There is a specific Strait and Narrow Way which we don’t often speak of, but which is clearly defined in scripture. It is of sweet worth to understand what the Strait Path actually is because it gives one faith and hope to finally realize they are actually upon the path, or it gives bright light to others who are seeking with all their hearts to be on the path. Strait means “strict or rigid”, it also can mean “narrow and confining”. It doesn’t necessarily mean arrow straight, without curves.
2 Nephi 31:4-16 contain a powerful discourse on why Jesus Christ was baptized by John, concluding that the “straitness of the path” (v 9) required it of even the Son of God, and therefore even more of us who are not holy. Nephi continues;
“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. . .” (v 13)
Nephi then concludes, “the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; then cometh the remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life…” (v17)
Here’s the process in list form:
- Baptism by water
- Remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost
The important point here is that we are not actually upon or in the strait path until we have received a remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost.
Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost
Joseph Smith taught: “The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessary and inseparably connected. (“Discourses,” page 360.)
“You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism in water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.” (“Teachings” page 314.)
In other words, the promises and fulfillment of baptism, which is a full and eternal remission of sins, does not happen until we receive the “baptism of the Holy Ghost”. The other view is also true, we can’t receive the blessings of the reception of the Holy Ghost, which is to be cleansed by “fire” and to thereafter have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost with us, without the previous reality of having our sins fully remitted via baptism by water. This makes these two ordinances essentially one, for they operate as one, and are fulfilled as one.
Alma the younger experienced this “Baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost”. He experienced this change in the same order as our partial list above. Alma first repented of his sins fully and quite dramatically during three days of terrible suffering. He described this glorious retooling of his soul thus:
24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
25 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;
26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
27 I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off.
28 Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.
29 My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more. (Mosiah 27:24-29)
Alma described this grand change much later in his life, saying “I could remember my pains no more,” and that “I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.” He also attested that he felt joy “as exceeding as was my pain” and that he was filled with a “marvelous light”. (Alma 36:20)
King Benjamin’s people also proclaimed that 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.” (Mosiah 4:3) They also testified that the “Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent . . . has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually”. (Mosiah 5:2, see also: Helaman 5:41-49; 3 Nephi 9:20; Acts 2:1-4; 9:1-18)
We may conclude that the terms listed below are referring to the same mighty change humankind experiences when they are Baptized of Fire and of the Spirit. As you ponder this list, I invite you to also ponder why the same thing has so many names and titles, why it is mentioned so many times in scripture, and why it has so many glorious gifts to bestow upon us.
- Baptism of the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:17)
- Baptism of Fire (D&C 20:41; D&C 33:11; D&C 39:6; 2 Nephi 31:13-14)
- Baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 31:13-14, 17)
- Redeemed of the Lord (Mosiah 27:25)
- Born of the Spirit (John 3:6; Moses 6:65; Mosiah 27:24)
- Born Again (Mosiah 27:28; Alma 5:14; Alma 22:15; Alma 36:5; Alma 38:6)
- Born of God (Mosiah 27:25; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 5:1,5)
- Changed from carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness (Mosiah 27:25)
- Redeemed of God (Mosiah 27:25)
- Take upon you the name of Christ (Mosiah 5:8)
- Called by the Name of Christ (Mosiah 5:9)
- Becoming Sons and Daughters of God (Mosiah 5: 7, 25-29; Mosiah 27:25)
- Becoming New Creatures in Christ (Romans 6:6; Mosiah 27:26)
- Inheriting the Kingdom of God (Mosiah 27:25)
- Repenting nigh unto death (Mosiah 27:28)
- Snatched out of Everlasting Burning (Mosiah 27:28)
- Redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity (Mosiah 27:29)
- I am snatched (Mosiah 27:28)
- Exceeding great joy (Mosiah 5:2)
- Filled with marvelous light (Mosiah 27:5)
- Filled with joy (Mosiah 4:3)
- Receiving a remission of one’s sins (Mosiah 5:2)
- Having peace of conscience (Mosiah 5:2)
- Exceeding Faith in Jesus Christ (Mosiah 5:2)
- Mighty Change (Alma 5:2, 12-14)
- No more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (Mosiah 5:2)
- Obtaining great views of things to come (Mosiah 5:3)
- Willing to covenant to obey God all the rest of your life. (Mosiah 5:5)
- Being Spiritually Begotten (Mosiah 5:7)
- Hearts are changed through faith (Mosiah 5:7)
- Filled with hope and perfect love (Moroni 8:26)
- Become a Saint through the atonement of Christ (Mosiah 3:19)
- Putting off the Natural Man (Mosiah 3:19)
- Become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to the Father. (Mosiah 3:19)
- Washing your garments in the blood of the Lamb (3 Nephi 27:19)
- Sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 27:20)
- Stand spotless before me (3 Nephi 27:20)
- Filled with the Holy Ghost ( Alma 36:24)
- Receiving a remission of your sins (Mosiah 4:3; Moses 7:59)
Next on the Un-Blog: Obtaining the Baptism of Fire and of the Holy Ghost
© March 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.