Guest Post by Jared
The objective of all who are baptized by water should be to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Otherwise, our baptism is incomplete. Baptism has two parts: baptism by water and baptism by the Spirit. (Please reread these three sentences several times.)
The prophet Joseph Smith emphasized the importance of being baptized by both water and the Spirit saying, “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 5:499).
He also stated, “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected” (History of the Church, 6:316).
Speaking to missionaries on this subject, Elder Boyd K. Packer said:
“Missionaries sometimes think they are only to do half the work; they are to teach and then baptize by water, and that concludes their work. In many cases the other half, the teaching about the baptism of fire, never really gets done… Get that idea in your mind with those two fixed together so tightly that, as one, it becomes part of you. Then we will not have the first half done, as is often the case at present, and the other half left undone” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Aug 2006, p. 50).
Elder Packer apparently feels we can do a better job teaching about the baptism of the Spirit.
Before going on, I would like to make sure that the terms being used are understood by the reader. Baptism of the Holy Ghost, baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, baptism of fire, and baptism of the Spirit are used to mean the same thing by some writers. However, others, myself included, feel they mean something related but have important differences. I’ll explain what I mean later on.
To understand what baptism of fire is, we can turn to the scriptures. Before doing so, it’s important to understand what the Lord provided us with when He gave us the scriptures. The scriptures are not like an encyclopedia or a dictionary containing precise, easy-to-understand definitions of terms. Apparently, the Lord intends for His followers to search the scriptures to gain understanding. The scriptures contain revelations, which are the key to understanding the mind and will of the Lord. Revelation is given “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little… ” (2 Nephi 28:30). This revelatory process, in some instances, can lead to difficulty for those searching the scriptures because each prophet is different in how he understands and teaches doctrine. With that said, let’s search the scriptures for understanding about baptism of fire.
The Savior taught, “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20).
The Savior is teaching that repentance, faith in His name, baptism, and reception of the Holy Ghost will make His followers spotless at the judgment day. This verse is a general statement of the entire plan of salvation. It contains all of the elements of the fourth Article of Faith, with the addition of the doctrines of sanctification and last judgment.
In another verse the Savior gives more detail about the Holy Ghost, saying:
…“The Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one” 3 Nephi 11:36.
Studying the scriptures this way is like constructing a building with bricks; each brick adds one more part towards the completion of the structure.
Let’s consider other scriptures the Savior gave on this subject, 3 Nephi 12:1, 2, 6.
1. … After that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost…
2. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins…
6. And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.
In verse 1, the Savior introduces the term “fire and the Holy ghost,” saying He will baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost after we’re baptized with water.
In verse 2, we learn that fire and the Holy Ghost bring a remission of sins.
In verse 6, we learn that if our desire for righteousness is equivalent to hungering and thirsting (food and water) we can be filled with the Holy Ghost.
These three verses of scripture provide additional understanding. However, they also raise questions. One question that comes to my mind, is there a difference between “fire and the Holy Ghost,” and the Holy Ghost? Also, what does a remission of sins mean. Is it the same as forgiveness?
To answer these questions we can turn to the account of King Benjamin found in the book of Mosiah.
King Benjamin was nearing the end of his life and was visited by an angel. He and his people already knew about the coming of the Savior (having the plates of brass and also the plates of Nephi in their possession, see Mosiah 1:16). The angel provided additional details. King Benjamin gathered his people into a group to teach them what he’d learned from the angel. He taught them about the Lord Omnipotent, Jesus Christ, taking on Himself a tabernacle of clay, working mighty miracles, and suffering death to atone for the sins of mankind. He also taught them the doctrine of the Fall, teaching, “I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness…” (Mosiah 4:11). His words were carried into the hearts of his people by the power of the Holy Ghost to the extent that they were overcome and had fallen to the ground:
AND now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (Mosiah 4:1–3)
The people of King Benjamin were a righteous people. They were described as “a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (Mosiah 1:11), and a “highly favored people of the Lord” (Mosiah 1:13). They had constructed a temple (Mosiah 1:18), and there were many holy men among them (The Words of Mormon 1:17). Yet, prior to the experience recorded above, most or all of them had not received a remission of their sins! They had been baptized with water, but not with fire and the Holy Ghost.
