As with virtually all non-Christian sects salvation is by meritorious works of the individual. Mormons are no different. Mormons convolute the biblical doctrine of salvation-, which is by grace alone, through faith alone, whereby reducing it to a crass works/salvation system.
LDS theology has two types of salvation; unconditional (general) and conditional (individual).
Unconditional or general is a salvation is for everyone regardless of their spiritual standing with God. This type of salvation is granted to everyone because of the Atonement. Mormons believe that Jesus’ Atonement at the cross only provided a “resurrection” to immortality for all men, where they will, depending how well they performed, end up in one of the three heavens. Even the worst of sinners will eventually end up in the lowest heaven (telestial kingdom), where they will live in glory.
This is what Mormons call “saved by grace” meaning everyone will be saved (i.e., resurrected, immortal) but not everyone will receive “eternal life.” In Mormonism the term “eternal life” is synonymous with exaltation (i.e., becoming a God). So, when Mormon missionaries say “eternal life” they mean, becoming a God.
Conditional salvation is eternal life or true salvation, (Godhood). This is what Mormons call “exaltation”. Mormons call it conditional because they have to prove themselves worthy by works and try to live a perfect life, obeying all the laws of the LDS Church and the Mormon gospel. In the LDS doctrine, this kind of salvation is: salvation in its truest sense, the kind of salvation followers of Jesus longed for.
In Mormon terminology then, salvation, true salvation, means eternal life = exaltation = Godhood (all synonymous terms). This, undeniably, is another gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). Near 12 million members are taught: the way to true salvation is by works. On the subject of unconditional or general salvation, Mormon favorite Bruce R. McConkie informs readers:
Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to the gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected. This kind of salvation eventually will come to all mankind, excepting only the sons of perdition. . . . Those who gain only this general or unconditional salvation will still be judged according to their works and receive their places in a terrestrial or a telestial kingdom. They will, therefore, be damned; their eternal progression [i.e., progression to become a God in the celestial kingdom] will be cut short; they will not fill the full measure of their creation, but in eternity will be ministering servants [i.e., angels] to more worthy persons (Mormon Doctrine, 669; emphasis theirs).
Fundamentally then, the LDS system of true salvation is by works, as Bruce R. McConkie goes on to say:
Eternal life, the kind of life enjoyed by eternal beings in the celestial kingdom, comes by grace plus obedience (ibid., 671; emphasis added).
In the Mormon Scripture, Pearl of Great Price, in the third Article of Faith, we read:
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by the obedience of the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (emphasis added).
Even more, the Book of Mormon reinforces this false notion:
Be reconciled to God: for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added).
Brigham Young goes so far as to teach the Mormon people that salvation (i.e., true salvation, Godhood) only comes through Joseph Smith:
No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are (Journal of Discourses, 7:289).
Constantly let us be mindful of Mormon vocabulary. The term “salvation” in Mormon thinking, in one sense means: unconditionally (general salvation) all men will be resurrected and become immortal. He or she will afterwards, live in one of the levels of Heaven regardless of what standing with God that they had.
The highest level of Heaven is the celestial kingdom. This level is reserved only for faithful Mormons who are worthy wherein they can become Gods, presiding over their own planet and endlessly procreating spirit babies to fill their planet, as does the God for this earth (individual salvation). For the Mormon, progressing to this level (Godhood) is not an easy journey. The Mormon must strive for perfection. Mormons indefatigably, must struggle to follow all of their church’s mandates and gospel laws. Also, the Mormon to achieve true salvation must be WATER BAPTIZED INTO THE MORMON CHURCH (see: Water Baptism a Deed/Work of Righteousness).
Additionally, Temple rituals are an integral part of Mormon salvation. Mormons who are trying to attain Godhood perform these highly secret ceremonies in the LDS Temple. However the first LDS Temple sprang up around 1836 in Kirkland Ohio. But in this first Temple, they did not implement the Temple rituals and endowments. It was not until 1842 right after Joseph Smith became Master Mason1 that they started this. Hence, the LDS ceremonies are almost identical to the ceremonies that are practiced by the Masons.
