By Jack H. West, 1954.
I don’t know what better example we could take than baptism; the very first outward ordinance of the Gospel, one of the four cardinal principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have often wondered how far afield we could drift again from a beautiful, yet simple principle. How far afield can we get? Let’s recap a minute:
In the Christian churches of the earth there is baptism by immersion; baptism by sprinkling; baptism by dipping, baptism by the use of other liquids, not water; baptism with the use of no liquids. There is baptism by those who claim to have authority; baptism by those who claim no authority; baptism by those who claim that authority is not necessary. There is baptism with certain words being said; baptism with other words being said; baptism with no words being said. There is baptism that comes by just sitting there and thinking upon it, and lo and behold, you’re baptized! Now I wonder how far afield we can get on a simple subject?
When we take the two great records and let them work as one in the hands of the people, we go for instance, to the direct words of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, when he was here on this continent with these people. This scripture helps clarify the principle of baptism over which there seems to be so much confusion in the world.
Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them – Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, [note that—Stand in the water.]
…and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying; Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, [apparently the authority was necessary then – apparently this was to be done with certain things being said and done in his name.] I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. (3 Npehi 11:23-26.)
It would be quite a trick to go “down into the water” to baptize if all you had was a cup of water. I wonder how difficult we want to make it for ourselves, twisting such beautifully simple words. You remember that the Bible tells us that many people went to the River Jordan to be baptized “because there was much water there.” (See John 3:23.) If all they needed was a cupful, why go to the River Jordan? Also they went there because someone holding the authority to baptize was there. In this case that we are speaking of, John the Baptist.
I was way up in the very tops of the Andes Mountains on a recent trip. We zigzagged 38,500 miles, the equivalent of once and a half around the globe, and covered every major Inca and pre-Inca ruin of the people of this continent that has been excavated to any extent. Way back there in the tops of the Andes, at the old ancient capital of the Incas, Cuzco, someone has built a fairly modern tourist hotel for people like me who go down there and want things a little easy in between trips out into the wilderness country. On the wall of one of the rooms of the hotel is a beautiful painting. It depicts John the Baptist and Jesus Christ standing ankle deep in the water of the Jordan River while John pours a cupful of water over Jesus Christ. As I looked at the painting I wondered how difficult we could make it for ourselves twisting simple words and ideas. But now listen to the words of Jesus Christ again to the people on this continent, as recorded in the Book of Mormon. Apparently there had been some controversy upon this continent as to the method of baptism.
And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; (3 Nephi 11:28.)
Oh I wish we had a simple statement like that today in the Bible. I am sure it was there once upon a time, but remember, many of the plain and most precious things have been taken from the Bible. (See I Nephi 13:26,29.)
Do we need another Bible? We certainly need additional scriptures. The more witnesses the better. The very commandments that Ezekiel received from God told us that we needed another great record – one stick for Judah, one for Joseph. Here we have the only answer on this point that has ever been given to the earth. No other people that I know of have even claimed to have the Stick of Joseph except the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We know it is the Stick of Joseph because it is written about the Tribe of Joseph. We know it is the one spoken of to act “as one” with the other record, because if we read these various things, they do corroborate and substantiate and verify the Bible.
And so today in the Book of Mormon we have corroboration, plus. I like to think of it that way – corroboration of the Bible, plus. Many things are made more clear. In the light of what we have learned about baptism from the Book of Mormon, let us turn back to the Bible record. We find that it does verify what the Book of Mormon has said. Turn to Matthew 3:16, John 3:23, Acts 8:38, Ephesians 4:5*. Read them again in the light of what we have just read out of the second great record of the religious history of this earth. You will find that it does verify that the people went great distances to go where there was much water; that there were people holding authority to baptize; that even Jesus Christ, as pure as he was, knew that in order to fulfill all righteousness, it was necessary to be baptized. You remember that John, the Baptist questioned his own worthiness to baptize the Son of God, but Jesus insisted. And how was Jesus baptized? By immersion in water by one holding the authority.
Now we leave this second charge that another Bible was not needed with this thought: You remember one of the things that Jesus Christ said to his disciples on the old continent: “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:…” (John 10:16.) And he told the people that he was to visit these other people and that there would be “one fold and one shepherd.” (Ibid.) And when he came to this continent and appeared to these people in person, he proclaimed:
And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said; Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (3 Nephi 15:21.)
This says, then, that these ancient people on the continent we now call American were the “other sheep” Jesus Christ was speaking of when he taught in the Bible-lands. Of course they did not understand him. Until you get the two books together, then and then only do you understand what he meant when he said on the old continent that he had other sheep “…ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have…”
*Note these and other scriptures recorded on court summary sheet.