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Mormon Beliefs: Salvation

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According to the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term Salvation means, "to be saved from both physical and spiritual death." Mormons believe that every person will be saved from physical death by the grace of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, every living thing on earth will be resurrected after death. In the resurrection, living things become immortal, and cannot suffer death or disease. Only in the resurrected state can we experience a fulness of joy. Because of the resurrection offered us by the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sin of Adam is paid for and overcome. Adam's fall brought death into the world, and Christ's atonement overcame it.

Overcoming Spiritual Death

Most Christians have a simplistic view of heaven and hell. Heaven is where God and His angels dwell, and hell is where all non-believers go. Revealed scripture and modern revelation has greatly expanded this view.

In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2:4 it says,

And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

Mormons believe that nearly all people, even those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, will go to heaven. This is the most inclusive view of heaven in all Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 15:40-42, the apostle Paul speaks of the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Kingdoms of heaven. Elsewhere, he mentions "the third heaven." Thus we know that in addition to there being many mansions in heaven, there are three kingdoms that differ in glory. Paul says the glory of the Celestial may be compared to the sun, the glory of the Terrestrial Kingdom may be compared to the Moon, and the glory of the Telestial Kingdom may be compared to the stars. It stands to reason that men and women must qualify themselves for one of these kingdoms. We know we must stand at the bar of God after we are resurrected. All Christian faiths believe in a judgment. Is it enough to confess a belief in Christ for God to exalt us? The apostle John says no. In the Book of Revelation, it says,

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Rev. 3:21).
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works (Rev. 20:12, 13).
He that overcometh shall inherit call things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Rev. 21:7, 8).
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life (v. 27).
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city (Rev. 22:12, 14).

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is manifested in a life of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and service to Christ" (LDS Guide to the Scriptures).

This definition explains why some scriptures say "salvation is free" and others say, "work out your own salvation with fear" (see Philippians 2:12).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that salvation means "like unto" Christ, "and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings; and for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed; and on this hinge turns the door of salvation" (Lectures on Faith, pp. 63-67).

In this instance, as in many conversations among Latter-day Saints, the word 'salvation' actually refers to exaltation into the very presence of God in the highest kingdom of heaven. We cannot attain exaltation without the grace of Christ. No one can perform enough good works to get there on his or her own power.

The "works" spoken of in the holy scriptures that are necessary for exaltation are as follows:

  • Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Repentance
  • Keeping the commandments of God.
  • Exercising charity, the pure love of Christ.
  • Forgiving others their transgressions.
  • Enduring in faith in the face of trial.
  • Making covenants and partaking of saving ordinances, such as baptism.


Salvation of Children

Mormon doctrine teaches that little children under the age of eight years old, and others who are mentally incapable of discerning good from evil or understanding the mechanics of repentance, are saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ and exalted. For this reason, the Church does not practice infant baptism. It is believed instead, that a child cannot truly sin until he reaches the age of accountability, which is set at eight years old. All children who die before eight receive spiritual salvation (exaltation) and dwell with God eternally.

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See also Animals, Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Kingdoms