The foremost ritual is the “Endowment.” The Endowment ceremony includes washing and anointing the body (in intimate places), receiving the holy underwear (for protection), and receiving a new name. Also, Mormon couples look forward to being married in the Temple where they can be “sealed” (i.e., the marriage ceremony where the Mormons are sealed “for time and all eternity”). In other words, they can be the Father and Mother God of their own planet. For the Mormon woman, her hope is eternal pregnancy, giving birth to thousands of spirit children ad infinitum to populate their world. An eternity of childbearing, which doesn’t sound to wonderful for the Mormon woman?
Temple entrance is closed to non-Mormons. Without exception, only “worthy” Mormons that have their “Temple recommend” can participate.2 To be saved in the truest sense (i.e., eternal life, exaltation to Godhood) Mormons say they must have been married in the Temple, where they were sealed and received their endowments.3 Additionally, the Mormon male must be ordained to the “Melchizedek”4 Priesthood for him to progress to Godhood.
Moreover, sealing, endowments, and baptism can be done in proxy (i.e., substitution for the dead). This work is practiced consistently by faithful Mormons to ensure that people, who died that did not receive the Mormon gospel in their life, will get a second chance, an opportunity to progress to a higher level of heaven, even Godhood.
Mormons are taught that after death people immediately go to “spirit prison.” Mormons say that they are Mormon missionaries in spirit prison, that witness to the men and women who never had the opportunity to become became Mormons in their life. And if the person in spirit prison accepts the Mormon gospel, and if someone preformed proxy rituals (i.e., endowments, baptism, and sealing if marriage is involved) they may become a Mormon and leave spirit prison to progress into a higher kingdom.
If the person rejects the Mormon gospel then they will eventually reside in the lowest or middle the three levels of heaven depending how good (or how evil) they were in their life on earth. However, if a Mormon dies, then the Mormon will immediately go to “paradise” and after the resurrection they proceed to one of the three levels or kingdoms of heaven. Consequently, the Mormon Church spends countless hours on genealogies. The quest of the LDS is to proselytize every person who ever died starting with their relatives and then all others that are in “spirit prison.”
And this, in Mormon certainty, is the way to eternal life or true salvation. It is, without a doubt, a total works/salvation construct. In the end, their works, obedience, and dedication to the LDS Church will determine their salvation and to which level of the three heavens they will dwell in.
Scripture does not, in any way, shape or form, make a distinction between general and individual salvation. Jesus gives one kind of life: Life Eternal. As seen, Mormons reject the idea that true salvation, is by grace alone through faith alone. To the Mormons, this teaching is patently false. Mormon Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie tells us:
one of the untrue doctrines found in modern Christendom is the concept that man can gain salvation (meaning in the kingdom of God) by grace alone without obedience (Mormon Doctrine, 671).
However, contrary to LDS doctrine, Scripture speaks unambiguously on the subject of salvation. The centrality of Scripture can be summed up in this question: “How is a man justified?” Is not that the question of the ages, from the first man to the present? How can man be reconciled to God? How can man be declared not guilty in the sight of a perfect God? More so, how can man be saved? I think we would do well to allow Jesus Christ, the authority on the matter, to answer clearly:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, HAS [echei] eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24; emphasis added).
The LDS would be wise to breathe in the grammatical significance of the words of Christ.
The grammar of the text (5:24) speaks the opposite. Starting with the first clause: “He who hears [akouōn] My word, and believes [pisteuōn] Him who sent Me” (emphasis added). The Greek verb akouōn (lit. “hearing”) is a singular present active participle. The verb pisteuōn (lit. “believing”) is also a singular present active participle. Note that both verbs are in the present tense, literally: “the one hearing and the one believing.”
Then the phrase: “has [echei] eternal life.” The verb echei (“has”) is the singular present active indicative of echō. The indicative mood of the verb indicates the absolute certainty of the event (i.e., “eternal life”). That echei is in the present tense shows that the one believing possesses de facto eternal life presently and continuously. For this reason, the one believing will never come into God’s wrath and judgment (cf. John 10:28).
We now come to the last clause of the passage: “but has passed out of death into life” (emphasis added). The verb metabebēken (“has passed”) is the perfect active indicative of metabainō. The perfect tense indicates a completed action that normally occurred in the past, which has continuous results into the present.
