- What do Mormons believe about salvation?
When I asked two Mormon missionaries, “Do you believe you are saved by grace through faith?” they answered, absolutely. I thought to myself, how can this be? I was told they didn’t believe in salvation by grace through faith. I thought they believed they are saved by good works.
What I didn’t realize was that even though they could say they believed in salvation by grace, what they believed was far from what I believed. The difference was in the definitions.
When a Mormon hears the words salvation or saved, they think of resurrection. In their belief system there is no sin passed down from Adam. Everyone is born neutral, no original sin. Therefore Jesus didn’t die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. They believe through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross every person, believer or non-believer, will be resurrected after death. Salvation = resurrection and not payment for sin! Everybody, other than those that are headed for “outer darkness” (Mormon Hell), will be resurrected. The resurrection or salvation of everyone is possible through grace; a gift of God. They call this general salvation or saved by grace. This is why they could agree with me when I said, “Are you saved by grace through faith?” What they hear is, “Are you resurrected when you die by grace through faith?” And they’ll respond yes.
So one purpose for Christ’s dying on the cross is resurrection for all or general salvation. A second purpose is to set the person on the road towards exaltation or individual salvation. Through individual salvation, a Mormon can move up to a higher heaven based on good works (We will talk about these heavens later). Some of the good works include: Faith in Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, temple work (ex. missionaries), tithing 10% and baptism. In order to move up levels in heaven a Mormon must do good works. If he fails to do good works he will be stuck in the lowest level. The goal of every Mormon is to attain exaltation through good works in this life. Exaltation is the highest level where Mormons become a god, if he or she is good enough.
The Book of Mormon says this about grace: “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” (2 Nephi 25:23). Here Joseph Smith is addressing individual salvation. Salvation by faith alone is not enough; Mormons must add doing all they can do to grace. However, adding good works to faith goes against the clear teachings of the Bible.
One of the major themes in the Book of Galatians is to condemn the heresy of adding anything to the free gift of grace. Works plus grace is a different gospel. Paul wrote to the Galatian Church to warn against adding anything to grace. In Galatians 1:6-9, the Apostle Paul was cautioning the new converts to Christianity; he could have also been speaking to the Mormons. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” The gospel is not the resurrection, but that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Grace is a free gift of God and cannot be earned. God will condemn every Mormon that brings this different gospel of grace plus works. This is one reason why Mormonism is so dangerous.