For the last few days I've been stuck in my scripture reading. I have reached some verses God REALLY wants me to blog about, but for some reason I've been hesitating. So as I write this, I have a prayer in my heart that God's voice will speak through me and touch those it is meant to touch.
"And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom."
— Doctrine & Covenants 39:6
Last fall I participated in a MOPS program at a local church. Most of the women in my group attend this church, but I do not. One day I asked the women in my group what the church's stand was on baptism - was it necessary or not. The group leader said the church did not hold baptism to be necessary, it was just a way to show other people that you have chosen to follow Christ. Then some women even said there was nothing in the scriptures that said baptism was necessary.
I was shocked. I couldn't believe these women had just said this. The first thing that came to my mind was Jesus's own words in the bible —
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
— John 3:5
That is as straightforward as you can get, and yet here were women, members of a 'bible' church, who believed the bible didn't teach the necessity of baptism.
Baptism is an ordinance. An ordinance is a physical performance showing you have made a covenant with God. All ordinances must be performed by someone having authority from God. Jesus taught not only in word, but in deed that this ordinance is necessary for EVERYONE, even Himself.
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."
— Matthew 3:13-15
Even Jesus, the sinless one, had to make this covenant with God. His pure example shows us plainly that everyone, in order to follow in His footsteps, must be baptized. Jesus didn't go to just anyone to be baptized. He went to John, who had authority from God to perform this ordinance.
— Doctrine & Covenants 39:10
On the day of Pentecost, when the apostles and disciples of Christ were filled with the spirit of the Lord, Peter also taught of the importance of baptism.
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
— Acts 2:37-38
As I mentioned earlier, when you are baptized you enter into a covenant with God. A covenant is a promise between two or more parties. The covenant of baptism says that the disciple being baptized takes upon them the name of Christ, and God in turn will bless them with His spirit - specifically by giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift is also given by one having authority from God. It is a marvelous gift - to always have the Lord's spirit with you, not just when you're being good, or when you need answer to prayer, but ALWAYS.
I was baptized when I was eight years old. My father, an ordained elder in my church, baptized me and later laid his hands on my head and confirmed me with the gift of the Holy Ghost. I don't remember too much about that day (except the white jumper I was wearing was too big and the pants legs unrolled while I was in the water.) But I am thankful to my parents for teaching me in my childhood the importance of baptism and of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. This special knowledge has carried me through my life, blessing me and my family in so many ways.