Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 128, which is actually another letter from Joseph Smith to the Saints as opposed to a revelation from the Lord. The subject of his epistle is baptisms for the dead and he goes more in depth on the symbolism of baptisms for the dead.
Most people are probably already aware that baptismal fonts are built so that the water is underground. This is done to symbolize that when we are baptized we are laying to rest our old life. I remember when I was a missionary my companion and I tracted into a family. The father was the only one interested although the wife and daughter eventually did get baptized. But my companion and I were teaching the father and I was letting my companion lead the discussion to give him some experience. The father asked us at one point if there was any place in the Bible where it says we have to be baptized by immersion as opposed to sprinkling. Because he had been baptized before and he was not convinced that he needed to be baptized again by immersion. At this point I stepped in and shared with him Romans 6:4 which says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life”. After sharing that he got a thoughtful look on his face and then nodded and agreed to be baptized.
I have often wondered just where the idea of sprinkling for baptism came from. Even in the New Testament it talks about Christ being baptized by immersion in Matthew 3. Now I can kind of see where it is open to interpretation because all it says is Christ went up straightway out of the water, so that could mean when he left the water entirely, not just when he came up out of the water from being dunked. However, even if you did interpret it that way, where did the whole idea of sprinkling come from? It just makes no sense to me at all.
Baptism is a symbol as well as an ordinance. And as Paul explained thousands of years ago to the Romans, it is a symbol of our old life being over and done with. This is why all fonts are supposed to be built into the ground and why if a font is not available we are supposed to use a river, or below ground pool or something where we go underground.
The rest of the section is about the importance of keeping records and of having things done in the proper order. Joseph quotes John the Revelator’s Revelation where it says he saw the dead judged out of the book of life. How can the dead be judged out of the book of life if we do not keep it? Joseph also reminded the Saints that we cannot be saved without our dead. This is repeated multiple times throughout the scriptures but no one ever really says why. My opinion is because everyone has to have an opportunity to hear or accept the Gospel. God has said that it must be so, and if something were to somehow happen to contradict that, then God would cease to be God and we would all cease to exist, obviously none of us would be saved. That is just my opinion though.
I know we talked about baptisms for the dead yesterday so I don’t want to dwell too much on it today but I am once again just in awe of the grace of God that allows us to participate in saving ordinances and acting as saviors on mount Zion. The trust that our God puts in us is just awe inspiring. I think that is where we will leave it for today. Until tomorrow.