|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
Confirmationby Rulon G. Craven
Confirmation in THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints is a sacred ordinance essential for salvation. This ordinance follows baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and is efficacious only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance. It is administered by the laying-on of hands by men having authority, one of whom performs the ordinance and blesses the candidate. By this process one becomes a member of the Church and is given the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-38; 19:1-7). Baptism and confirmation are administered to persons at least eight years of age, the age of accountability (D&C 68:25-27).
The scriptures attest to the administering of the ordinance of confirmation in New Testament times. When Peter and John went to Samaria and found certain disciples who had received John's baptism in water, they "laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:17; see also verses 14-22).
Confirmation may be performed only by those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Book of Mormon records that Jesus "touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them. [Thereby] he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost" (3 Ne. 18:36-37; Moro. 2:1-3). The Doctrine and Covenants specifies: "And whoso having faith you shall confirm in my church, by the laying on of the hands, and I will bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost upon them" (D&C 33:15).
The ordinance of confirmation is usually performed at a baptismal service or fast and testimony meeting. One or more bearers of the Melchizedek Priesthood lay their hands upon the head of the newly baptized person, and the one who is "voice," calling the person by name, says words to this effect: "In the name of Jesus Christ, and by the authority of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood, I confirm you a member of THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints and say unto you, "receive the Holy Ghost."' Words of blessing follow as the Spirit of the Lord may dictate, invoking divine guidance, comfort, admonition, instruction, or promise. The initiates are often reminded that through this gift they will discern right from wrong and that the Spirit will be, as it were, a lamp to their feet.
The receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost may or may not be apparent immediately, although the right to receive this gift is conferred at confirmation. The admonition to receive the Holy Ghost is interpreted to include living in a receptive way for the enlightenment of the Spirit. Joseph Smith taught, "No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator" (TPJS, p. 328). One is admonished likewise to seek earnestly for spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:1-11, 31; D&C 46:9-26) and the "fruits of the Spirit," including love, joy, peace, and long-suffering (Gal. 5; Moro. 7:45-48).
The scriptures sometimes refer to the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost as the "baptism of fire" (Matt. 3:11; 3 Ne. 19:13; Morm. 7:10). Confirmation begins that process. It is seen as a lifetime quest formally renewed each Sabbath in the partaking of the Sacrament, whose prayers end with the plea that those who have taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ "may always have his Spirit to be with them" (Moro. 4:3).
Once individuals have been confirmed as members of the Church and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, they may retain this gift by maintaining a state of worthiness with corrections as needed, through an ongoing process of repentance and discipleship.
Talmage, James E. AF, pp. 156-57. Salt Lake City, 1968.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Confirmation
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company