Friend to Friend

Dear Tommy,

I have just heard that you were baptized this month, on your birthday. It made me happy indeed, because your baptism will mean so much to you all the rest of your life.

When we are baptized, when we reach eight years of age, we enter the Church of Jesus Christ, and we receive the many blessings of the Church. We must be baptized to fill the Lord’s commandment.

Baptism is not just a custom in our Church. It is something we do because the Lord commands it. Baptism is as old as the gospel. Adam was baptized, and by immersion, just as you were. And millions of people since that time have also been baptized.

It was Jesus who gave us baptism. He gave it to Adam, and he gave it to all of us who have lived since that time. And he himself was baptized, to show that everyone over eight must receive this ordinance.

Do you know why it is that we are immersed in baptism? Some churches believe in an ordinance which they call baptism, but it is merely the sprinkling of some water on the head of a child.

Immersion is the only true way of baptism, and it has a real meaning. All your life you have believed in Jesus. You have learned how he taught the people, blessed little children, and even raised two boys and a little girl from the dead. But then he was taken by cruel men and crucified.

Our Heavenly Father used that crucifixion, though, to bring us many blessings. Jesus suffered greatly when he died, but his Father, who is also our Father in heaven, permitted Jesus’ suffering to pay the penalty for our sins if we repent of them.

It is when we are baptized that our Heavenly Father allows Jesus’ suffering to pay for our sins. In this way we receive forgiveness through baptism.

But why are we immersed? It is to represent the burial and resurrection of Christ. As he was buried in the tomb, so we are buried in the water. As he came forth from the tomb to a newness of life as a resurrected person, so we come forth from baptism in water to a newness of a religious life on earth, serving the Lord and keeping his commandments.

So you see, our immersion is to help us remember the burial and resurrection of Christ. This is one reason baptism is so important to us. It will always remind us that Christ died for us, and that he was resurrected. As surely as we come forth from the waters of baptism, just so surely will we all come forth from our graves after we die, and live forever with the Savior who made all of this possible.

So Tommy, be thankful for your baptism, and know that now you are a true member of the Church of Jesus Christ. He expects that from this day on you will always remember him and keep his commandments, so that someday you may see him and live with him in the eternal heavens above. May the Lord bless you always, is my prayer for you.

Yours sincerely,
Mark E. Petersen

[illustration] Photo courtesy Three Lions