Our seventh lesson in the Joseph Smith manual for this year’s course of study is entitled, “Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.” In May of 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went to the banks of the Susquehanna River and were there met by John the Baptist, who conferred upon them the authority to baptize. They were the first two baptized in this dispensation, and soon others followed, including members of Joseph’s family, which brought him much joy.
He taught that the ordinance of baptism is necessary for salvation, and it is a sign and a symbol ordained of God. We go down into the water to show that we have been born of water, for we know that until we are born of water and of the Spirit, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Those who seek to enter Heaven in any other way will not be received. When we are baptized, it is a sign to God and His angels that we will do the will of God, for it is His will that we be baptized.
We believe in baptism by immersion. Baptize is derived from the Greek baptiso, which means to immerse.
Followers of Christ in every dispensation have been baptized. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, so the commandment will always exist. We must repent and be baptized.
The Prophet also taught that baptism is for the remission of sins, and little children do not sin. Children who die without baptism are not condemned. Neither are infants required to be baptized. No unbaptized child will go to hell. All children are redeemed by the blood of Christ and are redeemed.
After we are baptized, we then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. He said, “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”