The Mormon Plan of Salvation

Question
Can you briefly state the Mormon plan of salvation?
Answer

Biblical Salvation

Before we look at the Mormon plan of salvation, let us look at what the Bible says concerning true salvation.

The simple teaching of Scripture is "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). In this statement, we do not see the addition of another person, church, or ordinance, etc. The Bible simply teaches that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. This has been clarified as to what it means by many throughout church history. The 
Cambridge Declaration summarizes this basic truth. It says:

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. This is the article by which the church stands or falls...There is no gospel except that of Christ's substitution in our place whereby God imputed to him our sin and imputed to us his righteousness. Because he bore our judgment, we now walk in his grace as those who are forever pardoned, accepted and adopted as God's children. There is no basis for our acceptance before God except in Christ's saving work, not in our patriotism, churchly devotion or moral decency. The gospel declares what God has done for us in Christ. It is not about what we can do to reach him. We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ's righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God's perfect justice. We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ's righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

The amazing thing concerning true salvation is that it is all of grace. It is the work of God, not of man. It is the story of a loving Savior who redeems his people, and he does so fully and completely. It is about a loving sovereign God, a perfect incarnate Savior, and an accomplished redemption.

Unfortunately, some people try to add human works to such a great salvation (Heb. 2:3). But Paul speaks of such self-righteousness saying:

I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Phil. 3:8-9).

This adding of works, though, is where we may begin to better understand the Mormon idea of salvation. The Mormon Church teaches a false doctrine of salvation. It adds works and even another person to the process.

The Mormon Plan of Salvation

How does the Mormon Church answer the question, "How do we receive eternal life? According to the LDS website:

Plan of Salvation

In the premortal existence, Heavenly Father prepared a plan to enable us to become like Him and receive a fulness of joy. The scriptures refer to this plan as "the plan of salvation" (Alma 24:14; Moses 6:62), "the great plan of happiness" (Alma 42:8), "the plan of redemption" (Jacob 6:8; Alma 12:30), and "the plan of mercy" (Alma 42:15). The plan of salvation is the fulness of the gospel. It includes the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all the laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel. Moral agency, the ability to choose and act for ourselves, is also essential in Heavenly Father's plan. Because of this plan, we can be perfected through the Atonement, receive a fulness of joy, and live forever in the presence of God. Our family relationships can last throughout the eternities.

Did you see the works righteousness built into their plan? Did you see the addition of the Mormon laws, ordinances, and doctrines? Besides the other errors in this plan, it does not embrace the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone.

In addition, Bruce McConkie, a former "apostle" of the Mormon Church, taught that there are three distinct categories of salvation. In his book entitled, Mormon Doctrine, he gives us three types of salvation, none of which are in the Bible:
(1) Unconditional or General Salvation. According to Mormonism, this kind of salvation eventually will come to all mankind, excepting only the sons of perdition. However, this is not the salvation which the saints seek.
(2) Conditional or Individual Salvation. This is that which comes by grace coupled with gospel obedience. They will live separately and singly in an unmarried state without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity. (Doctrines and Covenants, 132:16-17).
(3) Exaltation or Eternal Life. This is salvation in its true and full meaning. This full salvation is obtained in and through the continuation of the family unit throughout eternity, and those who obtain it are gods (Doctrines and Covenants, 131:1-4; 132).

To briefly clarify in regards to the doctrine of salvation (Exaltation or Eternal Life), Mormonism teaches that one of life's primary purposes is to seek and find the one and only true church - the LDS Church. Then they need to receive all of the required ordinances for salvation (full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles). Essential to this salvation is the gospel, the priesthood, and the sealing power. Other essentials include continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the working of miracles, and the prevalence of gifts of the spirit. Moreover, they believe if it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. According to Mormonism, there is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2).

They believe that only the LDS Church has the authority and knowledge to administer salvation ordinances, that are necessary for exaltation. Once they have received all of these ordinances, they must continue to remain completely faithful and obedient to the Mormon Church and the teachings of the Prophet until the day they die. If they fail to do so, then they are not worthy to enter into God's Kingdom. To this, then, Mormons must add, "all we can do." According to 2 Nephi 25:23, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." This is not grace alone (Eph. 2:8-10)! This is grace + works. This is not biblical salvation!

