THE CROSS UNVEILED
Last Update: 2/2014
Does the Bible agree with the Mormon Doctrine of Salvation?
Recall Mormon doctrine teaches two types of salvation:
1. General Salvation - A resurrection which comes to every human and is all Jesus' atonement pays for. Faith is not required.
2. Individual Salvation - This is based on our own performance record and what gets one into one of three levels of heaven.
The gospel provides several examples of biblical salvation all of which contradict both types of salvation in Mormonism. In fact, there are over 125 references in the Bible to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
If the Bible truly means Jesus’ atonement only has the power to resurrect us, why does the Bible use words such as salvation, justification, righteousness, redemption, forgiveness, propitiation, and reconciliation when describing the effects of the atonement for all who believe?
Biblical Examples of Salvation
Here are just a few examples where biblical salvation by grace through faith alone is shown, which completely contradicts the Mormon basis for general and individual salvation.
John 11:25-26 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? Jesus, in His own words, makes a definitive statement whosoever lives and believes in Him shall never die. This rules out general salvation as it is not available to all, but only to those who believe in Him. It also rules out individual salvation because individual salvation depends upon much more than just belief in Jesus Christ.
Luke 7:50 “And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” This could not possibly be referring to the general salvation because the verse states here salvation was received by faith alone. It also cannot refer to individual salvation because she had just repented of her sins and had not yet done any works to earn her salvation.
Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." These verses rule out general salvation because general salvation comes to even the non-believers, whereas this verse states to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. It also rules out individual salvation because individual salvation depends upon much more than just belief and faith in Jesus Christ.
John 3:36 "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." Again, general salvation is ruled out here because only those who believe have everlasting life. Individual salvation must also be ruled out because it depends on following many laws and ordinances in addition to belief.
Titus 3:4-7: "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." These verses are obviously not referring to a general salvation as the result is by the washing of regeneration (spiritual cleansing by believing in Christ alone for our eternal salvation) and renewal of the Holy Ghost, which is only bestowed upon believers the moment they put their trust in Christ alone. The result requires belief which general salvation does not require, so it has to be referring to individual salvation. We are made heirs of eternal life not based on our works of righteousness, but through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ our Savior.
Acts 16:30-31 says, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Again, this verse rules out general salvation because general salvation comes to even the non-believers, whereas this verse states to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation. It also rules out individual salvation because individual salvation depends upon much more than just belief and faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:13 states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Yet again this example excludes general salvation because general salvation is supposed to be received by all without doing anything. It also excludes individual salvation because individual salvation requires much more than calling upon the name of the Lord.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Again, this explicitly denies both types of salvation within Mormonism. Salvation here is not general because it is only through faith, nor is it individual based on works and moral effort because it is a gift so that no one can boast of their own works as this would take the glory away from God.
Gift through Grace vs. Debt through Works
Romans 4:4-8 state, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [Saying], Blessed [are] they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed [is] the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
The message Paul conveys here is salvation is without question a free, unmerited gift of God. If it were to be earned, then it is no longer a gift, but a debt. God’s grace is by nature free and cannot be earned or worked for. Put another way, if we work to earn our wages, they are no longer a gift, but a debt. If you were told by your employer the paycheck you work 40 hours a week for is your gift for the past week, you would think he is crazy because it was obviously not a gift, but something you earned and worked hard for. The same is with our salvation (justification, righteousness) in that if we have to work for it, then it no longer is a gift, but payment or debt of the employer for what we have earned. You are making God a debtor to you and God certainly does not owe us anything based on our works which are tainted in sin. Can you really have a saving faith in Christ if you add works to it? If you said some portion of my eternal life must be based on what I do and how obedient I am in the flesh, then do you really have the type of faith the gospel portrays? Your faith must be completely in Christ's work and not in your own to be the real deal, a true Christian faith. Christ did all the necessary works for us and asks us to have faith in Him by believing His shed blood for us wipes clean our sin and we are clothed in His righteousness.
