Mormon.org includes a section titled, “God’s Plan of Salvation.” This section systematically presents Mormon beliefs related to eternal life. It goes like this (my summarization of each point in parentheses):
- “God’s Plan for You”
(To choose good and become more like Heavenly Father)
- “Receiving Our Physical Body”
(God created you and gave you a body of flesh and bone in the likeness of His own body)
- “Adam and Eve Gave Us the Gift of Choice”
(Choosing what God wants results in lasting happiness and progression)
- “The Secret of Happiness”
(True happiness comes from knowing God’s plan and following it)
- “When Bad Things Happen”
(Endure faithfully and be rewarded)
- “God’s Plan – What Jesus Christ Did for Us”
(Jesus voluntarily suffered and paid for our sins by atoning for them Himself. We make His atonement effective in our lives by faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost and following His teachings throughout our lives)
- “What Happens When I Die?”
(Body and spirit are reunited: resurrection)
- “Immortality – One of God’s Greatest Gifts”
(Everyone, “even wicked people,” live forever)
The Mormon plan of salvation is presented with broad strokes, consistent with an Internet environment. The reader gets glimpses of distinctive Mormon doctrine (e.g., God has a body), but does not learn enough of the details to expose Mormonism’s incompatibility with the biblical plan of salvation. That is, not until the very end. As a subheading under the last point on Immortality, the presentation teaches,
“’Will I Go to Heaven?’
“Yes! God will judge all men fairly and reward them appropriately with a place within His kingdom.”
The idea that everyone goes to Heaven is negated in the Bible. As MRM’s web article on Heaven and Hell explains, “The Bible teaches that there is only one of two possible destinations awaiting mankind after death: eternal punishment or eternal life. To those who have been justified by faith and received the righteousness of Christ applied to their account, there awaits a glorious eternity in heaven. To the rest who willfully reject God’s gift of salvation or who attempt to appease God’s demand for perfection by some other way than trusting in the righteousness of Christ, there awaits the terrors of hell” (see also “Will God Save Everyone?”). Though they may not know the specifics of biblical soteriology, most people understand that the Bible says some will go to Heaven and some will go to Hell.
When the Mormon Church tells everyone that they will go to Heaven, it implies that there is no Hell to fear. Thus the Church plays the role that the Book of Mormon ascribes to the devil (see 2 Nephi 28:22).
Furthermore, in addition to being dangerous to the souls of men and women, the Church’s blanket promise is misleading at best. On the Church’s own websites it consistently defines “Heaven” as having two meanings: The expanse around the earth; and “the place where God lives and the future home of the Saints” (or “the faithful”; see here, here and here).
“Heaven” in the context of the afterlife, has definite boundaries imposed by the Mormon definition. It is “the place where God lives” and the place where “the Saints” or “the faithful” will live in the future. The definition does not lend itself to the inclusion of the unfaithful or the Mormon concept of the lower “kingdoms of glory” where God the Father does not live — or even visit.
Pastor Kevin DeYoung (in another context) wrote about the dangers of comforting people with a denial of the biblical teachings on the reality of Hell and God’s wrath:
“Instead of summoning sinners to the cross that they might flee the wrath to come and know the satisfaction of so great a salvation, [it] assures people that everyone’s eternity ends up as heaven eventually. …What if Jesus says on the day of judgment, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23)? What if at the end of the age the wicked and unbelieving cry out, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb’ (Rev. 6:16)? What if outside the walls of the New Jerusalem ‘are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood’ (Rev. 22:15)? What if there really is only one name ‘under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12)? And what if the wrath of God really remains on those who do not believe in the Son (John 3:18, 36)?”
While the Mormon Plan of Salvation might soothe itching ears (1 Timothy 4:3-4), it will not help anyone escape the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Everyone will not go to Heaven. But Jesus is calling you to be reconciled to God through Him – to “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and to be “saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5). Will you respond to His call?
I learned a few years ago that everything that is discussed with a Mormon must draw a sharp distinction between what Mormonism teaches and what orthodox Christianity teaches.
The reason for this is that Mormons/LDS church has tried to make their sects’ doctrines sound amazing just like orthodox Christianity. I would have thought that these Mormon boosters would want to draw those sharp distinctions themselves. That’s what early Mormon leaders did; especially when they went full throttle into their creative mode.
