Joseph Smith

    Prophet of God

    The Authority to Baptize

    The Church of Jesus Christ Restored


    "I have lived to see my father baptized into the true church of Jesus Christ!" Joseph Smith exclaimed as his father came out of the waters of baptism the day the Church was organized, April 6, 1830. 1

    A year earlier, May 15, 1829, while Joseph translated passages of the Book of Mormon about the necessity of baptism, he and Oliver Cowdery had asked the Lord who had authority 2 to baptize in His name. "The voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us," Oliver later wrote, and a heavenly messenger, John the Baptist, "came down clothed with glory." 3 He conferred upon the two men the Aaronic Priesthood, 4 which holds the priesthood keys 5 "of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion 6 for the remission of sins." 7

    John the Baptist directed the two men to baptize each other, and they soon also baptized others converted to the restored gospel. Through priesthood ordination they authorized others to perform baptism by immersion. From that small beginning, many millions of people worldwide have been baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


    Joseph Smith Quotes 

    [Baptism] is a sign and a commandment which God has set for man to enter into His kingdom. Those who seek to enter in any other way will seek in vain; for God will not receive them, neither will the angels acknowledge their works as accepted, for they have not obeyed the ordinances, nor attended to the signs which God ordained for the salvation of man, to prepare him for, and give him a title to, a celestial glory. (History of the Church, 4:554.)

    In the former ages of the world, before the Savior came in the flesh, "the saints" were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to come, because there never was any other name whereby men could be saved; and after he came in the flesh and was crucified, then the saints were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, that they might be buried in baptism like him, and be raised in glory like him, that as there was but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and father of us all [see Ephesians 4:5-6], even so there was but one door to the mansions of bliss. (Times and Seasons, Sept. 1, 1842, 905; spelling modernized.)


    Oliver Cowdery, Witness to the Book of Mormon 

    The Lord, who is rich in mercy and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon Him in fervent manner . . . condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. (Quoted in Joseph Smith—History 1:71, footnote.)

    Lucy Mack Smith, Mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith 

    "Joseph stood on the shore when his father came out of the water and as he took him by the hand," remembered Lucy Mack Smith, "he cried out Oh! my God I have lived to see my father baptized into the true Church of Jesus Christ! and covered his face in his father's bosom and wept aloud for joy as did Joseph of old when he beheld his father coming up into the land of Egypt." (Lucy Mack Smith, "The History of Lucy Smith," ca. 1845, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; punctuation modernized.)


    Why is baptism necessary?

    The Savior taught that all must be baptized to enter the kingdom of heaven. He established the pattern when He submitted to baptism Himself at the hands of John the Baptist (see Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 16:16; John 3:5).

    Why must baptism be administered by one holding the proper authority?

    The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that "all the ordinances, systems, and administrations on the earth are of no use to the children of men, unless they are ordained and authorized of God; for nothing will save a man but a legal administrator; for none other will be acknowledge either by God or angels" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 274).

    Who can be baptized?

    By revelation, we learn that baptism may be administered only to those who have reached the age of eight, which is the age of accountability (see Moroni 8:9–15; D&C 20:71–74). A candidate for baptism must demonstrate humility, desire, contrition, and a determination to serve the Lord (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37).


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    [1] Lucy Mack Smith, "The History of Lucy Smith," ca. 1845, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

    [2] The permission granted to men on earth called or ordained to act for and in behalf of God the Father or Jesus Christ in doing God's work (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Authority," 23–24).

    [3] Quoted in Joseph Smith—History 1:71, footnote.

    [4] The Aaronic Priesthood deals with the temporal and outward ordinances of the law and the gospel. It holds the keys of the ministering of angels, of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism. The Aaronic Priesthood was restored to the earth in this dispensation on May 15, 1829. John the Baptist conferred it on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the banks of the Susquehanna River, near Harmony, Pennsylvania (The Guide to the Scriptures, "Aaronic Priesthood," 7–8).

    [5] Keys are the rights of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God's priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys. The President of the Church holds all priesthood keys (see D&C 107:65–67, 91–92; 132:7; The Guide to the Scriptures, "Keys of the Priesthood," 141).

    [6] An ordinance in which a person is immersed in water and brought up out of the water. It is necessary to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Gospel Principles, 377).

    [7] Joseph Smith—History 1:69.