Hence, the reason as to why the one believing (apart from works) “does not come into judgment” is that he “has passed out of,” completely and indicatively (an assured certainty), spiritual death. I submit, therefore, the full force of what Jesus was literally saying:
He who presently and continuously hears My word and believes Me (who I really am), I promise that he will presently and continuously possess, without end, eternal life, that is, salvation. And he will NEVER come into condemnation. He has, in times past, been called to be declared righteous (justified) and then glorified, whereby passing out of death into life with Me forever.
See also John 6:47 and 1 John 5:12 [as discussed below] where the present indicative echei is utilized to indicate the certainty of eternal life for the one believing. In point of fact, never is creaturely works (e.g., water baptism, obedience, etc.) grammatically or contextually connected to salvation in John’s gospel. God justifies His people freely apart from their meritorious performance. What is more, Paul anathematizes those who would assert that creaturely works are a necessity or requirement for justification (Gal. 1:6-9).
Hence, verses like 5:24 specify that justification is the sole work of the Triune God. They grammatically and contextually support that regeneration precedes faith.
The main theme of John’s letter was (a) the full deity of Jesus Christ (e.g., 1:1; 18, 8:24, 58; 20:28; etc.) and (b) eternal life/salvation (e.g., 1:12; 3:16; 6:37-40, 47; 10:27-29; etc.). That all those salvation passages in the Gospel of John never once connect water baptism with salvation is something that should be seriously pondered by the ICC. Salvation is exclusively by faith/belief ALONE. If works like water baptism were, in fact, an indispensable means of salvation as the LDS teaches, you would think that John or Jesus would teach it—at least once. Justification by faith alone is uniquely Christian as clearly taught in the pages of the Holy Writ. God justifies His people freely. That water baptism, circumcision, ordinances, rituals, ceremonial or ethical old covenant laws, or any works to add to one’s justification, places one firmly under the anathema of the Judaizers: cursed by God.
In the end, looking at all the non-Christian cults and world religions we do find doctrinal harmony on at least two points. The first, of course, is that they all reject Jesus Christ as eternal God, that is, they impugn the Tri-Unity of God in some way or other, and second, they attack and deny the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE. They all add some kind of creaturely work to their system of salvation. Yes, indeed, it is difficult for mere man to comprehend that through faith alone God freely justifies the sinner. However we cannot rely on our faulty emotions to test truth. For notwithstanding our limited finite conventional wisdom and understanding, the Apostle Paul who wrote as the Holy Spirit enabled him declares:
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. . . . (Rom. 4:4-6; emphasis added; cf. John 6:47; 10:28-29; Rom. 5:1; 8:1; Eph. 2:8).
The Apostle Paul speaks on Justification by Grace Alone Through FAITH ALONE
Contrary to the LDS Church
Inquiring of salvation the jailer had asked the Apostle Paul (an authority on the subject):
Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. . . (Acts 16:30, 31).
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:28).
The Apostle Paul’s epistle to the church at Galatia was specifically an anti-Judaizer polemic. Paul was very concerned as to the pervading heresy of the Judaizers. The Judaizers taught that “faith in Christ” was not enough. Hence, one had to add the Old Testament ordinances especially circumcision and the keeping of the ethical and ceremonial laws, to the finished work of Christ:
Some men came from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom [Law] of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1; cf. Gal. 2:1ff).
This kind of teaching, in the apostles’ mind, was not a doctrinal “on the rim” issue. By teaching that man must co-operate with God’s grace by adding works (any works) to his faith, the Judaizers stripped Jesus’ atonement of its efficacy. So toxic was the works/salvation doctrine of the Judaizers that the apostle wasted no time (from his the opening statement) in sharply anathematizing (i.e., pronouncing a divine curse) men and even angels from heaven who promulgate it:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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 [anathema]! 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! (Gal. 1:6-9; emphasis added).
Paul never gets tired impressing to the Galatians: justification is through faith ALONE; i.e., faith apart from, without, modifications or additions of works:
knowing the a man is not justified [ou dikaioutai] by the works [ex ergōn; “from works”] of the Law but through faith [dia pisteos] in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that [hina, purpose clause] we may be justified by faith [dikaiōthōmen ek pisteōs] in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified (Gal. 2:16; emphasis added).
You foolish Galatians, who as bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you; did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Even Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Gal. 3:1-3, 6; emphasis added).