Prior to this experience, the people of Benjamin were much like church members today: they had faith in Jesus Christ, they repented, were baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, and they received the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Let’s stop here and consider a few things:
As the scripture above teaches, the people of King Benjamin were baptized by the Spirit, receiving a remission of their sins, thus completing their baptismal covenant. I love reading this account. However, it raises at least two important questions:
- Is this their first experience with the Holy Ghost?
- Is this their first experience with repentance?
To answer Yes to either of these questions leads to difficulty. How could a people be described as a diligent people in keeping the commandments, a highly favored people of the Lord, and having many holy men among them, and at the same time conclude this is their first experience with the Holy Ghost and repentance? This conclusion runs counter to what the Book of Mormon tells us about King Benjamin and his people.
To answer No to either of these questions requires us to conclude that they already had the Holy Ghost and had experienced repentance. If this is the case, then why did they have the outpouring of the Spirit recorded in Mosiah 4:1–3?
Interesting thoughts about the difference between the phrases used. Adds a whole new dimension to the scriptures when they discuss these points.
As far as your question about the Holy Ghost among the Nephites during the reign of King Benjamin, I think the answer is they did not have the Holy Ghost. They were under the Mosaic Law and the Aaronic priesthood. The Melchesidek (however it’s spelt) was not among the Nephites at that time. This does not mean that they were not highly favoured of God nor that they could not have holy men, they were just without the spiritual blessings from a higher priesthood.
For an example look at John the Baptist. He only held the Aaronic Priesthood but Jesus said that there was no greater priesthood holder than he.
My thoughts only – maybe right, maybe wrong.
Compare this experience with the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. Although the disciples had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and repented, and been baptized, and although John had promised that Jesus would baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost, this apparently did not happen until after he was crucified and resurrected.
It was my understanding that among the Nephites, the law of Moses was administered by the Melchizedek Priesthood, because as far as I can tell the Book of Mormon does not Aaron (the brother of Moses) or Levites even once.
After your comment I had a bit of a look and found out that the BoM priesthood were all MP holders – there were no AP amongst them until after Jesus visited them.
I always thought that the MP was taken from the earth after Moses except for the next appointed prophet. But that is not the case according to what I have now found. As the saying goes – you learn something new everyday.
Good post, Jared.
I would suggest that the people of King Benjamin were a lot like us today. We hear the words and go through the motions but never really connected with the meaning.
There are several key points I would like to add. First, as we find in the D&C that the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is core to the scriptural definition of the gospel. For example, here is D&C 33:11-12:
“Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved;”
Another important point is found in the description of the doctrine of Christ. This is from 2 Nephi 31:17-18:
“Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. 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; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.”
Here we find that the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost is the gate to the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life. A gate is an entry point. In other words, we are not able to move on to the path to eternal life UNTIL we have received a remission of our sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is not sufficient.
In Moroni 6, verse 4 we find that being cleansed by the Holy Ghost is a prerequisite to membership in His church. That cleansing is accomplished through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.
How many of us are members of record but have never been brought into His church as defined in Moroni?
24 hours later and only 3 comments—either I’ve done a terrible job in writing or there isn’t much interest in this subject. Well, one thing got accomplished, after all these years the term “Holy Ghost” is now listed in the category section of MormonMatter.com.
With that said, I’ll add a few more thoughts on the subject of the Holy Ghost for those who may have interest in this subject while searching this site at some future day.
