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What is it that changes a person spiritually? What must we do to receive a remission of our sins? What does it mean to be ‘born again?’ What happened to the people at the time of King Benjamin who experienced “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually?” (Mosiah 5:2)

I believe these are core questions concerning the restored gospel of Jesus Christ; something every person should strive to understand and seek out in their own lives. I have come to believe that this second baptism is a vital step for all who consider themselves belonging to the church of Christ.  In D&C 33:11-12 we read:

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;”

This passage speaks of the first fruits of the baptism of fire, the remission of sins. There are two key points here that one should consider.

First, baptism by water must be accompanied by the baptism of fire to receive a remission of sins. This idea is reinforced in 2 Nephi chapter 31, verse 17:

“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.”

Receiving a remission of our sins sanctifies us and prepares us to enter the kingdom of God. It is clear to me from this passage that baptism by water is necessary but NOT sufficient to receive a remission of our sins. We must seek this second baptism to complete the process.

Now consider the definition of the gospel found in D&C 39:6:

“And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.”

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost prepares us to become a conduit for the spiritual knowledge that God has offered us. If we adher to this gospel, we are promised that we can receive all things. I believe that the mysteries of God will be made available to all to seek them (see Alma 12:9-11). Does this knowledge come without effort? I say not. We read of the younger Alma’s conversion in Mosiah 27. Ten years later, Alma makes the following statement in Alma 5:46:

“…Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”

Even after the baptsm by fire and by the Holy Ghost, we are still required to strive earnestly for understanding and knowledge. Just as Alma, to seek the mysteries of God, we must continue to fast and pray mightily.

I would suggest that the baptism by fire cleanses us of our sins and sanctifies us. The baptism by the Holy Ghost opens a conduit to the knowledge of God. Together they constitute the second baptism. This is the core of the restored gospel.

My Story

Let me now bring this discussion to a personal level. I do not relate this experience to boast of my situation; I do it because I have been prompted now to share it outside my own family as a means of encouragement to others. I had just started my second year of college. Many things were weighing upon me. I was concerned financially as my father had passed away the previous year. I was struggling emotionally in a relationship that meant very much to me. I was, perhaps most of all, struggling spiritually. These heavy burdens weighed me down and brought more agony and despair than I thought I could bear. As I struggled through a sleepless night, I was drawn to get down on my knees and seek God. I had not prayed for a long time but I found myself pouring out my heart is earnest supplicaton, speaking to God of my pain and the heavy load that I had placed upon myself.

As I pled with Him for help, I had what has come to be the most important event of my life. As I knelt in fervent prayer, I heard a voice as clearly and distinctly as if the person were sitting next to me. It was only one sentence but it gave me a direction that I was to go. As I heard the voice, an incredible energy coursed through my entire body. My entire burden had been lifted and I felt as though my soul had been freed of all my past weight. I felt an overwhelming joy and peace that is beyond description. It was as if someone had flipped a switch in my soul; and the light chased away every bit of darkness and despair. I carried this ‘lighter than air’ feeling for days after the event. I truly felt as if I were a new creature and set in place what I would need to do to follow the admonition I had received.

In retrospect, I didn’t completely understand what had happened to me. I naively knew that God had answered my prayer in a fashion well beyond my expectations but it was not until many years later, as another spiritual crisis came upon me, that I came to clearly understand what had happened to me; that I had been baptized by fire. I was brought to scriptures that I had read many times but never perceived the complete meaning. Through fasting and prayer, I have been able to gain small bits of knowledge and understanding. I have acquired a few grains of sand on the vast beach of God’s mysteries.

The Implications 

The scriptures are replete with the understanding that we must be ‘born again’ in order to enter the kingdom of God. The question that we must confront is one that, I believe, strikes to the very center of the gospel. Is my experience described above the norm or the exception? Can a baptism by fire be accomplished by a imperceptible changes over a long period of time? As Elder Christofferson stated in the April 2008 General Conference:

“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.”

In his address, Elder Christofferson cited the same scripture I did above from 2 Nephi, chapter 31 verse 17 regarding the remission of sins as a product of the baptism by fire and by the Holy Ghost. I feel it is very important to consider the next verse. This is found in 2 Nephi 31:17-18 together:

“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.

