There is a divinely ordained law that governs the milestone event of being born again. It really doesn’t matter if that rebirth process takes place over most of a lifetime, involving hundreds of acts of righteousness, and slow incremental applications of atoning grace, or if it occurs as a powerful change that sweeps across one’s soul, taking with it much of our unrighteous mindset and behavior, leaving a newly-born child of Christ in its wake.
The blessings are the same in both cases – as is the act that triggers it.
This is the magnificence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that it not only provides a pathway for us to seek and obtain these great blessings, of which being born again is actually a place to begin our journey to greater things, but that it enables us to actually become sufficiently Christlike to qualify for them.
The apparent pathway of extreme discipline, eliminating each errant act and action from our walk and talk by the willpower of man – is not a true principle. It does not work, and is not a part of the pathway to these glorious blessings of Christ’s grace. This wrong pathway requires us to literally perfect ourselves in order to qualify for these blessings. The term “working out your own salvation” when viewed in this light of perfection by discipline, is not a correct principle.
The way it does works, is that we submit ourselves to the will of Christ in all things – not just the big, mighty acts of self-sacrifice, but in all things. We dedicate ourselves to do every good thing, the small and sometimes great things that the Spirit leads us to do every minute of every day – and then the grace of Jesus Christ changes us. He changes our nature – purifying our inner being. Like the brethren of King of Benjamin, we have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually. Then – and only then, does obedience cease to be a sacrifice. It’s like miraculously obtaining a deep love of exercise – it evolves from a task, into a delight to our souls.
This then is the law – decide and covenant, while within the embrace of the Holy Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ forevermore. It isn’t some great self-immolating act that qualifies us, it is an unchangeable decision to obey.
After King Benjamin taught his people this principle and power of being born again, they were all changed and all born again. His people proclaimed, “We are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments, in all things … all the remainder of our days.” (Mosiah 5:5) They were giving voice to a mighty decision made prior to their rebirth. “We are willing!”
I can almost hear his aged voice rising with the power of God as in great joy and rejoicing he proclaimed in benediction, “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.” (Mosiah 5:7)
© August 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.