Paul further declares that it is through faith (dia tes pisteōs) alone that enables one to be adopted as sons of God.
For you are all sons of God through faith [dia tēs pisteōs] in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized [i.e., unified, see above] into [en] Christ have clothed yourself with [eis] Christ (Gal. 3:26-27; emphasis added).
Justification by Faith Alone
In fact, in the entire Pauline corpus, salvation by grace alone through faith alone is clearly the theological starting point for the apostle. There are scores of verses that teach clearly: the righteousness of Christ is the sole ground of justification (man excluded) and the sole means is faith alone apart from works. However, space precludes us from citing all. In Romans though (and esp. Gal.) Paul presents solid grammatical arguments for justification by faith alone. Let us examine 4:4-8:
 Now to the one who works, his wages are not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
 just as David also speaks of the blessings on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,
AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT” (NASB).
Consider the following:
1. In verse 4, Paul explains that wages from work are not credited as “a gift” or a favor, but “what is due.” The literal rendering is even clearer: “Now to the working one, the reward is not reckoned [or “imputed,” logizetai] according to grace [charin; Paul’s normal word for “grace”], but according to debt [misthos].” In other words, if an employer, after giving a paycheck to the employee, says, “Thanks a lot, here is your gift,” the employee would object stating that he or she earned that or worked for it! Hence, it was not a gift. Exactly the argument Paul makes here: wages are the result or reward from works (viz. “what is due”). In verse 5 he then contrasts “wages” that one earns by works with being “credited” or imputed as righteousness by faith (or “belief,” pistis) ALONE—apart from additions or modifications. This contrast cannot be missed: works vs. faith.
2. Paul presents two kinds of people here: the one working and the one not working: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him . . . his faith is credited as righteousness.” Note that the same participle (ergazomenō, “working”) is used for both verses 4 and 5. However, Paul inserts a negation in verse 5:
4: tō de ergazomenō, lit. “but the one working.”
5: tō de mē ergazomenō, lit. “but the not working one.”
It is God, Paul declares, “who justifies the ungodly.” The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner’s account when they are justified and the sinner’s sins are imputed to Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).
3. In verse 6, Paul now shows that David understood that “God credits righteousness apart from works [chōris ergōn; emphasis added].” The verse literally reads: “Blessed is the man to whom God imputes or credits righteousness WITHOUT works [theos logizetai dikaiosunen choris ergōn].” Again, Paul does not here limit works only to “works of the Law” (a Catholic assertion). Please note once again, Paul does not (in this context) use the phrase ho nomos, “the Law,” but ergōn, “works”—any works.
To avoid the plain and straightforwardness of Romans 4:4-8, some would appeal to Ephesians 2:10 (“created . . . for good works”). However, in this passage, Paul is simply teaching that salvation is chariti, “by grace,” and dia pisteōs, “through faith,” and ouk ex ergōn, lit. “not of works” (2:9). Hence, works are the result (not the cause) of genuine faith (as pointed out above). The Apostle James draws the same point: genuine faith does not result in a deedless life.
4. Then in verses 7 and 8, Paul quotes David (Psalm 32:1-2):
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (emphasis added).
When the sinner is justified (through faith), he is legally declared: NOT GUILTY!
Justification is a one-time declarative act in which God pronounces the sinner just or righteous. Hence, God does not count their trespasses against them (cf. 2 Cor. 5:19). Note the strong and specific language that Paul uses in verse 8: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (emphasis added).
Many times the full import of particular passages is lost in translations, which is the case here. As in John 6:37 (and 10:28 as noted above), Paul employs a double negative (ou mē) followed by the aorist subjective (logisētai). In first century Greek, there were several ways to negate (i.e., to say “No”) something. Each way had its own, to some extent, nuance. The strongest possible way, however, to deny or negate a future possibility was to use the double negative (ou mē) followed by a subjunctive verb (i.e., generally, the verb of possibility, e.g., “I might go to the store,” hence, “might” being in the subj. mood). This construction was only used about 85 times in the New Testament.
