Each young man will better understand the ordinance of baptism.
Suggested Lesson Development
The Covenant of Baptism
Story and discussion
Tell the following story:
Paul and Jim were both members of the same priests quorum and had been asked to help in a stake baptismal service. As they boarded the school bus that Friday afternoon, their conversation concerning their part in the baptismal service was overheard by Robert, a nonmember friend of theirs. As they sat down in the bus, Robert asked some questions that they were hardly prepared for: “Sorry for eavesdropping, but I’d like to know something. Do you really believe you have the right to baptize people? You aren’t ministers, are you? Besides, what’s so special about baptizing anyway?”
If you were Paul or Jim, how would you explain that the covenant of baptism is important and that a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood has the authority to perform baptisms?
Quotation and discussion
If the young men did not define a covenant in the previous discussion, ask them to give a definition. The following definition by Elder Bruce R. McConkie may help clarify this point:
“In the gospel sense, a covenant is a binding and solemn compact, agreement, contract, or mutual promise between God and a single person or a group of chosen persons” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 166).
Explain that when people make the covenants of baptism, they are performing the first ordinance in the process of becoming like our Heavenly Father. Because of this, the power to baptize is a sacred privilege. The Lord has given this privilege to worthy priests.
Scripture, chalkboard, and discussion
Have a young man read Mosiah 18:7–10.
Which verse explains the actual covenant we make at baptism, and what do we covenant? (Verse 10. We covenant or promise to serve him and keep his commandments.)
What do verses 7–9 describe? (How a person who makes the covenant will behave and what the attitudes in his heart should be.)
What is the actual covenant of baptism?
Help the young men bring out the following points, and list them on the chalkboard:
The Baptismal Covenant
Come into the fold of God.
Take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.
Bear one another’s burdens.
Mourn with those that mourn.
Comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
Stand as witnesses of God at all times.
Agree to serve God and keep his commandments.
The Lord’s Part:
Pour out his Spirit upon us.
Number us with those of the First Resurrection.
Grant us eternal life.
The Symbolism of Baptism
Adviser presentation and discussion
Remind the young men that an ordinance is symbolic. Display the picture of the burial of Jesus; then show the picture of Jesus after his resurrection. Ask a young man to read Romans 6:3–5. Direct the young men to look for the symbolism described by Paul.
What comparison is given between Jesus’ death and resurrection and the ordinance of baptism?
The discussion should establish that baptism—going into the water and coming forth out of the water—is symbolic of Jesus’ going into the grave, or death, and coming forth from it as a resurrected being. It also symbolizes our own rebirth, in that we bury the old man of sin and come forth a new man in Christ, desiring to follow him and remain clean.
The Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood Is Divinely Commissioned to Baptize
Situation and discussion
Read the following:
John is an active and worthy priest and is looking forward to a mission. His younger sister, Sue, has just turned eight and has asked him to perform her baptism. He is enthusiastic because this will be his first baptism. One evening after family home evening, Sue questions him about performing her baptism. It has occurred to her that her oldest brother, Paul, is serving a mission in Italy and writes about his baptisms, but John is only sixteen and is not on a mission. “How can you perform my baptism if you are not a missionary?” she asks.
Explain that all baptisms must be performed under the direction of the bishop or other presiding Melchizedek Priesthood officer and that a priest must have the permission of the presiding officer to perform each baptism.
The Procedure for Baptism Has Been Revealed
Scripture and discussion
Where in the Doctrine and Covenants is the baptismal prayer found? (Doctrine and Covenants 20:73.)
To emphasize the importance of exactness in the ordinance of baptism, have the young men turn to Doctrine and Covenants 20:73 and read the precise method of baptism specified by Jesus Christ.
Give the young men time to locate and mark this verse. Emphasize the importance and necessity of using the exact words as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants. Then give the young men one minute to memorize the prayer. Call on a few of the young men to repeat it from memory.
Emphasize that the baptismal prayer is one of the few set prayers in the Church. It is so important that it must always be said correctly.
Explain that a priest acts as an agent of God in performing the baptism ordinance. This explains the meaning of the phrase in the baptismal prayer “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.”
What does the verse following the baptismal prayer, Doctrine and Covenants 20:74, say about the method of baptism? (It must be done by immersion.)
What other scripture have we read today that stresses the importance of baptism by immersion? (Romans 6:3–5.)
Emphasize that this passage in Romans is one of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible on the necessity of baptism by immersion. This will be an important scripture that the young men will use as missionaries. Suggest that they mark these verses.
Role play (for priests only)
Some of the priests (if this lesson is being given to priests) may have performed a baptism, while others may not have done so. This will be an ideal time to make sure each priest is familiar with the procedure.
Let the priests take turns practicing in pairs the prescribed method for holding the candidate for baptism. The one performing the baptism grasps the one being baptized around the right wrist with his left hand. The one being baptized then grasps the other’s left wrist with his left hand. The wrists should be held firmly for support during immersion. The candidate’s right hand may be left free to hold his nose during immersion. The officiator’s right hand is brought to the square during the prayer and then placed on the back of the candidate for support during immersion. The candidate bends his knees as he is immersed to avoid having his feet come up out of the water.
Impress upon the priests the sacredness and importance of their calling to perform baptisms. Baptism is necessary for membership in the kingdom of God, and it must be performed only by those with authority.
Work with the bishop to arrange for each priest to have the actual experience of performing a baptism, if possible.
Reemphasize the need for a priest to be exact, worthy, and reverent when he performs this important ordinance. Baptism will be more meaningful in the lives of those being baptized if those who perform it are knowledgeable and confident in their ability to perform it.