The Book of Mormon explains it this way:
"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise (Alma 37:44-45)."
The Holy Ghost guides and prompts us in different ways. President Joseph Smith, Jun. explained,
"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; … those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus (TPJS, p. 151)."
President Boyd K. Packer stated that the Spirit of the Lord "speaks gently, prompting you what to do or what to say, or it may caution or warn you (Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 59)."
I have felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost in my life since I was baptized by my father. I have read the Bible and Book of Mormon concerning the doctrine of Christ. I have prayed about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, about the Prophet Joseph's mission, about the reality of the Son of God, and of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that Jesus lives through the teachings of the Holy Ghost, and that what else I have said is true! I implore those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ to find the Elders and learn the teachings of the Restored Gospel, for therein is peace found.