Here is a list one fellowship put together from Joseph Smith’s definitions of terms to help in the various efforts for a set of principles. As I thought about it, it is more of a glossary as well, pulled together from Joseph Smith resources and only slightly modified in sentence structure to cast them as definitions. It’s archival now that the thrust has recently changed on the Guide and Standard. So, this list is largely obsolete for that effort, but it is included here for your benefit.

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth. Consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft…The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” Joseph Smith

“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316). “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Embrace that. Have the Baptists, Methodists, and so forth? Embrace that. Get all the good in the world, and you will come out a pure Mormon.” (July 23, 1843) “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks. Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith

Truth is knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come. [D&C 33:7 RE]

Faith is the assurance we have of unseen things which are true. It is the principle of action and power in mortals and in God. Acting upon correct belief is the essence of faith. We are all commanded to believe in Jesus Christ and act upon that belief by obeying Him. [LoF 1]

Salvation is here defined in its broadest terms, as in being saved from all enemies, including death. This type of salvation happens if and when you become a joint heir with Jesus Christ and attain the power of the resurrection after this life, such that you can resurrect all those dependent upon you. [LoF 7:8]

God, or the Godhead, is a term describing the unity of two separate, perfected beings—the Father and the Son—along with their unified mind, called the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son. Jesus is also the way, the truth, and the life, and no person comes to the Father but by Jesus. [LoF 5, John 10:7 RE]

God is the object for all people with understanding to have faith in for life and salvation. [LoF 2]

Three things are necessary so that anyone with understanding may exercise faith in God towards life and salvation: The idea that he actually exists, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes, and an actual knowledge that the course you are pursuing is according to his will. [LoF 3]

The perfections of God’s attributes and characteristics [LoF 4:1-2]:

God has all faith or power, and was God before the world was created, and is the same God now, and He always will be. [LoF 3:13, 4:5]
God has all mercy, and He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness, and He was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting. [LoF 3:14, 4:7]
God has all right actions, or justice, and He never changes. His course is one eternal round and He is always willing to teach. He teaches by the power of grace, and gives liberally, to the just and the unjust. [LoF 3:15,21, 4:6,11, James 1:2 RE, Ether 5:5 RE]
God has all correct judgment against the wicked, and He is no respecter of persons (of whatever race or color, young or old, bond or free, male or female) but every person who fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him. [LoF 3:17, 4:7]
God has all truth and He is truthful and cannot lie. [LoF 3:16, 4:8]
God has all knowledge, and He is loving, such that He shares understanding through wisdom that He might save all His creatures. He is love. [LoF 3:18, 4:4,9, 1 John 4:8, John 4:3 RE]

“The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” [Joseph Smith, “Elders’ Journal, July 1838,” p. 44].

The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. The Old Testament contains old covenants. The Book of Mormon, combined with the New Testament, constitutes the new covenant, and both are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” [HC 4:461]. The Teachings and Commandments and the Pearls of Great Price are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. These scriptures are not all that God has revealed or that He has now revealed. God’s words never cease and He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. [WL (AoF) 1:29, 1:30, see also Answer and Covenant]

Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby salvation may come. Salvation comes by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the merits of his atonement. [2 Nephi 13:6 RE, WL (AoF) 1:24]

“Doctrine” means an approved body of teachings.

The doctrine of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. 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, every where, to repent and believe in me; and whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. 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; 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 one. 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. 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. 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. 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 standeth open to receive such, when the floods come, and the winds beat upon them” [3 Nephi 5:9 RE]

“Gospel” means good news, or topics approved for preaching. “Preaching” means public pronouncements that attract interested persons to be taught more.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you, that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me; and my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, I might draw all men unto me; that as I have been lifted up by men, even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil; and for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father, I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name, shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father, at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father; and this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words; and no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest, save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment; repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do; therefore if ye do these things, blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” [3 Nephi 12:5 RE]

Commandments are directions from God on how we may act so that it may turn to our salvation [D&C 80:2 RE]. Keeping commandments produces good works, which are expressions of our belief in God’s character and attributes.

The essential commandments are contained in the Sermon at Bountiful [see 3 Nephi 5-7:1 RE]. The Sermon on the Mount or at Bountiful is the Law of Christ.

“Good” is defined as keeping God’s commandments and “bad” is defined as not keeping God’s commandments.

“Sin” is defined as not keeping the commandments of God that you know about and understand correctly. “Transgression” is generally defined as not keeping the commandments of God, even when you are ignorant of them, but sometimes means to cross over the limits of the law in general, whether you know the law or not.

