Lesson 29: Baptism, a Continuing Covenant

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, (2000), 215–22


The purpose of this lesson is to encourage us to continue keeping the covenants we made at baptism.

Introduction

Each of us who has been baptized has done so as a sign that he has changed his life and is willing to obey the principles that lead toward exaltation. But just being baptized is not enough. At that time, we began a new way of life, and to obtain the blessings of that new life, we must continue progressing and improving ourselves.

The prophet Alma, concerned about his priesthood brethren after their baptism, told them: “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). These questions are just as important today. Have we all felt a change in our hearts and experienced a spiritual rebirth since our baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ?

Many people enjoy a spiritual feeling at the time of their baptism. One member described it this way: “I will never forget the emotion inside my soul; to be clean, to start fresh as a child of God. … It was such a special feeling!” (Vivian Ford, “Ask and Ye Shall Receive,” No More Strangers, 4 vols., ed. Hartman Rector and Connie Rector [1971–90], 3:175). This feeling can continue if we always strive to keep our baptismal covenants.

Our Baptismal Covenant

  • Show visual 29-a, “At baptism we make a covenant with God to keep His commandments.”

A covenant is an agreement or promise between two or more people. At baptism we made a very important covenant with God. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “To be baptized is to enter into a covenant [with God] … to do, not merely to refrain from doing, to work righteousness as well as to avoid evil” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 94).

  • Have the class members read and mark Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 and Mosiah 18:8–10. What specific covenants did we make with the Lord when we were baptized? (List the covenants on the chalkboard as shown below.)

    We covenanted to:

    • Enter the Church of Jesus Christ.

    • Be called after His name.

    • Serve God and keep His commandments.

    • Serve each other and bear each other’s burdens.

    • Be a witness for Christ and His Church.

These scriptures also tell us about God’s part of the baptismal covenant.

  • What did the Lord promise us when we were baptized? (List the responses on the chalkboard. Answers should include those listed below.)

    The Lord promised to:

    • Forgive our sins.

    • Give us the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

    • Let us come forth in the first resurrection.

    • Give us eternal life.

Baptism is the beginning of the “mighty change” we must all experience in order to return to our Father in Heaven (see Alma 5:13–14 and Mosiah 5:7–9). As we live up to our covenants, our desires and actions change and we become more and more like our Father in Heaven. When we are baptized we are placed under the water. The scriptures compare this to burying, or leaving behind, our old self (see Romans 6:4; D&C 76:51). When we come out of the water, we are washed clean of sin and begin a new life. This new life began with a lasting agreement with God; and if we do our part, He will do His. As we obey Him, He will help us change and lead us back into His presence.

  • Have two previously assigned brethren describe how they felt when they were baptized and how their lives have changed since baptism. Involve the youth in this part of the lesson.

Our Progress after Baptism

Some people think that salvation comes simply by being baptized. Baptism, however, is only a beginning. We must continue to grow in righteousness after baptism if we are to achieve eternal life. To help us do this, the Lord has given us certain commandments to keep after baptism.

  • Have the class read Moroni 6:4–9. What obligations do we have after baptism? (One answer is following the guidance of the Holy Ghost, but this will be discussed in the next lesson.)

Our responsibilities following baptism include:

  • Praying.

  • Fasting.

  • Attending Church meetings.

  • Partaking of the sacrament.

  • Helping others.

  • Repenting of our sins.

  • Following the guidance of the Holy Ghost (this will be discussed in the next lesson).

As we go about our duties of making a living, attending school, and doing necessary chores, we often get involved in worldly problems and forget our covenants. The challenge we all face, therefore, is how to keep our spirituality and covenants. The things Moroni mentioned can help us continue in the new life we began at baptism.

Praying

Sincere personal prayer is important if we are to have the strength we need to live the gospel commandments. Prayer keeps us close to our Father in Heaven and allows us to express our thanks to Him as well as discuss our problems with Him. We should consider it a great blessing to open and close each day of our lives with prayer.

Fasting

At least once a month, prayer should be combined with fasting. In the Church, we usually fast for two meals on fast Sunday. As individuals, we may fast whenever we need guidance and additional spiritual strength. (See lesson 31 in this manual.)

