The Book of Mormon contains an inspiring report of a man who was born again after many people had probably given up all hope that he would ever reform. His name was Alma, called Alma the younger to avoid confusion with his father. His father, Alma, was a prophet and his four best friends were the sons of the king, Mosiah. These five devoted themselves to trying to undo all the good their fathers were doing. They attacked the church, committed many sins, and secretly tried to destroy the church. Their fathers prayed continually for their hearts to be changed and one day an angel appeared. He spoke from a cloud with a voice of thunder so powerful the young men fell to the ground. They could not understand the words, but the angel spoke again, this time to Alma the Younger. He asked why this man was trying to destroy the church of God and warned that nothing could overthrow it except for the transgression of the people.
He explained that he had come in answer to the prayers of Alma’s father to command Alma the Younger to turn his life around. Alma was so frightened he could neither speak nor move. His friends carried him back to his father, who rejoiced after learning about the angel’s visit. Priests gathered to pray over Alma the Younger and after two days of prayer, the young man recovered.
Born Again and the Book of Mormon
He spoke to the assembled crowd and announced that he had renounced his sins.
For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God (Mosiah 27:24-26).
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and that without His extraordinary gift to us, we could never return to live with God. He did this for every single person and all of us who ever live on earth will have access to this gift. Everyone, even those who reject Jesus Christ, will rise from the dead and live forever. Everyone has the opportunity to repent and to come to Christ and be born again.
Unfortunately, some people choose to reject the full measure of the atonement. They have no choice but to receive resurrection, but the opportunity to be born again is a choice. We must decide to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, repent, forsake our sins, and live as Jesus taught us to live.
When we do this, we are born again, a concept Jesus Christ taught is necessary in order for us to live with God again someday. It is not a one-time event, but a lifetime process of gradually bringing our own short-sighted goals and desires in line with those of God’s. Since no one but Jesus Christ has ever been perfect, we are continually working on this in our lifetime.
Born Again: Becoming Worthy of God’s Presence
Our first birth gave us our bodies and the opportunity to live on Earth. Our second birth—the process of being born again—prepares us for the final stage of life, which is after we die. In the meantime, it also helps us to live this life. We can be baptized and forgiven for our sins. Then we can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which provides us with guidance, comfort, and safety throughout our lives. This makes it so much easier to continue the process of becoming worthy of God’s presence.
And that is really what we’re striving for. We don’t want to enter God’s kingdom having been comfortable and happy with a life of sin. While no one is perfect, the person worthy of God’s presence has a deep love for God and Jesus Christ and is willing to honor the request the Savior made. He told us in the Bible that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments. Being born again is an act of love for Jesus Christ.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.