Why Are We Baptized?

baptism of christ

TheDiscipleMD

The need for baptism is clearly taught throughout the scripture’s as a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of God. In my opinion no serious student of the Christian religion can dispute that! But why must we be baptized? The simple answer is that God requires it and it makes sense to have “order.” But a more profound answer is found in a talk that was given by  L. Tom Perry a few years ago. In his address titled, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ”, he said:

“…Orson F. Whitney taught: “Baptism is twofold, and has a double mission to perform. It not only cleanses—it [illuminates] the soul, making manifest the things of God, past, present, future, and imparting a sure testimony of the Truth. The soul, cleansed of sin, is in a condition to enjoy the abiding influence of the Holy Ghost, which ‘dwelleth not in unclean tabernacles.’ Water baptism begins the work of purification and enlightenment. Spirit baptism completes it” (Baptism—The Birth of Water and of Spirit [n.d.], 10).

The ordinance of baptism by water and fire is described as a gate by Nephi…Why is baptism a gate? Because it is an ordinance denoting entry into a sacred and binding covenant between God and man. Men promise to forsake the world, love and serve their fellowmen, visit the fatherless and the widows in their afflictions, proclaim peace, preach the gospel, serve the Lord, and keep His commandments. The Lord promises to “pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [us]”, redeem His Saints both temporally and spiritually, number them with those of the First Resurrection, and offer life eternal. Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost are the prescribed ways to enter the strait and narrow path to eternal life.

According to the Apostle Paul, baptism also denotes our descent into a watery grave from which we are raised with “newness of life” in Christ. The ordinance of baptism symbolizes Christ’s death and Resurrection—we die with Him so we can live with Him. In this sense baptism is the first saving ordinance, and receiving the Holy Ghost helps each of us press forward and endure to the end” ( Liahona, May 2008, 44–46).

Baptism is a way for man to do something “physical”, demonstrating his “covenant” with God to forsake the world and follow Him. In turn He promises that He will “pour” out his Spirit and ultimately save us. Note that Whitney taught that “baptism is twofold”. Once a person is “clean” they can now receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The confirmation process is the completion of the baptismal covenant. If you look up the word “confirm” in the Bible dictionary it defines it as “to make more secure”. Make “what” more secure? Well to me the giving of the Holy Ghost is to “make more secure”, the testimony, or covenants of the new convert.

As an insurance professional, I have clients ask me how to protect their valuables. I tell them that an easy way is to buy a small safe. They can store all their valuable things in the safe and protect them from natural catastrophes as well as burglars. But a small safe can be stolen or picked up by the wind and lost. So, a more “secure” way to protect their valuables would be to “bolt” the safe down. Then no thief can make off with it nor wind carry it away.

In this example the valuables could represent our “testimony or covenants”. We place it in a “safe” place by making a commitment, through baptism, to follow the Savior. The commandments are intended to help protect our valuable testimony. But this is not enough. The Lord in His wisdom gave us something more, something that will “make more sure” the protection of this most valuable covenant; the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift provides us with the strength to overcome all. It “bolts” us down and keeps us grounded. All of us will face trials and tribulations in this life. The Lord knew that, at times, we would need strength beyond our own. This is the purpose of the gift of the Holy Ghost and our confirmation. So the “why”, as to the reason we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, is to make our “testimony” more sure, or secure and to give us strength to endure to the end.

The need for baptism and for the Gift of the Holy Ghost is far more than just ritualistic. For some it may be that, but for those who understand the reason behind the “Who, How, and Why”, it is much more. It is essential to the salvation of our souls.

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