30 March 2012

"What Have Ye Against Being Baptized?," Mosiah 18:8-10

Mosiah 18:8-10

I am working to commit this well know passage of scripture to memory. What follows are some of the thoughts and impressions that have come to me in the process of so doing.

This verse is frequently quoted out of context as the definitive definition of why we are baptized. That is well. I appreciate however having the historical background fresh in my mind as I study it.

The first aspect of the baptismal covenant that impresses me is the commitment to "bear one another's burdens, that they may be light."

I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was eight years old. I did not understand, nor do I hardly remember the events on the day of my baptism. However, as I look back at the covenant's significance and the promises that were extended to me, it helps me to understand why my life has taken the course which it has.

This point has been reinforced and driven home in several ways over the past week. In a recent leadership training meeting, the significance of covenants was addressed. In the book "Preach My Gospel," the topic of baptism is addressed as the first covenant that we make when entering into the Church of Jesus Christ. That a covenant is a binding agreement between two parties and that one of them is the Lord, who does not vary, is a great source of strength, motivation, and protection.

"Preach My Gospel" also explains that "our covenants remind us to repent every day." Why? How? Perhaps it is in the reminder of the covenants that we realize that we need to repent. I could see this particular point of failing to keep the covenants entered into as a great discouragement for new converts. To be cleansed from sin, and then to mess that up so quickly, can be very disheartening. 

Baptism is a physical act that reflects the covenant that we make to become disciples of Christ.  Covenants always have a physical, symbolic act associated with the spiritual promises being made.

16 March 2012

"And He Did Teach Them," Mosiah 18:1-7

Mosiah 18:1-7

Now at the beginning of this chapter, there is a very brief statement about the repentance of Alma, who was prior to his interactions with the prophet Abinadi a wicked priest. We know very little about the repentance process that Alma underwent. In comparison to the double accounts that the Book of Mormon has about his son, Alma the Elder's change of heart goes virtually without note. However, there is one verse in Mosiah 23:9 which does state:
But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;
There we have it then. As private and personal as the repentance process should be, it is sufficient for us to know that Alma, being a wicked priest in the court of King Noah, had to undergo a sore repentance process before he could begin to establish the church of Christ. 

These verses that deal with the people's preparation for the covenant of baptism. They were taught. Alma had to teach them repentance, redemption, and faith in Jesus Christ. (see vs. 7) The importance of teaching then has been emphasized upon my mind again then. In order for salvation to be obtained by the people, it must be taught to them.

The other thing that these verses remind me of is that when preaching is effectively performed, people come in abundance to the waters of life. Where ever one is found who will declare the truth of salvation, there will be the pure in heart.

05 March 2012

"Stand as a Testimony," Mosiah 17:5-20

Mosiah 17:5-20
See also Jeremiah 26 (vs. 11) 

These verses have helped me to recall the mission of prophets in the plan of God. The chapter from Jeremiah is particularly useful in this regard. In the March 2012 Ensign, the First Presidency message also focuses on the topic of prophets.

To fully appreciate what is given to us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one must comprehend what the purpose and mission of a prophet is. Here is an individual who has found the way back to God, whom God then in turn uses to direct and point others in the direction that they should go.The reason for prophets is because God is a loving Heavenly Father, who has provided as many ways as he could to show us how to return home to Him without destroying this perfect test of faith. Prophets are yet another evidence of a loving, caring Heavenly Father.

Abinadi knew that he needed to what he had spoken was true and that he could not deny his words. He knew that even with the fate of death upon him, he could not reject his own testimony. Something within him was riveted to his eternal soul that allowed him to understand that truth is more important than mortal life and that a request to deny truth is more deadly to the soul than the preservation of one's reputation in the midst of the wicked.

An interesting side note about anger in this chapter. Abinadi's preaching and pure testimony does seem to have an effect upon king Noah. However, that are two things which proved to seal the king's demise: 1) his choice of friends and 2) his choice to be angry.  When the King was about to release Abinadi, because he feared the judgments of God would come upon him, the other priests, his selected, wicked friends provoked him to feel anger. No decision that we ever make when we are angry is correct, but will always destroy, degrade, and leave its user with a hole in our spiritual garments.