What is the Mormon concept of salvation?

Bruce R.McConkie said in his book “Mormon Doctrine”,

“Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected.”  And then a couple pages later says,“Immortalityis a free gift and comes without works or righteousness of any sort; all menwill come forth in the resurrection because of the atoning sacrifice ofChrist…In this sense, the mere fact of resurrection is called salvation by grace alone.” (p. 669, 671)

So “unconditional” salvation by grace comes through the resurrection for all mankind.  But you’re also taught, that “conditional” salvation comes through personal works of righteousness.

LDS Third Article of Faith declares: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Meaning the laws and ordinances of Mormonism.

Latter-Day Saints believe in doing all one can do and then believing that the grace of God will make up for what we lack. 

I’m familiar with the passage in the Book of Mormon – 2 Nephi 25:23 that declares: “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

This Book of Mormon teaching creates a sense of pride in a Mormon for doing their part to make themselves “worthy”, doesn’t it?

We try to avoid being prideful, but our efforts to keep the commandments is what helps us earn God’s grace.” – They say

However, the abundance of clear biblical scripture leaves no room for us to think our own works could save us in any degree.  I would like to lay a biblical foundation of God’s point of view. 

Isaiah 64:6

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags…”

The Apostle Paul has a lot to say about this.  Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

And, Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Romans 10:4

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

Romans 11:6

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

Titus 3:5  

“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.”

You see, the emphasis is not on merit or works.  Rather on grace – God’s free, gift.

How then are we to understand what was said in James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

James is not arguing for good works as a, means to salvation, but rather as a product of salvation.  It might be put like this: “Faith alone saves, but a saving faith is never alone.” 

We are justified before God on, the basis of faith alone and before men on the, basis of our works.  So, we can see that “works” are a result of a life lived out of love for God.  But if one claims to be saved and shows no “works”, he is not truly saved.

What about Philippians 2:12 where it says, ”Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Notice, that it does not say “work FOR your salvation” but “work out your salvation” (that which you already possess).  The following verse 13 tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

If the Apostle Paul were telling us we had to do works to be saved, he would be contradicting himself in the very next chapter, Philippians 3:9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

The gospel is the “good news” that Christ purchased our salvation for us.  He redeemed us in full.  All that is left for us to do is believe in Him and receive His free, gift.  “His works” will be manifested in our lives.  

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