In partaking of the sacrament, we can renew the effects of our baptism. When we desire a remission of our sins through the Atonement of our Savior, we are commanded to repent and come to him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In the waters of baptism we witness to the Lord that we have repented of our sins and are willing to take his name upon us and serve him to the end. The effects are described by Nephi: “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost”. That last promise is fulfilled as a result of our receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The renewal of our covenants by partaking of the sacrament should also be preceded by repentance, so we come to that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Then, as we renew our baptismal covenants and affirm that we will “always remember him”, the Lord will renew the promised remission of our sins, under the conditions and at the time he chooses. One of the primary purposes and effects of this renewal of covenants and cleansing from sin is “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]”.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man is born of the spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Shall we admit that Jesus spoke the truth, or shall man say that his doctrine is true and Jesus spoke that which is not true? Which shall we do? There is no alternative but to admit that Jesus is true, and will save on no other condition than that laid down in the Scriptures, and that all who preach any other doctrine take the testimony of men instead of the testimony of Jesus, or that the Christian world with their varied opinions and creeds are true and that Jesus is untrue. . . This is plain talk, my friends. Can you mistake it? Can you gain any idea from what I say except what I mean–let God be true, if it makes every man a liar. I think my words are so pointed and emphatic that no person can mistake them. Did Jesus say, “Except a man is born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God?” Yes, all Christians will admit that. Then do you think there was one plan of salvation for Nicodemus and another for you and me? It is all folly for any person to expect any such thing! Come with the sword of the Spirit! Let the whole world of Christendom come with their arguments and Scriptures, and let us argue these things together! Let us lay them before the people and see who is right and who is wrong.
As each of us was baptized, we entered into a solemn covenant with our Heavenly Father. A covenant is an agreement between God and His children upon the earth, and it is important to understand that God determines the conditions of all gospel covenants. You and I do not decide the nature or elements of a covenant. Rather, exercising our moral agency, we accept the terms and requirements of a covenant as our Eternal Father has established them. The saving ordinance of baptism must be administered by one who has proper authority from God. The fundamental conditions of the covenant into which we entered in the waters of baptism are these: we witnessed that we were willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, that we would always remember Him, and that we would keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. In other words, baptism by water leads to the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.
I want to discuss some of the spiritual lessons we can learn from the process by which a cucumber becomes a pickle. . . We are instructed to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness”, to become “new creature[s]” in Christ, to put off “the natural man”, and to experience “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually”. Please note that the conversion described in these verses is mighty, not minor—a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are. Indeed, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah”. As we choose to follow the Master, we choose to be changed—to be spiritually reborn.