Baptism with Fire and the Rejection of the Gospel


In my last post, I presented the idea that the definition of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as prescribed by the LDS Church differs from the scriptures. Rather than being a slow imperceptible change over time proffered by church leadership as the normal occurrence, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost can be best characterized, according to the scriptures, as a significant point event.

In response, OWIW expressed that such a change ‘would be a very serious thing.’  PallasAthena added that “The implications of this type of doctrine could be very far reaching and catastrophic.” I agree with these assessments and would propose that this is, indeed, a very serious matter. 

In addition to the perspective added by OWIW in his comments to my last post, I would suggest that the definition of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is at the very heart of the acceptability of the church in the eyes of God. Let me explain.

In 3 Nephi, chapter 27, verse 8, the Lord declares that a church called in His name must also be ‘built upon my gospel.’ While this seems to be a rather simple statement, it does beg the question: How does the Lord define His gospel?

From my investigation which is documented on my website, the latter-day scriptures contain at least three points of reference for defining the gospel.  These are found in 3 Nephi 27: 20 (13-21), D&C 33:11-12, and D&C 39:6. What is gratifying to me is that the Lord was particularly consistent as these three references are concerned. Each contains clear reference to repentance and baptism, both by water and by fire and the Holy Ghost. I would suggest, through the consideration of these scriptures, that the gospel contains specifically the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

What would be the implications relative to the church changing the definition of this core component of the gospel, even the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?

Paul warned the Galatians, as found in Galatians 1:8-9:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul was explicit in his warning regarding any changes to the gospel. I posit that the substitution of a ‘quiet life of service’ for the baptism of fire represents such a change and can be labeled as ‘another gospel.’ A curse and a condemnation awaits those who preach another gospel.

The Book of Mormon also provides guidance regarding the importance  of the true meaning of the gospel. First, let’s consider who are the recipients of the gospel. The Book of Mormon clearly defines the Gentiles as the group blessed with the restoration of the fulness of the gospel:

“And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed” (1 Nephi 15:13).

In 3 Nephi, chapter 16, this idea is reinforced as the Lord commends the Gentiles for their belief:

“And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.” (3 Nephi 16:6-7)

Not all Gentiles are deserving of this commendation as the Lord points to the ‘unbelieving of the Gentiles’ as those who ‘scatter [His] people (3 Nephi 10:8)

These are the same Gentiles, both believing and unbelieving, who, in 3 Nephi, chapter 16, verse 10 reject the fulness of the gospel.

“At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”

I suggest that the rejection of the true meaning of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is a rejection of the fulness of the gospel. Because we reject the gospel, the Lord will take the gospel to the house of Israel, thus concluding the times of the Gentiles.

In summary, rejection of the true meaning of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, indeed, the gospel as defined by our Lord and Savior in the scriptures, will result in the rejection of the church by its Head.

But… all is not lost. The Lord still extends this offer to us, as found in 3 Nephi, chapter 30, verse 2:

“Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.”

I find it interesting that the list of things for which we need repentence is found also in the previous quote from 3 Nephi 16:10.

I also find it interesting that the Lord seemed to put two conditional statements in His plea to us Gentiles. The first is that we need to be baptized in order to receive a remission of our sins. The second is that we need to be filled with the Holy Ghost (baptized of fire and the Holy Ghost) in order to be numbered with His people.

What think ye?

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19 Comments

  1. The only problem is we are not gentiles we are the re-gathered Israelites. The “Gentiles” refer to non-members. In such usage Jews may be colloquially referred to as “Gentiles” because they are not members of the Church.
    Do you think because the spirit comes to some slow and others at baptism that the gospel taught by the church is false? Do you think that constitutes “preaching another gospel unto you” and we are accursed?
    You better be careful you don’t “smart” yourself out of the Celestial kingdom. What do the scriptures say about leading others astray? What is their condemnation?

  2. King Of Texas,

    Verlan Andersen who was a 70 had this to say about who the Gentiles are. Please tell me what part of this you disagree with.

    Chapter 4: The Book of Mormon Warns The Gentiles
    When Nephite Prophets Used the Term “Gentile,” to Whom Did They Refer?

    In prior chapters we concluded that the Book of Mormon contains a special message for those who have the gospel and also the privilege of self government. In this chapter we shall attempt to point out some of those warnings, but to do so, we must be able to determine when a warning is directed to that group, and who that group is. It is submitted that when the Nephite prophets used the term Gentile, they were referring mainly to Church members who live under the United States constitutional system of government. Let us determine if this is so. The title page of the Book of Mormon indicates that it is,

    written to the Lamanites, . . . and also to Jew and Gentile.

