RS/MP Lesson 20: “Baptism”

Why must we be baptized?

We Must Be Baptized for the Remission of Our Sins

There are ample scripture references which discuss baptism for the remission of sins, but what does this actually mean? Is there something inherently different between forgiveness and remission of our sins? Remission comes from the Latin remitto meaning to send back (Webster’s 1828 dictionary). Among the definitions is “forgiveness; pardon; that is, the giving up of the punishment due to a crime; as the remission of sins”.

Is baptism a required part of true repentance? Is repentance possible without baptism (baptism is the first fruits of repentance)? To the best of my understanding, people who inherit the terrestrial kingdom will not be required to suffer for their sins as those who inherit the telestial kingdom. Those inheriting the terrestrial kingdom would include “honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.” (D&C 76:76) This seems to include people who have not received baptism, so is there forgiveness without baptism? Is there deliverance from pain and sorrow, but a part of the punishment for sin, being separated from God, is not fully remitted? Or do they receive their forgiveness on account of the baptism that will eventually be performed by proxy for each person?

When we talk about washing away our sins (Acts 22:16), what are we suggesting? Is there really something at the exact time of baptism that brings about some completion of repentance? If we believe this, what do we then say about the baptism of fire, or receiving the Holy Ghost? It seems the scriptures discuss receiving forgiveness when we repent, are baptized, and/or when we receive the Holy Ghost. Is this a conflict, or is it all expected to be one whole process?

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