Justification and Righteousness
In Romans 4:23-25 Paul says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Do you know what justification means? It means to be declared righteous before God. Paul tells us here by believing in Jesus we have our justification, our righteousness. Jesus imputes (gives us) his perfect robe of righteousness so we can be justified before a holy God when we are judged (2 Corinthians 5:21). Would it not be amazing to have the righteousness of Jesus freely given to you? Do you think trusting this would lead to a radical change within you? It should because this is the point when you become dead to sin; sin has no dominion or control over you and the life you live in the flesh is now for Christ alone. Can you see how the works that flow from this person would be rooted in a motivation completely opposite of one who is going about salvation through earning it (selfless love for an undeserved gift vs. self-justification through the law)?
Romans 9:30-10:4 states, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of 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. For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
If you add to faith in Christ (through human effort), then it is not real faith; therefore, there is no real justification or salvation. Paul states the Gentiles did not attempt to earn their righteousness, but received righteousness because it was based on their faith alone absent any works. However, Israel tried to earn their righteousness through the laws and ordinances and did not attain their righteousness. Why? Israel’s righteousness was not sought through faith alone, but though works and obedience to the law. Paul says his heart’s desire is for them to be saved (made righteous or justified before God) which means Paul recognizes they are still under condemnation. They have a zeal for God, but not based on knowledge. They do not understand the righteousness of God (faith in Christ alone) and established their own righteousness (works and obedience to the law). Paul tells us to look no further than Jesus Christ and faith in Him alone for our righteousness because He is the end of the law.
Ephesians 2:5-6 states, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus.” By the grace of God alone and Jesus’ work are we saved and raised to sit together in heaven. This says nothing about our obedience to laws, ordinances, works or moral conformity getting us to be with Jesus in heaven; it is based on Christ's righteousness alone which is imputed to us through belief. This is why grace means so much more to a Christian than a Mormon because it was the work of Christ alone that saved us as we are dead in sin and He brings us to heaven with Him by His saving grace alone and not based on our works and obedience to laws and ordinances. Because if it were based on anything we do, then we would have reason to boast in our own efforts which shifts the glory from Christ to humanity. We would be elevating the glory of humanity and lowering the glory of Christ by effectively saying Christ’s sacrifice was incomplete so I have to earn my way to heaven (we reject the work of Christ in favor of our own work).
The Law's True Meaning
You might ask at this point, "how can works, obedience to laws and ordinances, and moral conformity not help me qualify for eternal life?" This is a very good question and it took me some time to understand, but it became crystal clear as I studied the gospel. The commandments were given to expose the true nature of our hearts; we are all convicted under the law. Our hearts are the big problem and this is what Jesus was revealing to us in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). Remember, the Law of Moses was not given to follow for the removal our sins, but to reveal our sins (Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:24). Striving to keep laws and ordinances in an effort on our part to merit eternal salvation will never make us righteous because obedience to laws and ordinances does not change our hearts. The law is a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1) and a curse (Galatians 3:10-13) Jesus' grace frees us from. Mormons not only put the law back on their shoulders, they add many more laws to it!
The Pharisees followed the laws and ordinances more than anyone besides Jesus, yet it never changed their hearts because they did not use the law in the way it was revealed by Jesus. They were filled with pride and self-righteousness because they felt they were earning their inheritance by obedience to the law. Had they used the law as Jesus taught, it would have revealed to them the sinful nature of their hearts. This is why we realize only receiving the free, unmerited gift of the atoning work of Christ can make us righteous before a holy God because if righteousness came through obeying laws and ordinances, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21). Please read my section titled "What about Commandments" for more on this topic.
These verses also reveal biblical salvation by faith absent works. These verses could not possibly be referring to a general salvation because only those who received righteousness through faith were saved. These verses also could not possibly be referring to individual salvation because Paul desired for Israel to be saved, because obviously they were not saved by their righteousness through obedience to the law. They desired to be saved and they even had a zeal for God, but were going about it the wrong way, by obedience to the law instead of by faith alone. They established their own righteousness which adds to the work of Jesus Christ and places the glory on man instead of God.
Justified by Faith Alone
In Romans 5:1-2, Paul declares, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Since we have been justified by faith (not faith and works), we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Let me ask you, can you have real peace with God if justification were based on anything you must do to earn it? Remember, under the Mormon way to salvation (eternal life), you never truly know where you stand because you never know if you have done enough. Can you have the kind of peace Paul is describing here in Mormonism?
