“And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those thatmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in thename of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”
I have always loved Alma’s description of the baptismal covenant. I taught these verses so often as a missionary and they have never lost their profound power.
The first part of the covenant begins with a new converts desire “to come into the fold of God and be called his people.” The formal ritual means that you are joining with other like-minded believers in a highly public and visible fashion. It isn’t enough to merely want to privately follow him, but one must be willing to enter into his fold and be known as one of his sheep.
Second, the covenant involves a willingness to bear the burdens of others. This includes morning with those who mourn and comforting those who need comfort. Service is ultimately the connective tissue of the gospel. Without it, all of the other principles and practices fall apart. It is when we are serving our fellowman that we are truly becoming more like our savior.
Third, we must “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in places.” It isn’t enough to be Sunday Christians or to worship only occasionally. Our very lives and character must be a witness of God. And we must be willing to boldly share our faith and testimony through word and deed.
Next, we also must be baptized in the name of the Lord and correspondingly with his priesthood power. This power is necessary in order to effectuate the covenant. If we are baptized in another name, or by another power, then we have no guarantee of the promise.
We also promise to “serve him and keep his commandments.” Continued blessings of justification and sanctification flow from God when we strive to do righteously and to keep God’s will. Disobedience without repentance breaks the covenant and leaves us without the promised blessings.
Finally, we must do all of these things “even until death.” It is only by continuing to do these things without failing or falling away that we can be sanctified and become beings that can stand in God’s presence.
The guaranteed blessings that flow from keep this covenant are inspiring. In addition to the benefit of having our burdens born by other members of the covenant, we receive the spirit poured out upon as “more abundantly” to bless and guide us in life. But most significantly of all, participation in this covenant guarantees that we are “redeemed of God” and “numbered with those of the first resurrection.” And this is the promise of “eternal life.” Nothing can be more meaningful than that.