When I was expecting my first daughter, I started having difficulties during my fourth month. When my doctor examined me I was dilated three centimeters. After a short Hospital stay, I was confined to total bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. Unfortunately, during my sixth month my water broke and the contractions began.
After two and a half weeks in the Hospital with intravenous medicine trying to stop my labor, the doctor decided it was time for my baby to be born. Thankfully, the birthing process was very quick. When my daughter Jenifer was born, she was so tiny I could hardly believe it. She had to stay at the Hospital until she weighed four pounds, which took four months.
This weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson spoke about conversion which reminded me of the similarities between a physical and a spiritual birth. God’s truth is that when a person is brought to faith spiritually (converted) it is an instantaneous event, similar to a physical birth.
The Gospel Doctrine Lesson teaches that “spiritual rebirth is a process” and not a single event:
“What does it mean to be converted? (See Mosiah 5:2; 27:24–26.) Is conversion a single event or a process? Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Except in … unusual circumstances, as with Alma (Mosiah 27), spiritual rebirth is a process. It does not occur instantaneously. It comes to pass by degrees. Repentant persons become alive to one spiritual reality after another, until they are wholly alive in Christ and are qualified to dwell in his presence forever.” (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 22: Have Ye Received His Image in Your Countenances? p. 99)
Jesus disagrees with this LDS teaching. He is the one who introduced the teaching of spiritual rebirth by using the words “born again”:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)
He also testified that it happens in an instant, through the hearing of His Word:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)
The Holy Spirit brings a person to faith in a miraculous birth called conversion. Just as a baby is born physically and does not contribute to its birth, when a person is brought to faith, they are “born of the Spirit” and have done nothing to make it happen. When a physical life is created, there are elements necessary to create this new life, so also with a spiritual birth. As Jesus explained above, the Holy Spirit works His miraculous birth using the very Word of God. It is the conduit which creates a new spiritual life. Peter also testifies:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23)
LDS leaders testify that “spiritual rebirth is a process. It does not occur instantaneously”. According to this teaching LDS members take many years in the spiritual birthing process, never to actually be “born again”. It’s like they are stuck in the labor process but never given birth. In LDS re-birth, one must first have “qualified to dwell in his presence forever.”
When someone hears or reads God’s Word and the Holy Spirit brings that person to faith, a new spiritual creature is born, one that did not exist before. At that instant, they are credited with righteousness through faith and can dwell in God’s presence. Every person with a living faith in Jesus, has been brought to faith (born again) in this way—by the Holy Spirit. Before conversion, they were spiritually dead. When they are born again–they are brought to spiritual life, literally “passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24c) Now they are able to do good works that please God.
Today, I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit worked on this miserable being and brought me to faith, opening my eyes and heart to the truth. Now that I know what a “living” faith is, I can clearly see the difference. Contrasting any other faith with a faith in Jesus exposes that all other faiths are “dead”. All who have a faith in Jesus have something that no other person has—a new spiritual creature that lives inside of them and has become a part of who they are.
When the Holy Spirit brought me to faith, I did not want to be a Christian. I had given up on religion and certainly didn’t understand all the things I am explaining to you now. In spite of the fact that I didn’t understand, I had been born-again. There was this new spiritual creature living inside of me that was crying out and acting in ways that I had never before experienced. First and foremost, it wanted to be fed. Just like my daughters who cried out when hungry, my new spirit craved spiritual food and sent me out to find it.
Even though I didn’t understand why at the time, I couldn’t stop myself from going to as many Church services as I possibly could. I would go to three different services on a Sunday and as many others as I could possibly find during the week. I was a thirty-six year old with a “born-again” spirit that needed to be fed voraciously. My hunger was satiated only where God’s Word was being shared—in Christian churches.
It was at one of these services that I heard a message that both my head and heart could understand. The speaker testified that gaining the forgiveness of my sins did not depend upon my works–because that work had already been done by Jesus! After I tested the speakers words with what the Bible taught, I was amazed to learn what my Savior had really done for me. I discovered that all my sins had been washed away with Christ’s blood, shed for me when He died on the cross! Then and there I gave my life to Jesus and my life has never been the same. Every breath I breathe is for my Savior—driven by the new spiritual life that was created in me by the Holy Spirit, and fed by God’s Word working through me.
I pray that the Holy Spirit has brought you to faith through the reading of God’s Word. If you find that what I write is beginning to make sense, then maybe your heart understands what your head has not yet accepted.