Attending Church Meetings

We can gain spiritual strength by regularly attending Church meetings, where we learn more about the gospel and strengthen our testimonies. We should encourage family members to attend all of their Church meetings. When we attend these meetings, we should participate in them by singing, pondering, giving talks, and being reverent.

Partaking of the Sacrament

  • Show visual 29-b, “We renew our baptismal covenants when we partake of the sacrament.”

    sacrament(click to view larger)

    29-b, We renew our baptismal covenants when we partake of the sacrament.

The most important reason to attend sacrament meeting is to take the sacrament. The covenants we make when we partake of the sacrament renew the covenants we made at baptism. In this way, each week during the sacrament we remember our baptismal covenants and promise again that we will keep them.

Helping Others

When we were baptized, we promised the Lord that we would be willing to “bear one another’s burdens, … mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). Service to others—helping the needy, teaching our families, being concerned about the welfare of all people—is part of our baptismal covenant with the Lord. It is an important part of the new life we must live after baptism.

Repenting of Our Sins

We all make mistakes, and therefore must repent to keep ourselves clean (see lesson 28 of this manual). Through repentance we can be cleansed again from our sins and thus be worthy to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

The Way to Perfection

We will always need our baptismal covenants. We must continue perfecting our lives, exchanging bad habits for good ones. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Certainly self-mastery is a continuous program—a journey, not a single start. Men do not suddenly become righteous any more than a tiny acorn suddenly becomes an oak. Advancement to perfection can nevertheless be rapid if one resolutely strides toward the goal” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 210).

The prophet Nephi taught that after baptism we “must press forward” and “endure to the end.” He promised that God will give us eternal life if we show our love by obeying Him (see 2 Nephi 31:19–21). As we obey the Lord and keep the covenants we made with Him at the time of baptism, we will experience happiness in this life and eternal joy in the life to come.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained our need to endure to the end in keeping our covenants: “One of the great purposes of the true church is to teach men what they must do after baptism to gain the full blessing of the gospel. … We must endure to the end; we must keep the commandments after baptism; we must work out our salvation … ; we must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom” (“The Plan of Salvation,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 5).

Conclusion

A member of another faith who later joined the Church explained what her baptism meant to her:

“Everything I saw and heard in the Church impressed me very, very much. The warmth and love, as well as the deep concern each member had for the other members, made me realize that this religion must have something special about it. …

“I [soon] realized … that I was in the wrong church and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on this earth. I knew too that I had … to join it. …

“The transition from the former to the present life was not easy, but the thing that has sustained me throughout the entire experience was and is the renewal of my baptismal covenants each week at sacrament meetings—my covenant to take the Savior’s name upon me, to always remember him, and to keep his commandments, and the Lord’s covenant in turn that, if I honor these promises, his Spirit will always be with me. …

“… I remember my baptism and the total immersion in the water. To me it symbolizes death to selfishness and sin and rising to newness of life as a child of God. This act of baptism, too, I think, is symbolic of the way Heavenly Father wants us to live—overcoming selfishness and fighting temptation. In this manner we ‘die’ to self and sin and rise and progress daily on the road back into our Father’s presence.

“Then I silently renew my covenant to take the name of Jesus Christ upon me, telling him that I renew the promise to accept him, the principles of the gospel, and his teachings; to accept the Church and to uphold the prophet and the other Church authorities, the only ones divinely commissioned to lead us in the name of God. In my silent prayer I add that I renew the covenant to always remember him, for example, to recall his presence, especially during the day in moments of temptation or weariness. Finally I renew the covenant to keep his commandments, knowing that if I do this faithfully I will have his Spirit to be with me” (Miriam Spain Peterson, “The Lord Takes Care,” in No More Strangers, 4 vols., ed. Hartman Rector and Connie Rector [1971–90], 3:154, 157–59).

Challenge

Examine the progress of your life since your baptism. At that time you probably felt a “change of heart” begin within you. As the prophet Alma asks, “Can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26). Can you still feel the “newness of life” mentioned in the scriptures? If something is lacking, begin today to repent and correct the problem.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Read Gospel Principles chapter 20, “Baptism.”

  2. 2.

    Read lessons 28 and 31 of this manual.

  3. 3.

    Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson, or write the information on the chalkboard.

  4. 4.

    Assign two class members to describe how they felt when they were baptized and how their lives have changed since baptism. Involve the youth in this part of the lesson.

  5. 5.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.