A Christian friend recently asked me the question: “Is it possible that some Mormons are saved?”
The question got me thinking about how difficult it is for Christians that have never been Mormon nor been close enough to Mormonism to really understand the big picture of what stands in between the Mormon and Salvation. While answering this simple question, I’ll attempt here to illustrate the big picture in a way that Christians may understand what the real hindrances standing between Mormons and Salvation are.
The short answer to the question is, yes. I believe that it is certainly possible for a Mormon to be saved - although I believe that most are not. I know that I was not born again as a faithful LDS church member, even though I “believed” in Jesus Christ and wanted desperately to please God. It was not that I didn’t want to be saved. It was that I didn’t believe that I could be. And I certainly didn’t believe that I could be saved except in and through the Mormon Church.
THE BIG PICTURE
Mormons do "believe" in Jesus as the Savior and Son of God. But the Jesus of Mormonism plays a different role and believing in and putting your faith in Him is not the way to receive eternal life.
Instead of Jesus being the one and only Son of God and the only worthy lamb who could be the sacrifice for the sins of the world, Jesus is one billions of sons and daughters of God. He is our brother, as is Satan, the devil. And Jesus did not just come to earth to teach His word, show His divine power through the works that He did, and offer His own life and allow His own blood to be shed for the sins of mankind - so that everyone who believes in Him would be saved. Instead, part of the major essence of Mormonism (and really what prevents Mormons from having "faith unto salvation") is that Jesus was really a man on a mission that He was chosen to do. Jesus had several important “missions” to perform here on earth:
1) He had to get a physical body (a requisite for exaltation and Godhood);
2) He had prove Himself worthy, by perfectly keeping all of God’s commandments, being perfectly obedient and living a perfect and sinless life (as the perfect “example” for us to follow);
3) He had to establish His one true church (an actual organization – which is now embodied in the Mormon Church) with proper authority (Mormon priesthood) to perform the necessary saving ordinances that may only be performed by authorized priesthood holders (Mormon men). The priesthood is key, because no unauthorized ordinances without Mormon priesthood authority are effective. [The necessary ordinances requisite for entry into God's Kingdom (the Celestial Kingdom), the highest of 3 Kingdoms, are: baptism, confirmation, LDS temple endowment - and for entry into the highest degree of God's Kingdom and "exaltation with eternal increase (creating and reigning over your own worlds as Gods) you must also be married and sealed in an LDS temple].
4) Having established His one true church and proven Himself worthy, Jesus was then able to pay the price for the sins of mankind. He did this not as the sacrificial lamb on the Cross. Rather, Jesus paid the price for the sins of the world when he had the “weight” of the sins of the world placed upon Him in the Garden of Gethsemane (which caused Him to bleed from every pore – this is the primary atoning blood, according to Mormon doctrine).
5) Having paid the price for the sins of the world in Gethsemane, Jesus could then be killed on the Cross – which was primarily the doorway to death and the resurrection.
6) Having laid down His life, Jesus was then raised from the dead by the power of God (the Priesthood) and received a perfect and immortal resurrected body of flesh and bone, as His Father has (yes, Mormons believe the God has a glorified and perfect body of flesh and bone).
7) Having perfectly performed His appointed mission, Jesus was then able to enter into God’s Kingdom and to take His seat at the right hand of God the Father.
Understanding Jesus as the man with the “mission” and the man who is the perfect “example” that we must look to and emulate is key to understanding Mormonism and the salvation question. It is one reason why you will not generally hear Mormons teaching or saying that we must believe in Christ in order to come into God’s Kingdom (they don’t say “saved”, because salvation to Mormons is merely being resurrected with a body of flesh and bone that will not die – because of Christ’s resurrection, all will be resurrected and “saved” in this respect. But it is in this “bodily” respect only – “Eternal Life” is entrance into and life in God’s Kingdom, the Celestial Kingdom).
WHAT IT MEANS FOR MORMONS TO "FOLLOW" CHRIST
Mormons often say that we must “follow” Christ. What that means to them is that we must follow Christ’s example and do what He did and what He commanded. According to Mormon beliefs and doctrines, “following Christ” means that we must:
1) Find the one true church that Christ established (the Mormon Church) and gain a “testimony” of its truthfulness (which means that we receive a “witness” of the Holy Ghost, a warm fuzzy burning in our hearts, that enables us to have the conviction to say that we “know” that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that he restored Christ’s one true church to the earth, that each subsequent LDS prophet is a prophet of God and mouthpiece for God, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that everything about Mormonism is right and true).
