A week ago Saturday, December 22nd, I was asked to give a talk on Baptism. This was a special day for the Gonzales Family, as we were in attendance at the Baptism of Katie Wolf. Katie has been attending church with us for the past six months and began taking the discussions at the beginning of the school year.
I have never spoken on Baptism or at a Baptism. Below are some of the thoughts that I shared during my talk:
What is Baptism?
From a Greek word meaning to dip or immerse, Baptism in water is the introductory ordinance of the gospel, and must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete.
As one of the ordinances of the gospel, it is associated with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Faith and Repentance are essential pre-requisites to being baptized.
Faith in Jesus Christ
The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son's grace and mercy. When we have faith in Christ, we accept and apply His Atonement and His teachings. We trust Him and what He says. We know that He has the power to keep His promises. Heavenly Father blesses those who have faith to obey His Son.
Faith in Christ leads to action. It leads to sincere and lasting repentance.
The second principle of the gospel is repentance. Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will. Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world. When we repent, we feel godly sorrow, then we stop doing things that are wrong and continue doing things that are right. Bringing our lives in line with God's will through repentance is a central purpose of our lives. We can return to live with God the Father only through Christ's mercy, and we receive Christ's mercy only on condition of repentance.
Baptism, Our First Covenant
Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.
/God has always required His children to make covenants. A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between God and man. God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him. God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.
Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God. To keep our covenants, we must give up activities or interests that prevent us from honoring those covenants. For example, we give up shopping and recreational pursuits on Sunday so we can keep the Sabbath day holy. We should desire to receive worthily the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them. Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives. By keeping the commandments and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins.
Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism. These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority. Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and being born again.
Baptism has always been practiced whenever the gospel of Jesus Christ has been on the earth and has been taught by men holding the holy priesthood who could administer the ordinances.
Baptism symbolizes death, burial, and resurrection, and can only be done my immersion.
Baptism is not optional if one wishes the fullness of salvation. Jesus said a person must be born of water and of the Spirit. (John 3:3-5)
When he sent the twelve apostles forth to teach the gospel he told them that whosoever believed and was baptized would be saved; and whosoever did not believe would be damned. (Mark 16:16)
Jesus himself was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." (Matt 3:15; 2 Ne 31:4-11).
Baptism in water has several purposes. It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom; it is also the doorway to personal sanctification when followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost.
Baptism is a most sacred ordinance, which a person, having received it, can remember throughout life as a reminder of the personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Its symbolism is beautiful, and its consequences ever so desirable.
John the Baptist had the single most honor among all men to take the Son of God into the water and baptize him, after which he saw the Holy Ghost descend upon Jesus Christ. By being baptized Jesus obeyed the law himself, and set the example for all mankind. (Matthew 3:13-17).