The scriptures recite stories of both success and triumph as well as failure and futility. One such contrast is described in Matthew, chapter 17 where Peter, James and John are taken by Christ up a high mountain where Jesus was ‘transfigured before them.’ They were then presented with Moses and Elias conversing with the Savior and heard the testimony of the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” (Matt. 17:5). I can only imagine what these men thought as this scene was rolled out before them. They fell down and were ‘sore afraid.’ To me, this kind of experience would bolster my faith and eradicate any fear yet upon their success, their return from the mountain, these disciples were presented with their own futility, as found in the same chapter

14  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15  Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?  how long shall I suffer you?  bring him hither to me.

18  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

19  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

The disciples, including Peter, James, and John,  found that their lack of faith prevented them from healing the child. That faith would give them the power to move mountains and make it possible for them to do anything. What is this faith and how does one obtain the power to be a conduit of heavenly power?

After the last supper, Christ told Peter that he was sought as a prize by Satan. He was given the assurance by the Lord in Luke, chapter 22,

31  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Here again, the necessity of faith was brought to the forefront in the discussion between Christ and Peter, who was told that he had not yet been converted. We know, of course, that Peter still had to pass through the trial of denying his relationship with the Savior, one that caused him to weep. The question, in my mind, is how this conversion and the acquisition of faith to transpire? How does Peter become ‘converted?’

One can, of course, point to the day of Pentecost, where the disciples were baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, as described in Acts, chapter 2,

3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The narrative continues with the following statement, “And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” Of particular note, found at the beginning of Acts, chapter 3, was the following,

1  NOW Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

9  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

As I pondered this specific miracle, among the many miracles done by the apostles, the questions were formed: How did the lack of faith demonstrated by these disciples of Christ give way to the faith and demonstration of priesthood power following their baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? What is the linkage between the two? What did Peter’s baptism of fire unleash that then allowed him to be successful in healing the lame when before He could not heal the lunatik?

I would suggest that the conversion of Peter, the second baptism, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, unlocked his ability to exercise the priesthood power in healing the lame man. The remission of sins and the sanctification of that experience allowed Peter to become a conduit for the powers of heaven in strengthening his brethren. Likewise, it was the collective event of the baptism of fire that preceded the demonstration of ‘wonders and signs’ by the apostles documented in the description of the day of Pentecost.

This same baptism of fire was experienced by the disciples of Christ during His visit to the Nephites following his resurrection, as described in 3 Nephi chapter 19:

7  And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus.  And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.

8  And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken—nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken—behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.

9  And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.

10  And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.

11  And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized.

12  And he came up out of the water and began to baptize.  And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.

13  And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

14  And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.

The disciples that Jesus had chosen were the first to be re-baptized with water and were then baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost. They were also part of the miracle of the sacrament where the multitude was filled by the few loaves brought by the disciples. These same disciples were responsible for greater works of God as described in 4 Nephi,

5  And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

Did this baptism of fire unlock the disciples’ ability to perform the works of God? I would suggest that the answer is ‘yes.’ In some incomprehensible way, the second baptism was a prerequisite to the apostles’ ability to heal the sick and perform the other miracles recorded in the scriptures. The baptism of fire carries with it the sanctification of the body, all sins are put in remission, and the person is clean. It is then, in this sanctified condition, that the apostles were able to channel the powers of heaven in the performance of miracles.

In the meridian of time, both among the Jews and the Nephites, the twelve were shown to experience the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost prior to their miracles and healings. Could it be that, just as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is the gate to the strait and narrow path (2 Nephi 31:17-18), that the same baptism of fire is the gate to the demonstration of the works of God by His apostles?

What does our modern leadership say about the second baptism? Here is one example from the general conference address by Boyd K. Packer in October 2007:

To my great surprise, I was called to meet with President David O. McKay. He took both of my hands in his and called me to be one of the General Authorities, an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

A few days later, I came to Salt Lake City to meet with the First Presidency to be set apart as one of the General Authorities of the Church. This was the first time I had met with the First Presidency—President David O. McKay and his counselors, President Hugh B. Brown and President Henry D. Moyle.

President McKay explained that one of the responsibilities of an Assistant to the Twelve was to stand with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a special witness and to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ. What he said next overwhelmed me: “Before we proceed to set you apart, I ask you to bear your testimony to us. We want to know if you have that witness.”

I did the best I could. I bore my testimony the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward. To my surprise, the Brethren of the Presidency seemed pleased and proceeded to confer the office upon me.

That puzzled me greatly, for I had supposed that someone called to such an office would have an unusual, different, and greatly enlarged testimony and spiritual power.

It puzzled me for a long time until finally I could see that I already had what was required: an abiding testimony in my heart of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that we have a Heavenly Father, and that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. I may not have known all about it, but I did have a testimony, and I was willing to learn.