Repentance is turning away from sin and ignorance and facing God. God forgives sin when we forsake it and seek forgiveness. Believers in Jesus Christ repent by gaining knowledge of His ways and doing as He did. [D&C 17:8 RE]

Men and women will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam and Eve’s transgression. Little children have no need of repentance, and are incapable of repentance. [WL (AoF) 1:23, Moroni 8 RE]

The wicked are those who refuse to repent, for as long as they rebel. [D&C 27:10 RE]

Any sacrifice to God must be accompanied by a broken heart and a contrite (or willing) spirit [3 Nephi 4:7 RE]. The sacrifice of all earthly things is eventually required of all the faithful in some way or form known by them and God to obtain the faith necessary for life and salvation, and to obtain eternal life [LoF 5].

To hold proper authority to perform outward ordinances, a man must be called of God by prophecy (if they have desires to serve God, they are called to the work [D&C 99:1 RE]), and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. True messengers of God will never take wages for their ministerial service. [WL (AoF) 1:26, 2 Nephi 11:10 RE] The constitution of the priesthood, and of all religious discourse, is outlined in D&C 47 RE, D&C 121 LE.

All followers of Christ, men and women, old and young, can be called of God to teach, expound, exhort, and invite all to come unto Christ, and to bless and heal others through the power of faith and by the laying on of hands.

Baptism is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is only to be administered to those who have understanding, who have arrived at the age of accountability, which is at least eight years old [D&C 73:4 RE, JST Genesis 17:11]. Baptism is required of all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Baptism must be performed by immersion, by one holding proper authority, and when possible, in living water such as a river, lake, or sea. Our Lord gave the following instructions:

“Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: ‘Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” [3 Nephi 5:8 RE]

The Holy Ghost is the promised gift of the Father to those who have faith in His Son, repent of their sins, and receive baptism. “Therefore it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven, the Comforter, the peaceable things of immortal glory, the truth of all things, that which quickeneth all things which maketh alive all things, that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment,” [Genesis 4:7 RE]. This connection to God will give you access to truth, which speaks to your mind and heart. There are gifts of the spirit such as the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. [WL (AoF) 1:28]. If you deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you and you know that you deny it, this is a sin which is unpardonable. Whoever murders against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for them to obtain a forgiveness. Therefore, when following the way, have a determination to serve Christ to the end of your mortal lives. [Alma 19:1 RE, Hebrews 6:1-6 RE, Mosiah 2:2 RE]

The names of those who are baptized are to be recorded [D&C 51:4-5 RE], and the followers of Christ should join in fellowship when possible:

“And after they had been received unto baptism and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the Church of Christ, and their names were taken that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith. And the church did meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” [Moroni 6, see also D&C 4:14 RE]

Sacrament is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper consists of bread and wine, is the means by which He may fill us with His Spirit, and is offered to all who have been baptized. The bread is broken, and all kneel [3 Nephi 8:4] while the man says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they 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. Amen.” [Moroni 4]

The man who is officiating also blesses the wine (or an alternative, such as grape juice, which symbolizes the blood of our Lord). He takes the cup [3 Nephi 8:7] and says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” [Moroni 5]

Giving to the poor is a law of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” [Mosiah 2:2 RE]

Marriage is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman, as originally established by God between Adam and Eve. The woman and the man are to be equally yoked, working together as one in the Lord to follow Him and to fulfill the duty devolving upon them to teach their children the principles of the gospel. The ceremony for contracting marriage follows the guidance of the Spirit. Marriages sealed by the Lord’s oath in a sacred place will endure beyond death and into the Father’s kingdom. [see the Answer and Covenant]

Receiving the covenant is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ [see the Answer and Covenant].
Jesus Christ will personally visit you before you die and give you further doctrine and commandments if you draw near to him in this life. This is called “being redeemed from the fall.” [see the Answer and Covenant, Ether 1:12 RE]

Israel will be gathered and the Ten Tribes restored. Zion will be built upon the American continent and Christ will reign personally upon the earth. The earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. [WL (AoF) 1:31]

The gospel requires its followers to allow everyone (including other professing followers of Christ) to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to worship how, where, and what they may. [WL (AoF) 1:32]

The gospel requires its followers to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, to do good to all, to believe all things, to hope all things, to endure many things, to hope to be able to endure all things, and to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy. This is faith, hope, and charity. [WL (AoF) 1:34, Moroni 7]

It is an eternal principle that the first shall be last and the last shall be first [Mark 8:16 RE]. Also, they that exalt themselves shall be abased, and they that abase themselves shall be exalted [Ez. 9:9 RE]. Therefore, if you have righteous vows and obligations to apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth in your churches, or to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law in your countries, keep those obligations. So far as you have the opportunity to do so, be free, and govern yourselves as peacemakers and as the children of God. [WL (AoF) 1:33, 1:37, 3 Nephi 5:10 RE]

In the LDS Church, there is not much clarity on this subject. Most LDS equate it to a burning in the bosom, described in D&C 9:8. And, in the absence of dramatically miraculous occurrences, the LDS General Authorities have described an almost imperceptible incremental process over the lifetime of the believer as their idea of the what the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is (just do a word search for “incremental” on www.lds.org).

