Do the ordinances in and of themselves provide any type of salvation or are they just symbolic? If they are just symbolic, then does it matter if they get changed (wording, wine to water, etc.) or does it matter if someone gets baptized? If the Israelites were given the lesser portion of the gospel, which includes the outward ordinances (See D&C 107) did it include a symbol of the fulness of the gospel?
Fulfillment of the Law of Moses:
For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me. (3 Nephi 15:8)
Many believe the Law of Moses was not about the fullness of the gospel. But the law of Moses which was full of symbols, types, and other things was to point the people to Christ. It did not bring about salvation. Thus the Lord proclaimed that it had "an end in me" or that it was fulfilled. But what does that mean?
Given Due to Wickedness:
14 Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.
15 And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood. (Mosiah 3:14-15)
The Law of Moses had a higher purpose. It was to point to Christ. They did not understand it, thinking it was all about outward ordinances thus it didn't save them. They ignored what it was meant to do. Point to Christ. That is what all types and symbols are given for. They point the way or path back to the presence of God. We are not meant to get "stuck" on the symbols but learn what they portray.
Law of Moses: "An End in Me"
Read the following four verses about the Law of Moses. A symbol or type of Christ.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have received me, for I am he who gave the law. (JST, Matthew 9:19)
And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses. (Mosiah 13:27)
Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.(Alma 25:15)
For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. (2 Nephi 25:25)What I want to point out in these verses is that the people still kept the law of Moses notwithstanding that salvation did not come through it. The Lord warned them, however, that it was a type of His coming. They needed to view it with that purpose. That its end was in Him. What does that mean? When He came he said it was fulfilled. He was teaching them that the laws purpose was to be a symbol on how to come unto christ. It was that the LAW was pointing to Him. It was a type of Him and His coming. If they saw PAST the rituals and outward observance they would know that if they followed what it was a symbol and type of they would "come unto Christ." Thus he says it has a "end in me" because that was why it was given, to bring you into the presence of God. It included the "higher law" as some call it in the new testament in symbol and form. Those same commandments are seen in the OT such as love thy neighbor. (ie. See Deuteronomy 6:5) So as we see in the Book of Mormon the people kept the law even though it did not bring about salvation. But it also pointed to what was required for them to be Saved. Those who followed that type and symbol were the ones who would "keep the law." Those who merely just obeyed the outward ordinance of the law were identified with those who "keep not the law."
Ordinances Are Symbolic:
If they were just symbolic, why did Christ have the people get re-baptized when he visited the Americas, certainly if they didn't matter and were just symbolic it seems that he wouldn't care to have them all be re-baptized. I talked about this briefly. You can see in 3 Nephi 7 that the people were baptized with authority (including Nephi). Than after they were given power after the appearance of Christ they were AGAIN ALL baptized. This is re-baptism. It was commanded by Christ himself to the people who were present one which was Nephi, the same individual who had baptized in 3 Nephi 7.
Changing Symbols or Ordinances:
If symbols and signs are changed and diluted, they lose some ability to point to the real thing. They may even begin to mislead those who are trying to interpret them. For example, using water instead of wine makes us miss the fact that wine is bitter, which is another symbol of Christ's sacrifice. In another example, removing the blood penalties from the LDS endowment have made it that much more difficult for an entire generation to understand that cutting and the shedding of blood is a key part of making covenants. Imagine if you decided to change the color of the stop sign on your street? Or remove a couple of the letters from the street name sign? Changing the symbols makes it more difficult to follow them to the intended destination.
We are told that water is acceptable for the sacrament. However, the Lord uses wine for a purpose. It is both bitter, as a symbol of his bitter sacrifice, and makes the heart glad. (See Psalms 104:15) Its such an important symbol that it was included as one of the miracles of Christs day. It can be read in John 2:1-11.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.Its such an important symbol that it was called the "beginning of miracles" by Christ as a type of his coming bitter sacrifice. That he would trodden the wine press alone. The beginning of his ministry. Certainly the Lord says it mattereth not what we eat or drink if we have an eye single to the glory of God (See D&C 27:1-4) but when He comes He uses wine. And He promises He will come to you if you will just hear His voice and open the door.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.(Revelation 3:20)In both the Book and Mormon and the D&C the word wine is used. If we bless the sacrament use the word wine, even if were not using wine. At the least we can use red grape juice, the pure symbol and color of his atoning blood and sacrifice.
All things have become new
The Lord remarked upon his appearance that all things again had been fulfilled. It did that by stating all old things had been done away and all things have become new. Anytime the Lord begins something new baptism is required as a sign you have faith in what's being given thus Nephi was rebaptized as a sign of the old things being fulfilled. Today the Lord is once again starting something new to finish the restoration that he long ago promised He would do. The book of Mormon is so relevant in our day that we should take it seriously.
46 Therefore those things which were of old time, which were under the law, in me are all fulfilled.
47 Old things are done away, and all things have become new.
48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect. (3 Nephi 12:46-48)