Understanding Baptism by Immersion
A sacred ordinance
Baptism by immersion is a sacred ordinance for many religious groups. This ordinance practiced in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the first step in a dual ordinance to becoming a member. The following step would be confirmation as a member of the church and the giving of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying-on-of-hands.
Baptism by immersion is the process of completely submerging the candidate under the water after the recitation of a prayer by a ordained priesthood holder with the authorization to perform the ordinance. It is a symbolic and public gesture of a person's willingness to cast off or renousnce the old life and accept a new life as a follower of Jesus Christ--being born again.
It is a commandment of Jesus Christ that all members of His Church receive this ordinance with the willingness to take upon them the responsibility of brotherhood and as witnesses of Jesus Christ. The baptismal ordinance washes away the past sins of the candidate symbolically, but is only a portion of a dual ordinance. The act of baptism does not cleanse sins or qualify a person literally for anything. It is Christ who did the cleansing and qualifying. To obtain access to Christ's cleansing one must be baptized because Jesus Christ commands it in 3 Nephi 11:38,
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
The atonement of Jesus Christ, his suffering and death, is what actually pays the price for sin washed away.
The two ordinances baptism and conferring the Holy Ghost are married and must occur together to help to fortify new members of Christ's covenant as a reward for submitting to the requirements of the Lord.
The Lord sent His resurrected servant John the Baptist in these the last days before Jesus Christ returns as King of Kings to confer the authority to baptize upon Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery in preparation of His coming.
John said to both men
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. Doctrine & Covenants 13:1
The law that Jesus Christ instituted that baptism is an ordinance of necessity moved Him to send the authority anew to do so in these last days.
That authority is had only within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church invites all followers of Jesus Christ to listen to His words and keep His commandments and testifies that He desires all to partake of baptism by proper authority, priesthood authority. This establishes the importance of keeping all of Christ's commands.
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All People Must be Baptized
God provided a plan to cover all the people who died without knowledge of Christ or the opportunity for baptism. Posthumous baptism is the act of one who is living standing in as a representative of a deceased person and submit his or her body to be baptized for and behalf of that person. The act does not make the decease person a member of the church, but provides the opportunity for that deceased person to accept the ordinance and live in the spirit as if he were living in the flesh.
As with baptism for the living, posthumous baptism is only part of a dual ordinance. Willing representatives of deceased brothers and sisters receive all necessary ordinances commanded by Jesus Christ for and in behalf of the dead.
The dead are taught the gospel just as earnestly as the living--having the choice to accept or reject the words. It is not revealed who may have or may not have rejected the teaching to the deceased. It does not matter to the living. The living perform the ordinances anyway giving the deceased the option of accepting it or denying it.
Members of the church attend temples, which are sacred places of worship, to attend to the ordinances for the dead. Baptism is the foundation of the gospel in this life and the next because God's commandments are eternal and do not become void at death.
Posthumous ordinances show the true universal love of God. God will not be mocked. We must receive the ordinances for ourselves here in this life, but for those without such an option a way has been prepared by Jesus Christ to gain access to all that the living have access to.
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