In the Mormon Christian fellowships, sometimes dramatic changes of heart are pointed to as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, where the believer experiences a feeling of purity washing over them, and an increased closeness to Deity.

Denver Snuffer did a remarkable series of posts on this topic, which are worthy of your review:

Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost

BFHG, Part 2

BFHG, Part 3

BFHG, Part 4

BFHG, Part 5

BFHG, Conclusion

Despite these reassurances about what these baptisms are, whether through the LDS explanations, the cultural fellowship explanations, or Denver’s expounding, the question still remains for many: “Have I received it yet?” Given all the ideas and expounding above, some believe with confidence that they can answer: “Yes, absolutely!” Yet, as we shall see, it may be prudent for even these folks to re-consider things and at least ask themselves: “Is that the last time I will experience it?”

A look at the implications of the words involved in these terms is in order:

First, what does “baptism” imply? With the Restoration’s insight into the matter, most would say categorically that the word refers to its Latin root, being “immersion”.

What aspect of “fire” is most thought of in a religious sense? Most would not argue with the idea that it implies purification, and in a religious sense, purification from sin.

What is meant by the term “Holy Ghost”? With the re-emphasis on the Lectures on Faith we’ve discussed earlier, the new implication would be that it is “the mind of God,” and not a separate, third-party spirit-personage. If you take Denver’s posts above to be a synthesis of the two concepts of “mind of God” and “spirit entity,” the only spirit personage potentially referred to in his expounding would be your own spirit, as it is endowed with the mind of God. It follows that you can’t be immersed in the spirit body of another personage, or else you would have one huge conglomerated mass of a conjoined person! This sentiment is similar to how Joseph Smith mocked the idea of two personages being joined:

Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. “Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me.” “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.” All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster. (HC, Vol. 6, p.473-479).

With these new assumptions, you can ask yourself, what does it mean to be immersed in a fire that cleanses from sin, and to be immersed in the mind of God? Do you have a fulness of the mind of God at all times, and can you say you have all the knowledge in the universe as He does? Are you as pure as Christ is pure, every moment of every day? If not, it could be argued that there is yet more of an immersion in fire and in the Holy Ghost for you, no matter what you have experienced so far.

This is not to take away from anyone’s experiences in the least, but to avoid the following “wo” pronounced by Nephi and others:

Yea, wo be unto him that saith: We have received, and we need no more! And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God! For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth lest he shall fall. Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! (2 Nephi 28:27-29)

When James and John asked Jesus about their status in his kingdom, Jesus responded with a sobering reminder of how strait the course ahead is (for them and for us): “But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” But, after putting this tough perspective clearly in their view, he encouraged them with the following: “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized” (Mark 10:38-39).

Sometimes when wondering whether or not we have had the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, or when wondering what it is in general, we know not what we ask. In some of the more fuller experiences outlined in scripture, and as Denver mentioned, we are told of elements that are part of the overall pattern that many of us do not consider as belonging to this topic. For example, have we been purified in the flesh with fire such that our faces have shone bright and white like Moses (Exodus 34:30), Abinadi (Mosiah 13:5), Nephi and Lehi (Helaman 5), the people praying before the Lord at Bountiful (3 Nephi 19:25), Lyman Wight (The Book of John Whitmer, chap. 7), Reynolds Cahoon (Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, Oct 3, 1883), and potentially Joseph Smith (Wilford Woodruff, An Epistle to the Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Millennial Star, November 14, 1887, 722)? Have we seen things encircled about with fire and not burned like Moses’ burning bush (Exodus 3:2), heard the rushing of mighty wind as in the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2), been overshadowed by a cloud and encircled about by fire and not harmed (Helaman 5; see also Daniel 3), or have we been ministered to by angels, including Christ (3 Nephi 19:14-15)? If we have had any one of these events in our lives, have we had them all? In regards to this topic, let us look again to the meek example of John the Baptist, who, upon meeting his Lord, said, “I have need to be baptized of thee” (Matthew 3:14). Certainly if we have experienced incremental changes as the LDS believe, or had a washing over us that cleanses our souls as many in the fellowships describe, to paraphrase Alma, “Yea, I admit it may be termed [a baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost]” (see Alma 40:15)…but well might we all ask ourselves if we have more need of these baptisms, and the other attendant elements mentioned in these scriptures, too. Ask and ye shall receive, etc (3 Nephi 27:29).

