1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.
2 Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.
How do you know if a person is ready to be baptized?
- They must have “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” They must feel a need. Like Enos, their soul hungers (Enos 1:4). They know that they need the healing power of Jesus Christ, and they are willing to receive His help.
- They must witness to the church that they have “truly repented of all their sins.” This open attestation is preceded by a private struggle: acknowledging and abandoning sin requires significant personal effort.
- They must “[take] upon [themselves] the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.” A candidate for baptism is forward-looking. Their goal is to abandon past misdeeds and to adopt a new life. And their time-horizon is infinite: they are promising to serve the Savior for the rest of their lives.
These are the qualifications for baptism, and they are also the qualifications to receive God’s saving power in our lives. Humility, repentance, and commitment are all elements of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, and so it’s fitting that they be required of someone who wants to join a community of disciples.
Elder David A. Bednar has taught that baptism provides an initial remission of sins, and that we retain that remission of our sins over time by qualifying for the companionship of the Holy Ghost:
As members of the Lord’s restored Church, we are blessed both by our initial cleansing from sin associated with baptism and by the potential for an ongoing cleansing from sin made possible through the companionship and power of the Holy Ghost–even the third member of the Godhead (“Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins,” General Conference, April 2016).
How do we qualify for this ongoing cleansing? Exactly the same way we qualified for the initial cleansing: by having broken hearts, by truly repenting, and by taking upon ourselves the name of Christ: humility, repentance, and commitment.
Today, I will seek to qualify for the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost by fulfilling the requirements for baptism. I will humble myself before God. I will sincerely repent of my sins. And I will renew my determination to serve God “to the end.”