The best explanation of the relationship between baptism and the Holy Ghost comes from Alma's record. He is an odd source, however, because he had been “consecrated a priest” by the wicked King Noah. King Noah chose him because he was “lifted up in the pride of his heart.” (Mosiah 11: 5.) Therefore, using some of our present false belief system we would conclude his “authority” was compromised and his heart too hard for God’s purposes.
Repentance is a wonderful thing. Clearly it was Alma’s repentance which then qualified him to be useful to the Lord. Although he was one of King Noah’s priests (Mosiah 17: 1-2), when he heard the testimony of God’s messenger, Abinadi, he knew what he heard was true. (Id.) Therefore he knew he must respond to it, despite his record of wickedness and unbelief.
Alma recorded Abinadi’s testimony, and then taught it to others as the truth. When a small number began to believe, Alma followed the pattern we saw in the last post. He asked God for the necessary authority for his own (and those who believed him) to repent. He asked God to recognize their baptism as a sign of repentance, and to send the Holy Ghost to be with them:
And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord. 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 that mourn; 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 the name 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? And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts. And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world. And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit. And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury himself again in the water. And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God. (Mosiah 18: 7-16.)
Alma did not baptize until he first, just as Christ instructed His twelve to do, prayed in “mighty prayer” asking for God’s acceptance and approval. God gave it to Alma as He would later do with the twelve disciples. Then, with the Spirit of the Lord upon him, Alma had God’s authority to act. Or in other words he was qualified by God’s priesthood to proceed. Thereupon “having authority from Almighty God” Alma baptized. The efficacy of the ordinance was proven by the result it achieved: Helam came out of the water "being filled with the Spirit.” Or, in other words, the baptism resulted in the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This ordinance performed by Alma was exactly as Christ’s ordinance at the hands of John the Baptist. a baptism that was recognized and accepted by heaven and proven effective because the Holy Ghost was the witness.
The 4th Article of Faith says: “We believe that 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 do believe that, don’t we? However, the way the “Laying on of hands” is to happen must be in conformity with the Gospel of Christ. Meaning that if Christ lays hands on a man and commissions him to do this work, and then instructs him to pray to the Father in mighty prayer to be authorized to proceed, and the man follows through and obtains that authorization from the Father, it is possible for him to then “lay on hands” and bestow the gift. If it were otherwise we would have a “changeable God” (Moroni 8: 18) and He would “cease to be God” because He cannot change. (Mormon 9: 19.)
Christ’s Gospel requires man to connect with God for it to be effective. Baptism is an ordinance belonging to heaven, and is designed to reconnect man to heaven. Baptism does not induct a person into an organization. It is between the individual and God.
The LDS Church may perform baptisms, but when a candidate has been baptized they are not yet a member of the LDS Church. It requires a “confirmation” to induct the person into the LDS Church. If it were otherwise, then participation in the organization would be paramount to salvation, It is not.
Baptism remains independent of organizational membership and participation. A person could be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and never belong to any earthly church organization (LDS, RLDS, COC, FLDS, etc.). This is in spite of what all these organizations may claim for themselves or how much they may want to control people, beliefs, and the resources of believers. Believers and converts may be told there is a need to belong to an earthly organization, but that is not required if the Book of Mormon is true. Saving belief is predicated on a relationship between the individual and God. Baptism demonstrates this is the case. Even an LDS Church baptism demonstrates this truth. If a convert were baptized, and then refused to be confirmed a member, they would still be baptized. If they were repentant and had faith in Christ, they would still receive the Holy Ghost. However, they would not be a member of the LDS Church if they are not "confirmed" as a member.
Now in the case of Alma above and in Christ’s instructions about baptism (3 Ne. 11: 25), the ordinance is performed by someone who has “authority” given to them from Christ. The ordinance as Christ directed it to be performed requires these words: “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” (Id.)
In contrast, the baptism rites of the LDS Church do not use these words, but substitutes the word “commission” for “authority.” The LDS ordinance is as follows: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” (D&C 20: 73.)
This LDS baptism can be effective, if the conditions of repentance and faith in Christ are met by the candidate. However, it is not effective if these conditions are not met. The same Section of the D&C describe the conditions to be qualified for baptism: “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.” (D&C 20: 37.) These are the same conditions Alma referred to before he performed baptisms at the Waters of Mormon.
