In 2 Nephi 31, Nephi makes a strong case for baptism. If you find yourself in a discussion with someone who is considering baptism — or if you’re contemplating it for yourself — here are some discussion points based on Nephi’s words in this chapter:
Repentance of Sins
(First question asked of a person being baptized: “Do you repent of your sins?”)
Although some may say that you can repent of your sins without being baptized, a public profession of your repentance clearly carries more weight than doing it within your own mind. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter instructed the crowd, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Three thousand people did so.
It takes humility to stand before a group of people in public, confess that you are a sinner, and allow yourself to be put under the water. Omitting the act of baptism from our repentance allows us to hold onto a measure of pride — pride we can best do without as we begin our walk with Christ.
Following the Example of Jesus
The primary reason we typically offer for the need to be baptized is that Jesus did it, thereby setting an example for us. Nephi states it as follows:
And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! (2 Nephi 31:5)
Once we determine within ourselves that we want to follow the example of Jesus, we not only will want to be baptized as He was but we will also want to do it in the same way by immersion in water.
Following God’s Commandments
(Second question asked of a person being baptized: “Do you promise to serve God for the remainder of your life?”)
The act of baptism is itself a way of following God’s commandments since scripture instructs us to do it; however, it is also an opportunity to make a public commitment before God and any number of human witnesses of your intention to serve God and keep His commandments to the best of your ability all the remaining days of your life.
Of course, one can make this commitment to God privately, but I compare that to traditional New Year’s resolutions, where we make commitments to ourselves to lose weight, stop smoking, etc. and then forget about them a few days into the New Year. A public, formal commitment such as on the day of baptism is much more likely to be taken seriously.
Instead of asking “Why should I be baptized?” perhaps people should ask themselves, “Why not?” Alma did this at the waters of Mormon. He acknowledged that the people had already expressed a desire to serve God and help others, so then he asked them, “If this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:10).
If someone has decided to serve God, why would they not want to get baptized? Is it pride? Is it to hedge somewhat in case they change their mind? Encourage them to take the plunge and follow Jesus!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.