33 And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God. And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant.
34 Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord. Now they were desirous to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness.
35 They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts; nevertheless they did prolong the time; and an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter.
We learn several important principles about baptism from these verses:
- Baptism must be performed by a person who has authority from God. The people of Limhi had already followed the examples of Ammon and his brethren and “entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments” (Mosiah 21:31-32). They didn’t need priesthood authority to make that promise. But they knew that more blessings were available to them if they could evidence that commitment by receiving the ordinance of baptism as defined by God.
- The person performing the baptism must be worthy to do so. Ammon declined to baptize them because he did not believe he was worthy. To be given the authority is not enough: the person performing the baptism must also be living in a manner that is consistent with his responsibility to act in God’s name.
- Baptism is an outward symbol of a deep, inner commitment. By being baptized, we publicly testify that it is our intention to “serve God with all [our] hearts” for the rest of our lives. This simple action can anchor our resolve and help us to maintain it over time.
- The Church of Jesus Christ consists of people who have been baptized by proper authority. Because the people of Limhi couldn’t be baptized yet, they couldn’t yet establish the Church as Alma and his people had done.
Today, I will remember and be grateful for the blessings associated with baptism. I will thank Heavenly Father for providing a way for His children to become members of His church and to enter the path that leads to eternal life.