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By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2005
In Acts 16:30 the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” Their answer was clear and direct: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and so will your household” (Acts 16:31). Paul and Silas taught the Philippian jailor and his family more of the word of the Lord and then baptized them that same night.

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In Acts 16:30 the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” Their answer was clear and direct: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and so will your household” (Acts 16:31). Paul and Silas taught the Philippian jailor and his family more of the word of the Lord and then baptized them that same night.

Would an active Mormon answer the Philippian jailor’s question the same way Paul and Silas did? To answer that question we will quote from some of the highest Mormon authorities on this subject. The Articles of Faith is the only doc­trinal statement that Mormonism has. The third Article states: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

In discussing the atonement, LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part, meaning that they are resurrected and become immortal because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ” (What the Mormons Think of Christ, p. 24). On the same page he said, “In addi­tion to this redemption from death, all men by the grace of God have the power to gain eternal life. This is called salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Hence, Nephi was led to write: (in the Book of Mormon, II Nephi 25:23) ‘We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do.’”

Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th LDS Prophet, also wrote, “Salvation is two­fold: General—that which comes to all men irrespective of a belief (in this life) in Christ—and Individual—that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salva­tion, vol. I, p. 134). Smith also said, “Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we receive the resurrection” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. II, p. 47).

Both McConkie and Smith said that people who don’t even believe in Christ receive “General Salvation,” which LDS say means they will be resurrected. And both said that Eternal Life is merited by keeping the laws and ordinances of the gospel, which LDS call Individual Salvation or Exaltation.

The 12th LDS Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball declared, “One of the most falla­cious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 70).

If the doctrine of salvation by grace alone originated with Satan, then Paul and Silas taught Satan’s doctrine to the Philippian jailor in Acts 16:31. And Satan must have caused Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-6, Romans 10:9-10 etc., to be put in the Bible too!

Was Jesus wrong when said: “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life (John 6:47)? When Smith said that “General Salvation” comes to all men “irre­spective of a belief (in this life) in Christ,” he contradicted John 3:36 which says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” It is true that all men will be resurrected, but Jesus said there is a “resurrection of damnation” as well as a “resurrection of life” (John 5:29). If the wrath of God abides on unbelievers and they are resurrected unto damnation, can that really be “General Salvation”?

McConkie said, “All men by the grace of God have the power to gain eternal life. This is called salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” But grace is an unearned, undeserved gift, freely given to believers in Christ. Paul clearly said that if salvation is by grace it is not works and if it is by works it is not grace (Rom. 11:5-6). In other words if it is a gift you can’t work for it and if you work for it, it isn’t a gift! Therefore, it is contradic­tory to say salvation comes through both grace and works, as McConkie did.

The Bible clearly says salvation and eternal life are the “gift of God” (Eph. 2:8- 9, Rom. 3:23). Joseph Fielding Smith contradicted those verses when he said, “None shall receive eternal life save it be those who keep the commandments of the Lord and are entitled thus to enter into His presence” (Doctrines of Salvation vol. II, p. 4). Christians believe in living good lives, but man’s best will not earn him eternal life! If it could, we wouldn’t need a Savior! Second Nephi 25:23 in the Book of Mormon contradicts the meaning of grace when it says, “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” It also contradicts Romans 5:6, 8 and Ephesians 2:1 where Paul said we were still sinners, who were “dead in trespasses and sins” and without strength when Christ died for us!”

If we were dead, without strength, and still in sin, we couldn’t do anything to save ourselves! That is why God’s grace is needed to save us! In 1 Corinthians 15:3 Paul said, “Christ died for our sins.” However, LDS Apostle LeGrand Richards said, “Jesus Christ redeemed all from the fall; He paid the price; He offered Himself as a ransom; He atoned for Adam’s sin, leaving us responsible for our own sins” (A Marvelous Work and A Wonder, p. 102).

Some people think Mormonism has become more biblical today. But, LDS doctrine remains the same. LDS Apostle Russell M. Nelson said at the LDS Conference in April 2005, “Now is the time to prepare to meet God… But how do we prepare? Begin with repentance… God gave this simple rule: ‘Except ye abide in my law ye cannot attain to this glory… Now is the time to show reverent respect for one’s physical body… We are to forsake all evil and cleave unto all good…His (God’s) hope for us is eternal life. We qualify for it by obedience to covenants and ordinances of the temple…Now is the time to enroll our names among the people of God. This we do by paying tithing” (Ensign, May 2005, pp.16-18).

Unfortunately, nothing that Nelson mentioned will really prepare one to meet God according to the Bible. Jesus plainly declared that “No man cometh unto the Father except by Me” (John 14:6).

Those who want to read more on this subject can do so in the three volumes of Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith. Our next article will discuss Mormonism’s view of Christ’s future kingdom.

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