When Alma, at the waters of Mormon, invited the people to be "baptized in the name of the Lord as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him" (Mosiah 18:10) he followed a pattern that has characterized God's dealings with people in all gospel dispensations. That pattern is the establishment of a two-way covenant between God and mortal men and women. It is by making and keeping covenants that people secure the blessings the Lord reserves for those who love and serve Him faithfully to the end.
President Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Church, gave some insights on this subject:
"God has given to all men an agency and has granted to us the privilege to serve Him or not, to do that which is right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of creed, color or condition.
". . . There are, however, certain blessings which God bestows upon the children of men only upon the condition of the rightful exercise of this agency. For instance, no man can obtain a remission of sins but by repentance, and baptism by one having authority. If we would be free from sin, from its effects, from its power, we must obey this law which God has revealed, or we can never obtain a remission of sins.
" . . . Therefore, the whole world lies in sin and is under condemnation, inasmuch as light has come unto the world and men will not place themselves in the proper position before the Lord. And this condemnation rests with tenfold force upon all who have yielded obedience to this law, and have once received a remission of their sins, but have returned unto sin, and have forgotten or disregarded the covenants they made in the waters of baptism."