Teachings Concerning

The Covenant Made at Baptism




Baptism-Preparatory to Reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost

Joseph Smith

Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory to the reception of the Holy Ghost; it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.148)

But I further believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Evidence by Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:38. 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. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 314.)


Teachings From the Scriptures
Concerning the Baptismal Covenant

D&C 20

37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism - All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

2 Nephi 31

5 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!

6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?

7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

14 But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.

Mosiah 18:8-10

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life--

10 Now I say unto you, 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?

Alma 7

15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.


Teachings From the General Authorities
Concerning the Baptismal Covenant


Dallin H. Oaks

We begin with the doctrine as taught by the Lord. During His ministry, Jesus taught that baptism is necessary for salvation. "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Baptism is the first of the saving ordinances. When we are baptized, we covenant that we will take upon us the name of Jesus Christ and serve Him and keep His commandments. ("The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament," Ensign, Nov. 1998, p. 38)

Joseph Fielding Smith

Every person baptized into this Church has made a covenant with the Lord to keep his commandments. We are to serve the Lord with all the heart, and all the mind, and all the strength that we have, and that too in the name of Jesus Christ. Everything that we do should be done in the name of Jesus Christ.

In the waters of baptism, we covenanted that we would keep these commandments; that we would serve the Lord; that we would keep this first and greatest of all commandments, and love the Lord our God; that we would keep the next great commandment, we would love our neighbor as ourselves; and with all the might that we have, with all the strength, with all our hearts, we would prove to him that we would "live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God"; that we would be obedient and humble, diligent in his service, willing to obey, to hearken to the counsels of those who preside over us and do all things with an eye single to the glory of God.

We should not forget these things, for this commandment is binding upon us as members of the Church.

Every soul baptized, truly baptized, has humbled himself; his heart is broken; his spirit is contrite; he has made a covenant before God that he will keep his commandments, and he has forsaken all his sins. Then after he gets into the Church, is it his privilege to sin after he is in? Can he let down? Can he indulge in some of the things which the Lord has said he should avoid? No, it is just as necessary that he have that contrite spirit, that broken heart, after he is baptized as it is before. (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:328)

Ezra Taft Benson

As important as agreements are between individuals, more important are the agreements an individual makes with God. As members of the true Church of Jesus Christ, you made agreements with Him at baptism. That is why you are called the children of the covenant. As a part of that covenant, you agreed "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death" (Mosiah 18:9).

At the time of baptism you agreed to keep all God's commandments. He has not left you alone to flounder over what these are, or what is right or wrong. He is very specific and clear on how you should conduct your life as a member of His Church. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.75)

Bruce R. McConkie

A covenant is a contract in which two or more parties promise and agree to do certain things. Gospel covenants are made between God and men. Baptism is the covenant in which men promise to keep the commandments of God and He promises to give them eternal life. There are many ways in which men's promises might be recounted. Alma, at the waters of Mormon, summarized them by having each repentant soul swear in substance and thought content:

(a) to forsake the world, to repent of all his or her sins, to join the true church, "to come into the fold of God."

(b) to become a saint, to be numbered with the true believers, to take upon me the name of Christ and become one of his family, "and to be called [one of] his people."

(c) to love and serve his fellowmen, to esteem others as himself, and to bear the burdens of his brethren in the church `that they may be light."

(d) to visit the fatherless and the widows in their afflictions, to care for the sick, the helpless, and the bereaved, and "to mourn with those that mourn."

(e) to proclaim peace, to spread solace, and to "comfort those that stand in need of comfort."

(f) to preach the gospel, to raise the warning voice, to call sinners to repentance, and to stand as a witness of Christ "at all times and in all things, and in all places ... even until death."

(g) to serve the Lord "and keep his commandments" - a promise that is itself infinite and endless, and is so worded as to embrace conformity to every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

On his part, as Alma expresses it, the Lord promises that those who love and serve him shall receive such great blessings as these:

(a) He covenants to baptize them with fire and with the Holy Ghost, to give them the companionship of his Holy Spirit, to "pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon" them.

(b) He covenants that his saints shall be redeemed -- redeemed from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment; redeemed temporally and spiritually; redeemed from their spiritual fall so that, having been raised in immortality, they will return to his presence and be inheritors of eternal glory.

(c) He covenants that they shall "be numbered with those of the first resurrection," that they shall come forth in the resurrection of the just, that they shall rise from death with a celestial body, which can stand the glory of the celestial kingdom.

(d) He covenants that they shall have eternal life which is to inherit, receive, and possess the fulness of the glory of the celestial world. It is to be like God. (Mosiah 18:8-10.) [A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.246]


Baptismal Covenant,
A Covenant of Commission

Spencer W. Kimball

To be baptized is to enter into a covenant of commission. But to fail to be baptized when one is convinced the work is divine is a sin of omission, and penalties will be assessed for failure to meet this requirement. Tens of thousands of people having heard the gospel have failed to be baptized, giving trivial excuses. This is a most serious sin. The Lord told Nicodemus that he and others would not even see the kingdom of God if they rejected the required baptism.

