The Power of the Spirit in Conversion
“Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 12:2)
What is the purpose of the Holy Ghost in a person’s Conversion? How is that conversion an active process on our part and how is it just a blessing given from a loving Holy Spirit? I have collected a few quotes from the Church website, and a few good books as well as the scriptures to help us to understand how this conversion takes place so we may enjoy our life more and share the gospel with others more effectively. I also hope to answer the question the scripture from Ezekiel points to; what eyes and ears allow us to see when much is made confusing in a world of conflicting opinions and even reports of events in the media.
“Conversion,” as described at the Church web site, “includes a change in behavior, but it goes beyond behavior; it is a change in our very nature. It is such a significant change that the Lord and His Prophets refer to it as a rebirth, a change of heart, and a baptism of fire.” The Lord said: “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).
At this time of great moral, financial and political conflict this following scripture puts our conversions and the need to help others into perspective. As we become more converted ourselves it also adds weight to our responsibilities to share the truth that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In March of 1839, from the bleak dungeon that was Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled the Church,
“There are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men … and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C123:12)
Quoting again from LDS.org “Conversion is a process, not an event. Conversion comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior. These efforts include exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faith.
Although conversion is miraculous and life changing, it is a quiet miracle. Angelic visitations and other spectacular occurrences do not bring conversion.” Even Alma, who saw an angel, became converted only after he “fasted and prayed many days” for a witness of the truth (Alma 5:46).
And Paul, who saw the resurrected Savior, taught that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Book of Mormon provides descriptions of people who are converted to the Lord:
They desire to do good. King Benjamin’s people declared, “The Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).
Alma spoke of people who “could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence” (Alma 13:12).
They do not rebel against the Lord. Mormon told of a group of Lamanites who had been wicked and bloodthirsty but who were “converted unto the Lord” (Alma 23:6).
These people changed their name to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and “became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren” (Alma 23:7).
They share the gospel. Enos, Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, the sons of Mosiah, Amulek, and Zeezrom dedicated themselves to preaching the gospel after they became converted to the Lord (see Enos 1:26; Mosiah 18:1; 27:32-37; Alma 10:1–12; 15:12).
They are filled with love. After the resurrected Savior visited the people in the Americas, “the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. . . .”
“And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
“And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.”
“There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God” (4 Nephi 1:2, 15–17).
Gordon B Hinckley in 1996 speaking to College Institute students promised..
“The Church needs every one of you. It needs your strength. It needs your energy. It needs your enthusiasm. It needs your loyalty and devotion and faith.
Regardless of your way of doing things in the past, I offer you a challenge this night to square your lives with the teachings of the gospel, to look upon this Church with love and respect and appreciation as the mother of your faith, to live your lives as an example of what the gospel of Jesus Christ will do in bringing happiness to an individual.”(Gordon B Hinckley, True to the Faith)
I find this promise a comfort and inspiration for my conversion as it continues today. We obviously have a great part in our own conversion. Obedience is paramount to staying close to the Holy Ghost that we may keep on the straight and narrow way leading back to Heavenly Father.
“Plead with God in the name of Christ to write the gospel in your mind that you may have understanding and in your heart that you may love to do His will.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “When Thou Art Converted” Ensign, May 2004)
Ezekiel said to an unrepentant and non converted Israel who were scattered and looked lost to Ezekiel; conversion is like the Lord taking away our “stony heart” and giving us a heart that loves Him and His gospel. “19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”(Ezekiel 11:19–20)
King Benjamin’s people were converted by the Holy Ghost and this verse gives us a clue as to how we will act and even think during and after conversion:
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. (Mosiah 5:2)
The Apostles needed to be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to internalize the acts of being Christ Like. Jesus Christ will have a humble and childlike people as His Church. The more a Christian is a leader the more this trait shows. Think of our Bishop current and past ones as well as all leaders who effectively lead the Park Center Ward all the way to the First Presidency in Utah. The Spirit is more effective when listened to and obeyed.
“Those who belong to Christ must become like children in obedience, truthfulness, trustfulness, purity, humility and faith. (James E. Talmage in “Jesus The Christ” pp. 387-388)
Peter, Though an Apostle of Jesus Christ while in his physical presence was not converted as shown in Luke 22. Just before Peter denied knowing Christ, before a cold dawn when Christ had spent the night suffering for our sins..
31 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”(Luke 22:31-32)
Joseph Smith realized conversions were needed and received revelation for the Apostles while the Restored Gospel was just going out to the world in 1832.
“12 And pray for thy brethren of the Twelve. Admonish them sharply for my name’s sake, and let them be admonished for all their sins, and be ye faithful before me unto my name. 13 And after their temptations, and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will feel after them, and if they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted, and I will heal them.”(D&C 112:12-13)
“Your happiness now and forever is conditioned on your degree of conversion and the transformation that it brings to your life.” (Richard G. Scott “Full Conversion Brings Happiness” Ensign, May 2002)
If we lack a conversion it is hard to share ours. There is comfort in the fact that a conversion comes line upon line and continues to grow, just as even the Apostles needed time and faithfulness to obtain a conversion. As our conversion develops and is used to assist others to obtain their precious conversion we will become more secure in our own happiness. I pray we will be converted to see with eyes enlightened and hear with ears sharpened by the Holy Spirit’s wonderful gift always in our lives.