THE TWO TYPES OF MORMON SALVATION
Unconditional (General) Salvation
Mormonism teaches that a "general salvation" will eventually come to all mankind, except a small number called the "sons of perdition". This general salvation is said to be by grace, giving most people a resurrected body.
Note: The term "son of perdition" is used in Mormonism to describe a person who had the true light of the restored gospel revealed to them, but then they aligned themselves with Lucifer, entering into open rebellion. The term is often applied to former Mormons who speak out against the errors of Mormonism.
Conditional (Individual) Salvation
Enables a person to dwell in the Celestial Kingdom where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are. It is grace (resurrected body) coupled with gospel obedience (good works). This salvation requires faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, and continued righteousness to the end of one's mortal life (Doctrine and Covenants 20:29; II Nephi 9:23-24). (see Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, pp. 669-671)
When LDS members are asked if they are keeping all of the commandments, most will say something to the effect that "no one is perfect." But the idea that one can obtain perfection in the afterlife is not in line with the teaching of some LDS leaders. LDS prophet Spencer W. Kimball wrote that "Only as we overcome shall we become perfect and move toward godhood. As I have indicated previously, the time to do this is now, in mortality. Someone once said: 'A fellow who is planning to reform is one step behind. He ought to quit planning and get on with the job. Today is the day'" (Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, p. 210).
Further LDS statements on the topic of salvation:
"If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Doctrines of Salvation vol. 2 pp. 1-350).
"...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 and without obedience. This soul-destroying doctrine has the obvious effect of lessening the determination of an individual to conform to all of the laws and ordinances of the gospel, such conformity being essential if the sought reward is in reality to be gained" (Mormon Doctrine p. 671).
"It is no secret that many false and vain and foolish things are being taught in the sectarian world and even among us about our need to gain a special relationship with the Lord Jesus....There are yet others who have an excessive zeal that causes them to go beyond the mark. Their desire for excellence is inordinate. In an effort to be truer than true they devote themselves to gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ that is both improper and perilous. I say perilous because this course, particularly in the lives of some who are spiritually immature, is a gospel hobby that creates an unwholesome holier-than-thou attitude. In other instances it leads to despondency because the seeker after perfection knows he is not living the way he supposes he should. Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed" (What is our relationship to members of the Godhead?, Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve at a BYU devotional March 2, 1982, Church News, week ending March 20, 1982, p.5).
In contrast the Bible proclaims the importance of knowing Jesus and being His disciple...
"...if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." ...for "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:9-13).
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." (Acts 16:31).
"...through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).
"In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.' 'How can a man be born again when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!' Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' ...just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:3-16).
Note: This passage is not, as Mormonism teaches, referring to water baptism. "Water" is properly interpreted as meaning "flesh" or physical birth as when a woman's water breaks during child birth.
FAITH & WORKS?
Mormonism teaches that salvation is achieved through a mixture of faith and works. This is a concept that is condemned in the Bible: "...by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." "...I do not make void the grace of God; for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Galatians 2:16; 21).
Either we must have lived perfect lives (from our very beginning) or we must humbly enter into a proper relationship with the One who is the perfect sinless man, who has lived a perfect life before God the Father! The Bible states that "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). It would be unwise to offer up our own flawed performance before God as entrance into His heavenly presence since, "...all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..." (Isaiah 64:6). Christ alone and His sacrifice on the Cross must be our hope for salvation. Receive the gift of eternal life today (Romans 6:23).
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:1-3).
Even though this was written by the Apostle Paul concerning his love and concern for the Jewish people, it could likewise apply to the Latter-day Saints who are also zealous for God but not according to the truths of Scripture. Man-made religion and the authentic Gospel of Jesus can be contrasted in the following way:
MAN-MADE RELIGION (vs) CHRISTIANITY
If I obey, I'm accepted (vs) I'm accepted, so I obey
If I'm good, God will love me (vs) I'm bad, and Jesus loves bad people
People: Good and bad (vs) People: Repentant or not
Focus: What I do or don't do (vs) Focus: What Jesus did
Produces: Pride and despair (vs) Produces: Humility and confidence
Motivated by fear (vs) Motivated by love