Chapter 15: The Covenant of Baptism

Doctrines of the Gospel Teacher Manual, (2011), 53–54


Introduction

Give the students the following true-false pretest about baptism. You may correct the test in class and discuss all the answers with the students immediately, or you may use the test as a framework for the class discussion.

Pretest Questions

  1. _____ 1.

    The nature of the covenants made at baptism are personal and vary from one individual to the next.

  2. _____ 2.

    John the Baptist was the first person in scriptural history to perform baptisms.

  3. _____ 3.

    Baptism was taught and practiced by the righteous Nephites and Lamanites.

  4. _____ 4.

    Baptism is required before one can enter the kingdom of God.

  5. _____ 5.

    If a person is not baptized, he is not held accountable for his sins.

  6. _____ 6.

    The scriptures do not specify that a person must have authority in order to perform baptisms.

  7. _____ 7.

    The Lord has revealed the wording to be used in the baptismal ordinance.

  8. _____ 8.

    The phrase “by immersion” is not specifically used in the Bible in connection with baptism.

  9. _____ 9.

    Baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Pretest Answers

  1. 1.

    False. Every person who is properly baptized enters into exactly the same covenants. The Lord promises the same blessings to all who are faithful.

  2. 2.

    False. Baptism is an eternal covenant that has been practiced in all gospel dispensations beginning with Adam.

  3. 3.

    True. (See Doctrinal Outline B 5 on p. 42 of the student manual.)

  4. 4.

    True. (See Doctrinal Outline C 1 on p. 42 of the student manual.)

  5. 5.

    False. Everyone who reaches the age of accountability and has at least normal mental capacities will be held accountable for his sins. A baptized person, however, is placed under covenant and therefore takes upon himself greater responsibilities, so the sins for which he does not repent are considered to be more serious.

  6. 6.

    False. (See Doctrinal Outline D 3 on p. 42 of the student manual.)

  7. 7.

    True. (See Doctrinal Outline D 3 on p. 42 of the student manual.)

  8. 8.

    True. The Bible does not mention baptism by immersion, although immersion is implied in a few instances. The specific teachings about immersion are in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. (See Doctrinal Outline D 5 on p. 42 of the student manual.)

  9. 9.

    True. (See Doctrinal Outline E 1 on p. 43 of the student manual.)

Ideas for Teaching

  1. A.

    Through baptism we enter into a covenant with the Lord.

    1. Write on the chalkboard the word covenant, and ask the students for a definition. Refer to the definition in the dictionary of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible. Note that all ordinances are received by covenant.

    2. Ask the students how baptism is a covenant between God and man. What agreements does a person make with God when he submits himself to baptism? Doctrinal Outline A 1 and Supporting Statements A on pages 42–43 of the student manual contain references that explain the elements of the covenant. You may wish to list on the chalkboard the agreements associated with the covenant. What does God covenant as a blessing to the person who is baptized and keeps his part of the covenant? (see Doctrinal Outline A 2 on p. 42 of the student manual).

    3. Each week we have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which is a renewal of our baptismal covenants. Note in the sacramental prayers that we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, to always remember him, and to keep his commandments (see D&C 20:77, 79). In return, the Lord promises that we will always have his Spirit to be with us. Why does the Lord provide a way to renew the baptismal covenant each week? Use the scriptures in Doctrinal Outline A 3 on page 42 of the student manual to emphasize that we must obey the commandments if we want the baptismal covenant to be efficacious in our lives.

  2. B.

    Baptism is an eternal ordinance that has been practiced in all gospel dispensations.

    1. Adam was the first person to be baptized (see Doctrinal Outline B 1 on p. 42 of the student manual). How was Adam baptized? Why was it necessary for him to be baptized? Help the students realize that baptism is an eternal ordinance and that all gospel dispensations in the history of mankind have practiced the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel (see Articles of Faith 1:4). You may also wish to refer to Doctrinal Outline B 2 through B 5 on page 42 of the student manual.

    2. Jesus was without sin, so why was he baptized? Baptism is an eternal law that all people must obey. Also, Christ is the Great Exemplar who showed us the way. He wants us to follow him and humble ourselves as he humbled himself to be baptized (see 2 Nephi 31:7, 12). If Christ was baptized, being holy, “how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water” (2 Nephi 31:5).

    3. How do we know that the Latter-day Saints use the proper method and authority of baptism in our day? The authority to baptize was restored 15 May 1829 by John the Baptist to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Instructions about the method of baptism and the wording of the baptismal prayer were revealed to the Prophet before the Church was organized on 6 April 1830. (See D&C 20:37, 72–74.)

  3. C.

    Baptism is an essential ordinance.

    1. Relate the story of Nicodemus, a ruling Pharisee among the Jews, who sought out Jesus by night and learned that a person must be born of the water and the Spirit in order to qualify for the kingdom of heaven (see John 3:1–7). How is baptism symbolic of a rebirth? (see Moses 6:59).

    2. Write on the chalkboard the following question: Why is baptism essential for our salvation? List all the significant reasons the students can tell you. Then review selected scripture passages from Doctrinal Outline C on page 42 of the student manual.

  4. D.

    The ordinance of baptism is acceptable to the Lord only when it is performed as he has prescribed.

    1. What is the meaning of the word baptize? Read the Prophet Joseph Smith’s explanation of the original meaning of the word on page 43 of the student manual (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 262).

    2. Review the proper steps and requirements for a valid baptism. Refer to selected scriptures in Doctrinal Outline D 1 through D 5 on page 42 of the student manual. Point out that these steps and requirements were probably lost when some of the “plain and most precious” parts of the Bible were taken away from the original texts (1 Nephi 13:26; see also vv. 27–28). But the Lord promised that he would restore the plain and precious parts (see 1 Nephi 13:35–39). Note that almost all of these important instructions about baptism come from the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

    3. Church members can assure themselves that their own baptism was performed by the proper authority by tracing to Jesus Christ the priesthood line of authority of the man who performed the baptism. Illustrate this point by using your own line of authority or that of the man who baptized you.

  5. E.

    Baptism symbolizes eternal realities.

    1. What is the symbolic meaning of the person entering the water, going down under the water, and coming out of the water? Baptism symbolizes cleanliness and a newness of life. It also represents the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Refer to the scriptures in Doctrinal Outline E on page 42 of the student manual and the quotation from President Joseph Fielding Smith on page 43 (see Doctrines of Salvation, 2:323–24). Baptism, like all other ordinances and many principles of the gospel, is deeply symbolic. The symbolism can teach us many things if we will probe the scriptures and study by the Holy Spirit. Surely baptism is a great example of “that which is earthly conforming to that which is heavenly” (D&C 128:13).

    2. Discuss the symbolism in the color of clothing used in the baptismal ordinance. White represents cleanliness, innocence, and purity. With its sacred symbolism, baptism can be one of the most wondrous and memorable experiences for us in mortality.

Conclusion

Bear witness of the importance of your own baptism in your life. Challenge those who are not members of the Church to study the principles of the gospel with all their heart and to ponder the importance of baptism in their lives. You may wish to sing or to recite Parley P. Pratt’s hymn about baptism, “Father in Heaven, We Do Believe” (Hymns, 1985, no. 180).