I was perhaps no different from those spoken of in the Book of Mormon: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20; emphasis added).

Over the years, I have come to see how powerfully important that simple testimony is. I have come to understand that our Heavenly Father is the Father of our spirits (see Numbers 16:22; Hebrews 12:9; D&C 93:29). He is a father with all the tender love of a father. Jesus said, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27).

Next year, in the General Conference held in April 2008, Christofferson added this clarification:

You should remember that the remarkable examples of King Benjamin’s people, Alma, and some others in scripture are just that—remarkable and not typical.  For most of us, the changes are more gradual and occur over time. Being born again, unlike our physical birth, is more a process than an event. And engaging in that process is the central purpose of mortality.

As I read and re-read these recitation of the church’s apostles experience, I came away with several points of his presentation. One, a simple testimony is all that Packer believes is needed to be an apostle. Apostles shouldn’t expect any great, unusual, or different spiritual power. Two, Packer has wrested the scriptures in 3 Nephi to support an incorrect conclusion. The 300 Lamanites, as referenced in 3 Nephi 9:20, weren’t the recipients of some long term imperceptible change as suggested by Packer and Cristofferson, rather they could not understand what was happening around them and had to be instructed as to what they were experiencing. The event is recorded in Helaman, chapter five. I would note that in the footnotes associated with verse 45, there is a pointer to 3 Nephi 9:20. This reinforces the point that the idea that “they knew it not” should not be used to support the idea that the baptism of fire is a process rather than event. Rather, they needed to be ‘coached’ as to what was happening. They knew it not because they understood it not.

If our modern apostles don’t believe that the baptism of fire is integral to the gospel, and what I would consider a prerequisite to extending the power of the priesthood, how can we expect them to perform the miracles attendant to this position? If the church is a ‘true’ restoration of the past organization, should we not expect the apostles to exhibit the same attributes as those twelve selected by Christ among the Jews and the Nephites? Should they not be the conduit through which the powers of heaven rain down miracles upon the members?

I believe that we all can have faith work in our lives. We each can be the recipient of miracles based on our individual faith. However, I believe that the scriptures puts a specific emphasis on the performance of miracles by those twelve who are called to serve in the position of apostle. They are to demonstrate the works of God rather than the works of men.

Following His exposition of the gospel in 3 Nephi, chapter 27, verse 21,  Christ told the twelve what should be done in His church:

…ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

What works was Christ referring to? According to 3 Nephi 26, verse 15, He ”healed all their sick, and their lame, and opened the eyes of their blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf, and even had done all manner of cures among them, and raised a man from the dead, and had shown forth his power unto them…”

These are the works of God. These are the miracles and wonders performed by Peter and the apostles among the Jews. These are the healings performed by the twelve apostles among the Nephites. These are the works of God that should be demonstrated by those who are called to the same position in the modern church.

Why is it not happening? It is because the church is in apostasy. It is because the leadership of the church has changed the everlasting covenant which is the fulness of the gospel (D&C 66:2). Without a correct understanding of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, the gospel is not that which was defined by Christ, and the works of God cannot be demonstrated in His church. This is the message of the 27th chapter of 3 Nephi.

We are all called upon to repent and return. I suggest we get moving in that direction.

What think ye?

15 Responses to “The Twelve and the Baptism of Fire”

  • Adam:

    The idea that greater power can flow through an individual that has received the baptism of fire I know is true.

    Not long after I experienced the baptism of fire I was led to this quote by Talmage.

    “Subtler, mightier, and more mysterious than any or all of the physical forces of nature are the powers that operate upon conscious organisms, the means by which the mind, the heart, the soul of man may be energized by spiritual forces. In our ignorance of the true nature of electricity we may speak of it as a fluid; and so by analogy the forces through which the mind is governed have been called spiritual fluids. The true nature of these manifestations of energy is unknown to us, for the elements of comparison and analogy, so necessary to our human reasoning, are wanting; nevertheless the effects are experienced by all. As the conducting medium in an electric circuit is capable of conveying but a limited current, the maximum capacity depending upon the resistance offered by the conductor, and, as separate circuits of different degrees of conductivity may carry currents of widely varying intensity, so human souls are of varied capacity with respect to the higher powers. But as the medium is purified, as obstructions are removed, so resistance to the energy decreases, and the forces manifest themselves with greater intensity. By analogous processes of purification our spirits may be made more susceptible to the forces of life, which are emanations from the Holy Spirit. Therefore are we taught to pray by word and action for a constantly increasing portion of the Spirit, that is, the power of the Spirit, which is a measure of this gift of God unto us. ”

    As our bodies are purified we can channel more of the power of God. I have since seen God heal all the members of my family in miraculous ways.

    Plus, I’d like to add that anyone that says the baptism of fire is a process has not received it and lacks understanding of what it is and what it does.

