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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Born of Water and the Spirit

“We Must Be Born of Water and of the Spirit”
Compared to the Bible by Connie Raddon

Color Key:
Quotes from the LDS Ensign in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.
All my own words are black.

In the February 2013 issue of the Ensign, the section “What We Believe” is about being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It is on pg. 14-15.

The article begins, “We believe we must be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (through an ordinance called confirmation) to be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

The LDS Church teaches that there are requirements to be saved in the kingdom of heaven.  Right here they mention two – the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. 

However, the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace alone – not by grace plus ordinances.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  Eph 2:8-9

Another way to say that we are saved in the kingdom of heaven is to say that we are justified.  Justified means to be made perfectly righteous in the eyes of God. 

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ…” 
Gal 2:16

When the LDS leaders teach that you MUST do something (like be baptized) in order to be saved in the kingdom, they are making it a law.  The Bible teaches that the law does not save us, but faith in Christ alone saves us. 

The article goes on to say, “The Savior taught, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’. (John 3:5)”

The LDS Church teaches that “born of water” means the ordinance of water baptism, and “born of the Spirit” means the ordinance of confirmation, or receiving the Holy Ghost.  However, when we study that verse in context, we find it to mean something different.  Here is the text that surrounds the quoted verse– where Nicodemus is confused about how a man can be born a second time.

“Jesus answered  and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’
Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”  John 3:3-6

When Jesus explains it to Nicodemus, he says “born of water”.  And then he clarifies, “born of flesh.”  Therefore, “born of water” means “born of flesh”.  In other words, it means when we are born physically into this world.  And being “born again” means to be born of the Spirit.  Jesus is not talking about baptism.

“The Lord also taught that the ordinance of baptism – like all other gospel ordinances – must be performed by a worthy priesthood holder…”

This idea is exclusive to the LDS religion.  It’s fine if they believe that ordinances are required for salvation, or that the priesthood was restored, or even believe that it’s somehow possible for any priesthood holder to be “worthy” – HOWEVER, the LDS Church claims to be Christian, and claims that they believe in the Bible.  Therefore, this is a contradiction in their claims. 

First of all, the Bible teaches that no one is “worthy”. 

“What then?  Are we better than they?  Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one’.”
Romans 3:9-10

Second, the priesthood of the Bible (the one that the LDS Church claims to have been restored only to them) was given to the descendants of Aaron.  It was the lineage that was required – not righteousness or worthiness.  Also, the priesthood of the Bible has nothing to do with baptism.  The purpose of the Biblical priesthood was for a high priest to make animal sacrifices to cover the sins of the people.  The priests and high priests had ceremonial washings in order to prepare for these sacrifices, but they had nothing to do with baptism, or confirmation.

I’m thrilled to point out that this next sentence in the article is Biblically accurate! 

“Baptism by immersion symbolizes the burial of the sinner and the spiritual rebirth of the person to live in ‘newness of life’.” (Romans 6:4)

Baptism is just that – a symbol.  It’s an outward symbol of what has happened on the inside – that we have died in our old self, and become united with Christ to become a new creature. 
(2 Cor. 5:17)  It is not, however a requirement for salvation.  It is something new believers do to obey and be identified with Jesus.  It’s just a symbol.

But then the LDS Church adds some kind of “covenant” that is not found anywhere in the Bible.

“Baptism also includes a sacred covenant, a promise, between Heavenly Father and the individual who is baptized.  We covenant to keep His commandments, serve Him and His children, and take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.  He promises to forgive our sins, ‘pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [us]’ (Mosiah 18:10), and offer us eternal life.”

What this means is that once you are baptized, if you break any of the commandments, God is no longer under a covenant to forgive you, give you the Holy Spirit, or offer you eternal life.  What a heavy, crushing burden to bear!  The only way around this is to delude yourself into thinking that you can actually keep all the commandments all the time. I’m sure there are many people who are comfortable with living in that delusion for now.  But the eternal consequence of that choice is NOT heaven.   The Church does offer a process of repentance – but that is a topic that needs its own article because it, also, a burden on the people, lengthy to describe, and impossible to really do.

The final note of the article is this:  “By baptism and confirmation we become ‘fellow citizens with the saints’ in the ‘household of God’.”  (Ephesians 2:19)

If we read this verse in context, it actually disproves that baptism and confirmation are what bring us into the household of God.

Ephesians 2: 11-19
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh… that you were at that time separate from Christ… But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

(Read that one more time – were we brought near by baptism and confirmation?   No – BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.)

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances…

Jesus abolished the enmity. 
What was the enmity?  The Law of commandments. 
What was the Law of commandments contained in?  Ordinances!

…so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross… So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.”

The leadership of the LDS Church has continued to teach that the ordinances of baptism and confirmation are required for entrance into the kingdom of heaven.  The Bible teaches that they are not.  Being united with Jesus Christ is the entrance. 

The teachings in the February 2013 issue of the Ensign
are NOT Biblical, and therefore,
NOT consistent with Christian beliefs.

Brigham Young issued a challenge on May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46):  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the February 2013 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

Resources used for this article:
The Word of God (The Bible)
The LDS magazine, “The Ensign”