Category Archives: Discourse

Baptism and John the Baptist

I’ve been asked to speak this morning on baptism. I’ve attempted to seek the influence and inspiration of heaven on this topic in preparation of for these remarks. I would invite you each to offer a silent prayer in your hearts that the Holy Ghost might instruct us further while we are here together.

600 years before the time of Christ, Lehi and his family had left Jerusalem. The Lord had given Lehi a series of customized commands which by chapter 10 of 1 Nephi, he had successfully demonstrated his faithfulness in obedience to those commandments.  So consequently, the Lord begins to bless Lehi with visions and further understanding of essential doctrines. (This is a pattern that the Lord often employs: a test of obedience followed by an outpouring of greater light.)

One of those essential doctrines that was revealed to Lehi was a knowledge of the Savior’s mortal ministry, and key events there in.

Read 1 Nephi 10:7-10

In trying to understand the significance of the ordinance of baptism, let’s consider a little deeper the mission of John the Baptist, the only prophet in all of scripture and time to have an ordinance attached to his name.

Consider how the Savior Jesus Christ described John:

Read Matthew 11:7-11

John was the literal embodiment of the ordinance that he was called upon to perform, a living witness or symbol of baptism, its purpose being to prepare each of us enter into the Kingdom of God.

There is another principle or act that is frequently coupled with baptism,  and that is repentance. Sometimes repentance happens before our baptism, always among true disciples it happens afterwards as well, frequently and as often as needed to make progression in the kingdom of God.

God gives us both inward acts and outward ordinances to help us along the covenant path. There is a state of being that we hope that all who come to the waters of baptism would possess, it is this state of humility before God, and acknowledgement of his path, our own nothingness before him. This is what John the Baptist represented, this state of a humble, penitent, simple follower of Jesus Christ.  What John represented was the first steps of the Plan of Salvation.

(Matthew 11: 18 & 19)

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

But just so there was no confusion, Christ himself submitted to the baptism of John.

Matthew 3

Suffer it to be so now.

Considering as we have the life and mission of John the Baptist, can you imagine the surprise and amazement then, when Joseph Smith with his scribe Oliver Cowdery go into the woods to seek guidance and instruction about baptism, a messenger from Heaven who calls himself John and says that he is the same that was called John the Baptist in the New Testament.

Doctrine and Covenants 13

It is with this same authority from John who embodied the principles of baptism and repentance that you are baptized today.

Apostasy and Restoration

Outline:

  • Establish the symbolism of Light.
    • Christ is the Light
    • God said, let there be light.
    • Acquiring light is the purpose of our existence.  (This is the personal application).
  • It is hard to understand why there would be a need for a Restoration without understanding prophets and  dispensations, and the effects of Apostasy.
  • The Story of King Lamoni’s household.
    • Lamoni is overcome by the light of the glory of God.
    • Parallel for the Apostasy and Restoration
  • The restoration of the Gospel  of Jesus Christ, was not a singular event. A series of acquisitions of light (see Alma 32:35)
    • Extensive divine preparations had to transpire before the Church of Jesus Christ could be established.
      • Detail these events.
      • Printing press
      • Martin Luther’s 95 points
      • Translation of the Bible into English by William Tyndale
      • Christopher Columbus, Pilgrams’ colonization of the Americas.
      • United States established as a safe haven of religious freedom.
    • Joseph Smith saw light in the First Vision. A restoration of that which was lost.

Compare and contrast apostasy and restoration to darkness and light.

Start with some sort of illustration of light. Where is the scripture that talks about the restoration coming forth as a light in the darkness.

Explain the terms apostasy and restoration. Give definitions.

Alma 32:35 – Light is discernible

Isaiah 8:20-22 – Testimony is light, if not share as such, no light in them.

Isaiah 9:2 – People that have walked in darkness have seen a great light.

This points us to Christ, and how it was that John described him as light: JST- John 1:7-10.

Christ also called himself the light of the world. (see John 8)

D&C 50:23&24

23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Compare Apostasy and the Restoration to this darkness and light. To appreciate the full splendor of the Restoration, you have to hold up to the dark veil of apostasy.

 

Discuss the process of preparation for the Restoration, it is a series of nurturing events that change perceptions and opens the way for greater light and truth.


references:

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/the-blessing-of-scripture?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/the-miracle-of-the-holy-bible?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/the-truth-of-god-shall-go-forth?lang=eng

Also consider

The Savior Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon, and the Power of and to Become Obedient

However, seen in its proper place as the door way of discipleship to the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience becomes the empowering principle that is also found accompanied by faith and character.  The gospel of Jesus Christ can only be experienced through obedience.

Not only is obedience the doorway

Elder Scott shares four principles that are like foundation building blocks:

  • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His program to acquire the power to achieve.
  • Repentance to rectify the consequences of mistakes of omission or commission.
  • Obedience to the commandments of the Lord to provide strength and direction in our lives.
  • Selfless service to enrich the lives of others.

 

 

 

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In December 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a talk at the commencement exercises at BYU-Hawaii campus entitled “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.” In his remarks, he invited members of the church to find ways to use the Internet to spread the gospel. It was in response to his talk, and longing for a better way to organize my personal gospel studies that I began what has now become an eight-year endeavor to chronicle my personal studies of the Book of Mormon.