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Gramps,

We are taught that children under the age of accountability need not be baptized and are save in the Lord. Though we also know that “except a man be born of the water…” Christ was also baptized to “fulfill the law.” Will children that have died be baptized in the millennium? Don’t they also need to have all the saving ordinances performed? Thank you for your time.

Ron, from California

Dear Ron,

There are both conditional and unconditional antecedents to the remission of sins by the Savior. To those who are accountable for their actions, the Savior requires repentance from sin. Baptism is offered to those who, through their faith in Christ, have repented of their sins, and is the sign of a covenant that they make with the Lord to remain clean an pure. The actual covenant of which baptism is the sign includes the promise that we make with the Lord to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to obey his commandments and to remain true and faithful all the days of our life. If we do that, then he will forgive us for the sins we have committed. If not, we must pay for them ourselves. The power of baptism lies not in being immersed under the water but by complying with the covenant that it represents. Orson Pratt said,

“It will do no person any good to be baptized a hundred times if his baptism is not connected with true faith in God and in Jesus Christ, and in his revelations and commandments; and unless he sincerely and truly repents of his sins, reforms his life and enters into a covenant with God to serve him in all righteousness, humility, meekness and lowliness of heart, his baptism would be good for nothing, it would not be acknowledged in heaven, it would not be recorded in the archives of eternity to his justification in the great judgment day” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.17, p.150-1). (See also D&C 22)

The unconditional antecedent to the remission of sins is the absence of accountability. For all those who are not responsible for their actions the Lord has paid to the demands of justice the full price demanded for the sins that they have committed-unconditionally, fully, completely. The price has been paid, they are free and clean from the results or the effects of any wrong thing that they have done. They are not in a position to make and honor a covenant of obedience, so the covenant is not required of them, and the sign thereof therefore is not necessary. That great atoning sacrifice did not represent a postponement of justice, it satisfied justice! Moroni has given us this wise and stern counsel-

But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism! Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell. Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity, for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell (Moroni 8:12-14).

Gramps

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