It appears king Benjamin’s people were something like we are today. They had the authority of the priesthood and used it to baptize for the remission of sins. Like us, they had the manifestations of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost, mostly in the form of Spiritual gifts (D&C 46). When they sought forgiveness of sins the Lord extended it (Mosiah 26:29-30). However, as I wrote in the post king Benjamin was an old man when they received a “remission of their sins”; prior to that they received a “forgiveness of sins” when they repented. Apparently there is a difference, just as there is a difference between the “Holy Ghost”, “gift of the Holy Ghost” and “fire and the Holy Ghost”.
This is a new idea for most of those who will read it–so I’ll repeat for emphasis. The Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of “forgiveness” and the doctrine of “remission of sins”. The Book of Mormon also teaches that the Holy Ghost can be received in three different ways. To understand this requires a careful reading of the scriptures:
1. Holy Ghost
2. Gift of the Holy Ghost
3. Fire and the Holy Ghost
I’ll write more on this later.
I see spektator came by while I was writing #5. I was hoping he would read and comment. I have to leave now. I plan to write more after church.
I’m at a phase in my study of the Scriptures where I’m seeing themes running across multiple Books rather than focusing on individual doctrinal points, but the related theme I see here is the lifelong need to let the Spirit ever more deeply and naturally communicate with us, much the way our body, doing most everything important quite autonomously, nevertheless immediately surrenders control to impulses sent from our consciousness.
Our lives on earth are about learning to recognize and surrender control to a higher power whenever appropriate to fulfill our potential. When our physical natures remain dominant over our spiritual nature, we are basically spiritually insane.
I agree there is a difference between forgiveness of sin and remission of sin. We are all called upon to forgive one another. But, there is only One who can remit sins – that being Jesus Christ. That is why He states in 3 Nephi 12 that He is the one that will baptize us with fire and the Holy Ghost and that through that baptism we receive a remission of our sins.
I think it is also important to study the narrative of King Benjamin (Mosiah 5) to understand how we ‘retain’ a remission of our sins.
This post is much along the same lines as a talk from Russell M. Nelson, which I think he called “the unopened gift”. I may be wrong on the title, but the gist is more or less the same as this post. I don’t necessarilly have a problem with the concepts per se’, as much as I do with applicability. The first question I would have to ask about these good people of Mosiah’s time, assuming they actually existed for the benefit this discussion, is why did they really lack this so-called baptism of fire. Viewing them in the microcosm of modern Mormons, I’m at a bit of a loss. What about members today for example, who have not really had a substantive experience with the Holy Ghost – don’t they want it? At the end of the day I think the problem is that we have a lot of static theology about the Holy Ghost and revelation, that say’s what it is, what it’s supposed to do, but does not really explain how to open this gift. Outside of things like faith, dilligence, desire, etc, some people claim to have had absolute experiences, whereas others do not. There really is no test however, that can be applied to/by those who claim to have had positive interactions with the Holy Ghost, that could help to define standards and set expectations. The closest thing we have is Alma 32, which provides a generic, well if it seemeth go with it because it must be good. The ultimate challenge for me however, is that there was a time when I really wanted this, and was willing to do about anything required to have it, but it never happened. I believe that probably would have been the case with the alleged societies in the Book of Mormon – certainly they would have wanted it, given that they were building temples, etc. Members today who express dissappoint want it, but the chasm between those who claim to have it vs those who don’t, from my side of the divide, appears like nothing more than static theology.
I don’t think the issue is not really wanting it(the spirit) as much as it is recognizing it. Some people and I’m not including you in this statement need something tremendous like a rock falling on their head before the can acknowledge the existence of the Holy Spirit, Summarily others only need to see common every day things that go on before them to recognize the spirit.
I will give a example, Not all technology today is bad in my opinion, How can a doctor know how to Operate on a baby inside the woman, Yes, he has the knowledge but where does that knowledge come from? In addition, I live in a major metropolitan city How does a dandelion have strength to grow up in between the cracks of cement that I walk on? this is what I mean be recognizing the spirit.
