On the previous Un-Blog we discussed the Straight and Narrow Way, and the Baptism of Fire. I want to discuss today how to tell if one has been Born Again.
The list I included in the previous Un-Blog includes various names the scriptures use to describe this grand spiritual upgrade. It is interesting and wonderful that it takes so many names to describe it. One of the factors bringing forth so many names is that there is not just one rebirth, or might change we enjoy, but there is a continuum of them.
Each name describes being Born Again at some level, and since there are many levels, there are many names.
Let’s also note that there is not one format for the being Born Again. Different people experience each level differently, and with more or lesser emphasis. For some it is one long process that ends in a serene righteousness. For others, it is many events which immerse them in spiritual fire. It is even true that some people experience much of it without realizing it, as did the Lamanites in 3 Nephi 9:20.
My guess is that most people don’t realize they have been Born Again until later. So, the question is, how can you tell if you’ve already experienced being Born Again, and on what level. One can tell by the spiritual attributes you possess.
If you have developed, or have been given by a powerful experience, some of these attributes in some degree, not all and not perfectly, but in some degree, then you have been Born Again on some level. If you have all of them, then you have been Born Again in the greatest sense possible:
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Testimony of Jesus Christ
- Love of God
- Love of fellow man
- Obedient to counsel
- Willing to submit to all things
- Patient in suffering
- Love of the Scriptures
- Delight in prayer
- Become as a little child
- Full of Faith, Hope and Charity
- Possess some of the gifts of the Spirit: Faith, testimony of Jesus Christ, Belief, Discernment, Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith to be healed, Faith to heal, Miracles, Prophecy, Discerning spirits, speaking or interpretation of tongues – and many others.
- Have a perfect knowledge of Christ
- Possess the fullness of the Priesthood
If you possess some of these gifts, and if they flow forth from you in things you do and say, then you have been born again on some level. If you felt it once, but no longer do, then you were born again, and have allowed yourself to step back.
Now, let me state the not-so-obvious. There are many stages and many degrees of being born again. There is the moment when someone knows by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ. This is a very real moment when the Holy Ghost changes us. It is a necessary step for every mortal and is the nativity of a Christ-filled life. On the far end of that same journey is the moment the heavens open, the veil parts, and we step into the presence of Jesus Christ; when we no longer have faith in Christ, but a personal and perfect knowledge of Him; when we have become like Him, and have His image and perfections in our countenances. This is not just a “mighty change” but the mightiest change mankind may enjoy and still remain upon the earth.
So, between these two glorious bookends of the “Born Again” continuum there are many milestone upgrades to our souls which change us by Grace and prepare us for the “Perfect Day” when Christ shall appear. Each of these incrementally greater changes is a Rebirth, an awakening and a Mighty Change. Each of them happens because we acted upon and fully embraced the light where we were, and at that level we were perfect in obedience, and then the next step along the path took us to another Grace-empowered rebirth.
Let me illustrate this process in over-simplified terms.
Someone studies the scripture, or embraces the testimony of another, and in an inspired moment their heart burns for the first time with a testimony that Jesus is the Christ. Most probably, this happens in the Christian universe, not within the relatively tiny orbit of the LDS church.
This person’s life will change dramatically. Suddenly, there is a whole world of things to learn and to do. There is action required, commandments to live, a commitment to make, possibly a baptism to submit to, scriptures to study and service to render. The voice of the Holy Spirit becomes more audible, urging obedience and compliance with the law of Christ.
If that newly minted Christian will submit, obey and act, then another dispensation of Grace will bring that person to a greater rebirth. If they do not act upon these things their testimony of Christ is urging them to do, then they remain at this level or decline. But, they do not advance spiritually.
At some point, they will receive the opportunity to hear the truths of the Restored Gospel, and the Holy Spirit will urge them to listen and to comply. When they do, further and greater opportunities open before them. They receive greater ordinances empowered by true priesthood power. The blessings of the Temple become available and covenants begin to operate in their lives.
If they live true and faithful to these greater things, angels, seen and unseen, work in their lives. Miracles happen, great opportunities for service appear. Grace flows like a river and covenants define a more narrow and exacting course of life.
If they obey, embrace and covenant, then they are born again, and again and again. Calling and Election occurs, splitting the night sky with spiritual lightning. Doctrine of the priesthood distills upon the soul, visions, miracles and angelic ministrations bless and protect. Each change is a mighty one, and each is a rebirth.
In the furthest reaches of human believing, we begin to see the veil before us, and the blessings of a personal experience with Jesus Christ beckoning us into His light.
Every step requires obedience to truths known, and promptings heard. Each step is unavoidable and cannot be skipped or zoomed over. Each step is in itself a rebirth, an awakening and a mighty change. Each occurs by the Grace of Christ, and each is a Baptism of Fire in some degree until we actually enter the fire of divine presence.
Next on the Un-Blog: Obtaining the Baptism of Fire and of the Holy Ghost
© March 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.