I recently attended a niece’s baptism. Since moving to Idaho this was the first extended family event I have been able to attend. It was a wonderful occasion, and was well attended by both the ward and extended family. The talks we always hear at these occasions were well thought out and delivered. But the thought that came into my head was different from anything I had thought of before. “You were born to be baptized.” I hadn’t ever considered that concept before. This is what I would like to discuss.
Reference: My main source of reference is a talk by Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President. It was given in April Conference, 2014. She quotes some of the Brethren, but all of my quotes come from her talk. I encourage you to read the whole talk. It is wonderful. Here is the link: Keeping Covenants Protects Us, Prepares Us, and Empowers Us
What do you think?
First off I would like to ask you some personal questions. This is to set up the basis for what I am proposing here. As you read the questions, answer them in your head then go on to the next question.
- Why do you think you are on earth? What is your purpose here?
- Is there something that only the members of the Church are supposed to accomplish or are all of God’s children supposed to do something while here?
- Do you think our Father in Heaven had an actual plan that included certain things for every single child or do you think his plan was different for each child?
I am going to make some claims about the answers to the questions I just asked. Hopefully, I can back up all my claims using quotes from the General Authorities of the Church.
Think about the Grand Council in heaven before we came here. When our Father in Heaven presented the plan of happiness, do you think it only included the choice of who to send as Savior? I don’t think so. Do you think that when he told us of his plan to create a world just for our mortal experience that he didn’t think past getting us here? I don’t think so.
I submit that in that council meeting we were taught all the finer points of our Father’s plans to exalt each and every one of us. These plans include all of God’s children, not just those who happen to belong to the Church in mortality. I submit that God wants to exalt each and every child with equal longing.
I don’t believe that any of His children are dispensable. He wants us all back in his presence. But what is required for us to return to his presence? There are two crucial things that must happen, the first is the covenant of baptism, the second is the series of covenants we make in the temple.
When we enter mortality we become separated from our Father in Heaven forever, unless we accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice and choose to make sacred covenants with God to obey Christ in all things, so Christ can forgive our sins, making us pure enough to be able to live with God again someday.
This process requires that we all be brought back into the family of God through covenants. This is what happens when we accept the atonement and are sealed back into the family of God. Every man, woman, and child will need to be sealed back into the family of God through covenant before the great work of our Redeemer can be considered complete. Hence the tremendous need for temple work.
But to get to the temple to be sealed, we all must first be baptized, since baptism is the first covenant we make with God. It is the gateway covenant. Do you think that only those who are currently Mormons are supposed to make covenants? Are only those who are currently Mormons supposed to get sealed? Heaven forbid! Our Father in Heaven requires these covenants from every child, for without these covenants we would be lost to him. By “every child” I mean every mortal who has ever lived or who ever will live.
The need for covenants
Covenants are critical to any of God’s children getting back to him. Sister Wixom says, “Keeping covenants protects us, prepares us, and empowers us.” Keeping covenants protects God’s children from sin. Keeping covenants prepares God’s children to re-enter His presence as worthy individuals, ready to be exalted, which is why we came here in the first place. Keeping covenants empowers us to be more obedient than we can be without covenants. For covenants are what enable us to have the gift of the Holy Ghost, he who warns us, guides us, protects us, and strengthens our resolve to be obedient and to do good always.
Elder Robert D. Hales asks us, “Do [we] understand and do [our] children understand that when [we] are baptized [we] are changed forever?”
He also explained that “when we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. When temptations come our way, if we will listen, the Holy Ghost will remind us that we have promised to remember our Savior and obey the commandments of God.”
Once we have started down the road of covenant making with God we are no longer on neutral ground. It takes understanding to make a covenant with God. Once we understand something we are held accountable for it. Our performance or lack thereof now becomes the basis for our judgment at the last day. So yes, making a covenant with God changes everything. Once we understand what our Father in Heaven wants for us, even refusing to be baptized has eternal consequences. We can only be saved in ignorance if we never have the opportunity to learn of God’s will for us. Once we know His will, we are no longer on neutral ground, and we are accountable to Him for our choices.
Elder David A. Bednar said: “As we stand in the waters of baptism, we look to the temple. As we partake of the sacrament, we look to the temple. We pledge to always remember the Savior and to keep His commandments as preparation to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple.”
Sister Wixom continues:
Temple ordinances lead to the greatest blessings available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They are those ordinances necessary for our exaltation in the celestial kingdom. As we strive to keep our covenants, our feelings of inadequacy and imperfection begin to fade, while the ordinances and the covenants of the temple come alive. Everyone is welcome to walk that path to eternal life.
We revel in each child’s baptism. We remind them how important this ordinance is because it will lead them to the temple and all of its blessings. But do we stop to consider all the other children and adults in this world who have need of the same covenant so they can get to the supreme blessings found only in the temple?
There isn’t a single child who has ever come to mortality that is not required to be baptized in order to return to our Father in Heaven. It is a universal requirement. Just as universal is the requirement that every child of God receive the covenants of the temple. He cannot exalt us without these covenants. These are the required parts of exaltation, not optional parts, or parts for only some of God’s children.
So yes, you were born to be baptized. This covenant is a requirement for exaltation, which is the reason we came to mortality in the first place. It is required for you and for your atheist neighbor down the street. It is a universal requirement. Being baptized only starts us on the path to exaltation. The temple doesn’t end the journey, it only furthers the journey.
Once we have been baptized and have gone through the temple (and are sealed to a spouse if we are so lucky), we still have a lifetime of obedience ahead of us to prove to ourselves and to our Father in Heaven that we are willing and able to obey anything Christ’s requires of us to get back home. But all of God’s children need baptism, not just those we go to support in extended family gatherings in the Stake Center each month. We were ALL born to be baptized.
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.