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