2) Once we have gained a testimony of the truthfulness of the Mormon Church, we must fulfill all of God’s commandments by being obedient to all of the laws and ordinances of the gospel. This means that we must be baptized by Mormon priesthood holders, we must be confirmed as a member of the church and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost from a Mormon priesthood holder. We must then be endowed in a Mormon Temple. In order to reach the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, we must be married in a Mormon Temple by the priesthood authority. We must then be completely obedient to the church’s leaders and keep all of the commandments (Word of Wisdom – no coffee, tea or alcohol; be chaste, keep the Sabbath day, etc.).
If you miss any of these requirements, you may not enter into the Celestial Kingdom and will instead be relegated to a “lesser” kingdom, based on how good/bad you were in this life.
WHAT MORMONISM TEACHES THAT WE MUST BELIEVE IN
While believing that Jesus Christ is our “savior” and the Son of God is “part” of the requirement for entrance into God’s Kingdom, it is only part of the picture. You will not hear in Mormon teachings that it is by “faith in Christ” that we are saved. Instead, the real “faith” issue is believing that the Mormon Church is the one and only true church and that the Mormon Church is the only path that can enable us to enter God’s Kingdom. According to Mormon Beliefs, to “believe in Christ” means that you do all of the long list of “must do” items and are completely obedient and faithful to the God and the Church until the end.
Another thing that is important to distinguish and understand is that Mormons do believe that Jesus paid for the sins of the world. But repentance in Mormon beliefs and teaching is much like the blood atonement of old testament times where the sacrifice covered the sins of the people for the year and sacrifice had to be continually done because they are sinful and continue to sin. Where Christians see Christ's sacrifice as enabling the believer to be cleansed through His blood and made the righteousness of God in Christ (justified through Christ), Mormons believe that repentance is ongoing and covers only the specific sin repented of (and if you repeat the sin, the earlier repented of sin comes back on you and is laid to your guilt). And, before we can be forgiven, we must prove to God that we've done everything we can to make good on the sin and that we are worthy of forgiveness. We are not justified through Christ because of what He has done. According to Mormonism, we are justified only after all we can do (throughout our entire lifetime of being completely faithful to the church and all of its laws and commandments). Then grace can come into effect – if we merit it.
THE CROWNING EVENT FOR A MORMON
The crowning event for Mormons in this life is not being "saved" through faith in Christ. It is the moment when a person gains a "testimony" of the truthfulness of the Mormon Church and everything related thereto (the "burning in the bosom" that is a witness from the Holy Ghost, according to Mormon beliefs). Once you have a "testimony" of the truthfulness of the church, you can then join it and go through all the necessary ordinances and prove yourself worthy to one day enter into God's Kingdom. Unlike biblical "Salvation" through faith in Christ, to Mormons salvation is a "process" of perfecting yourself and making yourself worthy enough in the sight of God. God's grace comes only "after all you can do".
In sum, Mormons generally are prevented from being saved simply because they don't believe that we can be saved through faith in Christ alone. Their faith is truly on the Church (as providing the only true path to God). Yes, Jesus is in there. But not truly as the sole source of life and salvation (even though Mormons will quote those bible verses too - but they have a completely different meaning to them - in essence, we are saved through faith in Christ only after all we can to prove ourselves worthy of it - by perfectly following the path set forth in Mormonism and jumping through all the necessary hoops).
This is a whole lot of baggage for Mormons and it is very difficult to overcome to enable them to look to Christ alone and believe in Him. They can't separate Christ from the church (the Mormon Church and God - they are almost synonomous – You can’t truly believe in God and not be in the Church). Their eyes and sincere faith are diverted from where it should be.
When a Mormon hears Christians witnessing about how we can be saved by putting our faith in Christ, accepting the free gift of what He has done for us, and inviting Him to come into our hearts and become the Lord of our life, Mormons are rolling their eyes and thinking how little we know – “it’s not that simple” they will say. “We have to do a LOT more to prove ourselves worthy to come into God’s Kingdom. Faith in Christ alone will not do it. We have to follow Christ by coming to Him through His church and all of its laws and ordinances that are necessary for salvation.”
The bottom line answer to the real question posed is that certainly a Mormon can be saved while still a Mormon. Some do come to the light while still a member of the Mormon Church. A person certainly can be born again while still a Mormon Church member. Faith in and acceptance of the the true and living Christ and God's free gift of grace is all that is required - there is no requirement that someone leave the Mormon Church or any other institution before being saved. Once Christ comes into the heart, He can begin to steer the ship and enable the new believer (a new creature in Him) to understand His Word, enable the scales of darkness to fall from the eyes and enable His new creature to make the changes that He wants the person to make.
For more articles on how Mormonism compares to biblical Christianity see www.truthshallsetufree.com
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