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Have you been born again? This question is pretty common in the Christian world today. And yet there is quite a bit of confusion about what it actually means. A number of New Testament scriptures teach about being born again, but it is most famously discussed in John 3:3. Speaking to a Jewish Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus then went on teach Nicodemus about the ordinance of baptism, saying that “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (v. 5).
Yet some may wonder what Jesus was talking about. Is being born again simply a reference to baptism? Or does it entail more? Is it a single event, or a lengthy process? Does being born again ensure that someone will never sin again, or must one continue to resist temptation? Once someone is born again, can they become … unborn again? And, importantly, how can individuals know if they have personally been born again?
Thankfully, clarifications and additional insights about this key doctrine can be found in the Book of Mormon. Its teachings demonstrate that spiritual rebirth wasn’t some new doctrine that was first revealed during Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry. Rather, it was an ancient doctrine that was known to true followers of Christ long before His birth.
For example, Alma the Younger, after experiencing a miraculous spiritual transformation, declared, “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit” (Mosiah 27:24). Years before, King Benjamin similarly taught, “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” (Mosiah 5:7).
These and other Book of Mormon passages demonstrate that being born again is a process of spiritual transformation that results from faith, repentance, the ordinance of baptism, the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost, a covenant to serve God, and then enduring obedience to God’s commandments throughout one’s life. For more insights into the Book of Mormon’s profound teachings on this topic, read the following KnoWhy: “What Does It Mean to Be ‘Born Again’?”