Salvation in the Mormon system doesn’t resemble anything taught in the Bible or practiced in the early church. The claim that Mormonism is a “restoration” of first century Christianity can’t hold up to scrutiny. To-that-end, Mormonism depends on pat slogans, mis-information, obfuscation and I’d say flat out lies, in order to gain converts.
The bottom line is that we can do nothing to earn our salvation. Their is a huge performance gap between what we are and the perfection that God demands. The only way to close that gap is through faith in Christ.
You summed it up clearly . If only people who are investigating Mormonism would examine
it thoroughly , asking the right questions . It’s easy for people to get fooled into thinking that
the Mormon church is the exact church that Jesus established through His apostles 2000
years ago or that Mormonism has the same gospel as Paul preached . Mormon leaders have
attempted to mimic the claims of Jesus’ true apostles and have created an organization and
gospel of salvation which has some similarities as that preached by the original apostles in the
New Testament church . However , what Mormon leaders have succeeded in introducing to
the world is a good imitation , ” another gospel ” , exactly what the apostle Paul warned some
men would introduce after his mission was over —Gal 1:8; 2 Tim 4:3-4 .
The Mormon “restored” gospel is a system , one of laws, rules, ordinances, regulations , and
policies required to do in order to be completely forgiven and receive eternal life . It’s been
called the gospel ” ladder ” , each rung is a law, principle, rule , to be obeyed in order to qualify
for eternal life . The Mormon is a mere candidate for receiving eternal life , he/she must earn
it by climbing the long gospel ladder up to heaven which Mormon leaders have constructed.
Faith in Jesus is merely the first rung on this ladder .
The true gospel , the one Jesus’ true apostles preached in their travels ( Rom 1:16 ; Col.1:20-23)
centered on Jesus and what He did for them /everyone . It has rightly been called the Good
News , and it is simple and efficient to save to the uttermost all who hear it and trust in it’s
author to pardon and give what is offered —eternal life : Rom 3:23; 5:8,10 ; 6 :23 ; 10:9-13 .
Jesus , faith ( trust) in Him alone saves to the uttermost —Heb 7:25 , and there has been many
LDS who once were suck in a life of trying to climb the Mormon gospel ladder who have
found in New Testament that the true gospel which Jesus’ apostles long ago preached is still
able to save completely anyone today , and those Mormons have exchanged their ” restored ” gospel for it , and become free from a man made religious system .
I have to agree with Sharon that this little article is misleading about LDS theology. As you have stated above heaven (from an LDS point of view) is living fully in God’s presence, i.e. the entire Godhead. Everyone will resurected and everyone will end up in God’s Kingdom, but not everyone will make it into heaven.
I can only assume the reason this little blurb is so unclear is because of the brevity of the overview, however they really needed to ad an additional section detailing the three degrees of glory in order for this to make more sense, otherwise it does come off as confusing to say the least.
I would agree with you regarding the LDS site, perhaps, but the history and tradition of the LDS church is to hide what it believes.
The LDS church projects, to the world, a picture that would show it to be just like Biblical Christianity. However we know, for example, that the LDS “god” is not the “God” revealed in the Bible and who is worshiped by orthodox Christians. The LDS Jesus is not the Jesus revealed in the Bible. In fact the “god” of the LDS sect bears no resemblance to the God of the Bible and who has been recognized by Jews and Christians for 4,000 years.
Finally, what is recognized as “salvation” in the Christian tradition, as reflected in the Bible, is not what is taught by the LDS SLC sect. The point of the LDS system is that those men who are successful in the “system” will become gods, rule their own planetary systems and procreate spirit beings with their goddess wives.
I point this out to Christians all the time and it’s always a jaw dropping response I get. The LDS church is not real open about this and to my knowledge it’s not part of the lessons presented to prospects by LDS missionaries.
Sharon’s closing paragraph should not be missed because it’s the point of the article. It reads:
“While the Mormon Plan of Salvation might soothe itching ears (1 Timothy 4:3-4), it will not help anyone escape the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Everyone will not go to Heaven. But Jesus is calling you to be reconciled to God through Him – to “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and to be “saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5). Will you respond to His call?”
So do Mormons understand that the “god” they acknowledge as God and the LDS path of salvation is a contrivance of men and doesn’t reflect the Biblical reality?
This is serious business. The Bible clearly teaches that there is but One God, that we are separated from Him by our sin, and that the only pathway to salvation, being with Him for eternity, comes through faith in Jesus. There’s nothing that can be added to this. The life we lead after coming to Jesus in faith has nothing to do with our salvation as far as earning it.
