Conversion 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).
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).
—See True to the Faith (2004), 40-43
Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.
This is the call of Christ to every Christian today: “Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.”
The Book of Mormon is the best guide to learn how well we are doing and how to do better.
Some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes. They do not “feel so now.”
Additional Study Materials
Bible Dictionary, 650
Guide to the Scriptures
Watch Elder David A. Bednar talk about the “rescue” and learn how members can play an important role in strengthening others in the conversion process.
Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 26