Baptism By Immersion for the Remission of Sins
"The word baptize comes from the Greek word Baptizmo
which means to immerse. There is a different Greek word
Rantizmo which means to Sprinkle. John did not Rantize
people, he Baptized people."
"The Atonement is the single most important thing
that has ever occurred in the entire history of
created things. It is the rock foundation upon
which the gospel and all other things rest. All
other things are appendages to it."
Why are we required to physically participate in ordinances?
In the LDS Church, an ordinance holds very special religious significance. Baptism is a saving ordinance, considered to be necessary for salvation.
Simply praying in good faith will not get someone to the highest degree in the Celestial. As revealed by revelation, it is structured systematically, beginning with faith, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and then receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie once light heartily said in a talk, "While driving along a highway in my car, I was listening to the radio sermon of one of these evangelists who was preaching of salvation by grace alone. He said [that] all anyone had to do to be saved was to believe in Christ and perform an affirmative act of confession. Among other things he said: “If you are traveling in a car, simply reach forth your hand and touch your car radio, thus making contact with me, and then say, 'Lord Jesus, I believe,' and you will be saved.” Unfortunately, I did not accept his generous invitation to gain instant salvation; and so I suppose my opportunity is lost forever!"[i]
Why Immersion? Why couldn't it be any other way?
1. Symbolism: The kingdom of God is not of this world. Some people might say, “How strange a thing that God would require that we should be baptized by water.” Why would God require such a thing?
First, we must understand Jesus' statement that he made concerning his kingdom, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."[ii]
Why Symbolism is Important
Next, this question seems difficult to answer without showing its symbolism. We obviously live in a world of symbols and these symbols have both power and meaning behind them.
My wedding ring is nothing great. In fact, it is just a piece of metal. Nevertheless, it no longer becomes just a piece of metal when there is power and meaning behind that ring. What made the ring have power and meaning? The ring has power and meaning behind it because of what it expresses and communicates to both me and the person who gave it to me—my wife!
It was my wife who designated the significance of the ring by what it expresses. The ring, then, to her and to me, is a visual material object only having power by the significance of what is expressed by it.
For us, it means commitment, dedication, and a physical binding contract. Some do not use wedding rings to convey this commitment. Some use other objects, but the object used has the same power and meaning behind it as does the wedding ring.
Baptism is a Symbol Showing Our Commitment to Jesus
Baptism is just like that. It is a symbol that weds us to Jesus Christ. Just as the wedding ring is an expression, shown though symbolism, signifying commitment and dedication, so baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We as humans can use the wedding ring or any other object to express our commitments, but revelation tells us that baptism is the only way to salvation.
Baptism symbolizes eternal realities:
· Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Romans 6:3–5; D&C 128:12–13).
· Baptism symbolizes a rebirth to a newness of life (see Moses 6:59; John 3:3–5).
· Baptism symbolizes washing and cleansing (see D&C 39:10; Moses 6:59).
2. Revealed by Revelation: Why baptism and not some other way?
This question can be answered solely and only because it was revealed by revelation. It is simply just the way the Lord designed it. There never will be revealed any other way.
Revelation never will accept only prayer, repentance and being forgiven and "born again." Being born again only comes through the ordinance of revealed baptism of water and of fire by the Holy Ghost.
One who is ready to receive baptism may feel the influence of the Holy Spirit at their baptism, thus confirming that the baptism was accepted.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said, “Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter into the kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is in vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost.”[iii]
Baptism: An Essential Ordinance
Revelation has also revealed that baptism is an essential ordinance.
· Baptism is required of us if we are to enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:5; 2 Nephi 9:23–24; D&C 84:74).
· Baptism is necessary for us to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth (see D&C 20:37, 71–74; Moroni 6:4).
· Baptism is an essential step in receiving a remission of sins (see Acts 2:38; Alma 7:14; 3 Nephi 12:2; 30:2; D&C 33:11).
· Baptism is a prerequisite for receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38; Moses 6:52; D&C 35:6).
· Baptism is a necessary part of the process of personal sanctification (see 3 Nephi 27:20; D&C 76:51–53).
· Baptism is required of those who arrive at the age of accountability (see D&C 18:41–42; 68:25–27; Moroni 8:8–11, 19).
· Baptism must be preceded by repentance (see D&C 20:37, 71; Moroni 6:1–3).
· Baptism must be performed by one having authority (see D&C 22:1–4; 20:72–73; Mosiah 21:33; 3 Nephi 11:21–25).
· The Lord has revealed the prayer to be used in the ordinance of baptism (see D&C 20:72–73)
· Those desiring to be baptized must be baptized by immersion (see D&C 20:72–74; 3 Nephi 11:22–26; Articles of Faith 1:4).
