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Dear Gramps,

I have been having a discussion with a few people lately over obtaining a remission of sins. I can clearly read in Preach My Gospel that baptism and the bestowal of the Gift of the Holy Ghost brings a remission of sins. I also have many other sources which suggest this… But my friend suggests and says he has read quotes from Prophets which say there are other ways to receive a remission of sins, such as after a baptism, a priesthood blessing or sincere repentance. The way I understand it is that as a member of the Mormon Church there are those avenues, but what about a non-member? Can they receive a remission of sins before receiving the holy Ghost? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks,





Dear David,

Baptism and the reception of the Holy Ghost are indeed a necessary condition for the forgiveness of sin, but they are not a sufficient condition. I’m sure that you agree that another necessary and key condition for the remission of sin is full and complete repentance. For instance, as we are told in the New Testament,

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4)

President David O. McKay said,

“Purity lies in the affection. It ‘unites with and enjoys God.’ It is the pure in heart that shall see God. No person of impure heart, though baptized a hundred times, can approach him.” (David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay, p.15)

Baptism is the sign of a covenant of obedience that we make with the Lord after we have repented. It is compliance with that covenant that brings remission of sin, not just the making of the covenant. If after proper repentance and baptism by requisite priesthood authority a person sins again, that person need not be baptized again. However, that sin must be repented of and the covenant of obedience must be renewed in order to receive forgiveness of the new sin. But it is not necessary to repeat the sign of the covenant. One valid baptism is all that is required.

Your question, however, refers to the possibility of forgiveness of sin without receiving and making the baptismal covenant administered by the authorized servants of the Lord. In the Gospel of John we read the words of Jesus, which say,

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

So according to the words of the Savior unless a person is baptized and receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he cannot be forgiven on his sins. President Joseph F. Smith said it in these terms—”The change that comes with repentance and baptism comes today to every son and daughter of God who repents of his or her sins, who humble themselves before the Lord, and who seek forgiveness and remission of sin by baptism by immersion, by one having authority to administer this sacred ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe, p.96)






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