According to this scripture, repentence, baptism by water, and baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost represent the gate to the strait and narrow path. A gate is more representative of an event rather than a process. I believe this clearly implies that the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost is a necessary event. It is the gate to the strait and narrow path which we all should be on.

As further evidence, consider the following scripture from Moroni 6:4:

“And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”

I believe that the reference to the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost is the same as a remission of sins received through the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost. As this scripture states, we must receive a remission of our sins, or be cleansed by the Holy Ghost, before we can gain entrance to the ‘church of Christ.’ Being cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost is an event that must occur before we truly have membership in His spiritual church.

The terms, born again, sanctified, cleansed, and baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost all mean the same thing and reference the same event. As Alma described following his experience (Mosiah 27:24-25):

“…behold I am born of the Spirit. 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…”

We are to seek the same experience that Alma, Enos, the people of King Benjamin, and the 300 Lamanites enjoyed. We are to petition God that he may grant us entrance to the strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life. We are to receive a remission of our sins through the baptism by fire and by the Holy Ghost that we may be numbered with the church of Christ.

What think ye?

19 Responses to “Baptism by Fire and by the Holy Ghost – My Story”

  • WuWei:

    I love it that you started a blog! I probably won’t comment much, but I will be reading everything you post. You can never post too much. Keep it coming!

  • Thanks, WuWei. It is nice to know someone out there is considering my efforts.

  • Matt:

    I’d like to discuss your baptism of fire experience sometime. Please contact me by e-mail. Thanks!

  • Rob:

    I felt moved with joy as I read your post.  I remember years ago that it was very common to share sacred experiences with each other in church and just among friends. Seems that that has not only changed but that I almost should feel guilty for wanting to share sacred experiences. I always thought that was part of the reason for having them was to lift others through our personal experiences with God. I never really understood the concept of something being to sacred to share assuming you are not in the situation of casting Pearls before swine. It’s sort of like being counseled to not go to deeply into the study of Gods word for fear of getting to know him the way we should. None of this NEW AGE church ediquite makes much sense to me. Anyway I wish more Brothers and Sisters would be as open. Or is it just that many really don’t have much they could share and to publicly share your own Love for God sort of makes them uncomfortable. It’s ashame to be made to feel ashamed for not keeping what has changed my life for Good, a secret. Just wierd to me…

  • Rob,
    Thanks for your words. Every time I read the words I have written about my experience, tears well up in my eyes and my heart is nigh to burst. What is it that has driven these cherished experiences out of the body of the Saints? Is it that it is easier to talk of home teaching and tithing and the other works of man?

    Can one speak of dreams in a church setting without getting the ‘raised eyebrows?’ Yet, we have no problem speaking of the dreams of Nephi and Lehi. It is almost as if we allow those examples in the scriptures to have great spiritual experiences but if someone among the saints speaks of visions, dreams, and revelations, they are treated as outcasts. Shame on us.

  • Hi Spek,
    I’m new to your blog here. I appreciated very much your experience and your angle on the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost being an event rather than a process. Perhaps we are selling ourselves short if we consider that the gradual process of gaining a testimony is the same as being baptized by fire. It appears that we must hunger and thirst after this baptism and seek carefully after the Lord to obtain it. I will teach my kids this at the next opportunity. Thanks for the post.

  • [...] recounted one such event when I described my experience of baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost in an earlier post. I would like to share another, not out of boastfulness but out of a sincere desire to open [...]

  • Adam:

    I too have had this experience. It is an event. It was the most powerful spiritual experience I’ve ever had.

    Thank you for sharing. It’s awesome to see that others have experienced the same things.

    • EvenTheLeastSaint:

      I would love to hear the story of Adam’s Baptism by Fire and the Holy Ghost, if he would be willing to post it here.

  • Karla:

    Thank you so much for this. I am struggling right now with my testimony and if I have ever even had one. I am 48 years old and cannot say that I have ever had a personal spiritual experience. I mentioned to someone that I just wanted to have something to move me and make me say without a doubt that I know God exists. Their response was to question my motives and say that it is selfish to expect God to just speak to me. What did I want, a bolt of lightening? It doesn’t work that way they assured me. But as you pointed out it is our duty to seek for that experience. Thank you. I will now more earnestly seek for it.

