The first ordinance of the Gospel of Christ is Baptism & Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It is this decree of our Lord & Savior that begins our journey towards heaven as we submit to the will of God.
“The first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
We Must Be Baptized to Enter the Celestial Kingdom
Jesus said, “Whoso believeth in me, and is baptized … shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned” (3 Nephi 11:33–34). Baptism is the gateway through which we enter the path to the celestial kingdom (see 2 Nephi 31:17–18, Moses 6:47–68).
Alma taught that when we are baptized we make covenants with the Lord to:
- Come into the fold of God.
- Bear one another’s burdens.
- Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places.
- Serve God and keep His commandments.
When we are baptized and keep the covenants of baptism, the Lord promises to:
- Forgive our sins (see Acts 2:38; D&C 49:13).
- Pour out His Spirit more abundantly upon us (see Mosiah 18:10).
- Give us daily guidance and the help of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:38; D&C 20:77).
- Let us come forth in the First Resurrection (see Mosiah 18:9)
- Give us eternal life (see Mosiah 18:9).
“Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten” (Moses 6:59).
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.
The importance of all spiritual gifts
What are spiritual gifts? (Spiritual blessings or abilities given through the Holy Ghost.)
But the manifestation of the aSpirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is agiven by the bSpirit the cword of dwisdom; to another the word of eknowledge by the same Spirit; To another afaith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of bhealing by the same Spirit; To another the working of amiracles; to another bprophecy; to another cdiscerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of dtongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (1 Corinthians 12:7–11😉
Why do you think Paul compared the members of the Church to different parts of the body?
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one abody, whether we be Jews or bGentiles, whether we be cbond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the ahead to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be amore feeble, are necessary:
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same acare one for another. And whether one member asuffer, all the members bsuffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
The purpose of the sacrament
Elder Dallen h. Oaks said, “The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church.
We need to qualify for the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We do this by keeping His commandment to come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and in that wonderful weekly meeting partake of the emblems of the sacrament and make the covenants that qualify us for the precious promise that we will always have His Spirit to be with us (see D&C 20:77).” (Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament, Article Dallin H. Oaks October 2008 General Conference)
President Joseph Fielding Smith teaches that we partake of the sacrament as our part of commemorating the Savior’s death and sufferings for the redemption of the world. This ordinance was introduced so that we can renew our covenants to serve Him, to obey Him, and to always remember Him. President Smith adds: “We cannot retain the Spirit of the Lord if we do not consistently comply with this commandment” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:341).
The Resurrection and the degrees of glory
What did Paul teach about the kingdoms of glory?
For notwithstanding they die, they also shall arise again, a bspiritual body. They who are of a celestial aspirit shall receive the same bbody which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your cglory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened. Ye who are aquickened by a portion of the celestial bglory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who are quickened by a portion of the aterrestrial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And also they who are quickened by a portion of the atelestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who remain shall also be aquickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are bwilling to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. (See 1 Corinthians 15:35–44. We are resurrected into different kingdoms of glory—celestial, terrestrial, or telestial. See also D&C 88:27–32.)
I wash you preparatory to you receiving your anointing’s that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.
I anoint you preparatory to your becoming a King and a Priest unto the Most High God, hereafter to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.
The ordinances are “mostly symbolic in nature, but promising definite, immediate blessings as well as future blessings,” contingent upon continued righteous living.
The endowment is to prepare you for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. If you proceed and receive your full endowment, you will be required to take upon yourselves sacred obligations.
Your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the keywords, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation . . . ” (see Journal of Discourses 2:31)
The instruction is punctuated with oaths, symbolic gestures, and a prayer circle around an altar, and at the end of instruction is tested at a “veil.”
In the acelestial glory there are three bheavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the ahighest, a man must enter into this border of the cpriesthood [meaning the new and deverlasting covenant of emarriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. (D&C 131:1–3)
And as pertaining to the new and aeverlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my bglory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. And verily I say unto you, that the aconditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, boaths, cvows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and dsealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is eanointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by frevelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this gpower (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this hpower in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the ikeys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D&C 132:6–7)
And again, verily I say unto you, if a man amarry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and beverlasting covenant, and it is csealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of dpromise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the ekeys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit fthrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s gBook of Life, that he shall commit no hmurder whereby to shed innocent iblood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their jexaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the kseeds forever and ever. Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from aeverlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be bgods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them. (D&C 132:19–20)
Husbands’ and wives’ relationships with each other and with the Lord
Be ye afollowers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, athat ye remember me in all things, and keep the bordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the ahead of the bwoman is the man; and the chead of Christ is God. Nevertheless neither is the aman without the woman, neither the bwoman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. (1 Corinthians 11:1–3, 11–12)
Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet
The Washing of the Feet, Bearing the Name of Christ, and Being Sealed Up Unto Eternal Life:
While reclining at the Passover table, Jesus and His Apostles ate the meal and presumably observed the rites that attended that ceremony. He then introduced the ordinance of the washing of feet. After doing so, He questioned them, “Know ye what I have done to you?” (John 13:12.)
