In my last post, I discussed the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost as a core component of the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to the scriptures, this second baptism is the GATE to the strait and narrow way to eternal life (2 Nephi 31:18). It is also the sanctifying power that is a prerequisite to being ‘numbered among the people of the church of Christ’ (Moroni 6:4). If one considers these two scriptures, they both point to the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as an entry point, not the culmination of a long Christ-centered life. I believe accepting the idea that it is a gradual change over many years is a rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every individual who yearns for a relationship with Christ should be earnestly striving to receive this glorious life-changing experience. Alma states that ‘all mankind … must be born again, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters.’ (Mosiah 27:25)
But, what is to be our course after truly being ‘born again?’ The people of King Benjamin collectively experienced the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. In Mosiah, chapter 4, verse 3, we read:
” …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…”
There is no other ‘feeling’ in this life that compares to the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost. Joy and peace of conscience are the some of the fruits of being born again. The challenge King Benjamin then presented to his listeners was how to ‘retain’ their remission of sins.
“… if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4:11:12)”
The key points needed to retain a remission of our sins brought out here are:
- Remember the greatness of God
- Daily prayer
- Steadfast faith
But this is not the end of what we must do once we have received a remission of our sins. King Benjamin continues in the remainder of chapter 4 with a discussion of what our behavior should be like as those who have been born again. Here is how I would summarize this section:
- We will not have a mind to injure one another and live peaceably (verse 13)
- We will render to every man according to that which is his due (verse 13). I believe this means we are to be complete honest in our dealing with others.
- Nourish our children both materially and spiritually. (verses 14-15)
- Care for those in need without judgment (verses 16-26)
- Do all these things in wisdom and order (verse 27)
- Return what you borrow (verse 28)
- Avoid sin (verse 29)
- Watch our thoughts, words and deeds (verse 30)
- Observe the commandments of God
- Continue in faith until the end of our days.
Quite an easy list, wouldn’t you say? As a side note, I am intrigued by the comments found in verse 26 regarding how we are to live as a society:
” …I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.”
To me, this strongly suggests that the law of consecration is a natural result of the collective experience of being born again. We, as a community, may not be able to truly live this higher law until we have received the same experience that the people of King Benjamin received. We know that it was after the Pentecost of the New Testament that we find ‘all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as every man had need’ (Acts 2:44-45). The same can be found following Christs visit to the Nephites as found in 4 Nephi verse 3:
” And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.”
We should be preparing ourselves to live as one by seeking and receiving the second baptism.
Continuing on with the born again experience of the people of King Benjamin, we find the king seeking feedback on the message the angel requested that he deliver. The people responded as found in Mosiah 5:2-3:
” And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.”
The response from those who listened to the king was an affirmation that the ‘mighty change’ had come upon them. They were cleansed from their sins and were presented with other manifestations of the Spirit including visions of the future. The people then entered into a covenant with God ‘to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things’ (verse 5).
This fruits of this covenant are found in verse 7:
” 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.”
The baptism by fire and by the Holy Ghost is how we receive a remission of our sins. This second baptism changes us from carnal to spiritual. It brings us great joy and peace. This ‘mighty change’ is necessary for successful participation in the law of consecration. It is the motivation necessary to enter the covenant that we may be called his sons and daughters. Upon receiving this gift, being born again, we should covenant to follow Christ. This allows our names to be taken as an indication of our belonging to the fold of Christ.
Speaking of the message to be given by the twelve disciples, Christ said to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, chapter 12, verse 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.”
The remission of sins through the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost should be the first priority of anyone who seeks to take upon them the name of Christ. It is truly the gate to the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. We should follow the examples set by the people of King Benjamin, by Enos and Alma, by the 300 Nephites and by Cornelius.
No greater gift can we receive from Christ than the second baptism. Through its saving power, we can be truly the sons and daughters of Christ.