In one crucial incident, Christ did a clear progression of things in the first hours of his visit to the people at Bountiful, as described in the third book of Nephi, chapter 11:
- God the Father announces and identifies Jesus and that he is the son of God (v. 3-7);
- Jesus show each person that he was the promised and crucified Messiah who had been prophecied would come (v. 8-17);
- Jesus calls Nephi and others and gives them the power to baptize (v. 18-22);
- Jesus explains exactly how to perform a baptism and denounces (traditional Jewish) disputations on baptism and doctrine (v. 23-30);
- The first rendition of the doctrine of Christ and his promise that the Holy Ghost will validate its truth (v. 31-36);
- The second rendition of the doctrine of Christ (v. 37);
- The third rendition of the doctrine of Christ (v. 38);
- There is nothing more or less in the doctrine of Christ. Blessing to them that preach this as Christ's doctrine and punishments for those who teach other things as the doctrine of Christ (v. 39-40); and
- Charge to Nephi and his brethren to go and teach these things. (v. 41)
There is a definite line of authority to baptise established, from God to Christ to Nephi and others. There is instruction on the authorized performance of the ordinance of baptism specifically to those newly authorized to perform it. There is a specific charge against speculation toward alteration of the baptism ordinance and the doctrine surrounding it. The doctrine of Christ is the singular importance of repentance and baptism to being saved and inheriting the kingdom of God, repeated three times. Finally, those authorized to baptize are instructed to preach the doctrine of repentance and baptism to everyone.
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.I emphasized a phrase above because there is a strong tendency for many people to say that there is nothing more to Christ and Christianity than repentance and baptism. From my reading, this is the total sum of what needs to be done to be "saved" (how many different flavors of salvation are out there?), which is to inherit the kingdom of God. It doesn't mean there is not more to God or Christ, such as exaltation. It means that you cannot add other stipulations to salvation (as the Jews were known for), nor can you neuter or push aside any of the stated requirements, such as authoritative baptism (as some Christ-believing groups have done), and say you will still be saved. In this situation of short exposure, Christ was terribly clear and immediately repetitive on this doctrine!
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are bone.
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.
Are there further blessings and opportunities that God offers us beyond this "salvation"? I strongly believe that there are, including transcendence toward exaltation, which is to become like God. I don't feel that anything said in this chapter or elsewhere in the Book of Mormon or Holy Bible proscribes or condemns such further opportunities.
What I hope to convey here is the central importance of baptism performed by those authorized to do it. For those who essentially do nothing, relying alone on the "love of Christ" to "save" them, and loudly proclaiming this concept, I can only say that Christ has already condemned such teaching and (lack of) practice and purveyors, as quoted vividly above! I will rather say this, as instructed by Christ: "Repent! Be baptized! Be saved!"