I’d ask a Mormon, “So where are you getting your information from?”
They would say of course, “From modern day prophets.”
I’d reply, “How do you know these modern day prophets are legit?”
They would reply, “I KNOW…………………” and away we’d go with the testimony and the burning in the bosom.
So where are we if I give an “I KNOW….” in return and also claim a burning in the bosom?
Where do we go from there? We both KNOW. We both claim a confirming feeling. So who wins?
In baseball a “tie goes to the runner”. In all sports we have some sort of rule that provides guidelines for the official to interpret the rules.
So when a person with a particular religious conviction, especially those based on some sort of expounding prophet, makes a claim to truth, is there anyway to determine (the truth)?
I could give a Mormon countless examples of why Joseph Smith and those who followed him as the Mormon living prophet aren’t prophets.
The problem is that when someone claims “to know” something and they have a confirming feeling, they aren’t going to easily deny their feelings and the convictions those feelings support.
In the case of Mormonism, when an LDS member avails themselves of pertinent and readily available information about their source of truth, the living prophet, they have to work-up a whole lot of feelings, I knows, and “all better now” religious blankies to continue to believe in these false prophets.
It’s quite simple. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one gets to the Father except through Him. This is done by faith and not our own efforts which we are told amount to nothing but dirty rags. Salvation through Jesus Christ and our eternal reward is something we don’t deserve and we certainly can’t earn it through false religious observances classified as “works”. Any works we do, as believers in Jesus, are to glorify Him, not ourselves.
I would say that the Bible provides the best guide to determine the truth regardless of our feelings.
Our love for the Mormon people compels us to reach out to them and respectfully remind them
of the very real danger today of being misdirected into embracing a imitation gospel , this can
happen by accepting the teachings of men today who mimic the claims of Jesus’ original
apostles because sincere people who have a desire to serve God can be misled . Imitations
would be especially prevalent in the latter days , and Jesus Himself warned of such , and
Paul reminded his audience of this as well —2 Tim 4:3-4 ; Gal 1:8 , so we today can use his
counsel to protect ourselves and also to reason with our LDS friends to take the time from
their busy schedules to test their prophets , because good , sincere people can and are misled
by the imitation gospels that well dressed , polite , individuals can bring to doorsteps .
The Mormon ” restored ” gospel is a good imitation of the true gospel that was preached by
Jesus’ apostles in the New Testament church —Rom 1:16 . Upon close examination this latter
days ” look alike ” should actually be called the ” revised ” gospel of Jesus Christ , because
that is what it amounts to . Mormon leaders have claimed to preach the very same gospel that
Paul preached –Rom, 1:16, and that gets peoples attention , but this is only partially true since
they have mixed in their own teachings to the New Testament salvation message then attempt
to call their product : the gospel of salvation . This is exactly what Paul warned would happen ,
he was inspired to pen Gal 1:8-9 and 2 Tim 4:3-4 for all today to have in order to evaluate the
prophets /apostles who appear in our day . Spiritual safety from imitations is available , and
the Mormon people need to find out if they’ve been short changed by their latter days
apostles —Rev 2:2
So if it’s not the “burning in the bosom”, how is someone to know if something is true or not?
I must admit, the “burning in the bosom” is quite impressive as far as it goes. By that I mean that a person has received an emotional and physical reaction to some form of stimulus. In the case of Mormons, they believe that this is how they know something is true. God, it is assumed, has spoken to them a confirming message. It’s the way they think that God is communicating to them. It’s a pretty big deal, if you believe it.
So there we are right from the get-go. Does God communicate truth to us by emotional and physical responses to ideas? Frankly, I wouldn’t assume that. If you visit Mormon historical sites, one of the things the tour guides try to do is provide those on the tour with some sort of emotional buzz. The participants then think they’ve had a spiritual experience which serves to reinforce what is being presented.
So in the above article, if the idea of hell makes someone feel negative feelings, than “hell” can’t be a real place, right? I wonder if Mormons, who are given to feelings as a test of truth, would ever consider that a negative feeling response to the idea of “hell” might be a way of pushing a person closer to finding a solution to their lost spiritual condition?
falcon asked: “So if it’s not the “burning in the bosom”, how is someone to know if something is true or not?”