All In Christ are Made Alive
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 states: "For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
In 1 Cor. 15:21, resurrection means to receive a resurrection body and to live forever. But wait, for you Mormons 1 Cor. 15:22 continues with what happens to believers in Christ. 1 Cor. 15:22 states we will be made alive if we are found in Christ (trust in Christ alone and His sacrifice). The phrase "in Christ" is listed in the New Testament 76 times (KJV), so it is obviously very important as it refers to those who are set free from the law of sin and death receiving no condemnation.
Romans 8:1-2 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
What is meant by the word "alive" in 1 Corinthians 15:22, because it seems like we are all resurrected and surely those not in Christ are not literally dead? John 5:29 is one of several verses (others include Daniel 12:2 and Matthew 25:46) which clarifies the meaning of "alive."
John 5:29 "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
These verses say Jesus not only resurrects us from the dead, but if we are found in Christ, meaning trusted in Christ alone for our eternal salvation, we have eternal life. The dead (those who are not in Christ, but in Adam) are those who will be sent to the lake of fire. The dead are the only one's who will face the great white throne judgment. For those who are in Christ when they die, the Bible declares to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8), and Christ is sitting at the right hand of God in heaven.
John 5:29 refers to two resurrections, a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of damnation." How can the "resurrection of damnation" be referring at all to either type of Mormon salvation? The "resurrection of life" (those alive in Christ) can only be salvation, or eternal life in heaven, just as the "resurrection of the dead" (those who never trusted in Christ alone for their salvation) can only be those who are eternally condemned to hell.
Mormon Leaders Attack Biblical Salvation
Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated the following, “This second heresy--and it is the delusion and mania that prevails to this day in the great evangelical body of Protestantism--is the doctrine that we are justified by faith alone, without the works of the law. It is the doctrine that we are saved by grace alone, without works. It is the doctrine that we may be born again simply by confessing the Lord Jesus with our lips while we continue to live in our sins” (BYU devotional speech titled “What Think Ye of Salvation by Grace?,” January 10, 1984).
12th President of the LDS church Spencer W. Kimball said, "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 Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206).
LDS Apostle James E. Talmage said "Justification by Faith Alone has exercised and influence for evil" and is a "pernicious doctrine" (Articles of Faith, p. 432, 1984 ed.).
Do the statements by McConkie, Kimball and Talmage sound anything like the gospel doctrine of salvation by faith alone I just presented directly from the word of God or does this sound like the doctrine the Pharisee’s and other workers of the law used for their righteousness which was never attained?
Coming to God: Our Terms vs. His Terms
Since the beginning, people want to come to God on their terms and not on God’s terms. Both methods of salvation are foreshadowed over and over again in the Old Testament. All the way back in Genesis, when Adam and Eve realized their nakedness, they covered themselves with self-made aprons. We then see God not accepting this covering and He makes an acceptable covering with coats of animal skins which required a sacrifice and blood to be shed. You see, all the way back to this account in the Bible, God was foreshadowing to us how our attempts to cover our sin through our own efforts will never be good enough. God was showing us blood would need to be shed and the sacrifice of a perfect and spotless lamb was the requirement to take away sin covering us in Christ's perfect righteousness.
Many people want to come to God with what we feel God will accept in our good works and moral effort and not on the basis of what God has demonstrated over and over to us as acceptable. God does not work this way as He is no respecter of persons. He does not show favoritism to anyone based on their personal righteousness or works. He loves us all equally and reveals to us in His word the only way to be accepted into his family is by believing on the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.
God wants our hearts; He wants direct fellowship and a personal relationship with us though Jesus Christ. The cross teaches us salvation is purely a free gift and work of God by grace through faith in Christ alone. It displays the amazing love God has for us as He recognized we were dead in sin and there was nothing we could do about it because if obedience to laws could help save us, those laws would have been instituted (Galatians 3:21). But just as Jesus and the apostle Paul taught, if righteousness came through obedience to the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:21).
Jesus taught many will stand before him on judgment day professing the wonderful works they did in His name (Matthew 7:22). They will be expecting their belief in Him and their wonderful works will help save them. The gospel has been revealed and the terms of God have been set. Those expecting to hear “well done thou good and faithful servant” will be shocked when they instead hear “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity.”