3. Blood of Abraham- The revelations of baptism is necessary because "this action involves a literal change in the convert's blood."[iv]
For it was, "plainly taught by the Prophet [Joseph Smith] . . . 'while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. . . .'"[v]
4. The Psychology- Psychologically speaking, symbols have substance to them that gives the person power to understand and transform—thus transitioning the mind from "normal" to almost the "supernatural."
For example, as an LDS missionary in France many problems needed some attention. I was weighed down with grief, sorrow and the heavy burden of sin that I placed on myself. My dad called me and told me to take a shower and “recommit yourself to do better.” He told me to imagine the water as a cleansing agent to start anew. Though totally fictitious, my mind made the water a product of the "supernatural" and had a tremendous effect on how I after viewed things. Did it work for me? Absolutely! Moreover, sometimes I find myself doing it when I am under extreme pressure or needing to recommit myself.
The only power in the water is that I accepted it as a symbolic cleansing agent. It represented to me an idea that, if processed by acting it out, would have some kind of supernatural effect though it was not supernatural, but a token that had psychological effects. Though the symbol of the water in the shower was made up, it had power to change someone (me) for the better.
Jesus' parables are made up fictitious stories used to help change people for the better. Therefore, there is nothing wrong for making up something that may have symbolic meaning to you.
5. Jesus Christ was Baptized - In Chapter 31 of 2 Nephi, the prophet Nephi tells us why Jesus Christ was baptized. He says, "And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!"
“Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments."[vi]
6. Baptism is a Commandment to Law: Jesus commanded us to follow him, “Follow thou me” [vii]
According to our scriptures, we follow Jesus by keeping God's commandments: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?”[viii]
The Science Behind A Law
Another great example of baptism being a law is described in the form of science. John A. Widstoe thus provided us with this example:
"The chemist must frequently produce the gas hydrogen. To do it, an acid must be poured upon fragments of certain metals. In thus producing the gas, the chemist obeys law. The astronomer who studies the stars discovers that by using a piece of glass properly ground, his powers of vision appear to be strengthened. He therefore prepares such lenses for his telescopes, and thus obeys law. The surgeon uses antiseptics in the treatment of wounds because he has learned that such application will destroy germ life, and thus the surgeon obeys law. The electrician has found that by winding a wire in a certain manner around iron and rotating it near a magnet, electric currents are set up. He builds dynamos according to such principles, and thus shows his obedience to law.
It must be noted that the scientist does not know just why acid added to metal produces hydrogen, or why a certain curved lens brings the stars nearer; or why certain chemicals destroy low forms of life or why wire wound in a certain way when rotated in the magnetic field will produce electricity. Nature requires, without volunteering and explanation, that to produce hydrogen, see the stars, destroy germs and produce the electric current, certain invariable laws must be obeyed.
Baptism is essentially of the same nature. To enter the Kingdom of God, a person must be baptized. Just why baptism should be the ordinance that opens the door, no man knows. It undoubtedly has high symbolic value; but the symbolism might be expressed in many other ways. All that man can do is to obey. He who is baptized, enters the Kingdom of God. He who throws acid on metal enters the kingdom of hydrogen; he who grinds the lens right, enters the kingdom of the stars; he who uses antiseptics right, enters the kingdom of lower life, and he who winds the wire correctly, enters the kingdom of electricity."[ix]
7. Baptism is a Commitment: We learn in Mosiah 18:8 that baptism is a commitment that one makes. According to revelation, we commit to:
· 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.
8. Baptism is a Covenant - President Brigham Young said: “All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter this Church. They covenant to cease sustaining, upholding and cherishing the kingdom of the Devil and the kingdoms of this world. They enter the new and everlasting covenant to sustain the Kingdom of God and no other kingdom. They take a vow of the most solemn kind, before the heavens and earth, … that they will sustain truth and righteousness instead of wickedness and falsehood, and build up the Kingdom of God, instead of the kingdoms of this world” [x]
9. Baptism and Sacrament are "ROCKS"
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them." 3 Nephi 11:39-41.
"And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.
But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them." 3 Nephi 18:12-14.
[i] What Think Ye of Salvation by Grace? by Bruce R. McConkie
[ii] John 18:36
[iii] History of the Church, 4:553–557.
[iv] Bruce R. McConkie Mormon Doctrine pg. 390
[v] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg. 149-150
[vi] 2 Nephi 31:5-7
[vii] 2 Ne. 31:10
[viii] 2 Ne. 31:10
[ix] Joseph Smith as Scientist Chapter Xl by John A. Widstoe
[x] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 62-63