Salvation in a Nutshell

June 6, 2008

Q. What is the Mormon message of salvation in a nutshell? (like, two paragraphs)?

Not a fan of reading, eh?
All right, I’ll do it, but you have to promise to do a little more research before you tell your friends at your next barbecue that you ‘studied’ Mormonism.

This is the very center of our beliefs —

The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

We are mortal. We will all die. We, alone, are powerless to stop it. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross; then, after three days He was resurrected. Many deceased souls were awakened from the grave at that time and were given immortal bodies. We have all been promised an eventual release from death also, all because of Jesus Christ.

We make mistakes; not just bad, embarassing choices, but often downright wicked decisions. If you haven’t ever murdered, stolen, or lied, you might be tempted to say this is a problem for other people, but consider this: Is there someone you dislike whom you treat like garbage? Do you do things in secret that you are ashamed of? Are you holding on to a long-running grudge? Do you snap at people? Just as pain is an indicator to your body that your physical body is in danger, guilt warns us when we are in (or approaching) spiritual danger, and few of us are free of guilt.

The punishment for sin is separation from God. We are powerless, on our own, to avoid this consequence. Once again, Jesus Christ provided the way out. He suffered an infinite atonement for our sins, thus making payment for the wrong moves we made (but He never made). We must choose to accept this gracious gift, and along the way start learning how to make good, holy choices. Our purpose isn’t just to fulfill a debt, but to become the sort of person Jesus is.

baptismThe start of our path is having faith in Christ. I know He loves me and will help me with the problems in my life. You can have this faith, too. Next comes repentance: turn your life away from your sins and pray for forgiveness. Then, to set out as a new beginning, covenant with God that you will be His disciple your whole life long with baptism by immersion in water. Receive the Holy Ghost after it has been conferred to you through laying on of hands, and finally, live up to your promise and seek the godly road.

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I realize this was double the paragraphs you had anticipated, but it’s such an important topic that you should probably read it again.

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6 Responses to “Salvation in a Nutshell”

  1. Kendra

    Wow! That really is a great explanation of our beliefs in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a nutshell! The only thing I would add is that baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, must be performed by someone who holds the priesthood authority of God to do so. See Why Mormons? for a more indepth explination.

  2. Patty

    Hi, Thaddeus,
    *Continuing the conversation over on this post.
    You were asking if we have the same view of the gospel. Due to the length of material, I’ll just be blunt -say it like it is, (but not rude or personally insulting). All in love.

    You say,”We have all been promised an eventual release from death also, all because of Jesus Christ.”
    Referring to 1 Cor 15:22. This is the “general salvation” the LDS church refers to. The LDS prophets have said that general salvation is given to everyone and is referred to as salvation by grace; it means everyone will get a physical body and not because of anything they did to deserve it. As nice as this sounds, remember too that Scripture says there is a resurrection unto life or unto damnation (John 5:29). We get a glimpse of the resurrection unto damnation in Rev 14:10-11, “…and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.” The damned will live w/ that resurrected body forever in torment. That is a very UNPOPULAR teaching in today’s world. I guess truth is not by popular vote though. At least you know I’m not here to “tickle your ears.”

    “guilt warns us when we are in (or approaching) spiritual danger.”
    The fact is none of us is “approaching” spiritual danger. That fact is that unless someone is ‘in Christ’ everyone is already way past danger, everyone is already in danger, everyone is already dead (spiritually). Ephesians 2:1 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” also Colossians 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins…” 1 John 3:14 “We know that we have passed from death unto life…”

    “and few of us are free of guilt”
    Maybe many are hardened and past feeling guilty, but no one is past being guilty. Romans 3:23 “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Romans 3:12 and Psalm 14:3 “They are ALL gone aside, they are ALL together become filthy: there is NONE that doeth good, no, not one.” Isaiah 64:6 “But we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”- note this is the great prophet Isaiah and he was including himself in the same category…all OUR…

    “The punishment for sin is separation from God”
    The wages [what we are owed] of sin is… DEATH!” Romans 6:23.

    “We must choose to accept this gracious gift, AND along the way start learning how to make good, holy choices.”
    It would be more correct to put a period after gift. Period, stop, no AND. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ” Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved [the same saved as referred to in 3rd article of faith- not so called general salvation] through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Then you can add the AND portion as a response to salvation, not a requirement for it.

    Baptism and confirmation are not requirements for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 again. John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, NOR of the will of the flesh, NOR of the will of man, but of God.” That means we are not saved by our lineage, or things we do (choose to be baptized or perform ordinances) or things others do to us (confirmation); only if we are born of God which is synonymous with being born again (not baptism).