Ah, the ol’ burning in the bosom, or in other words, Mormonism’s end-all, be-all way of knowing truth. Does God use inner feelings of knowing to transmit his will or truth? Sure, I believe he does. Is that form of knowing the superior form of knowing? I don’t believe so. Indeed, as one way of knowing, albeit a very unreliable way because the human heart is so fickle, it can only be taken into account as one uses other methods of knowing spiritual things–circumstances, wise spiritual counsel, the Word of God, reason, study. Of course the LDS acknowledge these as ways of knowing, too, but that burning in the bosom trumps all others.
Having said that, I’m reminded of something that happened in the old Language Training Mission in Provo during my stay there. During sacrament meeting one Sunday, we were told that families could no longer see their missionaries off at the airport, effective immediately. There were always missionaries flying out on Monday morning. These missionaries were told they would be allowed to call their families to cancel their plans. There was a flurry of discussion, and some very heated ‘opinions’ were expressed. Then one elder got up and, in a quavering voice, assured us all that he had just prayed about it (he was one flying out the next day), and the Spirit confirmed to him in a most powerful way that this was the Lord’s will and we all should accept it humbly.
As the discussion progressed, the dude conducting the meeting explained that the announcement from the first presidency was not real. He turned the discussion toward our need to look at our hearts to see how obedient we were even under challenging circumstances; if we were disturbed by that announcement and felt anger and sadness, we had need to repent and to really examine our willingness to serve the Lord.
To this day I wonder how that elder who had the confirmation of the Spirit felt–like a fool? a child?
Once I was ‘in country’ on my mission, I found out that little exercise had been going on for years. Also, there usually was someone who experienced that burning in the bosom concerning the matter. It was a mean, low trick and a very manipulative object lesson. And it did get me to thinking, “Indeed, how does one discern truth using the burning of the bosom?” That line of thinking eventually showed me the door out of the LDS church.
Excellent post. Some years ago we had a former Mormon posting here, I believe he went by the handle “fmelo”. Anyway, he and I had lengthy e mail discussions regarding this “leading by the Spirit” etc because it was one thing that came into question as he found himself (questioning) Mormonism. It’s a religious culture thing that’s a hold over from the early days of Mormonism, I believe. J. Smith was very aware of the Methodists revivals of his day (probably attended them) and this sort of emotional lingo was part of the package. It goes on in Christian churches also. I’ve sort of moved out of that part of the Christian experience, to some degree. It just gets over-used and I believe cheapened.
BTW, Smith’s going off to the woods and seeking God was a fairly common practice of the time. See Charles Finney’s testimony.
Here’s part of it but he went into the woods also.
“There was neither light nor fire in the room; nevertheless it suddenly appeared perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seems as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me at the time, nor for some time afterward, that it was wholly a mental state. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed to me a reality that He stood before me, and I fell down at His feet, and poured out my soul to Him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears. I must have continued in that state a good while, absorbed with the interview. I returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism with the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love. It seemed like the very breath of God.”
So how does someone know spiritual truth except by spiritual means? Mormons like to use the example of the apostle Peter confessing to Jesus that He (Jesus) is the Christ. Jesus tells Peter that the Father has revealed this to him.
Mormons get all excited about this, extrapolating/applying Peter’s experience of “knowing” with their “knowing” that Joseph Smith is a prophet, the BoM is the real deal, that the LDS church is the “true” church and that the current LDS prophet is God’s mouth piece on earth.
Mormons are masters of mis-applying Scripture to fit their own particular needs. In the case of the Mormon’s “knowing”, they are assuming that they are “knowing” by the same means that Peter “knew” that Jesus is the Christ. It’s all very spiritual sounding this Mormon testimony based on direct revelation from God. Why would anyone doubt such a testimony especially if it’s delivered with all knowing confidence? That’s what Mormons are counting on, the persuasiveness of their testimony to make the sale. It’s a real badge of honor in the LDS church to have a “strong” testimony.
When faced with information and evidence that contradicts their testimony a favorite LDS line is, “I knew all of that a long time ago and it doesn’t effect my testimony one bit.” What to say to all of these former Mormons who no longer have this testimony? Well they never had a strong testimony, someone offended them or they just want to sin. In fact, it is claimed by the faithful LDS member, that within a year of leaving the LDS church the apostate will be in serious sin like drug and alcohol abuse and sexual deviant behavior.
It can never be that the person figured out that the LDS church is not the true church and that Smith and his BoM are totally bogus and that the current prophet isn’t as he is billed to be.