    • Spektator:

      Being an electrical engineeer, that quote really hits the mark for me. What a great analogy – resistance to the spirit current that can dictate how much can flow through us.

      It is unfortunate that the church teaches that the second baptism is a result of a ‘long life of service’ allowing the members to miss this fundamental blessing of the gospel.


    • A very few years ago Pres. Faust introduced his Conference talk with a dealtied narration of The Little Engine That Could. Ever since then, I have had great faith in the knowledge that somewhere in this physical world of ours there really, truly, and in all tangible reality is a real live train engine that speaks aloud in English, as he climbs those hills, I think I can! I think I can! Because surely Pres. Faust’s use of the story means it is objectively real as well as metaphorically true. Because surely Pres. Faust wouldn’t lie, or use a literary device in place of cold, hard, literal, journalistic, historical fact.

  • Jack:

    Elder Packer did not wrest the scriptures. He knew he had a witness. He just failed to understand that what he already knew was sufficient for him at that time. He was “coached” (as you say) with respect to how the spirit had been working with him and therefore gained a deeper understanding of its operations in his own life.

    There are miracles in the church, brother. Indeed, if you were to compile a list of miracles that have occurred among its members over the last generation you’d fill volumes. But even so, I think it’s misguided to expect the beginnings of the church — in any age — to have no qualitative difference with the season of growth and maintenance that follows. It is typical in the exodus pattern for great miracles to be present at the beginning — lots of “fireworks” to show us the way out of the world. But then, bye and bye, things calm down and what we have are the gentle dews from heaven — the manna, if you will, the “small means” like the Liahona — to lead us through the wilderness. And that’s where the church is — in the wilderness. And it is in that quarter of the exodus pattern that both individuals and the entire church alike are prepared to enter the promised land.

    • Spektator:

      First, Packer misapplied the scriptures in a way to support his own perspective. Second, he basically said that he came to recognize his testimony as the surrogate for the baptism of fire. Bad wrong.

      Much longer than your list is the list of times when the priesthood blessing, or the prayer, or the bargaining didn’t have the desired outcome.

      In my opinion, the core problem, as highlighed by John below is that you believe we don’t need the same level of spiritual gifts as were once enjoyed by the early members of the church. It isn’t recess, it is apostasy.

  • Rob:

    Good points brought up here. I think there are a lot of questions brought up here that are good to think about. You inspired me to write this today.

    Hopefully I can get around to the follow-up on faith that will help even more. Thanks.

  • John:

    Both manna from heaven and the Liahona are mighty miracles. If you want to call them small means, then the church is suffering from even having small means. Miracles still occur with members of the Church to some degree, but having a Liahona or manna, no. It’s a damning doctrine to think all is well in Zion. The gift of miracles is by and large absent in most (not all) member’s lives caused by unbelief which is the lack of believing God’s words and ascribing to the traditions of man such as “all is well in Zion” and “bye and bye God settles us down and we receive gentle dews”. Moroni teaches just the opposite of what you are saying. Just read Mormon 9:19-20 and you will see you have fallen into serious error concerning thinking God goes into “calm down” mode. I also don’t think being in the wilderness is a good thing for the saint to be in.

    19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.

    20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

    And Moroni 7 we read

    27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
    29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

    36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

    37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

  • Jack:

    I’m not suggesting that miracles aren’t happening on a regular basis. I tried to convey the idea that one could fill volumes in an attempt to record all the miracles that have happened over the last generation.

    Re: “Small means” — that comes directly from the scriptures when Alma (Alma 37) is talking about the Liahona to his son Helaman. In fact, he suggests that it is through those small means that Lehi was led through the wilderness. And then he goes on to suggest that that pattern is applicable to all — we are all in a wilderness of sorts. And we all need regular doses of manna — or directions from the Liahona — to get through it.

    That being said, what I’m suggesting is that one need not be driven by thunder bolts in order to be faithful. Those who are mature in the faith tend to respond to the “small means” given from above. And then, as Mary did, they tend keep the revelations that come through those means in their hearts.

    I find it strangely ironic that those who long for more “enchantment” in the church would zealously appeal to the written word in order to condemn the living oracles.

    • Spektator:

      So, Jack. I offer you a challenge. Please point me to, pick a number, five miracles or, my preference, the works of God performed by any of the twelve in the last 50 years.

      Read John’s post again. Where are the miracles that we should have manifest around us because of our faith, and were are the twelve who are, as demonstrated by scripture, supposed to display those works of God. Yes, I understand that because these experiences are sacred, they are not available…

  • Jack:

    Are you asking for a sign?

    Remember the quote from Elder Oaks? He said that he had witnessed healings as great as any recorded in scripture. I assume that would include raising the dead. If, then, there is at least one living apostle who can testify of mighty miracles will you follow his counsel?

