Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Are you saved?

I've noted how often the Book of Mormon uses the word "saved." But it's not a word that Mormons use much as do members of other churches, such as Baptists and Evangelicals.

Elder Oaks gave a conference talk on the various meanings of the word "saved" and "salvation" in the April 1998 General Conference. The talk was printed in the May 1998 Ensign.

Elder Oaks gave six meanings. He didn't explicitly enumerate all points, so I hope I'm parsing the six definitions correctly. (And: my quotes below don't constitute the entire article.)

1st: First, all mortals have been saved from the permanence of death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

2nd: As to salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, our answer to the question of whether or not we have been saved is “yes, but with conditions.” Our third article of faith declares our belief:

“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (A of F 1:3).

Many Bible verses declare that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (e.g., John 1:29; Matt. 26:28). The New Testament frequently refers to the grace of God and to salvation by grace (e.g., John 1:17; Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:8). But it also has many specific commandments on personal behavior, and many references to the importance of works (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–17). In addition, the Savior taught that we must endure to the end in order to be saved (see Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13).

Relying upon the totality of Bible teachings and upon clarifications received through modern revelation, we testify that being cleansed from sin through Christ’s Atonement is conditioned upon the individual sinner’s faith, which must be manifested by obedience to the Lord’s command to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). “Verily, verily, I say unto thee,” Jesus taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; see also Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37–38). Believers who have had this required rebirth at the hands of those having authority have already been saved from sin conditionally, but they will not be saved finally until they have completed their mortal probation with the required continuing repentance, faithfulness, service, and enduring to the end.


3rd: The question of whether a person has been saved is sometimes phrased in terms of whether that person has been “born again.” Being “born again” is a familiar reference in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. As noted earlier, Jesus taught that except a man was “born again” (John 3:3), of water and of the Spirit, he could not enter into the kingdom of God (see John 3:5). The Book of Mormon has many teachings about the necessity of being “born again” or “born of God” (Mosiah 27:25; see Mosiah 27:24–26; Alma 36:24, 26; Moses 6:59). As we understand these scriptures, our answer to whether we have been born again is clearly “yes.” We were born again when we entered into a covenant relationship with our Savior by being born of water and of the Spirit and by taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when we partake of the sacrament.

Latter-day Saints affirm that those who have been born again in this way are spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 5:7; Mosiah 15:9–13; Mosiah 27:25). Nevertheless, in order to realize the intended blessings of this born-again status, we must still keep our covenants and endure to the end. In the meantime, through the grace of God, we have been born again as new creatures with new spiritual parentage and the prospects of a glorious inheritance.


4th: A fourth meaning of being saved is to be saved from the darkness of ignorance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the purpose of life, and of the destiny of men and women. The gospel made known to us by the teachings of Jesus Christ has given us this salvation. “I am the light of the world,” Jesus taught; “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12; see also John 12:46).

5th: For Latter-day Saints, being “saved” can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see 1 Cor. 15:40–42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earth—except for a very few—is assured of salvation in this sense. As we read in modern revelation:

“And this is the gospel, the glad tidings …

“That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

“That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

“Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him” (D&C 76:40–43; emphasis added).


6th: Finally, in another usage familiar and unique to Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation are also used to denote exaltation or eternal life (see Abr. 2:11). This is sometimes referred to as the “fulness of salvation” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:242). This salvation requires more than repentance and baptism by appropriate priesthood authority. It also requires the making of sacred covenants, including eternal marriage, in the temples of God, and faithfulness to those covenants by enduring to the end. If we use the word salvation to mean “exaltation,” it is premature for any of us to say that we have been “saved” in mortality. That glorious status can only follow the final judgment of Him who is the Great Judge of the living and the dead.

And in conclusion: I have suggested that the short answer to the question of whether a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been saved or born again must be a fervent “yes.” Our covenant relationship with our Savior puts us in that “saved” or “born again” condition meant by those who ask this question.

1 Comments:

At 11/05/2009 01:13:00 AM, Anonymous ama said...

Great comments and well summarized. One of the scriptures I hear a lot of EV's quote is the one that by your mouth you confess Jesus and you're saved. However, when you really analyze and look through all the scriptures of the Bible that you've shared here, you can clearly see that the steps to salvation are faith (confessing Jesus and living His gospel) Repentance, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost (baptism by fire), and enduring to the end.

 

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