The 4th Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as written by Joseph Smith, reads:
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are:
First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ;
Third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins;
Fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The fourth and final part of the 4th Article of Faith refers to the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
After members of the LDS church are baptized they are then confirmed members of the Church and men who are holders of the Melchizedek priesthood lay hands on their heads and tell them also to receive the Holy Ghost.
In the early church, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the apostles and other believers who were baptized also received the power of the Holy Ghost, what Jesus called the Comforter. Once Jesus was gone, the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit was given to be a guide and comfort for those believers of Jesus who were now without his immediate presence.
The Holy Ghost, as I have mentioned before, testifies of truth and can also be the source of many spiritual gifts, which are termed gifts of the spirit. Paul the missionary, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, listed some of the gifts of the spirit: prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, the power to heal, and to work miracles, discerning of spirits, and the ability to speak other languages or to interpret languages. These kinds of gifts were brought by the Holy Spirit in the time of the Apostles after Jesus left them. At the day of Pentecost a large group of believers was gathered together and it was written that the Spirit was poured out upon them and at that time many prophesied and spoke diverse tongues and foreign Jews that were there were able to understand in their own languages.
The Holy Ghost can be a source of revelation and inspiration and can guide people in their lives as well as warn of danger. It is called a constant companion. It is like being able to have the power of Christ with us always, if we do not drive the Spirit away by offensive actions or environments. It is a spirit that gives guidance, comfort, and power when we receive this gift and keep it with us by following the baptismal covenant, which is renewed each week when members partake of the Sacrament.
Looking together at the 4 principles of the Gospel,
We see the first thing is to have faith, which is a positive force, particularly powerful is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who has the power to redeem us from death and sin. This faith can be strengthened by praying and searching the scriptures or the words of God from the written books and the mouths of living apostles and prophets. We can ask God for faith and then go forth and nourish our faith by doing the things God wants us to do.
When we have faith, it leads to hope for a better life and this spurs us on to repentance, or changing our ways and turning to a better way.
After repentance in the Gospel comes baptism, or a symbolic washing away of our sins and a sign and covenant with God that we are dead to sin and are, through Christ, brought into a newness of life. It washes away our old ways and brings us to a new way. In the baptismal covenant initiates covenant with God to remember Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that was performed for us, just as the Jews have commemorative feasts and holidays to remember what God did for them in delivering them out of bondage in the land of Egypt. Christians, then, remember the great and last Sacrifice that delivers them from the bondage of death and sin. As well as remembering Christ, those who are baptized promise to keep the commandments of God. If they do these things, they will be blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost to be with them always.
The right to this gift comes when the new members have hands laid on their heads to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by those who are in authority, meaning those who have been ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood, or the highest priesthood of God.. This gift of the Holy Ghost gives new members the inspiration, comfort, and power to be able to go forward in life and keep enduring to the end.
These four principles can be used continually week by week for those who accept and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ to great and powerful effect.
These principles can also be seen in part in other cultural and religious traditions. There are analogous rituals and lifeways seen in many other traditions. But of course the principles I have discussed pertain most especially to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.