Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance prepare us for the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. An ordinance is a sacred ceremony or rite that shows that we have entered into a covenant with God.
God has always required His children to make covenants. A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between God and man. God promises to bless us, and we promise to obey Him. God sets the terms of gospel covenants, which we either accept or reject. Keeping covenants brings blessings in this life and exaltation in the life to come.
Covenants place us under a strong obligation to honor our commitments to God. To keep our covenants, we must give up activities or interests that prevent us from honoring those covenants. For example, we give up shopping and recreational pursuits on Sunday so we can keep the Sabbath day holy. We should desire to receive worthily the covenants that God offers us and then strive to keep them. Our covenants remind us to repent every day of our lives. By keeping the commandments and serving others we receive and retain a remission of our sins.
Covenants are usually made by means of sacred ordinances, such as baptism. These ordinances are administered by priesthood authority. Through the ordinance of baptism, for example, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. As we keep our part of the covenant, God promises us the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, a remission of our sins, and the blessing of being born again.
Through sacred ordinances, such as baptism and confirmation, we learn about and experience God’s power (see D&C 84:20). Jesus taught that we must be baptized by immersion for the remission, or forgiveness, of our sins. Baptism is an essential ordinance of salvation. No person can enter the kingdom of God without being baptized. Christ set the example for us by being baptized.
Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ. The Savior taught that baptism is a rebirth. When we are baptized we begin the process of being born again and become spiritual sons and daughters of Christ (see Mosiah 5:7–8; Romans 8:14–17).
We must be baptized to become members of the restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and to eventually enter the kingdom of heaven. This ordinance is a law of God and must be performed by His authority. A bishop or mission president must give a priesthood holder permission to perform a baptism or confirmation.
Little children do not need to be baptized and are redeemed through the mercy of Jesus Christ (see Moroni 8:4–24). They are not to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability, which is eight years of age (see D&C 68:27).
Before baptism we show our willingness to enter a covenant to keep all the commandments for the rest of our lives. After baptism we show our faith by keeping our covenant. We also regularly renew the covenant we make when baptized by partaking of the sacrament. Partaking of the sacrament weekly is a commandment. It helps us remain worthy to have the Spirit with us always. It is a weekly reminder of our covenant. Jesus Christ introduced this ordinance to His Apostles just before His Atonement. He restored it through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Savior commanded that priesthood holders should administer the sacrament in remembrance of His body and His blood, which was shed for us. By partaking of the sacrament worthily we promise to always remember His sacrifice, we renew our promises, and we receive anew the promise that the Spirit will always be with us.