The fourth Article of Faith states: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
The Savior revealed the true method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it must be done by immersion:
In Doctrine and Covenants 20:73-74 we are taught, “The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water”.
The act of immersing a person in water is symbolic of that person’s sinful life being buried and they being reborn or receiving a new life – a spiritual life – a life that is dedicated to serving God and others. Immersion is also symbolic of the death and resurrection of the Savior. In Romans 6:3-11 we read these words:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I was born and raised as a Baptist. As such, the method of baptism by immersion was not a new concept to me. I had read the New Testament Gospel accounts of the baptism of Christ numerous times and I fully understood that being baptized by immersion was indeed following the example that the Savior had set before us when he was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (See Matthew 3:13-17). I also understood the symbolism that Christ’s baptism represents and teaches us. I also did not have a real issue with having to be baptized again because even growing up in the Baptist church, if I transferred from a church that was a part of one sect or convention to another; re-baptism was often required before membership would be accepted. What did concern me for some time was the ideal of having to be baptized by one who had proper authority. The question in my mind was. “Were not those who baptized me before authorized to do so?” It took a lot of soul searching, pondering the Scriptures, and prayer to finally come to terms with the matter.
I had no doubt in my mind that this is the Lord’s true Church and that becoming a member of His Church was indeed the right thing to do. I also came to the realization that if I were to become a member of His Church I had to be willing to be obedient to the things which He has commanded and one of things which He commanded was that baptism was to be done by immersion and the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority.
One of the things that really helped to settle a lot of questions and concerns in my mind was the fact that I made a commitment to read all of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price prior to being baptized. I had already read the Bible in its entirety several times and so I was very familiar with its teachings. As I read the Book of Mormon in particular I came across some verses in Mosiah 18 that really made me stop and think and helped me in making my decision to be baptized. In Mosiah 18:8-10 we read:
8 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;
9 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—
10 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?
I further came to realize that if I were to become a member of His Church, I had to be willing to take His name upon me and be willing to follow His example because when we are baptized we enter into a covenant with God to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to keep His commandments, and to serve Him to the end (See Mosiah 18:8-10; Doctrine and Covenants 20:37). Each time that we partake of the Sacrament we renew the covenant that we made at baptism (See Doctrine and Covenants 20:77-79).
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
Sixteen years ago in the far away land of Iceland, where I was stationed in the Navy at the time, I made the decision to be baptized. That decision started me on a whole new path in my life. I am convinced that had the Lord not taken me out of the main stream of things and sent me to a place as far away as Iceland, things may have been a lot different in my life. My goals and my priorities were definitely a lot different than what the Lord had in mind. After being baptized and becoming more learned of the Gospel, and because of my willingness to take upon me His name, to follow His example, and to be obedient to His commands, I have seen and continue to see blessing after blessing in my life. Many doors that I once thought would never be opened to me are now beginning to open and I have been blessed in so many ways with new opportunities to help me grow and mature in the Gospel.
I believe that the words of President Joseph F. Smith best describe how I felt after being baptized. He said,
When I [was] baptized for the remission of my sins, the feeling that came upon me was that of pure peace, of love and of light. I felt in my soul that if I had sinned – and surely I was not without sin – that it had been forgiven me; that I was indeed cleansed from my sin; my heart was touched, and I felt that I would not injure the smallest insect beneath my feet. I felt as if I wanted to do good everywhere to everybody and to everything. I felt a newness of life, a newness of desire to do that which was right. There was not one particle of desire for evil left in my soul . . . this was the influence that came upon me, and I know that it was from God, and was and ever has been a living witness to me of my acceptance of the Lord.” (CR, April 1898, p.66)
I testify that I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the Word of God. I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet of the Lord. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s true Church upon the earth today and that His Church is being led by a Living Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. Of these things I do so testify and bear solemn witness in the Sacred name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Keith Lionel Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of “Morsels Of Bread.”