(MOBILE FRIENDLY)

Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

THE NEW BIRTH,
BIBLICAL AND LDS VIEWPOINTS

The new birth is also known as regeneration, or being born again

Mormon teaching is that the new new birth process begins with water baptism by “a legal administrator,” i.e. someone holding the LDS priesthood (c/f Mormon Doctrine, page 101, LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie; BOM Alma 7:14, Doctrine and Covenants 39:5-6.)

But there was no such thing as a legal administrator for baptism in biblical times. Nor was water baptism the general means for receiving the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit (c/f Understanding Biblical Symbolism.) And the priesthood is an Old Covenant office.

The only reason the priesthood is featured in the New Testament is because the New Covenant was ratified by the shed blood of Christ. So during His lifetime He and His fellow Israelites lived under the Old Covenant. Most of them rejected Him as the Messiah. And after His death they continued with the practice of Old Covenant Judaism with its temple and its priesthood. (There are links to articles on the LDS temple and priesthood, at the end of this page.)

THE NECESSITY FOR THE NEW BIRTH

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of a sect that was sometimes referred to as “the separated ones,” as they kept themselves from any kind of impurity forbidden under the Mosaic system. He lived in obedience to their laws and ordinances, was a teacher of religion and served on the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Israel. His life was devoted to worshipping God, holy living and serving the community. Yet Jesus said that he wouldn’t be able to see or enter the Kingdom of God unless he was born again (John 3:3-5). But He wasn’t talking about being born again in a physical sense. He was talking about the beginning of a new, transforming spiritual dimension in Nicodemus’s life that he hadn’t known before.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV)
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, KJV).
“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:5, KJV)

THE WORD OF GOD AND THE NEW BIRTH

When we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, it has a cleansing effect on our lives, in much the same way as water cleanses. So the Bible sometimes uses water as a picture of the Word of God:

“ … even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26, KJV)

Peter indicated that the Word of God is an agent of the new birth, when he told Christian believers that they had been born again through the living and abiding Word of God:

“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, KJV)

This ties up with the teaching that we are saved through faith in Christ, and that saving faith is generated within us through our hearing the Word of God (c/f Romans 10:17, KJV).

In the following passage, Peter preached the Word of God to a group of unsaved people. They believed in Christ and were born again in spite of not having been baptized by immersion. Nor had they had hands laid on them. This indicates that neither baptism nor the laying on of hands is essential in order to receive the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost; only faith in Christ.

“And he [Christ] commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost [same Greek word as Holy Spirit] as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. ” (Acts 10:42-48, KJV)

After they had been regenerated Peter commanded them to be baptized (in obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19-20).

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS AN AGENT OF THE NEW BIRTH

Besides the Word of God, the other agent necessary in the new birth is the Spirit. Christ described the new birth as something that is as unpredictable as the wind. He put it like this in John 3:8, “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.” (KJV)

So the new birth comes about through a combination of the Word of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And He Himself gives us the Spirit when we trust in Him.

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39, KJV).

EVIDENCE OF THE NEW BIRTH

We’ll know that we’ve been born again because of the radical change in our lives. Our spiritual blindness will be a thing of the past. Spiritual truths we’d never previously understood will become clear to us. And the Bible will become so meaningful that we’ll want to keep on reading it all the time. We’ll be led and guided by our Saviour and our lives will start bearing spiritual fruit (c/f Galations 5:22). Our priorities will change to such an extent that our lives will never, ever be the same again. And we’ll be able to testify to the reality of 2 Corinthians 5:17:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (KJV).

Paul expressed the implications of the new birth in these terms:

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14, KJV).

Becoming a Christian isn’t possible other than through being spiritually regenerated (born again). And it’s only Christ’s Spirit indwelling us that makes us Christians.

“… Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9, KJV).

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12, KJV)

The following articles have a bearing on what we have just read:

This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.

Copyright © 2013 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.

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