    We have no difficulty identifying Lamanites and Jews, but who are the Gentiles? Obviously they must be all those to whom the Book of Mormon is written who are neither Lamanite nor Jew. The title page further helps us to identify Gentiles by noting that the Book of Mormon is,

    . . . to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—

    Thus the prophet Joseph Smith and all others from Gentile nations who have been instrumental in bringing the Book of Mormon forth, are characterized as Gentiles by Book of Mormon prophets. Of course the term is also used in a broader sense to mean all members of Gentile nations from whence such Church members come. See for example Nephi’s account of his vision of the settling of America by those who came forth out of captivity from the Gentile Nations. (1 Ne. Chap. 13) [p. 20]

  3. King of Texas,

    For many years I held the same opinion as you did. I also understand it is hard for you to put your arms around the idea that we are the Gentiles of the Book of Mormon. I would suggest you do as I did and catalog the references to Gentiles and the ‘house of Israel’ in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. I didn’t arrive at my position on a whim. As I began to study the topic, I found that there were specific scriptures that clearly place us with the Gentiles. Here is an example from the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer given by Joseph Smith:

    “Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” (D&C 109:60)

    What did Joseph Smith mean when he said we are identified with the Gentiles? What did Nephi mean when he said that the fulness of the Gospel of the Messiah would come unto the Gentiles and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed?

    At the January 16, 2007 BYU devotional, Boyd K. Packer said this with respect to the Ether 8:20 mention of the Gentiles:

    “the term gentile in that place in the Book of Mormon refers to us in our generation”

    So… in the scriptures we have been given, when does the term Gentile refer to us, in the church?

    There are many more references that could be used; Truthseeker has identified several in his post. There are more on my website, http://www.fulness.com on the topic. I note in the ‘Gentiles’ section of my website how I could synthesize the ideas of our Gentile and Israelite roots. You may not agree but I would suggest you at least review the associated scriptures and consider what they are telling us. If you have a better explanation than what I have provided, I would be very interested in hearing it.

    You asked: “Do you think because the spirit comes to some slow and others at baptism that the gospel taught by the church is false?”

    Please reread my post. What you are implying is not what I said. My argument is whether it is acceptable for the leaders of the church to characterize the baptism of fire as a gradual lifelong task when the scriptures present significant support for it being a singular event.

    You asked: “Do you think that constitutes “preaching another gospel unto you” and we are accursed?”

    From my study of the scriptures, the term ‘gospel’ has specific meaning. It does not encompass all truth that has been given as we hear repeatedly in our church meetings. If the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is a major component of the gospel as defined in the scriptures, what happens if we teach ourselves and others that it is something else? How easy is it to point at the Catholic Church and guffaw about turning baptism by immersion into a sprinkle on the forehead? What happens if we convince ourselves that the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is a lifelong effort with an imperceptible conversion when God intended it to be something else? Have we ‘smarted’ ourselves out of the kingdom of God?

  4. What think ye?

    I have a hard time believing in a God that punishes one for another’s (or a group’s) transgression. If I understand your statement correctly you assert that God will take away the Gospel from the Gentiles in part because of this change in Doctrine. Suppose one is trying to live a good life (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.) – poof! the Gospel is taken away because his priesthood leaders changed something?

    Help me understand

  5. Anon,

    Let me try to clarify. The scripture that I referenced, 3 Nephi 16:10 says that the Gentiles will sin against the gospel and reject the fulness of the gospel. It was not God who caused this to happen.

    If you think about it, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. When the Jews rejected the gospel, God extended the gospel to the Gentiles. Cornelius was the first Gentile to receive the gospel and the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. That opened to proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles. What was the message to the Jews of that time? This is what Acts 13:46 says:

    “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you (meaning the Jews): but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

    So, after the Jews refused to accept the message of the gospel, the Gentiles were offered the opportunity. Did that mean all the Jews were left behind? No, as the scriptures indicate, those who accepted the gospel were ‘numbered with the people of God.’

    In 1 Nephi 13:42, this transition was prophesied:

    “And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”

    According to this quote, there are four times that Christ will manifest himself. By manifest, I am assuming that means a dispensation of the gospel.

    1. Christ will manifest himself to the Jews (his ministry among the Jews)
    2. Christ will manifest himself to the Gentiles ( after his crucifixion through Paul and others
    3. Christ will again manifest himself to the Gentiles ( the latter day restoration)
    4. Christ will again manifest himself to the Jews (the pending transition of the gospel to the Jews)

    I hope this helps to understand that these transitions between Jew and Gentile and Gentile and Jew were prophesied. It is happening according to God’s plan.

    In the end, it is only an individual thing. Each of us will be judged based on our actions. In 2 Nephi 30:2 it states:

    “For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel.”

