Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baptism

This is Zachary again, it has been a couple months but this week’s post is part three of my five part post on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will repent. Part of the cleansing that comes of repentance is being baptized by immersion, and by proper authority, receiving remission of sins.

It is a commandment to be baptized by proper priesthood authority if we are to enter the kingdom of God. In John 3:5, Jesus Christ teaches Nicodemus that “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Baptism by immersion is the sign of a repentant soul. When we are baptized by priesthood authority, we make sacred covenants with God. Why do we need to make covenants with Heavenly Father? Covenant making and keeping brings spiritual power. In a recent address given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson, an apostle of Jesus Christ, he speaks of the early saints receiving spiritual power from the covenants they made:

It was [the knowledge that their course in life conformed to the will of God] that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take . . . not only the spoiling of their goods, and the wasting of their substance, joyfully, but also to suffer death in its most horrid forms; knowing (not merely believing) that when this earthly house of their tabernacle was dissolved, they had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. ("The Power of Covenants", Ensign, May 2009, 19–23)

Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives. Baptism, one of these covenants, cleanses us from sin. There was a woman I taught in North Carolina named Latricia. It was a miracle the Lord even led us to her in the first place. She lived in a little house way out in the countryside where we never went. She had the faith to be baptized, and she was willing to repent to receive that great covenant, so the Lord sent us to her. When we found her, she was into alcohol and even drugs. Yet she knew that she wanted to be baptized by authority, she knew that was the only way for her to be cleansed from sin. She never gave up. It was a long hard road, but she kept the faith, sometimes stumbling, but repenting over again. When she was finally ready, she asked me to baptize her. I shall never forget what the Lord solidified in my heart and in my mind that day. The Holy Ghost filled the room when I brought her up out of the water. For the first time in over 30 years, Latricia was as clean and pure as a little child. She had been cleansed from sin. The Holy Ghost witnessed to me that was how the Lord intended things to be for all His children.

We will continue to make mistakes once we are baptized, but the Savior has given us a way to continue to repent and be cleansed if we have the faith to endure. While visiting the Nephites in the Americas after His Resurrection, the Savior instituted the Sacrament. He taught them the importance of renewing their baptismal covenants. After the people had partaken of the sacrament, Jesus told them “Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.” (see 3 Nephi 18:1-12) The sacrament, administered by the priesthood, is blessed and passed each Sunday at our weekly Sabbath day meetings.

After baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is one of the greatest gifts God can grant us in mortality. A modern day apostle of Jesus Christ, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, spoke of this in an address given in 2008:

How can we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide our choices so that we will remain “unspotted from the world” and on the safe path through mortality? We need to qualify for the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We do this by keeping His commandment to come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and in that wonderful weekly meeting partake of the emblems of the sacrament and make the covenants that qualify us for the precious promise that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. ("Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament", Ensign, Nov 2008, 17-20)

We can always have His Spirit to be with us. But it is only through baptism that we do so. Baptism is essential to our eternal salvation. I know the Lord loves us and that’s why he gives us commandments. He knows we can keep his commandments, and He will help us. We become more like our Heavenly Father as we are obedient to His will.

Zachary