It’s the end of 2011, leading up to a U.S. presidential election, and everywhere you turn, Mormons and Mormonism are in the news. First came the accusation that “Mormons” (actually members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) do not believe in biblical Christianity, because they don’t believe that faith alone is enough to get a person to heaven. They say that as soon as you introduce the necessity for works, then you’re not a biblical Christian — at least that is the stance of Pastor Jeffress, who created the stir. In his view, Catholics are not historical, biblical Christians, either. A little clarification of Latter-day Saint beliefs would help, and we can begin by saying that Latter-day Saints believe that all followers of Jesus Christ, all who call Him Creator and Savior, are Christians.
Latter-day Saints do believe that works are important, that “faith without works is dead” (James 2: 15, 18, 26). Matthew 19:17 says, “…but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Mormons define “works” as repentance, making and keeping covenants, keeping the commandments of Christ, loving God with all our heart, and being charitable.
When Christ comes again, He will separate the wicked from the just. We know the wicked by their acts, and Christ knows them also by the desires of their hearts, and the unique challenges of their sojourn on earth. But Latter-day Saints believe that our good works cannot save us. No matter how much we do, we need God’s grace.
In the Book of Mormon, it says,
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved (2 Nephi 10:24).
Who Goes to Heaven?
The Lord has told us that He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (Doctrine and Covenants 1:31). He is perfectly just. However, the grace that is offered us through the atonement of Christ allows the Lord to mingle justice with mercy. He does not condemn those who died without knowledge of the commandments or of the saving power of Jesus Christ. There have been millions and millions of such people who have lived or do live upon the earth.
God’s grace enables them to be taught the gospel after death, when they are spirits, awaiting resurrection. Those who reject the gospel of Christ and choose to live wickedly must suffer for their own sins, but such suffering is not eternal.
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the kingdoms of heaven in a vision. In the lowest kingdom of heaven, the telestial, lower than the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms (1 Corinthians 15:40, 41), they saw that “these are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 76); these are they who were “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” These must suffer until the end of the millennium, and will not be resurrected until then, but they will still be saved. Joseph Smith said the glory of the telestial kingdom, the lowest in heaven, “surpasses all understanding.” It is God’s grace that saves these souls.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a “lay clergy.” Since there is no paid clergy, no one can preach the gospel to get gain, and everyone has to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” to keep the Church running. For that reason, Latter-day Saints tend to be very busy. It is the nature of women everywhere to feel like they can never do enough, and that sometimes carries over to their attitude toward church-work. But that doesn’t mean that Latter-day Saints think that their works can get them to heaven.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a four-fold mission: to perfect the “Saints” (members of the Church); to redeem the dead (through Mormon temple work); to preach the gospel; and to serve the poor and needy. This is work that forwards the kingdom of God on earth, but “we are saved by grace, after (in spite of) all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
Gale is a former fibro and CMP sufferer. She hopes this information will help other sufferers on their journey to good health.