In verse 8 Paul uses this construction, which was more emphatic than simply saying ou, “no”: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord ou mē, “will not” [“never, never”] take into account.” The NIV reads, “whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Paul is denying that there is even a possibility (due to the subj. verb logisētai, “take into account” or “count”) that the Lord will count sins against the one justified. Jesus used the same construction (i.e., double neg. + the subj.) in John 10:27-28:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow me and I give eternal life to them, and they will never [ou mē] perish; and no one can snatch them out of my hand (emphasis added).
Therefore, there is not, Jesus says emphatically, even a possibility, of His sheep perishing. Jesus uses the double negative to emphasize that the eternal life that He gives is not dependent on man’s self-determination, for man can fail. But rather eternal life is the promise to those who He has justified, to those whose sins will never be counted against them, to those who He imputed His own righteousness to their account; they are declared righteous and they, by no means, will ever perish—not even a possibility! To be sure, the Apostle Paul saw justification as an essential and fundamental teaching. To deny justification through faith ALONE, meaning: without additions or modifications, was the same as denying the deity of Christ! This is clearly seen in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The main purpose of Paul’s letter was to pointedly refute the heresy of the Judaizers (cf. Acts 15:1ff; Gal. 1:6ff.).
What was the grand heresy that caused Paul, directed by the Holy Spirit, to pronounce divine condemnation (anathema; 1:8, 9) on those who were pervading it? It was the heresy of the Judaizers who taught that faith ALONE was not enough for God to justify a sinner. They loaded men down with a crass faith + works = salvation doctrine. In which Paul sharply proved false. Justification is the sole work of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). To add to God’s work—is to add to Scripture. “Who,” Paul rhetorically asks, “will bring a charge against God’s elect? . . . who is the one who condemns? . .” (Rom. 8:33-34). Hence, how can anyone undo the work of God? In justification, it can only be God alone who declares the sinner eternally righteous.
Aside from Romans 4:4-8 and many other verses that plainly and exegetically teach justification is through faith alone, Romans 5:1 especially reveals the consciousness of Paul on this central doctrine: “Therefore, having been justified [dikaiōthentes; the aorist passive participle of dikaioō (justified/ made righteous). Note, the mood of the verb is passive, hence it is not the sinner who justifies him or herself, but God alone], by faith, [ek pisteōs; lit. “from faith”] WE HAVE [echomen; present indicative] PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1)– Sola Fide.
Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (emphasis added).
Paul constantly taught that justification comes not by works, formulas, or laws but rather: a man is declared rightness before God through faith alone:
Paul was theologically precise as to how the sinner is justified before the presence of God. Notice first that the sinner having been justified has peace with God. The verb dikaiōthentes, translated “having been justified,” is the aorist passive participle of dikaioō. Grammatically, the aorist here tells us that the action of the verb dikaiōthentes, “having been justified,” was a past action (as rendered in most translations). Furthermore, the verb dikaiothentes is in the passive voice. This indicates that the action of being justified was not of the sinner in any way (lest the verb be in the active voice), but rather the justification was done to the sinner, in the past, which was solely a divine act of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). Thus, the ones having been justified now “have” [echomen, the present active indicative plural of echo] peace pros ton theon, “with the God.”
It is not the action or work of the sinner which then results in justification, rather Paul simply says “through faith” (ek pisteōs; “from faith”) “having been justified.” This is important to realize that if Paul thought that “baptism” or “works” were an aspect or a requirement of justification, he could have easily modified the clause to say, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, baptism, and works, then, let us has peace with God” (as in LDS soteriology) But, Paul was clear and consistent in all of his letters: justification is through faith alone, with no additions or modifications. This is wonderful news, the unregenerate sinner who was called has been legally declared righteous (regenerated) in the sight of God, whereby has present active and continuous peace, that is, final reconciliation and fellowship with God. In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage:
Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
Paul was theologically precise as to how the sinner is justified before the presence of God. Notice first that the sinner having been justified has peace with God. The verb dikaiothentes, translated “having been justified,” is the aorist passive participle of dikaioō. Grammatically, the aorist here tells us that the action of the verb dikaiōthentes, “having been justified,” is a past action (as rendered in most translations). Furthermore, the verb dikaiōthentes is in the passive voice. This indicates that the action of being justified was not of the sinner in any way (lest the verb be in the active voice), but rather the justification was done to the sinner, in the past, which was solely a divine act of God (cf. Rom. 8:33). Thus, the ones having been justified now “have” [echomen; present active indicative] peace pros ton theon, “with the God.”