It must be remembered that after His resurrection, Jesus continually pointed His disciples to the Scriptures where the truth about Him could be found. I’d suggest that be the place a Mormon start on their quest to find the truth. In the Word of God, the Bible.
How tough is it to give up Mormonism?
For some Mormons, probably not tough at all. The religion never “took”. It’s been theorized that there are just so many people, a sub-set, who’d be interested in a religion like Mormonism. Let’s face it, how many people would be into the temple program? That’s something to remember. Not all those on the rolls of the LDS church, who would be considered “active”, do the temple program. If a husband isn’t interested in it, the wife is left out in the cold.
Is Christianity “easier”? Look at the list above in the article regarding LDS salvation. When the truth is known, there’s a lot of religious hoops to jump through in Mormonism. That’s why some Mormons dig the program. They like doing and the idea of earning ones spot in the Celestial Kingdom makes sense to them.
So is Christianity “easier” in regards to being counted in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Mormons make the mistake thinking that Christians believe that all that is required is to believe and then party down. In-other-words, behavior is not a component in the formula for being saved. Let me say this. Faith is putting our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. We can’t add anything to what Jesus has done for us. However the emphasis in the Christian walk is our personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. What does that entail exactly. The writers of the NT address that topic repeatedly. In summary, we walk in a manner that Jesus walked and we have fellowship with God and with each other.
It’s not a lot of religious “doing”. It’s drawing near to God and being transformed, sanctified, by the Holy Spirit. This is not religion.
Whom can we trust ?
When it comes to finding the true gospel of Jesus , the truths about Him and how to be
forgiven and receive eternal life , we have many latter days prophets/ messengers all vying
for our attention today . Some give homage to Mormon prophet Joseph Smith , others do not,
but many share a common theme —their leader/prophet claims to have been commissioned by
God/ Jesus to restore the gospel , that salvation is only found in submitting to his teachings.
Along with their exclusive claims of authority to be Jesus’ true church these latter days
religious leaders / prophets claim to be reliable guides as teachers . They want everyone to
accept that their gospel preaching is accurate , that it is indeed the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
One way these latter days prophets try to distance themselves from all others , in an attempt
to gain the confidence of their audience and thus gaining converts , is to accuse others of
being misguided by men , of being false teachers who don’t have God’s approval /authority
because they have altered the gospel of Jesus by introducing aberrant doctrines , or that they
have been unstable as teachers , vacillating . In short , all others cannot be trusted to offer
the true gospel of Jesus , rather they teach ” the precepts of men ” on some important issues .
This scenario is what Mormon leaders of the church headquarted in Salt Lake City have said
about others . However they have also succumbed to similar behavior themselves , so they
also can’t be trusted to consistently provide sound doctrine — 2 Tim 4:3-4 ; 2Jn 7-9 .
Bottom line : we must be very leary of men today claiming to be the exclusive mouthpiece of
God who have the true gospel of Jesus Christ , these men must be tested as the apostle John
advised ( 1 Jn 4:1-6 ) for he was a true apostle of Jesus and like the others Jesus appointed to
preach His gospel of salvation ( Rom 1:16) we can accept what they taught about Jesus and
also what is required for being forgiven by God and receiving the gift of eternal life from
Safety from imitations of the true gospel of Jesus is in anchoring our beliefs in the
New Testament teachings of Jesus’ true apostles , this is the best defense against being
fooled by counterfeits appearing in the latter days .
The one really big issue for Mormons in regards to salvation is “authority”. In-other-words, their “one true church” alone has the authority to baptize folks so that they may receive salvation. This comes through the Mormon priesthood which Mormons believe has been restored through Joseph Smith. This is a very big deal to Mormons; the authority to baptize.
It sort of blows their claim for the need of authority to baptize when it is pointed out that being baptized is not necessary for eternal life. In the Book of Acts, I think it’s in the 16th chapter, the Philippian Jailer asks the apostle Paul, “Sirs what must I do to be saved.” Paul’s reply is, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. You and your household.” The point is that the requirement is “faith”. Now the Jailer and his family were baptized but it was their “faith” that resulted in their salvation.
So Mormons have zero authority except within the context of their own religious system. It’s a false claim in terms of God’s plan of salvation. When we believe in the qualified Savior, Jesus the Christ, and accept His sacrifice as total payment for our sins, eternal life is secured.