Mormons, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, find several scriptures in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelations) that indicate that “salvation is free.”
…for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
2 Nephi 26:27 says,
Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
How Is Salvation Free?
Most Christians define salvation as going to heaven after you die. Most Christians also exclude huge portions of the human race from the possibility of going to heaven — the heathen, the ignorant, and those who fail to embrace the gospel as they define it, the wicked, the sinners, the unbaptized.
Mormons proclaim that we all are God’s children. He is the literal Father of our spirits, and we dwelt with Him in a spiritual realm (which Mormons call “pre-mortal life” or the “pre-existence”) before we were born with physical bodies on this earth. According to His vast eternal plan, mortality is one major step, albeit very short, in our progress to become more like Him and to join Him again in eternity. Heavenly Father knows all about the difficulties of mortal life. This is a coarse and fallen world, rife with challenges even for the fortunate. He knew we would err, make wrong turns, and make bad decisions. He allows us to do this, because He does everything possible to guarantee our “free agency,” our ability to choose good from evil. He sent us all here with the Light of Christ to act as our conscience, so as to find our way back to Him.
Note that in the quote from 2 Nephi 2:4, it says, “And the way is prepared from the fall of man….” The way is Jesus Christ. He suffered and died that we might live. His atonement guaranteed a universal resurrection, salvation into a kingdom in heaven for just about everyone, and exaltation into His presence for those with an eye single to His glory.
Salvation in the Doctrine and Covenants
In one of the most enlightening and exciting revelations ever bestowed upon man by the Lord, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the kingdoms of heaven and were told exactly who would inherit them. To prove that salvation is free, I will begin with the lowest kingdom, as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:40-42. It is the Telestial Kingdom, with a glory comparable to the stars.
And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament. These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus. These are they who deny not the Holy Spirit.
These are they who are thrust down to hell. These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work. These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial; And the terrestrial through the ministration of the celestial.
And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation. And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding (Doctrine and Covenants 76:81-89)….
I’ll explain what all this means. People who will inherit the lowest kingdom of heaven refuse the gospel of Jesus and refuse the Infinite Atonement Jesus offered them. That means they must suffer for their own sins. To be “thrust down to hell” means to suffer for one’s own sins in the “spirit world,” before resurrection into a kingdom of heaven. This punishment is called eternal punishment, because God’s name is “Eternal.” These will not be resurrected at Christ’s Second Coming, but will have to wait until the millennial reign of Christ on the earth has ended. In the eternities, they will not enjoy the fullness of the presence of the Savior, but will be ministered to by people who have inherited the Terrestrial Kingdom, whose glory is compared by Paul to the moon. And yet, these will be heirs to salvation in a kingdom whose glory surpasses all understanding. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw that they were “…liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie” (vs 103). Not a very nice group of people, but these two men saw that they “…as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore” (vs 109)….
Are there any who will be cast into hell forever? Yes, but they represent only a handful of those who have lived or will live on the earth. One must see the Christ and have a perfect knowledge of Him and then deny Him. Essentially, only fallen prophets are in this category. Satan and his angels, Cain, we know, will be cast into this realm called “outer darkness,” from which God hides His glory. Note that Joseph Smith says those who will be saved into the Telestial Kingdom, “…deny not the Holy Spirit.” This is what he means. It is called “the sin against the Holy Ghost,” and it is unforgivable and unpardonable. All others will be saved.
Living According to the Plan of Salvation
Is there a more loving, more inclusive doctrine of salvation in all of Christendom? And this is God’s true doctrine. Salvation, then, is free.
Mormons are busy, but they are busy because there is no professional clergy in Mormonism. Everything is done on a volunteer basis from the top to the bottom. Mormons are also striving to fulfill God’s Great Commission to take the gospel to the world and to fulfill the four-fold mission of The Church of Jesus Christ:
- To perfect the Saints — as the Saints of old (worthy followers of Christ), Latter-day Saints seek to be perfect, knowing that perfection is eons away in the eternities and that it comes through the grace of God, and not through our own efforts. Perfection is wholeness. Joy is a big part of it, and a fullness of joy can only be found in the resurrected state in the full presence of the Father and Savior. This is beyond salvation; it is exaltation to the highest kingdom in heaven. People who inherit the Celestial Kingdom are like Christ. If Mormons seem to be striving, it is because they are striving to be like Christ.
- To redeem the dead — Mormons believe in covenants and ordinances and provide those for ancestors who never had the opportunity to receive them. Since they live on eternally and have freedom of choice in the spirit world after they die, they can choose whether to accept the work done for them in Holy Temples, or not.
- To take the gospel to the world — by the fall of 2013 The Church of Jesus Christ expects to have around 85,000 members serving as Mormon missionaries. We’re really serious about this.
To minister to the poor and needy — another reason Mormons are so busy. They are serving their hearts out for the Lord, because they love Him and want to help His children, no matter their race, nationality, or religion.