This week in my Come, Follow Me studies, I studied about baptism, what it is, and why it is important. The best documented information on baptism that I have seen is found in Mosiah 18:8-10 as taught by Alma, an ancient American prophet.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life –
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
These verses teach the principle that we become the Lord’s people through the covenant of baptism by immersion. Jesus Christ set the example for baptism when He went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. He taught that one reason for us to be baptized is to be obedient to Heavenly Father and to enter the gate to the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. There are other reasons to be baptized, two of which are to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Alma taught that there were certain expectations for those who accept baptism. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles summarized those expectations as follow:
Alma began baptizing all who wished to make a covenant with Christ. He asked that they “serve [God] and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly” upon them. These new disciples would also demonstrate their faith by:
· Coming into the fold of God.
· Being called his people.
· Bearing one another’s burdens
· Mourning with those that mourn.
· Comforting those who stand in need of comfort.
· Standing as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
· Entering into a covenant to serve God and keep his commandments.
This declaration by Alma at the Waters of Mormon still stands as the most complete scriptural statement on record as to what the newly baptized commit to do and be (Christ and the New Covenant , 106).
Alma taught the expectations for those who are baptized, and Elder Holland emphasized that Alma was teaching people who wanted to be baptized and wished to make a covenant with Christ. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the blessings of accepting the covenant of baptism:
I have noted throughout my life that when people come to fully understand the blessings and the power of their baptismal covenant, whether as new converts or as lifelong members of the Church, great joy comes into their lives, and they approach their duties in the kingdom with contagious enthusiasm (“Alma the Elder: A Role Model for Today,” in Heroes from the Book of Mormon , 84).
As mentioned above, a second purpose for being baptized is to prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We need the Holy Ghost to be with us to lead and guide us through this mortal journey. He influences our conduct and strengthens our testimonies of Jesus Christ. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following:
The Holy Ghost gives us the strength and courage to conduct our lives in the ways of the kingdom of God and is the source of our testimony of the Father and the Son….
By choosing to be in His kingdom, we separate – not isolate – ourselves from the world. Our dress will be modest, our thoughts pure, our language clean. The movies and television we watch, the music we listen to, the books, magazines, and newspapers we read will be uplifting. We will choose friends who encourage our eternal goals, and we will treat others with kindness. We will shun the vices of immorality, gambling, tobacco, liquor, and illicit drugs. Our Sunday activities will reflect the commandment of God to remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. We will follow the example of Jesus Christ in the way we treat others. We will live to be worthy to enter the house of the Lord (“The Covenant of Baptism: To Be in the Kingdom and of the Kingdom,” Ensign, November 2000, 8).
We make a covenant with God when we are baptized that we will keep His commandments and do the things that He wants us to do. He promises that we will have the Holy Ghost to comfort us and bless us according to our faithfulness. Sometimes people look at the expectations of baptism and feel like they are making a great sacrifice.
My grandson was baptized a year ago and had this same concern. I reminded him that he now has the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide his words and actions and to give him additional power to keep the covenant that he made at baptism. He liked the word “power” and much more capable of keeping his covenant.
I am grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I love to feel His presence with me. I seek His guidance, and I strive to be obedient to His promptings. I want to qualify to be in the kingdom of God as well as to be of the kingdom of God. I know that I can do both by following the promptings that I receive from the Holy Ghost.