Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is not just for the religious or those who attend church. All mankind can receive the Holy Ghost. This true principle can be understood through the story of Cornelius in the Bible.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46
The Holy Ghost and The Gift of the Holy Ghost
Joseph Smith explains the 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 sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him. TPJS pg. 199
The Holy Ghost can be received but tarry not with us
This scripture from the D&C helps us to understand that the Holy Ghost can descend upon us and then leave.
A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him. D&C 130:23
Any missionary knows that before a person gets baptized, they can ask and receive answers through the power of the Holy Ghost prior to baptism.
The Holy Ghost can be received through humility, repentance, and asking God without an ordinance similar to what happened to Cornelius. This is an important reminder that all mankind can receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost can also be received through an ordinance of one having authority as described in this scripture:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:16-17
God is no respecter of persons. All mankind can receive the Holy Ghost through humility without receiving an ordinance.
Connection to Heaven
Without receiving the Holy Ghost, we are not connected to heaven. This is why the most effective way for the adversary to capture us is by interfering with our reception to the Holy Ghost. Salvation is impossible if we do not receive the Holy Ghost. The HG is our connection to heaven that can lead us to salvation. It is important for us to pray and hope to fully receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no doubt in my mind that all mankind can prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Top featured Photo by Tim Easley