    I could tell you about a number of miracles that I have experienced personally during my own 50 years, but this isn’t the time or place. If, then, I, some regular joe-mormon, can have such experiences then why not the Lord’s anointed who are far more faithful?

  • Spektator:

    These are the signs I am seeking:
    “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
    Mark 16:17:18

    This is exactly what was demonstrated in the scriptures by the apostles and disciples at the time of Christ, see 4 Nephi 1:5. As I stated earlier, what we are seeking for are those works of God as described in 3 Nephi 27:11. Where are those???

    Here is how Oaks describes miracles from a May 7, 2000 talk:
    “”Many of you have witnessed miracles, perhaps more than you realized,”

    “The effect of our Family Search Internet Genealogy Service in the year it has been available is truly miraculous.”

    “there is something miraculous about the way the members of our Church pay their tithing so faithfully and are so blessed for doing so.”

    Given that Oaks has included paying tithing as a miracle (in my case it would be), how am I supposed to take the vague reference to ‘healings as great as any recoded in scripture?’ OK, where are these great healings recorded, where are the signs that follow them that believe? Where are the works of God which define the validity of His church. This one reference to great miracles doesn’t cover it. Based on my request, you still have five examples to go…

    As I acknowledged in my post, there are miracles as a result of faith in many people’s lives, including my own. Where are the works of God performed by the twelve that signify His church? That is the crux of my statement. The twelve, if they are part of His church, should echo the experience of ‘great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus.’ including healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk and the blind to see.

  • Jack:

    “Given that Oaks has included paying tithing as a miracle (in my case it would be), how am I supposed to take the vague reference to ‘healings as great as any recorded in scripture?'”

    Take it at face value. Elder Oaks recognizes the Lord’s hand in miracles both large and small.

    I think if you were able to tag along with the apostles as a close companion you might be surprised by two things: First, at how much of their time is spent in dealing with the mundane and, second, at how enchanted their lives really are.

    • Spektator:

      If you consider running a multi-billion dollar corporation while trying to increase revenues (tithing and the derivatives from that tithing) and control expenses, as a mundane task, then yes I would agree with you on that part. And they do live enchanted lives with millions of devoted followers, many of whom hang on their every word.

      The several times that I have been in meetings where Monson spoke, even as an apostle, he would arrive with his chauffeur, enter by a side door, and leave the same way and avoid any contact with his ‘fans.’ As president of the church, he lives in a multi million condo and travels in style. The general authorities do live enchanted lives with unlimited credit cards, multitudes of assistants to read mail and write letters and manage the tight schedules. these men who supplement their stipend from the church with book revenues and board appointments. If that is what you mean by enchanted, then I agree.

      Having talked to people who are intimately acquainted with the working lives of the general authorities, you will find the same behavior as you will anywhere with egos, alliances and building of feifdoms.

      In 1215, when Dominic went to Rome to get authorization for his order of friars, he was given a tour of the riches of the Vatican. At the conclusion of the tour, the Pope made the comment that it was no longer true that Peter has no silver nor gold. In response, Dominic stated that he can no longer say ‘rise and walk’ either. The same is true today. What was to become the kingdom of God on earth has become just another corporation displaying the works of men, not the works of God.

  • JR:

    This seems to be an ongoing discussion. We have talked about the Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost in the recent past. Each time, there is a debate about the “slow, steady increase in testimony” versus the one-time-oh-my-gosh-spiritual-electrocution-of-the-BAPTISM OF FIRE AND THE HOLY GHOST version.

    If God is no respector of persons, and I believe HE is not, then why would HE favor some of HIS children with a spectacular display of Spiritual fireworks while others HE would only dribble a testimony on like drizzling chocolate syrup on a hot fudge sundae?

    Spek, I completely agree with you, in fact I have posted this on other websites…it is only through the workings of the Holy Ghost that we puny, weak, sinful, arrogant, ignorant children can employ the power of the Priesthood in performing miracles…until the day that we are given the Fulness of the Priesthood by the voice or hand of GOD HIMSELF (Alma 13), as was Nephi (son of Helaman) and all the Prophets in the scriptures.

    I absolutely concur that we are living in the day of apostasy foretold by Moroni, Mormon, Helaman, Alma, Jacob, Nephi, Lehi and most importantly, the Savior HIMSELF in the Book of Mormon, not to mention Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a host of other Prophets.

    Truly, we live in the day long foretold when the cry from the housetops will be, “All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well”…or as we say it today, “Let’s go shopping!”

    I say along with Nephi of old, “Therefore, woe be unto him that is at ease in Zion. Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men and denieth the power of the God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! (2 Nephi 28:24-27)

    Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray, save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. (2 Nephi 28:11-14)

    Nephi was describing our day and he spelled it out so clearly that only those who are blinded by pride and ignorance cannot see it.

  • Jack:


    By “enchanted” I mean daily miracles.

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