It is not the action or work of the sinner which then results in justification, rather Paul simply says, “through faith” (ek pisteōs; lit. “from faith”) “having been justified.” This is important to realize that if Paul thought that “baptism” or “works” were an aspect or a requirement of justification, he could of easily modified the clause to say, “Therefore since we have been justified by faith, baptism, and works, then, let us have peace with God.” But, Paul was clear and consistent in all of his letters: justification is through faith alone, with no additions or modifications. This is wonderful news, the unregenerate sinner who was called has been legally declared righteous (regenerated) in the sight of God, whereby has present active and continuous peace, that is, final reconciliation and fellowship with God. In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage: In his definitive exegesis of Romans Wuest can say of this beautiful passage:
The word “therefore” reaches back to the contents of chapter four—therefore being justified, not by works (1-8), not by ordinances (9-12), not by obedience (13-25), but by faith, we have peace. The first three never give peace to the soul. Faith does. . . . The context is didactic. It contains definite statements of fact. It is highly doctrinal in nature. It has to do with a sinner’s standing before God in point of law, not his experience. As Denney [James Denney, D. D.] says; “The justified have peace with God,… His wrath (1:18) no longer threatens them; they are accepted in Christ. It is not a change in their feelings which is indicated, but a change in God’s relation to them (Romans in the Greek New Testament, 75-76).
Hence Paul announces to the Christians at Ephesus: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; NOT AS A RESULT OF WORKS, so that none may boast” (Eph. 2:8; emphasis added). “If it is by grace,” Paul says, “it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6). We can go on from here and cite many other passages that explicitly teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone without any mention of modifications of the necessity of water baptism: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30f). How are sins forgiven? Scripture is clear:
Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone WHO BELIEVES ON HIM RECEIVES FORGIVENESS OF SINS (Acts 10:43; emphasis added).
Let us pause and think; why is it that over and over the New Testament teaches that eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith or belief alone with no mention of water baptism if in fact water baptism was essential to one’s salvation? 24 Paul’s own statement refutes the notion that water baptism was an indispensable means of salvation:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel. . . . (1 Cor. 1:17).
Let us pause and think, why is it that over and over the New Testament teaches that eternal salvation is explicitly tied to faith or belief alone with no mention of HUMANS WORKS such as water baptism, if in fact works or water baptism was essential to one’s salvation? (e.g., John 5:24, 6:47; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5). Paul’s own statement refutes that the idea that water baptism was an indispensable part of salvation: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
God the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to speak on the GIFT not reward of salvation:
By grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8)
Notice, that “faith” that saves comes from Christ not of ourselves. Salvation is a gift. We cannot achieve it by meritorious works nor do we deserve it. The sole reason why men come to Christ is because the Father gives them to Christ and He will raise them up at the last day:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44; cf. vv. 37-40, 65)
One cannot help to admire Paul’s unceasing passion: salvation is by the grace of Jesus Christ and solely through faith alone. The addition of works, any kind of works, to attain salvation is by definition alien to the Apostle Paul. In Scripture, water baptism is defined as an “act” or deed “to fulfill [not to receive] righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). Yet, Paul clearly refutes this idea:
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 3:5f; emphasis added).
the law was our school master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24)
Man can never work enough to be justified in front of a perfect God, justification comes by faith alone. The Prophet Isaiah sums it up:
all our righteousness are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6)
Through Christ, Christians are declared perfect (positional) in front of a perfect God even though practically we still sin. The Mormons could never say that he or she is perfect NOW in God’s eyes.
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified… And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:14, 17; emphasis added)
No General Salvation
The Bible clearly communicates that after death man will reside in one of two places: Heaven for the saved or Hell for the unsaved. Hence, eternal separation from God is the fate of the person who rejects the Jesus of Scripture (cf. John8:24).
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
Jesus was a masterful communicator. And with that in mind Jesus makes a clear dichotomy of heaven or hell for the destiny of all mankind. Jesus never gave the idea that there is an intermediate state or a temporary place in which man may or may not end up at:
“He that believeth on the Son has [echei] 5 everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth [Gk. menei] on him” (John3:36; emphasis added).