    It won’t matter whether you are Jew or Gentile. What will matter is whether you have brought the gospel (as defined in the scriptures) into your life. What is the covenant that is discussed in the above scripture? I think it is defined in D&C 66:2:

    “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.”

    The everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel; the same gospel that is defined in the scriptures.

    In summary, God has laid out a plan to offer the gospel to both Jew and Gentile. It is not God that is taking away the gospel. Those who have it presented to them and reject it will lose it. Just as the house of Israel rejected the message so it prophesied that Gentiles will also reject it. Anyone who repents and comes unto Christ as outlined in 3 Nephi 30, will be numbered with the people of God.

    Does that help?

  6. For what ever it means from one mortal to another, You are right on!!!

    I think in the end this is the difference between a celestial being and a terrestrial being.

    It is the difference between one who goes into the marriage and who only participates in the marriage supper.

    This is the “testimony of Jesus” as opposed to one who is not valiant in his testimony.

    I, unfortunately, have not yet received the baptism of fire and the holy ghost. I have received a baptism from a church but do not rely on that baptism to give me exaltation.
    I have not been valiant in my testimony of Jesus as of yet. But I hope that one day the conversion of fire will take place in my sinful soul and cleanse it from the blood and sins of this generation. That is between me and God and has nothing to do with any church.

  7. Malachi,
    Thanks for the comments. I equate the baptism of fire with the pearl of great price. If I had to choose between all my worldly possessions and the experience of this second baptism, I would be a very poor man but rich in spirit. Enos had to pray constantly into the night to receive a remission of his sins. i would guess that each of us have a threshold we must reach. I encourage you to continue to seek this blessing.

    Perhaps this is a good time to provide an epilogue.

    It boils down to me to a series of questions. The answers either leave you comfortable in your current situation or should cause you to seek answers from the scriptures and from God.

    Each of these can be asked with respect to the scriptrues:

    What is the gospel?

    What is the doctrine of Christ?

    What must we do to be cleansed from sin?

    What is the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost?

    How does Christ define His Church?

    A detailed study of the answers to these questions, I believe, will bring the ‘student’ to an understanding of what God expects of each of us and his collective body, the church.

  8. There’s just one thing that bugs me about this discussion: it sounds too Calvinist. The implication seems to be that regardless of what we do, we are all “sinners in the hands of an angry God” waiting for providence to just happen to pick us for a thorough “born again” experience. If you don’t get it, too bad. No sanctification for you. Maybe Calvin was right, but if he was, I’d just as soon go to hell as be with a so-called god like that.

    Don’t get me wrong. We should be striving diligently for a spiritual cleansing. I also believe that a massive change must take place before we can enter even the lowest degrees of glory, much less the Celestial glory. Christ saves us from our sins, not in them (Helaman 5:10). But the scriptural examples given are exceptions, not the norm. Thus they warranted inclusion in the scriptures. Most of us must cling to faith and hope as an anchor (Ether 12:4) throughout our lives, believing that such a change can and will happen, even if it doesn’t happen in this life (Hebrews 11:13). That’s not to say it can’t happen in this life, but it usually doesn’t, and it is not a sign of unworthiness. It is simply a matter of accepting the Lord’s timetable and His eternal perspective.

    I pay attention to LDS conferences and the following Ensigns, and I simply haven’t found anything that contradicts the idea that a massive and thorough change must happen at some point. If so, it has been taken out of context. It is comforting for some of us sinners that getting better every day will hopefully at least count for something.

    Yes, I know. I’m always the contrarian. I’ve been called that by co-workers several times just today.

    These are really great thoughts, though. And I definitely am often frustrated that we in the church are not pushed beyond mediocrity enough.

  9. I think I see my mis-interpretation (about God punishing groups)…. “behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among THEM.” I interpreted ‘them’ as Gentiles (the first noun in that phrase). I guess it can also refer to those who committed the sins. English is sometimes a tough language in which to diagram a sentence.

    PS. Maybe I’m too simple, but here are my answers to your questions:

    What is the gospel? 1) love God & your neighbor

    What is the doctrine of Christ? 2) feed my (His) sheep

    What must we do to be cleansed from sin? confess to Him

    What is the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Not sure: might include an acknowledge of confession to His presence.

    How does Christ define His Church? I’d like to think its those that do 1) and 2) and follow the non-initiation of force principle.

  10. ETA: What must we do to be cleansed from sin? Confess to Him AND do restitution (as much as possible) to those we have harmed.

  11. Joseph,
    I am puzzled as to why you would say that the examples in the scriptures are the exception rather than the norm. As I look at it, Alma the younger wasn’t setting himself up as the exception when he communicated the following from Mosiah 27:24-25:

    “…behold, I have been born of the Sprirt. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;”

    It is my take on this scripture that we ALL must seek and achieve this second birth.

