Lesson 3: Baptism: A Continuing Covenant

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 22–28


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

Baptism Provides a New Beginning

Heavenly Father desires that all of us have faith in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, and repent of our sins. After we repent, we are baptized into Christ’s Church. Baptism is necessary for our salvation. But just being baptized is not enough. We begin a new way of life at baptism, but we must always continue to progress toward perfection.

The prophet Alma asked his people after they were baptized: “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). Have we all felt our hearts change and our spirits be reborn? We should strive to have these feelings after our baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ.

Baptism was 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.

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!” (quoted by Hartman and Connie Rector in No More Strangers, 4 vols. [1971–90], 3:175).

Our baptism represented an important change that took place inside us. Because we were repentant, baptism cleansed us and gave us a chance to start a new life. We should remember the clean, secure feeling we had at baptism.

  • Ask one or two sisters to tell how they felt when they were baptized. Ask how their lives have changed since baptism.

Our Baptismal Covenant

  • Display visual 3-a, “A young man being baptized.”

A covenant is an agreement or promise between two or more people. At baptism, we made a very important covenant with God. As President Spencer W. Kimball said, “To be baptized is to enter into a covenant … with God … to do, … to work righteousness as well as to avoid evil” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 94).

  • Have class members read Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. What requirements for baptism are given in this scripture? Allow the sisters time to answer; then display a poster of the following list or refer to the information on the chalkboard:

    1. 1.

      Be humble.

    2. 2.

      Have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

    3. 3.

      Witness that you are willing to take upon you the name of Jesus Christ.

    4. 4.

      Have a determination to serve Jesus Christ to the end.

  • What does it mean to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ?

To bear the name of Jesus Christ is to be called the children of Christ (see Mosiah 5:7–8). When we bear someone’s name, we have a responsibility to that person. Just as we have a responsibility to the family whose name we bear, we have a responsibility to Jesus Christ when we take upon us His name. We should try to live as He lives.

We renew our baptismal covenants through the covenants made when we partake of the sacrament. As we keep our covenants to remember Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments, we are promised a blessing.

  • What does our Heavenly Father promise to those who keep these covenants? How does having His Spirit with us help us serve Him and keep His commandments?

Our Progress after Baptism

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that baptism in Christ’s Church is a beginning. But simply being baptized is not enough. We must do many things after baptism to help us achieve eternal life.

  • Ask a class member to read Moroni 6:4–9. What obligations do we have after baptism? Allow the sisters time to answer; then display a poster of the following list or refer to the information on the chalkboard:

    1. 1.

      Pray to Heavenly Father.

    2. 2.

      Fast for special needs.

    3. 3.

      Attend and participate in church meetings.

    4. 4.

      Partake of the sacrament regularly.

    5. 5.

      Be concerned about each other’s welfare.

    6. 6.

      Repent of our sins.

    7. 7.

      Follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

  • Ask class members to check the list on the chalkboard and then ask themselves, “How can I improve in keeping my baptismal covenants?”

At the time of baptism we began to be reborn spiritually. We must continue in this new life by doing the things Moroni lists. But as we go about our duties—caring for families and homes, attending school, fulfilling daily responsibilities—we get involved in worldly problems and sometimes forget our covenants.

Sometimes we make mistakes. Then we must repent to keep our baptismal agreements. When we openly admit that we have sinned and repent (see lesson 2, “Repentance”), we will again progress toward perfection. When we are honestly seeking for guidance from the Holy Ghost through prayer, we will receive guidance to help us overcome mistakes and avoid repeating those mistakes in the future.

  • How can we increase our spirituality and keep our baptismal covenants?

The Way to Perfection

Will we ever completely fulfill our baptismal covenants? Perhaps not in this life, but we must continue perfecting our lives, exchanging bad habits for good ones. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “The way to perfection seems to be a changing of one’s life—to substitute the good for the evil in every case. Changes can come best if we take one item at a time. … For if one pays one-tenth of his income annually, he is perfect in that respect. It is not difficult to become perfect in avoiding a swearing habit, for if one locks his mouth against all words of cursing, he is en route to perfection in that matter. If one studies the scriptures with all reasonable devotion, he has approached perfection in that matter also” (“Be Ye Therefore Perfect,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974 [1975], 241–42).

The prophet Nephi said that we “must press forward” and “endure to the end.” The Lord has promised us eternal life with Him as we show our love by obeying Him and keeping our baptismal covenants. (See 2 Nephi 31:19–21.) True happiness on earth and eternal joy hereafter come from living the covenants we make with the Lord.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained it this way:

“One of the great purposes of the true church is to teach men what they must do after baptism to gain the full blessings of the gospel. …

“We must endure to the end; we must keep the commandments after baptism; … 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).

A former Catholic nun who 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 realized … then 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 meeting—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. …

“Next 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” (quoted by Hartman and Connie Rector in No More Strangers, 4 vols. [1971–90], 3:154, 157, 159).

Conclusion

At the time of our baptism a “change of heart” began within us. We made covenants to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments. As we try each day to do these things, we will have His Spirit to be with us. His Spirit will help us to become like Him.

Challenge

Examine what has happened in your life since baptism. Consider the questions asked in Alma 5:26–31. If you need to improve, begin today by repenting and correcting those things that are wrong.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Study Gospel Principles chapter 20, “Baptism.”

  2. 2.

    Review lesson 2 in this manual, “Repentance.”

  3. 3.

    Prepare the posters suggested in the lesson or write the information on the chalkboard.

  4. 4.

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