What Do Mormons Believe About Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost?
Mormon doctrine teaches that baptism is an essential ordinance. It is essentially the “gate” through which we are able to live with God again. In the Mormon Church members are baptized by immersion, which means that the entire body is put under water. This is the way in which Jesus was baptized, as recorded in Matthew chapter 3, and members of the Mormon Church follow His example. The act of being totally immersed fulfills the symbolism of death and rebirth, or being born again. In fact, baptismal fonts in church buildings, or in Mormon Temples, are below ground level to complete the imagery of rebirth.The Mormon Church teaches that baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, to become members of Christ’s Church, and to be able to live with God again. At baptism a promise, or covenant, is made with God. The person being baptized promises to accept Christ, to follow Him, and to keep the commandments. In return, God promises to forgive us of our sins; we are washed clean. Having been cleansed of our sins, we are prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, through the laying on of hands.Within the Mormon Church baptismal services are usually smaller meetings attended by family and friends of the person being baptized. A prayer is given, hymns are sung and short talks are given about the covenant the person is making. An authorized priesthood holder then baptizes the person; both are dressed in white during the baptism.After a person is baptized he can then become a confirmed member of the Mormon Church and have the gift of the Holy Ghost given to him. This is most often done the following Sunday during Sacrament Meeting, but is also sometimes done just after the baptism.
The gift of the Holy Ghost gives a person the opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. However, the Holy Ghost will only remain with a person if he is keeping the commandments and worthy of his presence. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given by the laying on of hands, which means that men holding the priesthood put their hands on the head of the person receiving the Holy Ghost and say a prayer in which the gift is given. The receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost is often referred to in the scriptures as baptism by fire. Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost in conjunction with baptism is important. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “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.”
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost fulfills many important roles, but one of the most important duties of the Holy Ghost is as a testifier. The Holy Ghost helps people discern truth and helps them to have faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel. The Holy Ghost also is a comfort in times of need. John 14:26 records this role of the Holy Ghost, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Recognizing the Holy Ghost is an important part of building a testimony and faith in Christ. The Mormon Church teaches that the Holy Ghost can give one feelings of reassurance, peace, joy and warmth. Promptings from the Holy Ghost are described as a “still small voice” speaking to one’s mind.
1 History of the Church, 6:316.
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