Chapter 13 – PREPARING INVESTIGATORS FOR BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION
As investigators come unto Christ and prepare to become Church members, they must understand the covenants associated with saving ordinances and be willing to make and keep these sacred obligations.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they atook uponthem the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and acleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the bchurch of Christ; and their cnames were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually dwatchful unto prayer, erelying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
Guide to the Scriptures (Covenant): “[A covenant is] an agreement between God and man, but they do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what he asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience.
President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency, identified a major purpose for covenants: “Covenants are not simply outward rituals; they are real and effective means of change. ‘Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 162]. We should always honor and keep sacred the saving covenants we make with the Lord. If we do, He has promised, ‘Thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal’ [D&C 42:61]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 19; or Ensign, May 1998, 17).
We should help those who are converted prepare for baptism, confirmation, and membership in the Lord’s Church.
Investigators who are truly converted and ready for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost will:
- Develop a testimony of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
- Believe that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored through the Prophet
Joseph Smith and that a living prophet directs the Church today.
- Truly repent of their sins (see Moroni 6:2–3; D&C 20:37).
- Live the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman.
- Live the law of tithing, which is a regular contribution of one-tenth of a person’s income.
- Live the Word of Wisdom.
- Keep the Sabbath day holy, including partaking of the sacrament weekly.
- Be willing to take upon themselves the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout their lives.
- Be willing to prepare to receive the ordinances available in the temple.
Keep the Sabbath day holy
President Gordon B. Hinckley gave the following counsel concerning proper Sabbath observance: “There is no need for people to shop and desecrate the Sabbath day by buying things on Sunday. That is not the time to buy groceries. You have six days of the week. . . . You do not have to shop on Sunday. . . . You will not lose anything if you do your shopping the other days and do not do it on Sunday. Let this day be a day of meditation, of reading the scriptures, of talking with your families, and of dwelling on the things of God. If you do so you will be blessed” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 74).
Follow the Prophets
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed the importance of following living prophets: “Living prophets are leading this church today. The greatest security of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes from learning to listen to and obey the words and commandments that the Lord has given through living prophets. . . . “. . . Our spiritual safety lies in turning to the clear voice of our living prophet. If we listen to his voice and obey his counsel, we will be able to live as Christ would have us live and endure to the end so that one day we, along with our families, will return back into the presence of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 19, 21; or Ensign, May 1995, 17).
Live the Law of Chastity
From the manual: God delights in the chastity of His sons and daughters and hates sexual sin. Chastity is sexual purity. To be chaste, we must be morally clean in our thoughts, words, and actions. There must be no sexual relations before being legally married. Those who are married must be completely faithful to their husband or wife. Pornography in any form must be avoided. God-given procreative power and our bodies are to be treated as sacred. Baptismal candidates are to live the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relations outside of a legal marriage, including homosexual relations. They are not to participate in abortions. If sexual sins have been committed, they must be repented of before the Lord can offer His forgiveness.
President James E. Faust contrasted the lives of those who violate the law of chastity with those who live morally clean lives:
“Those who engage in physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage are likely to suffer feelings of guilt as well as deep emotional and physical hurt. Intimate relationships between men and women outside the bounds the Lord has set bring great misery, shame, degradation, and unhappiness to those involved. “In contrast, when these sacred gifts are exercised as the Lord intended within the bounds of a temple marriage, they bring us our greatest joy and happiness. We become co-creators with God in having family and posterity. Chastity before marriage followed by fidelity after marriage is a sacred passport to self-respect and happiness for everyone” (“The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2003, 109).
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ‘in the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 311).
Obey the Word of Wisdom
President Gordon B. Hinckley warned against the violation of the Word of Wisdom: “The body which you have is the temple of God. It is sacred. It is the handiwork of Divinity. You and I cannot afford, under any circumstances, to indulge in the use of illegal drugs. They will absolutely destroy you. They will take away your self-control. They will cause you to do dishonest things to get money to buy them. Stay away from those things proscribed in the Word of Wisdom—no alcohol, no beer, no tobacco. What a blessing! What a blessing is the Word of Wisdom, that the Lord would set before His Church a pattern of living which would bless our lives” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 73).
Live the law of tithing
President James E Faust – “Some may feel that they cannot afford to pay tithing, but the Lord has promised that He would prepare a way for us to keep all of His commandments [see 1 Nephi 3:7]. To pay tithing takes a leap of faith in the beginning, but as Jesus said, ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine’ [John 7:17]. We learn about tithing by paying it. Indeed, I believe it is possible to break out of poverty by having the faith to give back to the Lord part of what little we have” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 73–74; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 59).
Covenants and ordinances necessary for exaltation are received in the house of the Lord.
Elder Russell M. Nelson explained how proclaiming the restored gospel leads to the temple on the path to eternal life:
“The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church points to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. . . .“Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings enable individuals to be reconciled with the Lord and families to be sealed beyond the veil of death. Obedience to temple covenants qualifies us for eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man [see D&C 14:7]. Eternal life is more than immortality. Eternal life is exaltation in the highest heaven—the kind of life that God lives” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 40; or Ensign, May 2001, 32–33).
Joseph Fielding Smith – “It is a wonderful thing to come into the Church, but you cannot receive an exaltation until you have made covenants in the house of the Lord and received the keys and authorities that are there bestowed and which cannot be given in any other place on the earth today” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:253).
Hard Question – What is the point of temple ordinances? Why are they necessary?
After Christ ascended into Heaven after his resurrection, His newly ordained apostles were continually in the atemple, praising and blessing God (Luke 24:53). Attending the temple was something very common for the baptized saints to do, to be united in Christ (Acts 2:37-47).
Some might think the temple was only a holy place, necessary before Christ. However, Christ did cleanse the temple during his ministry, and the apostles often worshiped there, as did the new Christians. Isaiah also prophesied that in the last days the Lord’s house would be built and all nations would go to it. In the temple, the Lord’s people would learn of his ways, walk in his paths, and hear the word and laws of the Lord (Isaiah 2:2-3).
Jethro counseled Moses to teach his people the ordinances and laws of God, and how they should live (Exodus 18:20). An ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood, where we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord. An example is baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When Christ was on the earth, He gave Peter the keys of the kingdom so he could bind on heaven what he bound on earth (Matthew 16:19). This is referring to eternal marriages and families (Matthew 19:4-6).
Paul spoke of the resurrection, and how it must happen, or else there would be no point in doing baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29). This is another ordinance done in the temple of the Lord.
Hard Question: Do Mormons wear special underwear?
In our world of diverse religious observance, many people of faith wear special clothing as a reminder of sacred beliefs and commitments. This has been a common practice throughout history. Today, faithful adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wear temple garments. These garments are simple, white underclothing composed of two pieces: a top piece similar to a T-shirt and a bottom piece similar to shorts. Not unlike the Jewish tallit katan (prayer shawl), these garments are worn underneath regular clothes. Temple garments serve as a personal reminder of covenants made with God to lead good, honorable, Christlike lives. The wearing of temple garments is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.
The Historical Background of Temple Garments
Biblical scripture contains many references to the wearing of special garments. In the Old Testament the Israelites are specifically instructed to turn their garments into personal reminders of their covenants with God (see Numbers 15:37-41). Indeed, for some, religious clothing has always been an important part of integrating worship with daily living. Such practices resonate with Latter-day Saints today.