    • Spektator:

      Karla,
      It is such a disappointment when a church that claims to beleive in dreams, visions, and revelation would be so closed minded. Christ defined his church in D&C 10 as those who repent and come unto Him, no more no less. That, in my opinion, is a personal invitation. No leadership is necessary to authorize such a quest. Most of the membership can’t even fathom the opportunity to commune with God, nor are they willing to come out of their comfort zone and seek God as Enos did. There are plenty of examples in the scriptures that shout to us of the need to build a personal relationship with Christ.

      Who did Christ tell the Nephites would baptize them with fire and the Holy Ghost after their baptism of water? None other than Christ Himself. Was that gift available only to the Nephites? I think not.

      I don’t have a formula for receiving this blessing. I can only tell you that God heard my prayers and gave me an experience that I will ever cherish.

      Spek

  • Adam:

    EvenTheLeastSaint,
    I’ll see if Spek wants to post it.

    Karla,
    God is no respecter of persons, we can all receive from Him if was seek Him in faith.

  • John:

    This is all true! Thank you for being brave. Great things are to come! Keep your channels open and undistorted. Remember that the justified will begin to build Zion for the sanctified. We can all get there. Both being events. I love you brothers and sisters!

  • J:

    Moses 6:60.
    Born of the water = Commandment.
    Justification (process) to becoming Justified (event) = 1st comforter, born of the Spirit, Remission of sin, etc.
    Sanctification (process) to becoming Sanctified (event) = 2nd Comforter, the perfect day (d&c 50: 24).
    sure the spirit can sanctify but before or after seeing Him?

    any ideas?

  • Spektator:

    J,
    If I understand your question correctly, my answer is taken from 3 Nephi 27, where Christ defines his gospel. He states there that ‘no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom.’ I would suggest that we must be sanctified before we can be in His presence. Verse 20 seems to make sanctification a prerequisite to ‘standing before Him at the last day.

    If you look at the four times that the gospel is defined in the scriptures, the term sanctification is used as another way to describe the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Compare D&C 33 to the above verses in 3 Nephi. Remission of sins, based on 2 Nephi 31:17 is also from the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

    Hope that helps you understand where I see it.

    Spek

  • J:

    I appreciate your insight. It is very helpful. To show my thoughts, 3 Nephi 27:17 puts into context who’s kingdom is being talked about. The Father’s kingdom. No unclean thing can enter there in. To be admitted into God the Father’s kingdom and presence one must be cleansed from their own sin (3 Nephi 8:1, just man, cleansed from HIS iniquity) and then cleansed from the “blood and sins of the generation” (sanctification) happens after being called up at a later time. But I think Christ can come and Sanctify a just individual to prepare him (forerunner) to stand in God the Father’s presence, although it may not be for this life. It makes sense in my mind, any further development is welcomed. Thank you Spek.

    There is a division of kingdoms, the Father’s and Christ’s.

    Kingdom of Christ (eternal life):
    * He gives Eternal Life (D&C 6:13, 14:7 and 3 Nephi 15:9)
    * His Kingdom: 3 Nephi 28: 1-7
    * Salvation = Eternal Life (D&C 88: 4)

    Kingdom of the Father (exaltation/ eternal lives):
    * Given by the Father (Matt. 20: 20-23)
    * Separation of God and Christ’s kingdom (3 Nephi 28: 8 and on)
    * Exaltation = Eternal Lives (D&C 23-24, Matt. 5: 12 reward IN heaven, D&C 131: 1-4)

    • Spektator:

      J,
      I do enjoy your reference to 3 Nephi, chapter 27. As you may note, I use the image of a portion of that page as my avatar. While I understand where you are going, I have the current conclusion that Christ is an office that His Father filled before Him, as described in John 5. This would lead me to believe that, from our perspective, there is no difference between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of the Father…

      Spek

  • J:

    The main focus of the Father is to help us receive Eternal Life (Moses 1: 39). Exaltation is there for those who go beyond and show exceeding faith and are tried even as Abraham and others were.

  • Haykakan:

    I, too, have had the Baptism of Fire and can testify that it is an event, not a process. I also did not recognize it for what it was at the time. It has since become a large part of the bedrock of my faith and decision to remain affiliated with the LDS Church (in spite of many things).

    Spektator, thank you for what you’re doing here with this blog. I completely agree that the Spirit counsels each of us to do different things. For some it is to stay in the church, for others it is to distance themselves to a degree or for a season, and for others their path lies outside the boundaries of the LDS Church. May God bless you in all your righteous endeavors.

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