It is through the medium of sacrifice and anguish that we obtain a covenant and promise from the Lord. It is not simply, covenanting to sacrifice; rather it is a covenant you receive from the Lord by sacrifice. He chooses the sacrifice and offering you will make to Him; this part is unique to your specific needs. What is universal between all of us is it will consist of a broken heart and contrite spirit. (3 Nephi 9:20).
Men do not create covenants or enter into covenants of themselves with God. Rather the Father sets the terms and conditions of His covenants and offers them to those who claim, are His people and who love Him. When God makes a covenant with you, you have but two choices, to accept or reject the covenant. But first, you must choose of your own free will to obey and keep His commandments, in other words, in order to qualify to be called you must be obedient to the law, His laws. It is a process of self-selection if you will. His invitation however is extended to all people.
“There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven… upon which all blessings are predicated, and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:20-21) Therefore, you cannot receive, until you have given – obedience (first) to that law on which all blessings are predicated. While you may have covenanted to do something, it is not binding until you receive through the medium of sacrifice and obedience a covenant from the Lord Himself.
Christ has commanded that those who love Him to repent and come unto Him and be baptized in His name. He promises that those who do repent and come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit will be received, even to receiving from Him, the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. (3 Nephi 19:20).
What then is a broken-heart? 1828 Noah Webster dictionary: Having the spirits depressed or crushed by grief or despair. The word broken means: Parted by violence; rent asunder; infirm.
What then is a contrite spirit? 1828 Noah Webster dictionary: Literally, worn or bruised.
In order to approach Christ, or come unto Him and receive (in other words to come into His presence), we must come to Him having been crushed, in despair, our hearts torn, in exhaustible anguish, our spirits worn and literally bruised. You cannot feign these things, and it is often for most as was in my case, that it was after the baptism of water and not before that hearts are broken and spirits are made to be contrite.
The baptism of water is a commandment and through obedience to that law you will now be justified to go on and receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of fire, comes through the medium of sacrifice and anguish, remembering that the Lord has said “whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 9:20). These are synonymous with each other. In other words they go hand and hand.
What then is the baptism of Fire? It is maybe better understood as a baptism of anguish, it purifies you by breaking you, yet God will not leave you comfortless, He will give unto you the gift of the Holy Ghost and He will comfort you, what He aims to break is the natural man, His design is to bring about your salvation and exaltation, not your damnation and punishment. He came to save and redeem. However, this cannot be accomplished without sacrifice, as He has sacrificed we too must take upon ourselves His name and sacrifice with Him, while it will be a sacrifice tailored specifically for you – it will nonetheless be a sacrifice from you that will break you, and try your soul.
You will either reject the covenant by withdrawing the offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit, and harden your heart against God and refuse to come unto Him, or you will endure with faith the sacrifices He has called upon you to make to Him, seeking to fulfill His every requirement of you that he has placed at your feet, and requires of you at your hand. Doing the latter, He writes His laws upon your heart and inward parts, or in other words you are changed, no longer desiring carnal things, or things of this world that are sinful and not pleasing to Him, but instead desire to live the laws of God because you desire righteousness and love righteousness and abhor sin and wickedness.
Having been reborn in Him, being filled with His light, made new and afresh, having been anointed by the Holy Ghost through baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost (first anointing) and having received a new name, His name, which we take upon ourselves, you are now prepared to become sanctified. This too will be through the medium of sacrifice and obedience to the law, you have received wounds in your heart and soul, but you will love more deeply and be filled with His light. You will know the path you are on is pleasing to the Lord and you will know with unshakable faith and a firm knowledge of His goodness and tender mercies He has towards you. You will be able to rely on Him completely without reservation whatsoever.
These things are often intertwined, overlapping, and always through the medium of sacrifice. You are not only baptized with fire and of the Holy Ghost but also being quickened by the spirit and become sanctified, seemingly we transition from one to the other without much notice or awareness while in the moment. Later in life and through reflection, you will better be able see the workings of God and how He guided you and what He was doing and is now doing for your welfare and salvation.
Again, He will rend your heart, He will try your soul, He will show you that no one else can save you, not your friends or your family and not even yourself, only He is mighty to save. He will cause it that only His comfort can comfort you. Surrender to the will of the Lord. He will accept your sacrifice and offering made unto Him in righteousness. It will be acceptable unto Him and He will receive your offerings at your hand, which are made in His name, because He appointed it unto you and put it there that you should make this sacrifice and offering unto Him. (D&C 132:8-10).
Through this medium of sacrifice you will have obtained for yourself a covenant and promise from the Lord, you are now counted as His. Be faithful, do whatsoever thing He will call upon you to do. You will have learned to recognize the voice of the Lord and His spirit, you will know Him intimately and personally, He is personable and He will guide you.
Will you lay your heart upon the altar and say: Lord, here am I, I heard your voice and hid myself because I was naked (fearful/undone/sinful) and enter into the waters being baptized in His name and enduring whatsoever He will require of you, that you might receive the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, that you might be redeemed and be found in favor with the Lord at the time He reveals Himself from heaven. His hand is extended, the heavens are open, he is gathering out his people from the highways and byways, from all over the earth, all those who will come and hear Him.
Or instead will you kick your heals against God and harden your hearts, will you reject His offerings and turn a deaf ear to His voice. Will you cast out the righteous from among you and persecute them also. If you will go down to hell, then go down yourselves and let the people of God alone. For His sheep know His voice and He calls to them, yet men set up stakes and say – submit to their authority. Yet the Lord calls His people unto Himself, and says: follow thou me, the Father has born witness that the words of His Son are true; and all those who will follow Him will receive eternal life.