I’m Confused About Baptism.

Don - April 21, 2008

According to the 4th article of faith and other scriptures baptism is for the remission of sins.

So let me ask some questions, maybe “you all” can help me out with the “right” answers: If children are baptized at the age of accountability what sins do they have that need to be removed?

If a non-member wants to join the church then they are required to repent of their sins, which is discussed by the person interviewing the person for baptism, if they qualify they can then be baptized. If they have already repented of their sins, then what sins does the baptism remove? If it takes the baptism to remove those sins they have repented of then what about repentence after baptism? Wouldn’t that be inconsistent?

If baptism is for the remission of sins then what is repentence for?

If baptism is for the remission of sins then why can’t we be baptized more than once. (Church members did it – a lot…in the 1800s).

And if the sacrament is to re-new the covenants we make at baptism, as we are taught and as the prayers indicate, why isn’t the process of remission of sins indicated, or given there also?

If repentence works then I see no need of baptism for the remission of sins. I see baptism as being necessary for enterance into the church / Celestial Kingdom, and for taking upon ourselves the name of Christ etc. but not the remission of sins part!

15 Comments »

  1. More scriptures state baptism by fire is what sanctifies us (see 2 Ne 31:17 and 3 Ne 27:20 for examples).

    Also, the fourth article of faith doesn’t say baptism remits our sins, only that we get baptized for remission of sins. In other words, we get baptized in order to have our sins remitted (whether by baptism or by some other means).

    It’s also interesting that Nephi says in 2 Ne 31:17 that repentance and baptism together make up the gate that leads to the strait and narrow path.

    Baptism is a symbol that illustrates the covenant we make (to put away our old life for a new life as children of Christ). IMO, the purpose of baptism is entirely symbolic.

    I also think that remission of sins comes after a process. We develop faith in Jesus Christ, which leads us to repentance (see Alma 34:17 and Mosiah 4-5). Once we have repented of our sins we are baptized to symbolize out covenant. Finally, the Lord sends his spirit to sanctify us. I don’t think remission of sins is tied to any one ordinance or event.

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 21, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

  2. This is a question I have had as well. I see baptism for children as entering them into that ability to then be able to have remission of sins happen.

    And, tied into the other questions, once we reach the age of accountability, we cannot have remission of sins without the twin ordinances of baptism and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost. These are what allow us to be cleansed…obedience (through baptism) and reception of the Holy Ghost, which is essential to our receiving a remission of our sins. This is found in the scriptures, for example:

    “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Ne. 31:17)
    See also 3 Ne. 27:20

    Baptism isn’t what makes remission of sins fully possible…it’s the baptism by fire that does. But you can’t receive the second without the first. And it’s the combination — obedience and the Holy Ghost (God’s part of the covenant for us) that makes it all work together.

    That’s my understanding.

    Comment by m&m — April 21, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Kim, where were you last night when we were arguing this over the phone? Like she said, dad!>:)

    Comment by Bret — April 21, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  4. I would also add that remission of sins is not a simple cleansing. It is that mighty change spoken of in scripture. It encompasses achieving a mind and spirit with no desire to do evil. That can only come through careful instruction by the Spirit of God.

    Comment by SilverRain — April 22, 2008 @ 3:39 am

  5. Like she said

    That would be “Like he said”. :)

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 22, 2008 @ 5:14 am

  6. Too much to fully answer in a comment, but it’s a great topic, which I’ll probably now address on my own blog. Some quick thoughts:

    The sacrament does not “re-new” the baptismal covenant. That is non-scriptural and an invention by modern LDS. It’s a nice idea and works for a lot of people, but the sacrament is a demonstration (witness) of our willingness to do certain things and to keep the Lord’s commandment to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of his atonement.

    Baptism is a witness that we have entered into a covenant, it is not a covenant in and of itself. We may have covenanted with God that same day or 10 years before. Just as legal documents need witnesses to be valid, the covenant needs a witness (baptism) to be fully valid.

