When you give your life to the Lord at the waters of baptism, you answer two questions. First, you affirm that you repent of all the sins you’ve committed up to that point. Second, you promise to serve God for the remainder of your life.
The repentance process consists of experiencing a deep sorrow for the sins you’ve committed in the past as well as a true desire to do better in the future. Assuming you are truly repentant — and you shouldn’t be getting baptized if you’re not — the first of the two questions is the easier one, as it’s simply an affirmation of what’s already occurred. Yes, I repent. Done, check it off.
The second question? Well, since that deals with the future, I can’t really check that one off until I take my last breath on earth. And, as much as I may be sincere today with that promise, the reality is that things in my life will change over time, and I will face significant challenges to live up to my promise. Sounds like I’m going to need some help with this one.
The good news is that God recognizes that we need help to live up to this promise, so He provides it in the form of the Holy Ghost — our own personal portion of God that resides within us. The Holy Ghost teaches us what we need to know to be successful in serving God and prompts us to do the right thing (or not do the wrong thing) in various situations that we face in life. It is an indispensable tool in serving God.
Here’s how Jesus described the Holy Ghost to His disciples:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
OK, I get it. I need the Holy Ghost within me in order to be able to serve God. How do I get it?
In The Church of Jesus Christ, after a person answers the two questions referenced above and is then baptized, the next step is the bestowal of the Holy Ghost. Moroni 2 describes the actual process to be followed for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost. Jesus instructed His 12 disciples on this land to follow this process, and we continue to follow it today in The Church of Jesus Christ:
“Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it.” (Moroni 2:2)
In case you’ve ever wondered why the ministry kneels in prayer prior to the actual bestowal of the Holy Ghost, it’s because we’re following the instructions given above. That first prayer is needed to ask God to grant the power to one of the brothers to lay their hands on the individual and bestow the Holy Ghost. This added step indicates that none of us owns this power — we need to request it from God each time.
In case anyone ever questions whether they have actually received the Holy Ghost, this same chapter indicates that when the above process was followed, “on as many as they laid their hands, fell the Holy Ghost” (verse 3). Every convert received it then, and we can be assured that every convert receives the Holy Ghost today since the ministry of The Church of Jesus Christ has the same priesthood authority as the original disciples, and we follow the same process for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost.
We can each be thankful that God doesn’t leave us alone after we’re baptized, expecting us to figure things out for ourselves when it comes to serving Him. He provides the Holy Ghost to each of us to lead, guide, and direct us for the remainder of our lives and help us to keep the promise we made on the day of our baptism.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.