Not a problem dblock. I usually get these types of responses, and in fact would tend to agree that there are a lot of examples in our lives of things that defy expectation, and can even bespeak divine interposition (if we are willing to see it that way). This however is all non-exclusive to Mormons who have been baptized by water, and can therefore not represent the appending baptism by fire and the spirit. I think that Alma (or Amulek – I can’t who is speaking) actually may have had a point when he note “all things denote there is a God”. Even the planets he says, and to a point I agree, randomness and chaos doesn’t quite sit well with me. But none of these notions actually denote sectarianism. In other words, seeing the divine in routine anomalies does not point to Mormonism – we on the other hand, do that by choosing to see all of these things within a Mormon context.
With the background of what I’ve written about king Benjamin’s people it becomes apparent to the student of the Book of Mormon that there is more to the doctrine of repentance and the Holy Ghost than is generally recognized.
Before going on, I’ve talked to a few gospel scholars (BYU and elsewhere) about this subject and some knew about it while others didn’t. Those who know about it describe it as I do.
First, on the subject of the difference between “forgiveness” and “remission of sins”, so far I have found just a few LDS writers who have written on this subject.
Blaine Yorgason wrote:
“Forgiveness Not Always a Remission of Sins…there can be a difference between being forgiven of a sin and obtaining a remission of sins.
If a person commits a particular sin and then feels bad enough about it to confess it in humility and ask forgiveness of the Lord, he or she is freely forgiven of that sin…In our day the Lord has said, “I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness” (D&C 64:7).
Interestingly, this forgiveness seems to be granted even though the person may be committing other sins at the time. Thus, one who enjoys lusting may at the same time repent of and obtain forgiveness for stealing or lying. Or one who gossips may repent of and obtain forgiveness for immorality.
Unfortunately, such a person, while blessed with forgiveness for all the sins he chooses to repent of, nevertheless “persists in his own carnal nature” because he is intentionally going “on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God.” Because he has not repented of all his sins, he “remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him” (Mosiah 16:5)… That is why forgiveness of some or even most of our sins is not, never has been, and never will be sufficient to bring us to Christ. Even though we are blessed for having repented of some things, we are not granted peace and joy through a complete remission of our sins…” I Need Thee Every Hour, by Blaine M. Yorgason, p. 113-115.
By the way, Brother Yorgason’s book was published in 2003 by Deseret Book. This means it passed the rigorous reviews of the church owned publishing company.
Next, I’ll discuss some interesting and useful information on the “Holy Ghost”.
The Holy Ghost
One of the difficulties in understanding the scriptures, as I’ve already mentioned, is that the prophets who Heavenly Father provides for us to learn from lived at different time, understood the doctrines in different ways, and used a variety of terms to describe their understanding.
As followers of Christ and students of the scriptures who should be “feasting on the words of Christ”, we’re left with the task of learning the doctrines, “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little… ”.
So let’s take a look at what the current thought is on the various ways humankind can experience the Holy Ghost.
To begin with, I’ll turn to the prophet Nephi. In 2 Nephi 31:13 he says something that caught my attention many years ago.
…witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
Nephi lays out three kinds of baptism in this verse:
1. Baptism by water
2. Baptism by the Holy Ghost (we would call this in our day the gift of the Holy Ghost because it comes as a result of baptism).
3. Baptism by “fire and the Holy Ghost”.
Nephi breaks down our experience with the Holy Ghost into two parts after receiving water baptism, “…behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost…”
BYU professor, and associate dean, Kent P. Jackson in his 1987, Studies in Scripture Volume 7, p. 224-225, also published by Deseret Book, included the following commentary on Nephi’s writings on the Doctrine of Christ:
Such a baptism involves more than the physical ordinance. It has three components: baptism in water, baptism of the Holy Ghost, and the baptism of fire. “All three baptisms,” said Joseph Smith, “make one.” He explained: “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected.” All three components of baptism are essential if one is to be born again. “For by the water [baptism] ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit [baptism] ye are justified, and by the blood [baptism of fire] ye are sanctified.” (Moses 6:60.) It was the baptism of fire—administered by the Holy Ghost—that King Benjamin’s people received. (See Mosiah 4:3.) It was this culminating baptism that brought them the remission of sins and “peace of conscience.” It was through this baptism that they were “born of God” and thereby acquired his spiritual image in their countenances, even as a child’s physical features and mannerisms reflect those of its parents.
