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Fullness of Times: Talk
Gospel Essentials Teacher
Sunday, 20 March 2016
Nick, I am so excited for you! It has been a long time coming, hasn't it? But, it is worth it!
The Spirit is here in the room right now. I don't know if you can recognize it, but there is a warm feeling inside; there is a slight pounding of the heart; there is a happiness. These are some of the fruits of the Spirit, and they are here to testify to you that the step you are about to take, by entering into the waters of baptism, is the right choice.
Now, I don't know if, since first meeting with the missionaries, you have had any opposition to get to this point, but it is often the case where things get in the way to try to stop you. For me personally, I just had my daughter jump off the stage back there and practically sprain her ankle. I had to carry her to the car, and she has an icepack on it right now. And, my oldest son is throwing a real tantrum. So, my wife and my children are not even here to enjoy this with you. However, sometimes opposition comes, and these can also be witnesses to you that you are making the right choice.
What is baptism? Baptism is an essential ordinance. The fourth Article of Faith of our church talks about principles and ordinances of the gospel. A principle being something like faith and repentance, and ordinances being baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those are just two examples of ordinances. An ordinance requires the priesthood to perform it. You do not have to have the priesthood to have faith—anyone can do that. But, to be baptized you must have someone who holds the priesthood to perform it. It is an "essential" ordinance because your salvation in the Lord's kingdom depends upon it. Baptism is the first essential ordinance that you get to participate in. It won't be the last one, there will be others, but it is the first one. Baptism starts you on the road that you need to walk to return to your Father in Heaven. We are all very excited for you, that you are taking this step.
What is required for baptism? One of the first requirements is to have faith in your Savior Jesus Christ, which you do. Next, you need to repent of your sins, which you have. You have been interviewed by the missionaries and they found you worthy to be baptized. That is very exciting. It is a good thing. You talked in class about how there are things that you are not quite sure about whether you have been forgiven yet or how Heavenly Father feels about them. One of the lovely things about baptism is that if you have repented and you have a repentant heart, when you go down into the waters of baptism you are washed clean. And when you come back up—you were there last week and saw Gabe when he came out of that water. What did he do? He stood and cried. He cried. The Sprit was strong, and he felt that. Now, I am not going to say that you are going to cry when you come out of the water, but you can be washed clean. At that point, it is up to you to maintain that cleanness through daily repentance and continued faith in Christ, with a hope of eventual deliverance from all the trials and struggles of this world through the resurrection.
Baptism is a lifetime commitment. It is not something that you just do and then you disappear and never think about it again. You are committing, at this point, to live a Christian life; to take upon yourself the name of Christ; to become a member of his family and to do the kind of things that will bring honor to His name. That does not mean that it is instantly easy. Anyone here can attest to that. We all struggle with it. However, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are there for us. We have the Atonement that gives us the gift of repentance so that when we do make mistakes, which will happen, that we can repent of them and be made clean again. That is a glorious gift that is given to us.
We have to strive to live true to what we know is right. We also have to strive to find out what is right, so that we can live true to it. And this you will find in the scriptures, in the lesson manuals, and in the teachings of the prophets—which you have a wonderful opportunity, in a week or two, with General Conference, to hear the words of living prophets as they speak to you and the rest of us, in these days, and teach us what God wants us to know in order to avoid the pitfalls and traps of this world. All of these things are there to teach you what is right so that you can live true to what is right.
You are a child of God. You always have been one. Before you were ever born into this world, you were a child of God. Sometimes it takes a while to find that. But, Jesus Christ has promised in one His parables in the New Testament that it does not matter whether you are called in the beginning of the day or the end of the day—if you labor in His field, you will receive the reward. Be grateful that you are entering into His labor.
What are some of the benefits that we receive through baptism? There are both earthly and eternal benefits. I want you to take a moment to look around you, right now. If you have to stand up to do so, feel free to do that, but I want you to look around at the people that are here. All of these people are here today for you. You have a family that you didn't even know existed. You are now entering into Christ's family, and these are your brothers and your sisters. What is even more amazing than that, Nick, is that your family extends worldwide. The family of Christ is worldwide, and it doesn't matter where you go in this world, you will have family there. And you can call upon that family in your times of need. I don't know if you have ever felt lonely, like there was no one there for you, like there was no one you could call upon, but that is no longer the case. You are now a part of the worldwide family of Christ, and if you have a need, there is always someone you can call upon. And you too may be called upon, at some point, to offer assistance to someone in need. I hope that you will have charity in your heart to offer that assistance.
In Ether chapter 4, verses 13 and 14, it says, "Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief. Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief."
You have no idea the blessings that are in store for you. They are amazing! They are absolutely amazing! Your life is about to change for the better. And it will only get better, and better, and better as you live true to the commitment and covenant you are making in the waters this day. Remember, baptism is only the first step. You need to live your life faithfully all the way to the end of it. There are other things that you will need to do during your life.
Baptism is only the first of the essential ordinances that you are going to make. You will want to strive to get yourself to the temple. You will meet with the Bishop, in about a year, to determine your worthiness to enter the temple. And, when you go to the temple, great and glorious things can happen for you there. The blessings of the temple are amazing.
You will be receiving the priesthood. The priesthood is wonderful too, but it is not meant for you. It is not meant for me. It is meant for others. I cannot use the priesthood to benefit myself. You cannot use it for yourself. It is meant for others. The priesthood is to teach you to serve others and to bless their lives. And, it is an amazing, amazing power and gift!
You will be receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. This gift allows you to have God with you always, as you live worthily.
There are some amazing blessings that come with baptism, and some amazing responsibilities: "to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death" (Mosiah 18:9). But, the blessings are amazing! And, they are yours.
You are going to receive membership in Christ's kingdom, and you will receive the blessings of that membership. I testify to you of these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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