At daybreak on a spring morning in 1854, an eight-year-old Scottish girl stepped into the chilly sea to be baptized. Many years later, Margaret McNeil Ballard wrote of her baptism: “As I came up out of the water, the day was just beginning to dawn and the light to creep over the eastern hills. It was a very beautiful sight, one that I shall never forget. At this time I was filled with a sweet heavenly spirit which has remained with me to this day.” (Ensign, July 1989, p. 16.)
What is it about the ordinance of baptism that can lighten, sweeten, and strengthen your entire life? The answer is suggested in the scriptures, where baptism is referred to as a symbolic birth. (See John 3:5.) Through the birth known as baptism, we are cleansed from sin and we become part of a new family—the family of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” Ananias exhorted Saul of Tarsus, who would soon be the Apostle Paul. (Acts 22:16.)
Before we are baptized, we repent of our sins and commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ. (See D&C 20:37.) Then at baptism, we are symbolically buried in and cleansed by water. We emerge as pure and free from the guilt of sin as a newborn child. Sister Bok Ja Moon Kim of Korea, who was baptized as an adult, describes this cleansing: “I felt my sins removed and my soul lightened. I pray every day to overcome worldly temptations and my insecure feelings.”
When Sister Irene Ericksen of Salt Lake City was baptized in her twenties, the cleansing also included a feeling of healing. “Before I joined the Church, I had little awareness of the sins I had committed. But I was experiencing the result of sin, which was pain. When I was baptized, I felt a washing away of that pain.” Baptism helps us feel the freedom and joy that come as we change to a better way.
If we have truly repented and made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ, each of us can receive the blessing of being cleansed from sin whether we are eight or eighty at baptism. And we can retain the healing effects of this cleansing by remembering and recommitting ourselves to our baptismal covenants.
What are some of the effects of sin that individuals may experience in daily life?
How can we recommit ourselves to our baptismal covenants and feel the newness of life that baptism offers?
Every infant has a mother and a father, and many have brothers and sisters. Likewise, when we are “born of water” through baptism, we are given a new family of brothers and sisters in the gospel. We become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I lived away from my own family at the time of my baptism,” recalls Sister Ericksen. “I really felt that I had a new family of brothers and sisters. I felt I had joined a family of love.”
For Sister Ericksen, the ward that she became part of at her baptism had the necessary qualities of a good family: love for one another, good examples, and a commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
How can we be more responsible and loving members of our ward family?
What blessings come to you as a member of the Lord’s family—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?