The covenants we make with God involve promises to do, not merely to refrain from doing, to work righteousness as well as to avoid evil. The children of Israel made such covenants through Moses, saying, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do" (Exodus 19:8, italics added), though hardly was Moses' back turned until they had broken their promise through wrongdoing. In the baptismal waters we give a similar undertaking and we repledge it in the ordinance of the sacrament. Not to honor these pledges, to refuse to serve or to accept responsibility and do less than one's best at it, is a sin of omission. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.94)


Baptism, A Call to Lifelong Service

Boyd K. Packer

Our baptism is a call to lifelong service to Christ. Like those at the waters of Mormon, we are "baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that [we] have entered into a covenant with him, that [we] will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [us.]" ("Called to Serve," Ensign, Nov. 1997, p. 6)


How the Baptismal Covenant
is a New and Everlasting Covenant

Joseph Fielding Smith

Each ordinance and requirement given to man for the purpose of bringing to pass his salvation and exaltation is a covenant. Baptism for the remission of sins is a covenant. When this ordinance was revealed in this dispensation, the Lord called it "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning." This covenant was given in the beginning and was lost to men through apostasy, therefore, when it was revealed again, it became to man a new covenant, although it was from the beginning, and it is everlasting since its effects upon the individual endure forever. Then again, whenever there is need for repentance, baptism is the method, or law, given of the Lord by which the remission of sins shall come, and so this law is everlasting. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:152)


What is the new and everlasting covenant? I regret to say that there are some members of the Church who are misled and misinformed in regard to what the new and everlasting covenant really is. The new and everlasting covenant is the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations, and I want to prove it. In the 66th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 2, I read: "Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old."  More definitely stated is the definition of the new and everlasting covenant given to us in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Now I am going to say before I read this that marriage is not the new and everlasting covenant. If there are any here that have that idea I want to say that right to them. Baptism is not the new and everlasting covenant. Ordination to the priesthood is not the new and everlasting covenant. In section 22 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says that baptism is "a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning." Marriage in the temple of the Lord for time and for eternity is "a" new and everlasting covenant. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:156)


Temple Covenants Are an
Unfolding of the Baptismal Covenant

Harold B. Lee

The receiving of the endowment requires the assuming of obligations by covenants which in reality are but an embodiment or an unfolding of the covenants each person should have assumed at baptism, as explained by the prophet Alma to the effect that "are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death" (Mosiah 18:8-9). Any [people] who [are] prepared to assume those obligations declared by Alma and "who humble themselves before God . . . and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits . . .and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end" (D&C 20:37), need have no hesitancy in going to a holy temple and receiving, in connection with the covenants taken, promises of great blessings predicated upon compliance therewith. (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [Published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000], p. 106)

Spencer W. Kimball

If a person, not a member of the Church, is in the congregation, we do not forbid him partaking of it, but would properly advise that the sacrament is for the renewing of covenants. And, since he has not made the true covenant of baptism or temple covenant, he is exempt. However, his partaking of the sacrament if he is clean and worthy and devout would not bring upon him any condemnation as it would for those who have made solemn covenants and then have ignored or defied them. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.226)


God's Part of the Baptismal Covenant

George Q. Cannon

When we went forth into the waters of baptism and covenanted with our Father in heaven to serve Him and keep His commandments, He bound Himself also by covenant to us that He would never desert us, never leave us to ourselves, never forget us, that in the midst of trials and hardships, when everything was arrayed against us, He would be near unto us and would sustain us. That was His covenant, and He has amply fulfilled it up to the present time and has shown that we can tie to the promises that He has made. We have proved these things through experience. (Gospel Truth, p.134)

Baptism Only One Round of Gospel Ladder

George Q. Cannon

Baptism is . . . only one of the rounds in the Gospel ladder which reaches from the depth of the degradation into which poor humanity has fallen to the Celestial Kingdom of God. But the poor prisoner who wishes to escape from his dungeon must take step after step up the ladder until he reaches the top and can breathe once more the free air of heaven, or he will not be benefited; the ladder is his means for attaining the desired end--liberty. The Gospel is our means of gaining our important end--salvation. But we must obey every principle, or we cannot be saved; we must take every step up the ladder, or we cannot get into the Celestial Kingdom. The moment we set bounds to our faith and works, that moment our salvation ceases. . . .

No individual is justified in neglecting a present duty in order to be better able, as he thinks, to perform a future one. No man can be depended on to do his duty in another sphere or position in life if he does not do so in the one he at present occupies. We must keep our path clear as we go. Let the pages of our lives be free from blot or stain every day, or else the record of our folly and neglect of duty may stare us in the face some day when we shall bitterly regret having given way to such weaknesses. (Gospel Truth, p. 135)