At times it may seem that as Latter-day Saints we place too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit and receiving the Holy Ghost. And it may be that we put too much emphasis on making sure that we feel the Holy Ghost when in reality we should be preaching repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But in all actuality the two are parts of a complete whole, and reception of the Holy Spirit is the choice gift afforded only to the covenant disciples of Jesus Christ. Consider how the law of Moses only afforded the people to get as close to God as a priest offered burnt sacrifices periodically for a remission of their sins. John the Baptist came preaching repentance and baptism by water for a remission of our sins. Jesus Christ came with power to baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost.
While in the former, there is the power to stop doing evil, Jesus Christ brought with him the power to do good, which is wrought through the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Understand then, Brent, that we need to stop doing evil in all its forms, so that we can do more good.
An introduction to membership in this Church can sometime feel like a process of being taken out of the water (upon being baptized) and being thrown straight into the frying pan. Perhaps, we don’t talk about it all that much because we don’t want to discourage people from entering into the Kingdom, but perhaps, we should be warning our good brother and sister converts that Jesus himself said a baptism of fire was surely to follow their baptism by water if they were serious about the covenants that they were to make with God. Perhaps we should be giving them a heads up that the protection and blessing that they hoped to receive by coming into the safety of God’s kingdom will not come without a price of purging more than we had expected.
So those of us that have walked through the fire, will we stand idly by as we watch these our infant brothers and sisters in the discipleship of Christ walking through the fire without a full understanding of why they are doing so. We know, because we’ve been there, that knowledge only comes after faith.
The truth is that serious discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ is a thorny, rocky, fiery path where our greatest weaknesses will be brought into full light. This reality isn’t just laid out for the new convert, but rather, any one of us who decides that now is the time to “get good with God” will discover that theirs is a difficult road ahead of them. It may from time to time become difficult to watch the natural man enjoying his slice of the pie, when we knowingly are walking away from the pretended picnic of ease that Satan has laid out in front of us in exchange for a much greater hope of qualifying for a seat at that great feast that has already been prepared for us at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9, Matthew 22:1-14)
(Post to Facebook after today’s continued study on the topic)
Most of Christianity does a very good job at preaching and understanding faith in Jesus Christ. Some understand the need for and exercise repentance as taught by John the Baptist. But few comprehend that baptism by one who has authority, as did John, is essential for admission into the kingdom of God.
But then John the Baptist takes it even further and says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me… shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt 3:11)
And it is curious how the Savior says “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Discipleship is then by design a process of purging and sanctification. When we find God, and then decided to solidify that relationship with God by covenant by those in authority to officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ, we then become His — entering into a process that will eventually allow us to become “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)
The mission of John the Baptist to preach only repentance, and of Alma’s directive to preach only faith in the Lord and repentance (Mosiah 18:20), has left me wondering why the exclusive emphasis on these doctrines. Prayerful consideration causes me to believe that without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and without repentance, there is no point in anything else we do in this Church or in the kingdom of God. If an individual cannot humble themselves and claim the rights of the salvation that are freely extended to all that will believe and repent of their sins, then there is no way to go further. This passage way must be traversed for discipleship to have meaning and significance. The power to leave behind one’s sins lies in the process of repentance and must be centered on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the humble, submissive, and meek can pass through this gate.