This is a talk I have used when I have been asked to speak at convert baptisms. It is way more detailed than the simple talk I use for youth baptisms.
PREMORTAL REALM - Before we were born, we lived as spirit children with our Heavenly Father. God loved and treasured each of His sons and daughters and we were taught many things in His presence. We were very happy living with our Heavenly Father, but we knew that in order for us to continue to progress, we needed to have more experiences.
HEAVENLY FATHER’S PLAN - Heavenly Father presented a plan to us. This plan involved receiving a physical body and coming to this world to gain earthly experience. Each of us in this room, each person on this earth and everyone who ever has lived or will live on this earth accepted Heavenly Father’s plan. We knew that we would be able to learn and grow through experiences here on earth, and that we would be able to progress toward perfection.
AGENCY - God will not force us to be perfect. Before we were born we had our agency (the ability to make our own choices) and we have that ability now. He has given us agency and the chance to grow and learn from our mistakes and trials. Not one of us will make it through this life without making mistakes. But in His wisdom and infinite love, He has given us a way to become clean.
RETURN TO HIM - Heavenly Father wants us to come back and live with Him after our earth life is through. He has given us the ability to obtain eternal life. He has given us the opportunity to be together as families throughout eternity. He has so many blessings that He wants to give to us. He also has given us the tools and guidance we need to be worthy to return to live with him someday.
PRINCIPLES & ORDINANCES - Today, just as in the days of Jesus, there are certain principles and ordinances of the gospel which the Lord said we must learn and obey. A principle is a belief or teaching. An ordinance is a rite or ceremony. The first two principles of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance. Baptism is the first ordinance of the gospel. One of the instructions the Lord gave to his apostles was, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 19-20. The second ordinance of the gospel is receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which Brother Johns will talk about.
COVENANT - Today is an exciting day. You are about to participate in your very first ordinance of the gospel and make your first covenant with Heavenly Father. You have shown that you have growing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that you have a repentant heart. I know this because I see your desire and willingness to be baptized and I see peace and purity when I look at you. You will be baptized in a few minutes and then tomorrow you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I feel sure that Heavenly Father is very pleased with you and your decisions.
As I mentioned you are about to make your first covenant. A covenant is like a two-way promise. When you are baptized, you promise Heavenly Father that you are willing to remember and follow Jesus and that you will keep His commandments.
In turn, our Heavenly Father promises that he will forgive you of your mistakes and weaknesses when you repent. He also promises that you can have the gift of the Holy Ghost with you and that you can obtain eternal life someday. It seems to me that we are getting the good end of this deal.
Why should we be baptized?
There are many reasons to be baptized. Here are five important ones.
1) We must be baptized for the remission of our sins. If we repent, and are baptized, our sins are forgiven through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We need to be baptized to become clean again.
2) We must be baptized to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
3) We must be baptized before we can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
4) We must be baptized to show obedience.
Jesus was baptized while he lived on the earth. He was pure and had never sinned, but he needed to be baptized to show us the way and to show us the importance of this ordinance. He said that his baptism was necessary “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-15).
5) We must be baptized to enter the Celestial Kingdom.
All of Heavenly Father’s children need to be baptized. Being baptized is the only way there is for us to return and live with Heavenly Father after we are finished with our turn on earth. Being baptized and going under the water washes you clean. And only people who are clean from all their sins can live with Heavenly Father. Jesus said: “Whoso believeth in me, and is baptized… shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Baptism is the gateway through which we enter the celestial kingdom. There is no other way.
How should we be baptized?
Baptism by immersion (or going completely under water) by one having the proper authority is the only true and acceptable way of being baptized. When we are immersed in water and come out again, it is symbolic of death and resurrection. Our sinful life ends when we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. After these ordinances we start a new life.
SACRAMENT – As human beings we are forgetful. It is easy to forget the covenants we make. Heavenly Father has provided a reminder for us to help us keep our covenants. We have the opportunity to take the sacrament each week at church. When we take the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenants every week. When the sacrament is blessed and passed, it is a good opportunity to sit and think about the promises we have made to our Heavenly Father and the promises he has made to us. I tend to think about mistakes I have made that week and things I need to improve in my life. But most importantly I remember that Jesus died and was resurrected that we might live again some day. And that he suffered in Gethesmane to atone for our sins so that we could live with Him and with our family someday if we repent of our sins, keep His commandments and live worthily.
YOU’RE CLEAN - You are so lucky! After you are baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost you will be absolutely, positively, perfectly clean. All the mistakes you have made in your whole life so far will be washed away. You have a wonderful life ahead of you.
ENDURE TO THE END - The journey is just beginning though. After you have been baptized (baptism by water) and have been confirmed (which is referred to as baptism of fire), you will still be faced with challenges, trials and temptations throughout your life. But you have the tools to overcome these things. Heavenly Father has given us commandments to keep us safe, scriptures to help us navigate through life’s tough roads, the ability to talk to Heavenly Father through prayer and to have our prayers answered. He has given us a living prophet on the earth to lead and guide us during these challenging times. He has given us Temples where we can make more covenants and be sealed together as families. You will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost which will be a blessing and protection unto you. I bear my testimony that these things are true.