What He had done was to perform an ordinance found only in holy places where those who are to bear His name are cleansed from “the blood [and sins] of this wicked generation.” (See D&C 88:74‑75, 137‑41.) This was a manifestation of the Savior’s supreme love “to seal his friends up unto eternal life in his Father’s kingdom.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979‑81, 4:48.) Elder David B. Haight, “Remembering the Savior’s Atonement,”(The Ensign (April 1988), pp. 7‑8.)
We Take Upon Us His Name When We Receive the Highest Blessings of the Gospel:
It is significant that when we partake of the sacrament we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We witness that we are willing to do so. (See D&C 20:77.) The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the most important sense.
What future event or events could this covenant contemplate? The scriptures suggest two sacred possibilities, once concerning the authority of God, especially as exercised in the temples, and the other closely related concerning exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
According to this meaning, when we witness our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we are signifying our commitment to do all that we can to achieve eternal life in the kingdom of our Father. We are expressing our candidacy our determination to strive for exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
Those who are found worthy to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ at the last day are described in the great revelations recorded in the ninety‑third and seventy‑sixth sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Here the Savior revealed to Joseph Smith that in due time, if we keep the commandments of God, we can receive the “fulness” of the Father. (D&C 93:19‑20.) Here the Savior bears record that “all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the [Father], and are the church of the Firstborn.” (D&C 93:22.) “They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things. . . . Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods” who “shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.” (D&C 76:55, 58, 62.) “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” (John 17:3; see also D&C 88:4‑5.) This is the ultimate significance of taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. . . .
[O]ur witness [in the sacrament] relates to some future event or status who attainment is not self‑assumed, but depends on the authority or initiative of the Savior himself. . . .
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Taking Upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” The Ensign (May1985), pp. 80‑83 (italics in the original).
Our Heavenly Father expects us to prepare for and live worthy of His promised blessings.
“Here is what is recorded of our Saviors teaching in the twenty-second chapter of St. Matthew:
“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
“And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding. …
“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
“And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
“Then saith the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” [See Matthew 22:1–3, 11–14.] …
… Here was a man who came into the wedding feast, and when the time came the king or the master saw that he didn’t have a wedding garment on. He had ignored the importance of it, apparently. He had come in, not prepared, expecting to participate. He had come to the feast—they had all been bidden to the feast, but I assume that they were supposed to know that only those would be admitted who were properly clothed, and this man was amazed when the question was asked him why he was there in that condition.
The world seems to think that they can come whenever they are ready. Our Father’s children do not understand that there is some preparation to be made. The adversary has so deceived them as to make them believe that no preparation is necessary, anything will do, but in this message that the Savior gave in a parable to his associates we are informed that there must be some preparation, and without that preparation no one will be permitted to partake of the more precious gifts of our Heavenly Father. That applies to the membership of this (His) Church who have an idea that because they have been invited, and because their names appear upon the record among those who have been called, there is nothing more for them to do. … They have forgotten the Lord and are not preparing for the feast to which he has invited them.
Our Heavenly Father intends that we shall prepare for the wedding feast or we will be excluded. He expects us to continue to store our minds with the truth, and to disseminate that truth as opportunity offers among all his children. The fact that our names appear upon the Church records is no guarantee that we will find our place in the celestial kingdom. Only those who live worthy to be members of that kingdom shall find place there.
In the midst of the unsettled condition, the uncertainty that is in the world, if there ever was a time when we should examine ourselves, to find out if we are doing what the Lord would have us do, it is today; if there ever was a time when we should be sure that we are in the pathway of eternal life, it is now. We can’t slight these opportunities. God will not be mocked. When he has offered to us a gift, when he has placed within our reach a blessing, when he has invited us to partake of a feast and we ignore it, we may be sure that we shall suffer the distress that will come to those who refuse the blessings of the Lord when they are offered.11
We cannot live like the world and expect to obtain our rightful place in the Kingdom. The Lord tells us in the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, referring to evil: that he cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance [see D&C 1:31]. This is hard medicine, because some of us in the Church have the idea that we can trifle with the Gospel of our Lord and with fundamentals of Eternal Life, and yet gain the place we want. This is not true. The Lord will be merciful, but he will be just, and if we want any blessing there is only one way we may obtain it, and that is to keep the commandments that will entitle us to the blessing.”12(Heber J. Grant)