As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! “We begin with the End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!
Dear Elders & Sisters,
I love ya! Thanks for your faith in the Savior and His wonderful work. I truly know that the more we come to understand the Savior and His Atonement, the greater desire, urgency, and effort we will make to share it. I see how the sons of Mosiah reached a point where the very idea that someone might not receive the gospel blessings would cause them to quake and tremble. Be tenacious this week and remember that the Lord is always in the vineyard with us!
Of the many assignments I am blessed to fulfill, one of my favorites is that of interviewing baptismal candidates. As a mission president, I hold the keys to preside over missionaries and to administer the work of sharing the gospel. As part of this responsibility, it is my blessing to make sure baptismal candidates meet the qualifications as laid out in Doctrine and Covenants section 20 verse 37.
“And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who (1) humble themselves before God, and (2) desire to be baptized, and (3) come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and (4) witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and (5) are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, (6) having a determination to serve him to the end, and (7) 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.”
The Lord has blessed us with clear instruction on what must be evident as a person readies themselves to receive a remission of sins by water and by fire. Have you ever asked yourself, how do we know if someone is ready? Can you see the fruits of their faith and repentance? You will notice above I have a placed a number next to the qualifications as laid out in D&C 20:37… Below, I share with you some of my thoughts on how you can have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to discern if investigators are truly demonstrating fruits of repentance and ready to “be received by baptism into his church.”
- Humble themselves before God… The Savior teaches us that to become humble is to become as a child. A child is submissive, teachable, and as King Benjamin taught, “willing to submit to all things…” When I think of an investigator that has humbled themselves, what I hope to see is someone who will willingly say, “Thy will be done.” I want to be taught, learn more, I’ll pray, I’ll read, I’ll come to church, I’ll do what God wants me to do…
- Desire to be baptized… The words that best express this in my mind come from Mosiah 18:10, “if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments.” An investigator who desires to be baptized will want to make promises to God and to serve Him. They will be excited about their baptismal date, attend a baptism, want to make sure they are prepared and ready to enter into covenants with the Lord. They will also clap their hands with joy!
- Come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits… A broken heart is a soft, an open, and a receptive heart. If we have a contrite spirit, we acknowledge our sins and shortcomings. We feel godly sorrow and are willing to repent. A contrite spirit is willing to listen “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” An investigator who experiences a broken heart and contrite spirit will be one who begins to have a mighty change of heart. We will see a change in attitudes, desires, and thoughts. We will see commandment keeping, and even their very countenance beginning to change. More light will be seen; true repentance will be felt.
- Witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins… To be a witness means to give evidence or proof of an event. It can also mean to testify to someone about what they have seen or heard. An investigator that can give a witness of their repentance can speak to the changes they’re seeing in their life. They feel the Spirit, they’re happier people, the have begun to sing the song of redeeming love. Conversion to the Savior and His gospel can be felt from within and outwardly they are becoming new creatures.
- Are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ… There are many ways we take upon us the name of Christ. We take upon his name through the baptismal covenant, weekly participation in the sacrament, when we publicly proclaim our belief in Him, as we willingly serve Him, and take upon his character and attributes. An investigator who takes upon His name will begin to understand what it means to truly be Christian, a disciple and follower of Christ. We will see a desire for them to learn of Him, listen to Him, and walk with him. (D&C 19:23)
- Determination to serve him to the end… We teach that we must press forward, with a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God. An investigator who is coming to understand this principle will recognize that preparing for baptism is not an event, but an ongoing process of change and turning towards God. They will not become frustrated when they stumble as they know there is always a brighter day. They will be desirous to pray daily, read the scriptures, attend church, and strive to become better people. When we teach them correctly, they won’t see living the gospel as a checklist, but as a lifelong commitment to be steadfast in Christ.
- Truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ… Faith without works is dead. An investigator who has received the Spirit of Christ has demonstrated the faith to act and the Spirit is working a mighty change in their hearts. I think of Moroni’s promise regarding the Book of Mormon; if they read, ponder, and pray, (faith in action), the Holy Ghost will witness the truth of all things. An investigator who truly manifests their works, is full of light, new intelligence, and ready to receive more and more. The power of the Holy Ghost is working in their lives.
Elders & Sisters, investigators preparing for baptism should not be simply be prepared to answer a series of interview questions. They are important, as are the other qualifications that show their faith in action, but let’s also keep the end in mind; true converts! As we teach repentance, we are looking for a mighty change of heart, a spirit of humility and willingness to follow God and to keep His commandments. Investigators are becoming new people and the fruits of repentance will be more and more evident as they listen to the voice of the Spirit and let the miracle of conversion into their hearts. We are teaching them celestial traditions that we expect them to keep and live for a lifetime. We know they won’t be perfect, and that their testimonies will be young and growing, and that is good, we continue to improve line by line and precept upon precept. We teach repentance, so we can truly baptize converts to the Lord and His gospel. Faith in the Savior and His Atonement is truly the most life changing, miraculous, and the one thing of most importance!
I invite you to review the baptismal qualifications taught in D&C 20:37 and ask if those you are teaching are showing the necessary changes. Invite them, help them, testify of the Savior and His goodness to redeem and save. Today I interviewed a wonderful sister who has demonstrated all the fruits and qualifications we desire. She is so excited to be reborn and to take the Savior’s name upon her. Her desires are to live the gospel and to forever be changed by her faith in Christ. Her joy is full and the worth of her soul is priceless! What a blessing it is to teach repentance and to prepare people to receive a remission of sins through baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Let us all be urgent in sharing the good news of the gospel. The Savior lives, this is His work, and it will continue to roll forward. Love ya!