Mormon Beliefs: Plan of Salvation
Mormons believe that "through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." (See Third Article of Faith.) Mankind may thus return to live with God as glorified, eternal beings. However, the conditions that Christ requires individuals to fulfill do not of themselves merit salvation, but are required for other reasons. It is only through His merits, mercy, and grace that salvation comes.
The gift of immortality is freely given to all because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and his subsequent Resurrection (See 1 Corinthians 15:22), although salvation from sin, or spiritual death, is conditional. Entrance to the highest Heavenly Kingdom, the "Celestial Kingdom" (See 1 Corinthians 15:40), is only granted to those who accept Jesus through baptism into the Church by its priesthood authority, follow Church doctrine, and live righteous lives. Faith alone, or faith without works, (i.e. dead faith), is not considered sufficient to attain exaltation. (See James 2:26.)
The gift of mercy and grace will ultimately be given to all who do not commit the unpardonable sin, denying the Holy Ghost. All those who do not do this will receive a degree of glory. "For every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess...that [Jesus] is God." (see ,Mosiah 27:31) But not all will recieve exaltation, the highest degree of glory.
Exaltation is the reward which Mormons believe is a gift given to the righteous who have endured faithfully, trusting in Jesus Christ and repenting of their sins. This includes those whose first opportunity to hear the gospel is in the afterlife (see baptism for the dead). Through the process of exaltation, a person can eventually become like Jesus Christ, or as it is expressed in scripture, a joint-heir with Him (See Romans 8:17.)
For More Information visit The Plan of Salvation explained with illustration and scriptures, The Plan of Salvation on MeetMormonMissionaries.org
The Steps of the Plan of Salvation
- Before a person is born into the mortal world (earth-life) he lived with Heavenly Father. All people are His children. They learned, formed relationships, and developed talents in the pre-mortal existence. However, they could only progress so far, so Heavenly Father presented them with a way to become more like Him.
- Those who chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan in the pre-mortal life have been or will be born. Birth is the way they gain physical bodies, and is an important step in the plan of salvation.
- This time on earth is like a test. Everyone needs to learn how to have faith in God and follow His commandments. People are also learning how to live in and lead families.
- According to Mormonism these were necessary steps. The Fall is actually a positive event that provides the necessary mortal experience which is needed to become like God.
- Like birth, death is a doorway into a new life. Through death people again enter the Spirit world.
- In the spirit world there will be two conditions of existence, spirit prison; for those who did not have the opportunity to learn the gospel of Christ or who rejected it, and spirit paradise, for the righteous. Those in spirit prison will have the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel.
- The term "spirit prison" does not have the same connotation as a "prison" on earth, but only means that a spirit in that condition cannot advance in light, knowledge and preparation for eternity until he receives the covenants of the gospel of Christ. Those who performed good works and did not commit major sins while living by the light and knowledge that they had, will rest from care and sorrow but will still need to progress, hence their condition can be described as a spirit prison, but it is a good place. The wicked, however, will suffer in spirit prison, though they will still have an opportunity to hear the plan of repentance, forgiveness, and salvation through Jesus Christ.
- This is the reuniting of the body and spirit. Every person who has ever lived will be resurrected.
- After resurrection, men are brought before the judgment bar of Christ. All will be judged for their actions during mortality. Each person will be put into one of four places based on his actions: the Celestial (highest) kingdom, Terrestrial kingdom, Telestial kingdom, Outer Darkness (equivalent of Hell, only a few will be sent here).
For Church members, the kingdoms of glory, as follows, are congruent with Christ's words in the New Testament: "In my house there are many mansions..."
The Celestial Kingdom (whose glory is compared to the brightness of the sun in the sky, as its inhabitants have all truth and light) is where the righteous will live with God and with their families. Those who have had the ordinance of eternal marriage, which is performed in temples, and baptism may be exalted if they are found worthy by God. Accountable individuals must be repent and be baptized to gain entrance to the Celestial Kingdom. Mormonism teaches that all children who die before the age of accountability (age eight for people of sound mind) automatically inherit a celestial glory.
Those good people who are not valiant in following Jesus or who do not accept the Gospel do not qualify for exaltation and will be consigned to the Terrestrial Kingdom (whose glory is compared to the brightness of the moon in the sky). This kingdom is one of great glory, but without the presence of God the Father. An ultimate willingness to keep the "law of carnal commandments" (the Ten Commandments) is considered essential to enter this kingdom.
Murderers, other criminals, and the like who do not accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ will eventually spend eternity with people of like intent in the Telestial Kingdom, and their glory will be as that of the stars in the night sky. This is also considered a kingdom of glory and has been described as being better than our current earthly life. All those who do not qualify for a higher degree of glory will automatically enter this kingdom unless they deny the Holy Ghost, a sin it is believed very few people are able to commit. However, those who inherit this kingdom will still have to suffer for a time because of their sins and they will have to pay the penalty for their disobedience in life.
Those few people who do deny the Holy Ghost, after gaining a literal witness that Jesus is the Christ and a full knowledge of the Gospel, willfully deny and contend against the Holy Ghost, are believed to inherit no glory. Most members of the Church refer to this place as Outer Darkness; this is not to be confused with traditional Christianity's definition of the term. Individuals so banished are called Sons of Perdition. forgiveness is not possible for these souls, though they will be resurrected. Cain is an example of a son of perdition. He walked and talked with God, then used his agency to serve Satan.
Enduring to the End
Latter-day Saints believe that life involves enduring to the end in righteousness and faith, and is not just a "one-time" religious experience. A life of discipleship is daily spiritual maintenance, charitable works, and personal development — social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. It also involves overcoming personal trials, attending church and the temple, rearing families, and doing work for the dead. Ultimately, the goal is sanctification, the process of having the same character that God has: perfect love, perfect mercy, and perfect truth.
- Parts of this article were adapted from Wikipedia.