Conversion is the process of being born of God. “Born of God” or “born again” refers to the personal spiritual experience through which we receive a forgiveness of sins and a witness from God that if we continue to live the commandments and endure to the end, we will inherit eternal life. The scriptures teach that just as each of us is “born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit,” so must we be “born again” of water and the Spirit and be cleansed by the blood of Christ (John 3:5; Moses 6:59).
To be born of God implies a sanctifying process by which the old or natural man is supplanted by the new spiritual man who enjoys the companionship of the Holy Ghost and hence is no longer disposed to commit sin (Colossians 3:9-10; Mosiah 3:19; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 51). When we are born again we are spiritually begotten sons and daughters of God and more specifically of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 5:7; 27:25). The Book of Mormon prophet Alma 1 calls this inner transformation a “mighty change in your hearts” (Alma 5:14).”
(Adapted from the article by Ed J. Pinegar in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 218.)
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
- Moses 6:59— “That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; . . .”
We must be born again through the grace of God in order to receive the blessings of eternal life. This means that each of us must repent and bring forth fruit worthy of all acceptation of the Lord, thus proving ourselves worthy of returning to His presence.
- Mosiah 5:7— “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”
We become the sons and daughters of Jesus Christ because we have made the mighty change and, through baptism, have taken upon us His name. This carries with it a covenant and promise to remember Him and keep the commandments.
- Mosiah 5:2— “And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”
When we are truly converted by the Spirit, we will experience the “mighty change” and we will feel and act differently. We will have the desire to do good just like Enos, Alma, and the Sons of Mosiah.
- Moroni 8:25-26— “And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.”
We will recognize a true change within our soul. We will start to feel the Spirit and enjoy the fruits of it in our lives. We will be more humble and loving in all things.
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
“Conversion must mean more than just being a “card carrying” member of the Church with a tithing receipt, a membership card, a temple recommend, etc. It means to overcome the tendencies to criticize and to strive continually to improve inward weaknesses and not merely the outward appearances” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 355).
“But all that has happened in the past has not, and all that occurs in the future will not change the truth that conversion to Jesus Christ and his gospel is the one and only way; for still it must be said that “there is none other way given under heaven by which men must be saved” (Elder Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1963, Afternoon Meeting 26). (See Acts 4:12.)
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING
Here are some things to remember and do in the process of conversion:
1. Seek to align your being with the qualities of a truly converted person.
- Be mindful of your baptismal covenants
- Seek to be blameless before the Lord
- Be spiritually born of God
- Be obedient and endure to the end
- Be charitable
2. Follow daily strategies to retain the spirit of conversion and remain strong in the Church.
- Remember to pray
- Search the scriptures
- Gain understanding
- Remain valiant
- Cultivate the spirit and practice of service
- Build up the Kingdom of God
“The Conversion of Parley P. Pratt” is a wonderful story and a great example of what it means to be converted. Parley P. Pratt was a leader in the early restored church.
It was early in the morning, just at the dawn of day, I walked ten miles into the country, and stopped to breakfast with a Mr. Wells. I proposed to preach in the evening. Mr. Wells readily accompanied me through the neighborhood to visit the people, and circulate the appointment.
We visited an old Baptist deacon by the name of Hamlin. After hearing of our appointment for evening, he began to tell of a book, a strange book, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! in his possession, which had been just published. This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day, if I would call. I felt a strange interest in the book. . . . Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the “BOOK OF MORMON”—that book of books—that record which reveals the antiquities of the “New World” back to the remotest ages, and which unfolds the destiny of its people and the world for all time to come; that Book which contains the fulness of the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer;—that Book which reveals a lost remnant of Joseph, and which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.
I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.
As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation.
I accordingly visited the village of Palmyra, and inquired for the residence of Mr. Joseph Smith. I found it some two or three miles from the village. As I approached the house at the close of the day I overtook a man who was driving some cows, and inquired of him for Mr. Joseph Smith, the translator of the “Book of Mormon.” He informed me that he now resided in Pennsylvania; some one hundred miles distant. I inquired for his father, or for any of the family. He told me that his father had gone [on] a journey; but that his residence was a small house just before me; and, said he, I am his brother. It was Mr. Hyrum Smith. I informed him of the interest I felt in the Book, and of my desire to learn more about it. He welcomed me to his house, and we spent the night together; for neither of us felt disposed to sleep. We conversed most of the night, during which I unfolded to him much of my experience in my search after truth, and my success so far; together with that which I felt was lacking, viz: a commissioned priesthood, or apostleship to minister in the ordinances of God.
He also unfolded to me the particulars of the discovery of the Book; its translation; the rise of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and the commission of his brother Joseph, and others, by revelation and the ministering of angels, by which the apostleship and authority had been again restored to the earth. After duly weighing the whole matter in my mind I saw clearly that these things were true; and that myself and the whole world were without baptism, and without the ministry and ordinances of God; and that the whole world had been in this condition since the days that inspiration and revelation had ceased—in short, that this was a new dispensation or commission, in fulfillment of prophecy, and for the restoration of Israel, and to prepare the way before the second coming of the Lord.
In the morning I was compelled to take leave of this worthy man and his family—as I had to hasten back a distance of thirty miles, on foot, to fulfil an appointment in the evening. As we parted he kindly presented me with a copy of the Book of Mormon. I had not yet completed its perusal, and was glad indeed to possess a copy of my own. I travelled on a few miles, and, stopping to rest, I commenced again to read the book. To my great joy I found that Jesus Christ, in his glorified resurrected body, had appeared to the remnant of Joseph on the continent of America, soon after his resurrection and ascension into heaven; and that he also administered, in person, to the ten lost tribes; and that through his personal ministry in these countries his gospel was revealed and written in countries and among nations entirely unknown to the Jewish apostles.
Thus revealed, written, handed down and preserved, till revealed in this age by the angels of God, it had, of course, escaped the corruptions of the great and abominable church; and been preserved in purity.
This discovery greatly enlarged my heart, and filled my soul with joy and gladness. I esteemed the Book, or the information contained in it, more than all the riches of the world. Yes; I verily believe that I would not at that time have exchanged the knowledge I then possessed, for a legal title to all the beautiful farms, houses, villages and property which passed in review before me, on my journey through one of the most flourishing settlements of western New York.
(Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr., Classics in Mormon Literature ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], pp. 20-22.)
This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.