Last year at BYU Education Week I attended a class taught by a BYU religion teacher and to my surprise he taught the following:
He drew an ascending staircase with 4 steps and labeled them starting at the bottom,
4. The Baptism of Fire (Born Again, Mighty Change, Remission of Sins)
3. Gift of the Holy Ghost (Priesthood Ordinance)
2. Power of the Holy Ghost (brings testimony)
1. Light of Christ (conscience)
A baptized member of the church can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and can repent and receive a forgiveness of individual sins. When ready, based on the Lord’s will, a person can advance by receiving a remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost wherein they are born again, receiving a the mighty change of heart—a conversion, becoming a son or daughter of Christ.
There is much more that could be said. The meat of the gospel is in the first principles, all else is milk. It’s my hope that more and more members will embrace the meat of the gospel.
#1,2,3 Ralph & Confutus–
Thanks for your comments. It caused me to review the Nephites and the priesthood.
spektator #4 & 8–
I certainly agree with the way you use the scriptures in these two comments. In #8 you make the point that when a person is born again they have clean hands, but not a sanctified, pure heart–and that is why they need to work on maintaining a remission of their sins. Sanctification and making their calling and election sure is their objective as they move forward with a “perfect brightness of hope”.
I am going to try and find the talk by Elder Nelson you referred to.
You asked: The first question I would have to ask about these good people of Mosiah’s time, assuming they actually existed for the benefit this discussion, is why did they really lack this so-called baptism of fire. Viewing them in the microcosm of modern Mormons, I’m at a bit of a loss.
I hope I answered this question in some of the comments I made after you asked this question.
A short answer is that king benjamin’s people had the gift of the Holy Ghost. That is a phenomenal gift. I think that the experience of fire and the Holy Ghost may be a one time experience for most who receive it, but does not eliminate the need for the continuous gift of the Holy Ghost. Each week when members take the sacrament they are doing so with the hope that they can always have the Spirit–meaning the gift of the Holy Ghost. Many members feel they are renewing their baptism covenant when they take the sacrament. The words of the sacrament prayers don’t indicate that. What we’re renewing is our covenant to take on us the name of Christ and keep His commandments with the hope of maintaining the companionship of the Spirit.
I agree with your thoughts about the various ways members receive and perceive the Spirit. It is an individual thing. And then there are those, who you say includes you, who have never had an experience that persuades them there is such a thing as the Spirit. As I have said before, I didn’t use to think that, but nowadays I believe this must be the case. But I quickly add the thought, at least not so far, but if they remain “faithful” then it will come. The Lord knows our hearts and will deal out His blessings as He sees fit. There are the scriptural examples of Paul, Alma the younger and older, the Lamanites (Helaman 5)who came into the fold in very dramatic and powerful manifestations of the Spirit. One moment they didn’t believe, and then suddenly they had no other alternative because of the power of the manifestation.
#10 & 11 dblock–
Good points. See #17.
Great post. I have a lot of thoughts and questions.
1. Sorry there haven’t been a ton of comments. Some of the ideas I explored, which I thought were the most interesting, generated little discussion. It’s just the nature of the beast. But I thought you did a good job.
2. I must confess, and perhaps this is one of my weaknesses, I have not really read the scriptures much for deep doctrinal understanding. Rather, I have always read them because they were uplifting to me spiritually. I’m not sure why I haven’t attempted the former, but I admit that attempts at doctrinal hair-splitting have always been a turn-off for me. Not sure exactly why that is.