    In 2 Ne 31:17 the gate is not baptism and repentance, the gate is repentance + baptism + fire and the Holy Ghost.

    Baptism does not remit sins. Kim Siever is correct, “for the remission of sins” is the same as saying “in order to receive the remission of sins.” The reception of the Spirit remits sins, both prior (D&C 20: 37) and after baptism.

    Although forgiveness (remission) of sins can and does occur prior to baptism through faith and repentance, baptism is necessary in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which, once the Spirit is received, by following the instructions found in Mosiah 4: 11-12, allow a person to indefinitely retain a remission of sins, never ever falling from grace, because of the justification, purification and sanctification powers of the Holy Ghost. This is impossible to do prior without baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    My $.02

    Comment by LDS Anarchist — April 22, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

  7. Oops! Sorry Kim! I knew that but must’ve forgot in my mad panic to make fun of my dad>:)

    Comment by Bret — April 22, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  8. Actually, Kim and Bret, it should have been

    As he said. :-)

    Comment by Mark B. — April 22, 2008 @ 6:08 pm

  9. LDS Anarchist,

    It is arguable that the baptism is not part of the gate. At least if you’re using 2 Ne 3:17.

    What that verse says is:

    For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

    A strict reading of the verse says the gate is repentance and baptism, and that baptism by fire follows that (perhaps the first step on the path).

    I admit that it is unclear and can see how one would think baptism by fire is included. In fact, I debated whether to include it in my first comment. I decided to go with a strict interpretation.

    Mark B.,

    True enough. It’s not a simile.

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 23, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  10. Kim, I used to read the verse that way, too. It is the semicolon that throws people off. The semicolon isn’t put there to start a new thought or topic, though. If you look at both verses together, Nephi’s meaning becomes clearer:

    Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. [Nephi states the need to enter in by the gate and then defines the gate in the entire following sentence:] For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; [this semicolon does not indicate the start of a new topic. Nephi is still talking about (defining) the gate.] and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

    And then are ye in this strait and narrow path (only after the baptism of fire are we in the path) which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; [then Nephi defines again what the gate is:] ye have done according to the commandments [faith, repentance, baptism, "receive the Holy Ghost" (said to us during confirmation)] of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, [which is the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost] which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in [Nephi is again referring to the gate, which is entered. The path is what we are in after we have entered in the gate] by the way ye should receive. (2 Nephi 31: 17-18)

    Comment by LDS Anarchist — April 23, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  11. Concerning children:

    My children, before they turned age 8, were accountable for some things in their lives. I am sure they were able to commit sin before 8. There is no sudden change in them at age 8, rather, the change occurs over time starting before age 8.

    This is what I have seen.

    Comment by Judo — April 23, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

  12. It’s not the semicolon that throws me off. It’s the fact that he says “then” which implies a next step or phase.

    the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost

    Comment by Kim Siever — April 24, 2008 @ 5:22 am

  13. I’ve lost track of the number of times that a Baptist or evangelical has told me that Acts 2:38 was mistranslated; that the “for” in that passage of God’s Holy Word should be removed and replaced with “because of”.

    It doesn’t matter to them that every English translation of the Bible translates this word in Acts 2:38 as “for” or “into” and never “because of”, because these Christians know in their hearts that God would never, ever say that baptism has anything to do with the forgiveness of sins.

    Below is an excellent article by Lutheran pastor, Matt Richards on this subject:

    http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=32616&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BJS+%28The+Brothers+of+John+the+Steadfast%29

    Comment by gary — August 25, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  14. I thought evangelicals were adamant that the Bible was perfect and inerrant. I’ve never had one tell me that there were any translation problems. They always tell me I’m going to hell for claiming that God can’t keep his word pure and pefect.

    Comment by MCQ — August 26, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  15. I think many people, of all faiths, get to a point where a lot if relative. Trying to follow Jesus’ example becomes more important than punctuation.

    Comment by annegb — August 28, 2013 @ 9:35 am

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