Baptism of Water & Fire

We Must Be Baptized before We Can Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost the Lord said, “If thou wilt turn unto me, and … repent of all thy transgressions [sins], and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, … ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Moses 6:52).

Baptism of Fire

I want to talk to you about the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

“When they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (3 Nephi 19:13).

An excerpt from another verse teaches that this will come “if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior” (Mormon 7:10).

Again, there are two parts to baptism—baptism by water and baptism by fire or the Holy Ghost. If you separate the two, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, it is but half a baptism.

Joseph Smith 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” (History of the Church, 5:499).

The Holy Ghost Works with Our Father in Heaven and Jesus to Help Us

The Holy Ghost works with our Father in Heaven and Jesus. He testifies to us that They live and They love us. He helps Them teach us the things we need to know and do and helps us obey Their commandments. He does not have a body of flesh and bones as our Father in Heaven and Jesus have. He is a spirit. He looks like a man.

Our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate persons. They work together to help us learn the things we need to know and do. When we receive messages from our Father in Heaven or Jesus, it is usually the Holy Ghost who brings them to us. He also helps us obey Their commandments. (Gospel Fundamentals)

The Work of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost teaches us about our Father in Heaven and Jesus. He tells us that They live and that They love us. He tells us that our Father in Heaven is the Father of our spirits. He also tells us that Jesus is our Savior.

The Holy Ghost helps us understand about our Father in Heaven and Jesus and the things we must do in order to return to heaven. He also helps us learn and understand all truth.

The Holy Ghost also gives us strength to obey the commandments of our Father in Heaven and Jesus. He can help us to make the correct decision when we have to choose between two actions. He can give us peace in times of trouble. (Gospel Fundamentals)

The difference between the Holy Ghost and the power and influence of the Holy Ghost can be illustrated by an analogy to the sun and the light that radiates from it. We know that the sun itself can be in only one place at a time. But the heat, light, and energy that radiate from it can enlighten and fill the entire solar system at once. Similarly, the Holy Ghost as a personage can be in only one place at one time, but his influence and power can and do fill the immensity of space. (The Holy Ghost)

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

What is the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost?

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the privilege—given to people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, been baptized, and been confirmed as members of the Church—to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost.

Joseph Smith said we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost being enjoyed now as much as it was enjoyed in the days of the first Apostles. We believe in this gift in all its fulness, power, greatness, and glory. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 97–98.)

A person may be temporarily guided by the Holy Ghost without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 130:23). However, this guidance will not be continuous unless the person is baptized and receives the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. We read in Acts 10 that the Roman soldier Cornelius received inspiration from the Holy Ghost so that he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ was true. But Cornelius did not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that if Cornelius had not received baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost would have left him (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 97).

Today people who are not members of the Church learn by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true (see Moroni 10:4–5). But that initial testimony leaves them if they do not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. They do not receive the continuing assurance that can come to those who have the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost

What must we do to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost?

A Latter Day Saint confirmation circa 1852.

After people are baptized, they are confirmed members of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. The Lord said, “Whoso having faith you shall confirm in my church, by the laying on of the hands, and I will bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them” (D&C 33:15).

Every worthy elder of the Church, when authorized, may give the gift of the Holy Ghost to another person. However, there is no guarantee that the person will receive inspiration and guidance from the Holy Ghost just because the elders have laid their hands on his or her head. Each person must “receive the Holy Ghost.” This means that the Holy Ghost will come to us only when we are faithful and desire help from this heavenly messenger.

To be worthy to have the help of the Holy Ghost, we must seek earnestly to obey the commandments of God. We must keep our thoughts and actions pure.

Jesus Christ when teaching made it clear that while his authorized servants can confer the gift of the Holy Ghost, he is the one who actually bestows the Spirit: “Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost” (3 Ne. 12:1).

To the Book of Mormon Apostles, the Savior said, “Blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins” (3 Ne. 12:2). “Thus has it been in all ages, and thus is it in our day,” said Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “After baptism in water, legal administrators lay their hands upon a repentant person and say: ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ This gives him the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead based on faithfulness. Either then or later, depending upon the individual’s personal worthiness, the Holy Ghost comes. The baptized person becomes a new creature. He is baptized with fire, sin and evil are burned out of his soul, and he is born again.” 4 (The Gift of the Holy Ghost)

Baptism by Fire:

Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is sometimes called the baptism of fire. “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17.) This “fire” from the gift of the Holy Ghost cleanses us from our sins when we repent and is what purifies and sanctifies us.

“Chapter 21: The Gift of the Holy Ghost,” Gospel Principles, (2009)

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