3. To answer my number 2, perhaps part of the problem is that it’s never quite clear to me how to apply such doctrinal distinctions to my own life and experiences. I have had profound spiritual experiences, ones that my friends have insisted were manifestations of the Holy Ghost, and have had a strong testimony of the church and BoM. I have testified of the truthfulness of all of this as well. Yet, at the end of the day, I have no idea whether or not I have merely received “forgiveness,” or have had a “remission of sins.” I have no idea if my experiences constitute baptism by fire, the Holy Ghost, or anything else. How would I know the difference? It’s not clear to me, from reading the scriptures (as you’ve so eloquently pointed out), how we can determine the answers to such precise questions. (Perhaps some of the problem is my personality as one who likes clear cut answers that can be well defended)
4. One question about you, Jared, about which I’m curious, is how you view your experiences, and doctrinal ideas in the Mormon context. By that I mean have you had a manifestation that only the LDS church is the right one, and hence everything must be interpreted from the lens of supporting that institution? Or do you find ideas, doctrinal explanations, etc. in the scriptures that do not mesh well with current LDS teachings? (BTW, not trying to be confrontational, I’m just curious of someone who is clearly a deep thinker but who, I believe, definitely aligns himself squarely with the modern LDS church)
Jared, Nice post. I agree with what you have said in number 14. I think that the Baptism by Fire comes when we are fully converted and we are acting as such.
Thanks for participating. Excellent questions and thoughts.
1. People respond to that which of interest to them. The Doctrine of Christ/First Principles don’t draw a lot of interest. Like you say: it’s the nature of the beast.
2. I think reading the scripture for a spiritual uplift is one of the reasons we have them. It might be that you will find a desire growing in you to dig deeper at some point.
3. As fallen beings we see through a “glass, darkly”. The Lord communicates with us on many levels and we can’t always pin-down the workings of the Spirit. Those who demean Spiritual experiences find strength and comfort in this fact. But those who have faith move forward in this perplexing environment, nonetheless.
Receiving “forgiveness of sins” is an incredible blessing. It is part of the process that most are required to follow before they obtain a “remission of sins”. In my opinion, the experience of receiving a remission of sins is a powerful enough Spiritual experience that the recipient knows something remarkable has occurred, even though they may not understand what happened doctrinally. In every instance I know of in the Book of Mormon, the born again experience is dramatic. There is also an additional element that I think is every important to understand: those who obtained a remission of sins/born again experience weren’t expecting it, weren’t seeking for it. This leads me to the conclusion that our responsibility is to diligently seek for the Holy Ghost in the name of Christ by repenting and exercising faith and the rest is up to the lord. I don’t find the scriptures “commanding” us to be born again. The scripture teach us that it is necessary to receive the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost but I don’t see the prophets stressing the point to seek for anything more than the gift of the Holy Ghost.
4. I don’t have questions about the reality of the restoration. The Lord wouldn’t have called Joseph Smith if the proper authority were already on the earth. Having said that, I believe other churches have access to the the Holy Ghost and many do wonderful works as a result. I believe our church leaders are focused on missionary work and don’t get into the Doctrine of Christ extensively, leaving the individual members to acquire the Spirit and move forward from there. I sustain them and the incredible responsibility they carry.
#20 Jeff Spector–
Thanks for commenting. I always enjoy what you have to say.
I like the scriptures in the NT that speak of John the Baptist preaching the “baptism of repentance.” If you think about what the baptism of repentance is, you think about the symbolic washing of sins by being immersed in water. It stands in contrast to the teaching that John gave his followers that one would come later to baptize them with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
D. Todd Christofferson in his talk “Born Again” gave further explanation of the concept of Baptism of Repentance:
To be complete, however, repentance requires a covenant of obedience. This is the covenant expressed by Benjamin’s people “to do [God’s] will, and to be obedient to his commandments” (Mosiah 5:5). This is the covenant witnessed by baptism in water (see Mosiah 18:10), sometimes referred to in the scriptures as the “baptism of repentance” or “baptism unto repentance,” inasmuch as it is the culminating step, the capstone of our repentance (see, for example, Acts 19:4; Alma 7:14; 9:27; D&C 107:20).
