“Be Born Again”

Daniel H. Ludlow

Alma indicated that a person must be "born again" in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven. (Alma 7:14.) Concerning the importance of this rebirth, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:

. . . To gain salvation in the celestial kingdom men must be born again (Alma 7:14); born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:1-13); born of God, so that they are changed from their "carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness," becoming new creatures of the Holy Ghost. (Mosiah 27:24-29.) They must become newborn babes in Christ (1 Pet. 2:2); they must be "spiritually begotten" of God, be born of Christ, thus becoming his sons and daughters. (Mosiah 5:7.)

The first birth takes place when spirits pass from their pre-existent first estate into mortality; the second birth or birth "into the kingdom of heaven" takes place when mortal men are born again and become alive to the things of the Spirit and of righteousness. The elements of water, blood, and Spirit are present in both births. (Moses 6:59-60.) The second birth begins when men are baptized in water by a legal administrator; it is completed when they actually receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, becoming new creatures by the cleansing power of that member of the Godhead.

Mere compliance with the formality of the ordinance of baptism does not mean that a person has been born again. No one can be born again without baptism, but the immersion in water and the laying on of hands to confer the Holy Ghost do not of themselves guarantee that a person has been or will be born again. The new birth takes place only for those who actually enjoy the gift or companionship of the Holy Ghost, only for those who are fully converted, who have given themselves without restraint to the Lord. Thus Alma addressed himself to his "brethren of the church," and pointedly asked them if they had "spiritually been born of God," received the Lord's image in their countenances, and had the "mighty change" in their hearts which always attends the birth of the Spirit. (Alma 5:14-31.)

Those members of the Church who have actually been born again are in a blessed and favored state. They have attained their position, not merely by joining the Church, but through faith (1 John 5:1), righteousness (1 John 2:29), love (1 John 4:7), and overcoming the world. (1 John 5:4.) "Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise." (Inspired Version, 1 John 3:9.) (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., pp. 100-1.)

Elder Mark E. Petersen has also emphasized the importance of this rebirth:

Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. I do not believe that a person will ever see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. . . . That birth of the spirit means something more than most of us normally realize. Through proper teaching, a conviction is born in our soul. Faith develops. Through it we see how important it is to become like Christ. We see ourselves as we are in contrast to a Christlike soul. A desire for a change-over is born within us. The change-over begins. We call it repentance. Through our faith and as part of our conversion or change from one state to another, we begin to see sin in its true light. . . . We strive with all our souls to become like the Savior. (Address to seminary and institute of religion personnel, BYU, July 11, 1956.)

President David O. McKay has indicated that a real rebirth also involves a change in feeling:

. . . No man can sincerely resolve to apply to his daily life the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth without sensing a change in his own nature. The phrase, "born again," has a deeper significance than many people attach to it. This changed feeling may be indescribable, but it is real. Happy the person who has truly sensed the uplifting, transforming power that comes from this nearness to the Savior, this kinship to the Living Christ. (Conference Report, April 1962, p. 7.)

A Companion To Your Study of The Book of Mormon