The “confirmation” process used by the LDS Church requires laying on hands to “confirm [you] a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and is accompanied by the admonition to “receive the Holy Ghost.” This is done by church elders holding the office of “elder” through common consent.
There is no such thing as “elder” priesthood. Elder is a church office. It is obtained by common consent, just like relief society president, and sunday school teacher, and scout leader. There is no priesthood called “teacher” or “deacon” or “patriarch” or “seventy” or any of the other offices in the church associated with priesthood. There are three kinds of priesthood. The LDS Church claims to have two: Melchizedek and Aaronic (including the Levitical) priesthoods. This is based on the language in Section 107 describing the priesthood that was in the LDS Church at the time the revelation was given: “There are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.” (D&C 107: 1.)
This statement in Section 107 would be akin to saying: "Obama is the President of the United States." It is true - at this moment. It will not be true after January 2017. But it is true at this moment. Likewise, it was true in April 1835 that there were, at that moment, some people in the church as then constituted who had been given the Melchizedek Priesthood, and others who had been given the Aaronic Priesthood. But it is equally true that not EVERY member of the church in April 1835 had one or the other. Nor is it true that the condition of the church in April 1835 is the same as it is at this moment. Something that is a fact at one moment can change in the next. It is not appropriate to quote a statement about April 1835 to claim something in August 2014.
In the preceding post is a list of the twenty-three men who received High Priesthood (later called Melchizedek Priesthood) in June 1831. Their history shows that most of them abandoned their right to High Priesthood. If they could lose it, then anyone could. If you doubt that then you do not believe the scriptures. Do you really think Section 121 is untrue? Do you really believe once it is conferred it cannot be lost? Have you not likewise learned by sad experience that it is the nature of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose, will begin to immediately exercise unrighteous dominion? Do you think they remain approved by the Powers of Heaven when they exercise control, dominion and compulsion on the souls of men? If you believe the conditions in the LDS Church today are exactly the same as in April 1835, or was even was the same on the morning of June 28, 1844 when we lost Joseph and Hyrum, then you do not understand the scriptures. (D&C 121: 34-41.)
We lost Joseph and Hyrum June 27, 1844. This changed the authority inside the church. The survivors thought they needed a leader. They voted to follow Brigham Young and the Twelve. No one attempted to resolve the question by revelation from God. Once they gave common consent, we forever after have proceeded on the assumption that was enough to keep intact everything heaven gave through Joseph Smith. Even more, we thought we could then forget, ignore, discard, contradict and/or change what heaven gave to us through Joseph Smith, even when the revelations commanded us not to do so.
The offices of the LDS Church have been filled by common consent, and the office holders have gone forward relying on a “commission” from Jesus Christ to perform LDS Church ordinances for nearly two centuries. When a candidate comes forward repenting of their sins, believing in Christ, and asking for God’s approval of their baptism, they qualify for baptism. Then the gift of the Holy Ghost comes upon them and they can progress in truth and light by obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Christ. This is His Gospel.
Baptism and the Holy Ghost happen prior to and independent of membership in any church institution, even in the LDS Church's process. The organization does not get to assert itself until the person is “confirmed” into the church. Once that happens, the person is entitled to all the benefits of membership in the organization, including common consent voting to fill offices in the church. However, removing them from membership cannot affect baptism. That ordinance came before their confirmation and before they are members of the LDS Church. Throwing a person out of the church may remove entitlement to vote in common consent proceedings, but cannot affect the person’s repentance, gift of the Holy Ghost, or standing before God. Some LDS Church members have conflated all these things into one and then allow the hierarchy to insert themselves between them and their salvation. That is Telestial, false and will damn those who believe it, and greatly condemn those who teach it. Ultimately they will suffer God’s wrath on this earth and eternal fire when dead, being filled with regret for their misbehavior. (D&C 76: 99-104.)
The Gospel requires God's direct involvement. It always has and always will. Commandments and promises given to others in the New Testament do not belong to us. Likewise, specific individuals given specific promises by God in Joseph's day do not belong to us. We do not "inherit" covenants belonging to others. We must have God's covenant given to us if we are going to be saved. Otherwise we are no different than the Lutherans, Presbyterians and Catholics denounced by Christ as teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, only having a form of godliness lacking power. (JS-H 1: 19.)