I like what Jared did in #14. If baptism by water is the capstone of our repentance, then you could liken “The Baptism of Fire (Born Again, Mighty Change, Remission of Sins” (number 4 point in #14) as the capstone of our confirmation.
#23 Rigel Hawthorne–
Great way to express it–“capstone of our confirmation”.
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You made some decent points there. I did a lookup about the subject and wanted to let you know that I determined that the majority of people today will agree with your opinion.
howdy, great article.
To answer your questions at the bottom, perhaps receiving remission of sins is not a one time thing. It was not their first time experiencing the Holy Ghost or repenting or receiving a remission of sins? Just a thought
The Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost – Our Personal Pentecost
Even exercising exceeding great faith cannot save us nor redeem us. We must be born again. Christ told Nicodemus,“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
The Lord, through Alma, the Younger, stated, “And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;
And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.” Mosiah 27:25-27
Thus we see that we must go beyond taking the Holy Ghost as our guide and that we must surrender fully, completely to Our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only He can save us. This epiphany of becoming the spiritually begotten son or a daughter of Christ is known as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. This vitally important and necessary step that we must take to be prepared to reach the summit of our spiritual Mount Sinai and come to personally know Christ in this life, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost accomplishes five wonderful things.
1. It purifies and cleanses us of all sin, for forgiveness is not enough.
2. It makes us, as Alma states in the verses quoted above, spiritually begotten sons or daughters unto Christ. So Christ is not only the Author and the Finisher of our faith, but He becomes the Father of our conversion as well.
“Faith in Christ gives us both the desire to repent and the strength needed to repent. As we exercise faith and repent, the Savior’s atoning power can transform our very hearts, changing our carnal nature to spiritual, our innermost desires to good. When King Benjamin witnessed the spiritual change that had taken place in his people, he commented, ‘And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters’” (Oct 2000 Ensign, Bruce D. Porter) This event in the lives of the people of King Benjamin was their own personal Pentecostal conversion experience.
3. He, Jesus, claims us as His. He fulfills the covenant that we made at our watery baptism of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ by thus placing His name upon each of us personally by His grace and our willingness to surrender fully to Him with the fiery baptism. The first baptism gives us the blessing and opportunity to make that sacred covenant of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ. The second baptism gives Christ the opportunity of actually placing His sacred and holy name upon us personally.
4. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost purifies us to the point of no longer desiring the things of this world. Without this glorious event we would not have the spiritual strength to be willing to truly sacrifice everything for the Lord which covenant we make in the holy temple. Abraham Lincoln stated, “A house divided cannot stand.” I would like to add this,“A heart divided cannot be converted to Christ.”
5. When we are baptized into the Lord’s true church, we become a member of the House of Israel. In name only, we become the seed of Abraham. We are still the Gentiles mentioned in the Book of Mormon until we have received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Then we become pure blooded Israelites, the literal seed of Abraham. Then we are no longer the Gentiles mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The Gentiles in the Book of Mormon are the members of the church who are yet to be converted fully to Jesus Christ.
Here is what the Prophet Joseph Smith had to say about this.
“The Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.” Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith – page 149-150 (To become the literal seed of Abraham is to become a pure blooded Israelite)
Without this glorious epiphany known as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost we cannot return home to God but we will be “cast off”, at best, we will inherit the Terrestrial kingdom. Most Latter-day saints will inherit the Terrestrial kingdom because they will refuse to surrender fully to Jesus and let Him convert them. The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is our own personal private Pentecostal conversion experience. Each of us must have this epiphany in order to return home to God.