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Baptism is as ancient as the beginning of the world which began completely immersed in water. (Gen 1:2, 9-10) All of mankind is likewise born as the immersive placental waters break forth. So, it was intentionally symbolic when Nicodemus asked what he needed to enter the kingdom of heaven, that Christ told him to be reborn “of water and of the spirit.” (John 3:5) It is also instructive that Christ presented himself to John, at the river Jordan, to be baptized. Good Jews from the beginning understood baptism as a symbolic washing to cleanse and purify. But with the beginning of what became the Christian era, Christ taught John that baptism was not only for the remission of sins, but also to fulfill all righteousness, since Christ was sinless. (Matt 3:11-17) As such, it became the symbol of the birth gateway into the kingdom for every convert, as Nicodemus learned. Paul later instructed that with baptism, we symbolize the progressive death of the carnal person at this rebirth. (Romans 6:3-6) Should we also notice with all this birth metaphor, that behind each scriptural occurrence of the word baptism is the Greek word “baptizo” meaning to immerse, rather than “bapto” meaning to dip or moisten? It was clear to them, however, that rebirth was not an event but a process actuated by the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit; hence “born of water and of the spirit.”

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In Ephesians 4:5, we learn that there is, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism"—not many different ways to baptize.

One of the key factors of a proper baptism is that afterward a person has hands laid upon his or her head, by those holding the priesthood of God, and they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (See Acts 8:17-20 - below):

"Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."

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Tradition, scriptural interpretation, and Hellenization gradually created differences in the manner of baptism into Christianity. With the latter-day restoration of Christ’s church came another ancient testament of Jesus Christ called “The Book of Mormon.” Purpose, manner, and importance were, thereby, clarified as when the prophet Alma baptized, “buried in the water.” Or, as in this plea from the first prophetic writer in this testament:

"5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! 13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost 15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. 16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved." 2 Nephi 31

Later in their history Christ Himself would visit them as a resurrected being. His first instructions to them included,

"On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. 23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. 24 And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: 25 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. 26 And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water." 3 Nephi 11:22-26

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This FARO article revised by Dr. Craig R. Frogley

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