Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Paul on the effect of baptism

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

Some Christians might read this verse as an indication that baptism is not necessary in the church because of the phrase “as many of you as have been baptized” and how it implies there are also those who haven’t.  Yet the effect of baptism Paul describes of “putting on Christ” is one that God would want for everyone in the church, so it is silly to think it is not necessary.

Further, Paul’s description of the effect is a great way to compare our own experiences with to gauge their authenticity.  God does not give the blessing to baptisms if they are not done in the correct manner or by those who do not have the priesthood authority to do them.

Priesthood authority to baptize was restored to the earth when the resurrected John the Baptist came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and ordained them, giving them the priesthood of Aaron, which had keys “of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13).  Who would be better to give that power than the man who had baptized Christ?  Additional priesthood keys of authority were conferred by ordination to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by the resurrected apostles Peter, James, and John.  Since that day, all those in our church who are ordained to the priesthood keep track of their priesthood line of authority to show how their priesthood came from those ordinations.

I testify that the baptism done by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have all the blessings that Paul attributes to them.  When I was baptized, I knew it had been efficacious.  I felt the change inside me.   I also asked a bunch of kids age 8-11 who had been baptized and they also knew their baptism had been efficacious too.  They knew their sins had been washed away and they had been made new creatures.  They felt the difference.

So when Paul said, “as many of you as have been baptized,” he was speaking semi-humorously because all the Galatians in the church had been baptized and they all should have known what he was talking about!

I have seen on the internet that some Christians believe that to attribute any special spiritual effect to baptism constitutes magical thinking.  This is understandable, since a baptism looks like one person praying and then dunking another person.  However, it is one thing to speculate about what effect baptism will have, and it is another thing to experience it.   God is the one who bestows the spiritual blessing and He can’t be mocked or fooled, so one must be baptized the way He has decreed, by His authorized servants to get the blessing.  We want everyone to have that blessing of putting on Christ, so we invite everyone to come to church with us, to learn the doctrine, and be baptized to repentance!


Anonymous said...

When you baptize an 8 year old do you wash way they're sins?

Michaela Stephens said...

The baptizer doesn't wash away the sins of the person being baptized. It is God who takes those sins away.