    I would not dispute that faith is an anchor as described in Ether 12:4. Faith provides a significant component in this. As you read further you find that is was ‘the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost.’ (Ether 12:14) This is also true of the people of King Benjamin of which this is recorded (Mosiah 4:2-3):

    “And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
    And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.”

    In addition to their ‘exceeding faith,’ these people demonstrated a significant level of humility. They saw themselves as ‘less than the dust of the earth.’ So I suggest that ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ with a large measure of faith is necessary to achieve a remission of our sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

    It is my hope that any who read this will not stop at faith and humility, but strive on, seeking sanctification through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

  12. Anon,
    Thanks for your answers. I hope that would help each of us to determine where the other stands. I would like to add some scripture references and comments to your answers. My original question and your answer is shown in bold.

    What is the gospel? 1) love God & your neighbor

    Your answer is interesting to me. A couple years ago I was talking to a pair of LDS missionaries and asked them the same question. The junior companion quickly answered: ‘The gospel is love.’ While that is a commendable answer, I would suggest that there are three key places where the Lord says ‘this is my gospel.’ I take these to be very important in understanding how we are to define the gospel. These are found in 3 Nephi 27:20-21 (13-21), D&C 22:11-12 and D&C 39:6. I tried to spotlight in my post why it is important that we have a clear and concise definition of what the gospel is.

    What is the doctrine of Christ? 2) feed my (His) sheep

    As with the gospel, I have found three places where Christ defines his doctrine. Again, I believe these are critical in understanding what is expected of us. Consult 2 Nephi 31-2 through 32:7, 3 Nephi 11:32-40 and D&C 10:67-69. You may note that in association with the last two is the admonition not to ‘declare more or less than this.’

    What must we do to be cleansed from sin? confess to Him

    Please read 3 Nephi 12:1-2. You will find that Jesus Christ will baptize us with fire and with the Holy Ghost which provides us with a remission of our sins. Also see 2 Nephi 31:17-18.

    What is the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Not sure: might include an acknowledge of confession to His presence.

    There are plenty of examples of this baptism in the scriptures. Certainly a good place to start is with Nicodemus in John3:1-5 and follow it up with Mosiah chapters 4 and 5.

    How does Christ define His Church? I’d like to think its those that do 1) and 2) and follow the non-initiation of force principle.

    Christ stated in D&C10:67-68:
    “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.”

    I would suggest that coming unto Christ is equivalent to receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost from Him.

  13. We certainly can agree that we should be striving to move beyond just faith and humility to the Baptism of Fire. That should be our real purpose in life instead of worrying about how big our house is or what kind of car we drive, or whether we have the latest cell phone, or whatever. We cannot be saved without charity, and since charity is not a part of our normal natures, it does take a pretty remarkable change to bring that about.

  14. This is off-topic, but I would like to receive the password to read the protected posts. Is that possible? Anyone know how to contact the Anarchist?

    Thanks

  15. Thank you

  16. Sorry, I’m reading back posts here, but you made a comment I wanted to comment on real quick..

    “How is it that someone who prophesied in Christ’s name and cast out devils could not be fit to enter His kingdom? I would suggest that ‘being known by Christ’ is more than we may attribute to it. According to 3 Nephi 12:1, it is Jesus Christ that will baptize us with fire and the Holy Ghost. Could it be that this is the way that Christ comes to know us?”

    This is precisely what it means to know Christ. Knowing implies a covenant made. Making a covenant with Christ. When he comes to Baptise you with fire, that covenant is made, you recieve his name and literally Know him. You’re NOT made sure, but you enter the path of knowledge through covenant.

    thus, he shall come first to those who “profess to know my name” but he did not know them. This is a direct reference to the baptism of fire, and the rejection of it by the Gentile covenant people who said they had it, but really didn’t.

  17. Milkman,
    The making of a covenant is exactly what the people of King Benjamin did after they received the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost.

    “5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.
    6 And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant.
    7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”
    Mosiah 5:5-7

    At the time of the covenant, we are born of God spiritually. What person would not know His sons and daughters? Those who reach this point ‘shall be called by the name of Christ. (Mosiah 5:9) Of course the rest of Mosiah chapter 5 clearly delineates what it means to have entered the covenant and retained the name of Christ in our lives.

    Spek

  18. “How is it that someone who prophesied in Christ’s name and cast out devils could not be fit to enter His kingdom? This question by Milkman makes us think that a person can receive a portion of the gift that can cast out devils, can fall away from grace either known to him or not i don’t know, but still retain the gift in a fallen state. I guess there must be a balance maintained and that might be charity as suggested by LDS Anarchist in some of his posts or retaining remission of one’s sins. I’m guessing.


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