It should be noted that in the above verse (John 3:36) the word “abideth” (menei) carries the idea of a continuous action (e.g., John 1:33; 2:12; 8:31). So, for the one that rejects the Person of Christ (of the Bible) God’s wrath continues to remain of him.
To illustrate that there are only two possibilities Jesus gave some insightful parables; In Matthew 13:30, wheat and tares. Matthew 13:49, wicked and the just. Also in Matthew 25:32, Jesus compares sheep (believers) and goats (unbelievers) and says that the goats will go to eternal punishment (kolasin; see below) and the sheep or righteous will go to eternal life.
Moreover in Luke 16:20ff., Jesus describes “Hades” as a place with two compartments; Abraham’s bosom and torment. And there was a “great gulf fixed” so that no one could pass from compartment to compartment. For the rich man in torment, there was no escape. Therefore, biblically there are only two possibilities heaven or hell, saved or unsaved hence, as with the rich man in Hades, the Mormons have cold-shouldered biblical truth.
The unsaved will be separated from God, thrown in the lake of fire wherein they will experience conscience torment forever and forever (Matt. 25: 46; 2 Thes. 1:9; Rev. 14:9-11; 20:10, 15).
Matthew 25:46: “everlasting punishment” The word translated “punishment” is kolasin. Greek scholars universally agree the word means punishment. (see Moulton and Milligan’s, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament; Joseph Thayer’s, Greek-English Lexicon). Furthermore, the parallel between “everlasting life” and “everlasting punishment” indicates duration (eternity).
Revelation 14:11: “Their torment rises for ever and ever… no rest day or night…” The word “torment” (basanizo) Thayer defines as “To be vexed with grievous pain” (Thayer).
Revelation 20:10, 14: “The Devil, the false prophet and the Beast were thrown in the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever.”
1, Joseph Smith stated:
“In the evening I received the first decree in free Masonry in the Nauvoo Lodge, assemble in my general business office” (History of the Church, 4: 551)
2, For a Mormon to gain entrance into the LDS Temple, he or she must first receive a “Temple recommend.” To receive this E- ticket to the Temple the Mormon must be counted as “worthy.” “Worthy” Mormons are those who prove themselves “worthy.” This comes after about a year or so of being a member of the LDS Church, unless the Mormon was raised in the LDS Church, then the candidate would generally wait until they are ready for a mission or marriage. At the discretion of the local Bishop, a Mormon can be deemed “worthy” and ready to enter the Temple. First, the Mormon, or Mormon couple preparing for marriage would have to attend a temple preparedness class. Then, by way of interview, the Bishop will ask a series of questions about tithing, obedience, church attendance, and any other questions the Bishop can think of that he feels would be pertinent. After which, if he determines the candidate is worthy, the Mormon or couple must then repeat the whole interview process with someone from a higher level in the LDS Church (i.e., stake presidency). And if worthiness is determined, a “Temple recommend” card is issued. A “Temple recommend” has to be renewed annually, and, of course, renewal is predicated on tithing. Without the “Temple recommend” the Mormon cannot go into the Temple to take out his or her endowments, or be married and sealed. However, as seen, Jesus completely annihilates this false notion in Luke 18:10-14. There is simply no mention of a “Temple recommend” in Scripture.
3, The “Endowment,” what Mormons call a gift, is actually drama play that worthy Mormons have to watch in the Temple. At this play (now it is a video) they learn how Elohim (God the Father) instructed Jehovah (Jesus) and Michael the arch-angel (Adam) how to organized this world. In LDS theology God does not create He merely organizes or fashions the eternal matter and intelligences. Joseph Smith said that God “never had the power to create” (Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, 354).
4, In the Mormon religion there are two priesthoods: Aaronic and the Melchizedek. The Aaronic is the lesser of the two. To have eternal life (i.e., exaltation to Godhood) the “worthy” (and married) Mormon male must be ordained to this higher priesthood. This priesthood was excluded to all blacks until 1978 (see my article: Mormons and Black Skin) and is excluded from all females presently.
5, The verb “has” ( echei) is a present tense indicative that expresses continuous present action. When the person believes in Christ that person HAS continually and presently eternal life (cf. John 5:24; 6:47; 1 John 5:12).