Hi, friends! I was asked to give a talk in church today about baptism. I know most of you aren't members of the same church that I am, but I thought I'd share it with you anyway because you're my friends and I thought you may enjoy it. :) Love you all! :) Sarah :)
Good morning, brothers and sisters. Today I am talking to you about baptism. What an important topic this is. I hope that the spirit whispers to you the things you need to hear, and I hope that you walk away with a greater knowledge about baptism. What I learned by writing this talk is that baptism isn’t something we do once and are done with, but it’s a covenant that should act as a changing agent in our lives forever. Each and every day.
I want you to close your eyes and remember the day of your baptism. Remember getting dressed in white. Remember the loving eyes that watched you and the many friends that were there for you. Remember the warm feelings you had as you entered the water, as the prayer was said, the songs were sung, and the hugs of congratulations were given. Remember the quiet whisper in your heart that said you were doing the right thing, the hugs from angels around you who were welcoming you into God’s kingdom on earth.
I remember my baptism like it was yesterday. I was so excited to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I requested to be baptized on my eighth birthday, which for those who may not know is the soonest you can be baptized in the church, for age eight is what the Lord has revealed is “the age of accountablility,” where a child can knowingly make the choice to be baptized. I remember singing “I’m trying to be like Jesus” in my little white dress for everyone who came, the love everyone showed that day, the joy everyone felt. The famous quote in my family from my baptism was what I said to my mother after getting confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. “Mom, I feel so warm inside,” I said, “like I just got out of the dryer.” I cherish that feeling that I was able to recognize back then, and even now I feel that same feeling when I recognize the Holy Ghost touching my heart.
Why is it so important to be baptized?
Elder Bednar, of the quorum of the 12 apostles, said this:
“The purpose of our mortal journey is not merely to see the sights on earth or expand our allotment of time on self-centered pursuits; rather, we are to “walk in newness of life,” to become sanctified by yielding our hearts unto God, and to obtain “the mind of Christ.” We are commanded and instructed to so live that our fallen nature is changed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost.”
We are here to become more like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I love how he says we are to obtain “the mind of Christ.” We want to think like Christ, talk like Christ, act like Christ, love like Christ. We are here to learn and grow so that we can become more like Him and someday live with Him again with our families.
Baptism is the gate by which that happens.
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” John 3:5
Jesus and Nicodemus had this neat conversation about what it means to be born again, and this scripture I just read is Christ’s answer. Baptism is how we are born again. We make a promise from that point forward to obey God’s commandments and take upon ourselves the name of Christ. This is an every day commitment; the start of a new life.
Elder Hales, of the quorum of the 12 apostles, said,
Entering into the kingdom of God is so important that Jesus was baptized to show us “the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which [we] should enter” (2 Ne. 31:9). “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” (2 Ne. 31:7).
Wow. Can you imagine how John the Baptist must have felt, when Jesus asked him to baptize him? This perfect, Holy person, being baptized? What? Why? Jesus didn’t need a remission of sins! But he did it anyway. He did it to be obedient to the Father and to be an example to us.
Elder Hales goes on: “Jesus was baptized to fulfill His Father’s commandment that sons and daughters of God should be baptized. He set the example for all of us to humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father. We are all welcome to come into the waters of baptism. He was baptized to witness to His Father that He would be obedient in keeping His commandments. He was baptized to show us that we should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Ne. 31:4–9).
“He was baptized to show us that we should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost….” Interesting… So that tells me that baptism is not the means to an end, rather it is a beginning that should affect us every day of our lives! It is the gate by which we receive the Holy Ghost, the gate by which we enter into the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Elder Hales calls this becoming “citizens in the Kingdom of God.”
We talk about being citizens of our nation. That means following laws, being responsible, taking care of the earth, each other, reading the constitution, voting, etc. What does it mean to be a citizen in the Kingdom of God? What covenants do we make when we are baptized? What do we need to do?
In Mosiah chapter 18, Alma is preparing his people to be baptized and explains in a beautiful way the covenants that we make and some blessings that come from it:
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
It makes it so simple, doesn’t it? I can almost hear him saying- hey- if you want to serve the Lord, and be more like Christ, then why not get baptized? You can have eternal life, and His Spirit will be with you all the time? I’m not seeing any downsides to this one. All he asks of us is to try to be like Him, to stand as a witness of Him. He asks us to take upon ourselves his name and serve each other. Be there for each other. “Mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.” He wants us to do our best to obey Him and be more like Him. Then, he will give us this marvelous gift of having His spirit to be our constant companion, to help us through the journey of eternal life, back to Him, with our families. Isn’t that amazing?
The other amazing thing about baptism is that it gives us a remission of sins. No one except Christ is perfect. No one stands as a witness at ALL times, in ALL things, and in ALL places. Sometimes, we make mistakes, and the Lord has provided a way for that, too!! He’s given us a way, through the atonement, that we can have our slates wiped clean. One of my favorite gospel resources, True to the faith, says: Immersion is symbolic of the death of a person’s sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. It is also symbolic of death and . (See .)
I absolutely love this. When we go down in the water, it symbolizes our sins dying. And when we come up, we are made clean. “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow,” as Isaiah says.
Another thing I remember about my baptism is how worried I was that I would make a single mistake after I was made clean. I tried so hard not to make a single mistake, because gosh darnit, my little eight year old self was determined I would not make another mistake again for the rest of my life. What I didn’t understand back then, was the beauty of repentance, the mercy of God, and the sacrament, and the renewal of these covenants.
I’m going to read the sacrament prayers to you. As you listen, I want you to think about these prayers in the context of baptism, and what you have covenanted to do, and what blessings we will have in return. It’s just beautiful. Listen:
O God, theThe Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.
We promise each week, in renewal of our baptism covenants, to take upon ourselves His name. To always remember Him and keep his commandments. In return, He will have His spirit to be with us. Also, each week when we renew our baptismal covenant, we can, if we take it serisouly, repent and be completely clean again!
One of my favorite primary songs puts it so simply: “I know when I am baptized, my wrongs are washed away. And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day. I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain. I want to be the best I can. And live with God again.
It is my prayer that we will think often not only of the blessings of baptism, but realize the call to obedience that we have all been given because of it. Remember this beautiful covenant that can change our lives forever.
I am thankful to be baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am thankful to have the knowledge that I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. I’m thankful for scriptures and prophets. I’m thankful that I can repent of my sins and be forgiven because of the loving sacrifice of our prefect Savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the opportunity, through the gospel, to be forever families in heaven. I am thankful to have this wonderful community of people on whom I can rely and be friends with, you guys mean the world to me. And I know I have all of you in my life because of Him. I’m thankful that I can teach my daughter that she is a beautiful daughter of God. I’m thankful that I get to teach her about Christ, and how to be a good person. I’m thankful that she gets to sing primary songs and learn beautiful principles of the gospel throughout her life. She won’t have to wonder her purpose in life, why she’s here, where she’s going, because of the Gospel. She won’t have to live in fear of sin because she can have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of His atonement. Because of His Gospel. Because of Him. Every blessing I have in my life is because of Him. I know that. And I will try to spend every day of my life thanking Him, trying to be more like Him, and teaching my children the same. I testify of that, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.