“All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church” (D&C 20:37).

The scriptures frequently admonish us to take upon us the name of Christ (e.g., Alma 34:38; 46:18, 21; Mormon 8:38). Those who take upon themselves the name of Christ are called Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16; Alma 46:13-16). Indeed, both individuals and the Church itself are to be called in Christ’s name (3 Nephi 27:5-7; D&C 115:4). 1 As individuals, we take the Savior’s name by 1) being baptized and 2) by striving to follow in his footsteps.


The Lord instructs us, “Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness. And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved; Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day; Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father” (D&C 18:21-25).

The apostle Paul taught that baptism by immersion in water symbolized being buried in the grave and rising again, in the similitude of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is also the covenant by which we become members of Christ’s Church by taking upon us his name (Mosiah 25:23; Alma 1:19). At the waters of Mormon, Alma 1 declared, “as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people . . . and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10).

Some of Alma’s verbiage is contained in the sacramental prayers, notably that participants “are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them” (Moroni 4:3; D&C 20:77). For this reason, we consider the sacrament to be a renewal of our baptismal covenants.

The baptismal covenant and sacramental prayers are also reflected in King Benjamin’s speech at the temple in Zarahemla, 2 in which he promised to “give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people . . . because they have been diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord (Mosiah 1:11; see also Mosiah 1:12) and told them that this name was that of “Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). He declared,

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters . . . There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ” (Mosiah 5:7-9; see also verses 10-12). He further emphasized that, in the judgment, “none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:21). It is therefore significant that little children, whom the Lord forbids us to baptize, 3 were the only ones in King Benjamin’s audience who had not “entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ” (Mosiah 6:2).

Emulation of Christ

The risen Christ told his Nephite disciples “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27) and “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). To his Jewish disciples, he said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). He further taught, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26; cf. Mark 8:34-36; Luke 9:23-25)

Having seen in vision the yet future baptism of Christ, Nephi 1 exhorted his readers to follow Christ, who “set the example before them” and admonished, “Follow thou me” (2 Nephi 31:9-10). He continued: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost . . . And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved . . . Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:13, 16, 20).

By striving to follow in the footsteps of our Savior, we become witnesses of him and examples of the Christian life to our fellow beings. This is what Christ had in mind when he said, “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.

Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do´ (3 Nephi 18:24). “Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you” (3 Nephi 18:16). Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).


[1] In view of the fact that the Lord has declared “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (D&C 115:4), it has surprised me that so many break-offs from the restored Church abandon this name and take another in its place. For my response to an inquiry about the name of the Church, see ”LDS Church Name Change,” posted on the SHIELDS web site.

[2] For a discussion of the development of the sacramental prayers among the Nephites, see “Our Nephite Sacrament Prayers,” in Welch (ed.), Reexploring the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 286– 89, and John W. Welch, “Benjamin’s Covenant as a Precursor of the Sacrament Prayers,” in John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks (eds.), King Benjamin’s Speech: “That Ye May Learn Wisdom” (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998), 295– 314.

[3] Moroni 8. For the nonaccountability of little children, see Mosiah 15:25; D&C 29:46-48; 74:7; 93:38-39; 137:10; Moses 6:54; History of the Church 4:554. King Benjamin spoke to adults and to “little children who can understand my words” (Mosiah 2:40; see also verse 34). He suggested that it was not “possible that little children could sin” (Mosiah 3:16). Other passages in Mosiah confirm King Benjamin’s teachings. In Mosiah 26:1, we read of those who “could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people.”