What is necessary for conversion

The Gospel of Matthew quotes Jesus as teaching, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”[5]

Hebrews 5:12-14 tells us what must occur:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

He mentions that, since the Father and Christ have given us so much—even allowing us to share in God’s nature—we should strive to add to our faith. Just believing that God is and that He has forgiven our sins is not enough (James 2:19). Among other things, we must grow in these qualities: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. If we work to instill these godly attributes into our characters, we will be producing the kind of fruit that God wants to see in us (John 15:1-8).

The born-again theme is stressed in Mosiah, a Book of Mormon prophet:

“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 27:25–26).

Conversion can also be based upon events which will happen far in the future. Jacob, the brother of Nephi preaches publically to the wicked Sherem the unbeliever of Christ to come. Sherem demands a sign and is destroyed, but the Nephite multitude hears and receives together a testimony of Christ and are converted. They seek after peace, righteousness and scriptural study.

This cleansing and converting is described in many places in the Book of Mormon, notably in Alma 23 where Lamanites in seven lands and cities are converted. They “laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yes, all their weapons of war…” They became industrious and were relieved of the curse of God – remaining a filthy, loathsome people. The Amalekites, another group, continued to “harden their hearts…” We see that the gifts of conversion to a righteous state from an unrighteous one includes industry and economic success, a house of order and a house of faith.

Doctrine and Covenants 109 covers the text of the Dedicatory Prayer at that dedication of the Kirtland Temple in Ohio. Joseph Smith wrote that this prayer was given him through revelation. Among its many features, the prayer calls for the unrepentant to be confounded and the Jews, Lamanites and all of Israel to be redeemed. That speech is essentially a prayer to Heavenly Father asking for a grand conversion of many peoples throughout time and the Prophet details some of the essential parts of a heart turned toward the Lord:

55 aRemember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people, and the churches, all the poor, the needy, and afflicted ones of the earth;

56 That their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name; that their prejudices may give way before the atruth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all;

67 And may all the scattered remnants of aIsrael, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from boppression, and rejoice before thee.

The process of changing a heart from a worldly vessel to a spiritual one is profound and lasting. It is greatly to be hoped for and often practiced by each of God’s children throughout their earthly lives, so that the promised gifts can be given of Heavenly Father to them.


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