Considering the Covenant of Baptism

A Way of Life, Robert D. Hales

There is a familiar phrase: to be in the world, but not of the world (see John 17:11, 14-17). Our mortal existence is necessary to fulfill the plan of salvation. We must therefore live in this world, but we must also resist the worldly influences that are ever before us.

Jesus taught, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). These words led me to ponder more concerning His kingdom. I concluded that when we are baptized by immersion by one with the proper priesthood authority and choose to follow our Savior, we then are in His kingdom and of His kingdom.

Being of the kingdom of God requires that we heed the Savior’s admonition “Follow thou me” (2 Ne. 31:10). Nephi taught that we follow Jesus by keeping Heavenly Father’s commandments: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?” (2 Ne. 31:10).

At baptism we make a covenant with our Heavenly Father that we are willing to come into His kingdom and keep His commandments from that time forward, even though we still live in the world. We are reminded from the Book of Mormon that our baptism is a covenant to “stand as witnesses of God [and His kingdom] 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” (Mosiah 18:9; emphasis added).

When we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. When temptations come our way, if we will listen, the Holy Ghost will remind us that we have promised to remember our Savior and obey the commandments of God.

President Brigham Young said: “All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter this Church. They covenant to cease sustaining, upholding and cherishing the kingdom of the Devil and the kingdoms of this world. They enter the new and everlasting covenant to sustain the Kingdom of God and no other kingdom. They take a vow of the most solemn kind, before the heavens and earth, . . . that they will sustain truth and righteousness instead of wickedness and falsehood, and build up the Kingdom of God, instead of the kingdoms of this world” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 62-63).

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).

Born of a mortal mother, 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).

As we follow the example of Jesus, we, too, demonstrate that we will repent and be obedient in keeping the commandments of our Father in Heaven. We humble ourselves with a broken heart and a contrite spirit as we recognize our sins and seek forgiveness of our trespasses (see 3 Ne. 9:20). We covenant that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and always remember Him.

“For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

“And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:17-18).

Excerpt from Robert D. Hales October 2000 General Conference Address, The Covenant of Baptism: To Be In the Kingdom and Of the Kingdom. Robert D. Hales is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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