First Ordinance: Baptism

Being Baptized is a Physical Witness of Making Certain Promises

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A young boy is baptized in a river near his village. © 2011 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved

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A principle is something we believe in or teach that is true. Repentance is a principle that leads to baptism, which is an ordinance.

Baptism is an Ordinance

An ordinance is a ritual, or ceremony, we perform in order to demonstrate our acceptance of principles and our willingness to keep certain promises.

Baptism is the first ordinance performed by those who join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other ordinances will follow, including some that simply renew our commitments to past ordinances. Eventually, we will perform some ordinances in the temple.

Why Must I Be Baptized?

People who convert and seek to join the Church often ask why they must be baptized again, having already been baptized in their former faith.

The answer is that their prior baptism was not done in the proper way by the proper authority.

Even for those who have not been baptized in a prior faith, baptism is necessary for the following reasons:

  • To show obedience.
  • To have our sins remitted, or washed away.
  • To prove you have made a covenant with Heavenly Father.To follow Jesus' example to be baptized.
  • To formally become members of His true church.
  • To be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
  • To eventually qualify for exaltation.

John the Baptist was reluctant to baptize Jesus, because He knew Jesus had never sinned. However, Jesus instructed that even He must be baptized.

We must follow His example and also be baptized.

Baptism Must be Done Correctly

In order to be valid, baptism must be done correctly. The following are essential:

  • Baptism must be performed by those who have the authority.
  • Baptism must be done by immersion.
  • Baptism must be done at age 8 or older.

Men who hold the office of Priest in the Aaronic priesthood are allowed to baptize.

Any men who hold the Melchizedeck priesthood also have the authority to baptize.

Baptism must be done by immersion. This means the person must be completed submerged in the water. Designated witnesses to the baptism help assure that this is done.

Most meetinghouses are equipped with a baptismal font. Another body of water such as a lake, river or ocean can serve this purpose, if a baptismal font is not available.

Children are incapable of sinning until they reach the age of accountability. By revelation, we know this is age eight. People that age have the ability to know right from wrong. Baptisms can only be done after someone has reached that age, physically and mentally.

Promises We Make When We are Baptized

When we are baptized, we make certain promises such as:

  • We acknowledge that we belong to Heavenly Father and His church by taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.
  • We promise to serve others and bear their burdens.
  • We promise to be a witness of Heavenly Father everywhere and all the time.
  • We promise to serve Heavenly Father and keep His commandments.

These promises are renewed every week when we partake of the sacrament. Heavenly Father knows that we will sin and we will need to repent.

When we renew our baptismal covenants every week by partaking of the sacrament, we can renew our covenants by re-promising everything all over again.

Blessings We are Promised When We are Baptized

When we are baptized, Heavenly Father promises to bless us in the following ways:

  • He promises to forgive our sins.
  • He promises to bless us more in numerous ways.
  • He promises to give us guidance daily through the Holy Ghost.
  • He promises to bring us forth in the First Resurrection.
  • He promises to give us eternal life.

Heavenly Father wants to bless us, and He will, when we keep our promises.

A New Birth in a New Life

Baptism is sometimes called a rebirth. As we come up out of the water, our sins are washed clean and we start a new way of life.

Baptism is not only a rebirth, it is a fresh start. Our past sins and mistakes are forgiven us and we have the chance to start our life all over again, by keeping the promises we have made.

This all holds true for those baptized via proxy after they have left this life.

How Should Knowing All This Change My Life?

It should make you want to be baptized in the right way, by the right authority.

It should make you want to change how you live your life.

It should make you want to keep your baptismal promises.

It should make you want to renew your covenants by partaking of the sacrament.

Next: Second Ordinance: Gift of the Holy Ghost