VAN EEN VERNUFTIGE MAKELIJ…
(1 Nephi 18:1)
TEACH THE COVENANT MORE THAN THE ORDINANCE
Numbers this week show total to date of 23 baptisms, 427 to go to complete Operation Build a Stake. Progress is slow but we are building a big head of steam with the increased number of progressing investigators. Keep up the good work.
We have been sent to the Belgium Netherlands Mission to invite people to come unto Christ and help them receive the restored gospel through … baptism (PMG p.1). We have been directed to push for more growth through baptisms but the baptisms are to be real growth, meaning the new members stay active in the church once they come in the church. The Europe Area goal is to double church attendance by the year 2020. Within this goal, we are busy building the 5th Stake in the Belgium Netherlands Mission. This will require substantial new converts and reactivation of current members. One way to improve retainage of new converts is to teach the Covenant of baptism in addition to the Ordinance of baptism.
The difference is subtle but important. Teaching the ordinance, you will find yourself using words such as: baptismal font, water, emersion, forgiveness of sin, symbolic, washed clean, etc. These concepts are good to teach but teaching the covenant should better assist the new convert to strengthen his or her commitment to endure to the end.
Teaching the covenant helps new converts better understand the promises they make at baptism. The Baptismal Interview question number 6 asks:
“When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?”
While this question is simple and complete, additional details of what the covenant means are stipulated in DC 20:37, Moroni 6:2-4, Mosiah 18:8-10, Mosiah 5:7-9. While these references are given in PMG, the narrative we give is often something like, “…we promise our Heavenly Father to keep His commandments for the rest of our lives, do good works, serve others and follow the example of the Savior…” However, a quick summary of the specific commitments that are part of the baptismal covenant outlined in these scriptures includes the candidate being willing to:
· Be humble before God
· Desire to be baptized
· Come with a broken heart and contrite spirit
· Be willing to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ
· Manifest by works the receipt of the spirit of Christ
· Bear burdens of others
· Mourn with those who mourn
· Comfort those who need comfort
· Stand as a witness at all times, things and places
· Changed heart
· Determination to serve him to the end
Teaching these principles should better assist the investigator to understand that baptism is not an end destination but only a beginning point or entrance to the path to be followed throughout their lives as taught in the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31. An important early step in their journey along that path should be to go to the temple for baptisms for the dead as soon a possible then one year after baptism receive their own endowments. Investigators should understand that to receive the temple covenants are also of eternal importance.
In conclusion, the ordinance is an outward representation of the inward promise. The covenant is of huge importance. Christ said,
“…whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at the day when I shall stand to judge the world…Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:16,20)
We covenant to do our best our whole lives (we call this in the Church ‘enduring to the end’) to live the promises listed above. Partaking of the sacrament each week is an ordinance that renews the baptismal covenant. When Jesus instituted the sacrament among the Nephites, He commanded,
“…give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do…” (3 Nephi 18:5-6)
People can literally start each Sunday with a clean sheet of paper when the Sacrament is used properly. They can continue their journey to improve and live in accordance with the conditions of the covenant long after the ordinance is performed.