For those who feel as though they haven’t received it yet, and wonder when it will occur, we hope you can see from the examples in this post that even though the Lord has not said when he will fulfill the promise, he has promised it to those who believe and are baptized. It is worthy also to note that he hasn’t said he will fulfill the promise only once. So, we believe that, according to His goodness, he will fulfill that promise until your cup runneth over, whether it be immediately after your baptism, years after like the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, and perhaps even over and over again until the perfect day.

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:2-3; 3 Nephi 24:2).

The real question is, do we believe the scriptures and the authority of the baptism(s) in water we have received? If we believe in the authority, is it based in something unseen which is true? Has God really given the power to the individual who baptized you and do you have that witness? Have you been baptized with the understanding outlined in the doctrine of Christ (3 Nephi 11:31-40), or were other conditions required? If there is no harm in being re-baptized, and scriptures suggest that you should be re-baptized for rededication at least anyway (see Mosiah 18*), what do you have against being re-baptized until you are sure (2 Nephi 31)?

*Alma, the priest of King Noah, was undoubtedly re-baptized in this chapter, for he being a priest would surely have been baptized before, as most of the people would have been as well.

ADDENDUM: Perhaps the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost are related to coming into the proximity of a just and holy being. Your heart burns within you as you are immersed in light and knowledge from the communication, whether through a veil as they go unseen by you, or in person (compared to a distinct absence of such transformative power from a visit from the devil; Moses 1:10-15). If such were the case, then receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost only once would seem most disappointing. Such communications, nonetheless, can indeed be life-changing (see Luke 24:32 and Alma 27:11-20 compared to Alma 8:14-18).

ADDENDUM 2: If all we receive is a remission of sins in this life and no redemption back into His presence, and if all we receive from visitations and baptisms of fire and the Holy Ghost are communications and intelligence for this life, than well might the following proverb apply to us:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Absolutely not!

It can be argued that the clear commandments of God in scripture could be used to require that a person repent of specific sins before being allowed to be baptized, but in the case of the Word of Wisdom, the Lord expressly stated it was to be “without commandment or restraint” (D&C 89:1-3), making it a subject off limits for baptismal requirements.

Regarding tithing, it is a “standing law unto the church” (D&C 119:4). It is commonly thought that baptism makes one a member of the LDS Church. While valid and sincere baptism defines a member of Christ’s church, and establishes a relationship between the convert and the Lord, the association of that convert with other individuals requires that they be confirmed to an office called “member” and that they subscribe to the code of conduct of that body of believers. Confirmation can rightly require agreement to a code of conduct (including the paying of tithes to be considered a member in good standing), but baptism cannot specifically require anything other than the broad requirement of “repent of all your sins”, being those sins that you are aware of, and being that you forsake in your heart and confess the behavior as sinful, and not that you fully have modified your behavior yet (see our posts here and here).

Such modification comes after assistance from the Holy Ghost, or mind of God, as it is bestowed more fully upon the person who is baptized. Can’t you see how repentance only requires facing the right direction, and the heavy lifting comes from the Lord after one exercises their faith to be baptized? To expect a false interpretation of “forsaking sin” beyond merely a change of heart is to require the sinner to fully reform before having the grace of God to be able to do so. It is oppressive, and ungodly. To require a commitment to tithe before one is baptized (as opposed to requiring it before confirmation only) is to run close to priestcraft, and charging for ordinances. But, the LDS have merged baptism and confirmation as one ordinance, so hence the confusion (see our post here).

The novel (and more scripturally correct) idea is that you can be baptized first, and then confirmed much later if you are slow to reform your behavior after getting the mind of God. Confirmation needs a godly walk and conversation after baptism. The church articles are clear:

The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order. And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness before the Lord. D&C 20:68-69.

But, you can still be saved even if you are slow and don’t rise up to be a member yet. Therefore, get baptized and don’t fear! Let the increase of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost assist you in your quest to become more like God! Don’t worry about member status and obligations until you are ready. Consider also, that the Lord never intended the Word of Wisdom to be a requirement for membership, or temple attendance.