    “and finally, live up to your promise”
    Like making a covenant every week during sacrament meeting to keep ALL the commandments. How is that working? Has anyone honestly been able to do that (1 John 1:10)? For a Christian, after we are born again or born of God, we get to “seek the Godly road” to do many works… that is what a Christian was made for. (Ephesians 2:10) It’s an outflow of being cleansed from all unrighteousness and forgiven of all (past, present & future) sin. Seeking to live holy is then in response to having passed into eternal life and having salvation. If we merit or earn our salvation, it ceases to be a gift and we make God our debtor. Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace…”

  3. Steve G

    Great article. It was short, sweet and to the point.

  4. Thaddeus

    Patty, thank you for this explanation of your beliefs. I am right with you, especially in your description of those who are spiritually dead. We are helpless and alone by ourselves.

    I am concerned with the stern correction you laid out. A couple of things:
    1- You imply that Mormons think the gift of grace only entails physical resurrection. For Mormons, the atonement of the Savior includes both the resurrection (which is granted universally to all who will ever live on earth 1 Corinthians 15:22), and salvation from our sins (which is granted conditionally based on those who will have faith in Christ, repent of their sins, receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost). Both resurrection and spiritual salvation are offered graciously by the Lord as a free gift, totally undeserved by us. The fact that a gift is offered conditionally does not make it deserved or earned when the condition is filled.
    2- Baptism is a requirement for salvation: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” Mark 16:16.

    Seeking to live holy is then in response to having passed into eternal life and having salvation.
    I agree with this to a certain extent (the Holy Spirit will sanctify a born-again disciple of Christ, lifting his thoughts and motivations), but the thing that really rankles me about this doctrine is that personal responsibility seems to be thrown out the window. Evangelicals I have talked to are taught that after receiving their salvation, they are given a free pass to commit whatever heinous sins they desire with impunity. I’ve even been told that attempting to live up to Biblical commandments is an affront to God’s grace, because it’s a sign I’m trying to earn salvation or “pay Him back.” Do you believe these things?

    I believe that discipleship requires discipline and commitment (Matt 7:21). I also believe that the very purpose of our lives lies in the use of our free will. We are here to be tested and tempted and to overcome (Rev. 3:21), not to find a free ride. What do you believe the purpose of life on earth is, Patty?

  5. Patty

    1. yes, I was under the impression that the LDS concept of grace is for physical resurrection only.  The “exaltation” part is not grace, rather merited. Where did I get this idea?  McConkie said, “”All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part, meaning they are resurrected” and Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Individual Salvation,” or “exaltation,” is that which man merits by “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” I could type pages of quotes to substantiate this, even from today’s Gospel Principles manual, but this is the most succinct way I could explain.
    We have to get the whole grace thing straight.  LDS teachings say grace in strength and power from God. However, Grace is really unmerited favor from God. Grace is a gift. You get something even though you didn’t deserve it.  Like the air you breathe, you did nothing to merit your oxygen intake. However, you did receive the air as you inhaled. You said grace is a conditional gift. Impossible. Romans 11:6 “And if by grace , then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
    You can’t have both. My sweet elderly friend understood it.  She said it must be one of those mistranslated portions.
    If a gift is conditional, it is no longer a gift. If you…(fill in any synonym of work or merit) grace, then it simply IS NOT GRACE. Romans 11:6 above.
    The usual complaint w/ the doctrine of grace is “what then, you can go out and commit murder?” However, you say it w/ much more (pardon the pun) grace: “they are given a free pass to commit whatever heinous sins they desire with impunity.” Grace is similar to the LDS doctrine as taught in years past of “calling and election made sure.” Not sure if you’ve been around long enough to hear that teaching, which is no longer taught. I love how Paul answered your question in Romans 6 -the whole chapter. “should we continue in sin that grace may abound?”…
    When you understand who God really is – His infinite holiness, the tremendous price paid for your sins, what it cost, the indescribable and incomprehensible love of God, the utterly horrendous nature of sin and it’s penalty of spiritual death and damnation…. a person who is in Christ and Christ in him does not think, “I want to commit a heinous sin today because I can.” This is where the true meaning of faith w/out works is dead comes in. It lines up w/ the book of 1 John.  We are not saved by works.  The works are evidence of our salvation.  That is how others know, they see our works, which then point to God and glorifies Him.  Thaddeus, I find it condescending when LDS imagine the Christians out there sinning because we can. That is one big lie I believed as a Mormon, but found out otherwise. I mean, if you could commit a heinous sin, would you? See, my heart changed – and years of guilt and fear ridden lessons didn’t do it. Now, I want to serve Him, follow Him, obey Him, love Him. Not because of what I get out of it, but because of who He is. I crave His word, want to follow it, even if I don’t do it perfectly. He is everything to me, and where my  thoughts are.
    Think about these 2 contrasting scenarios: If, assuming you are married, your wife kissed you because it was required of her.  -OR- Without compulsion, and on her own, your wife loves you and therefore kisses you.

  6. Patty

    You asked,” What do you believe the purpose of life on earth is?”

    Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

    Romans 11:36: For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
    1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31: For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s…. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
    Revelation 4:11: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
    Philippians 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.