In a nutshell, this is the Mormon doctrine of salvation. However, we could add to it many things such as: (1) baptism for the dead; (2) celestial marriage; (3) morality; (4) loyalty; (5) tithing; (6) word of wisdom; (7) duty, etc. However, for the sake of brevity, let us move on with the task at hand - Justification according to Mormonism.

As to another person added to the plan of salvation:

For unbelievers we will quote from the Scriptures - "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Again - "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God." I will now give my scripture - Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist, no matter whether it is found in a pulpit or on a throne, nor how much divinity it may profess, nor what it professes with regard to revealed religion and the account that is given of the Saviour and his Father in the Bible. They may say that they acknowledge Him until doomsday, and he will never own them, nor bestow the Holy Spirit upon them, and they will never have visions of eternity opened to them, unless they acknowledge that Joseph Smith is sent of God. Such people I call unbelievers. They tell about believing in Jesus Christ, but they might as well talk about birds understanding the Hebrew language. This statement is no more positive than true (Journal of Discoursesvol. 8).

Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail in the great work of the last days. I can tell our beloved brother Christians who have slain the Prophets and butchered and otherwise caused the death of thousands of Latter-day Saints, the priests who have thanked God in their prayers and thanksgiving from the pulpit that we have been plundered, driven, and slain, and the deacons under the pulpit, and their brethren and sisters in their closets, who have thanked God, thinking that the Latter-day Saints were wasted away, something that no doubt will mortify them - something that, to say the least, is a matter of deep regret to them - namely, that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are - I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation - the keys to rule in the spirit-world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ, which gives him a most perfect victory in the spirit-world. He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim - "Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!" But it is true (Journal of Discourses vol. 7).

[There is] no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1).

It is because the Lord called Joseph Smith that salvation is again available to mortal men.... If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation (Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine).

I tell you, Joseph holds the keys, and none of us can get into the celestial kingdom without passing by him. We have not got rid of him, but he stands there as the sentinel, holding the keys of the kingdom of God; and there are many of them beside him. I tell you, if we get past those who have mingled with us, and know us best, and have a right to know us best, probably we can pass all other sentinels as far as it is necessary, or as far as we may desire. But I tell you, the pinch will be with those that have mingled with us, stood next to us, weighed our spirits, tried us, and proven us: there will be a pinch, in my view, to get past them. The others, perhaps, will say, If brother Joseph is satisfied with you, you may pass. If it is all right with him, it is all right with me. Then if Joseph shall say to a man, or if brother Brigham say to a man, I forgive you your sins, "Whosoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them;" if you who have suffered and felt the weight of transgression-if you have generosity enough to forgive the sinner, I will forgive him: you cannot have more generosity than I have. I have given you power to forgive sins, and when the Lord gives a gift, he does not take it back again (Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6).

Of the Mormon Church as the way of salvation

There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine).

This Church is the ensign on the mountain spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. It is the way, the truth, and the life (Marion Romney, LDS First Presidency Conference Report, April, 1961, pg. 119).

This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth according to the word of revelation (1:30).

Here lies the truth. Here lies the priesthood. Hold to the Church. Do not ever lose sight of the fact that the Church must ever remain preeminent in your lives if you are going to be happy as the years pass. Never let yourselves be found in the position of fighting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You cling to it and be faithful to it. You uphold and sustain it. You teach its doctrine and live by it. And I do not hesitate to say that your lives will be the richer and the happier because of that. You cannot find happiness fighting the work of God. Those who have done so have gone down to a dismal end (Gordon B. Hinkley, Ricks College Regional Conference, Rexburg, Idaho, 29 Oct. 1995).

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 (Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness).

Conclusion

The doctrine of Mormon salvation is not the gospel of Christianity! This is not "Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone." Nor is it
 "Solus Christus - Christ Alone." It is not 
"Sola Gratia - Grace Alone" or
 "Sola Fide - Faith Alone." Nor is it
 "Soli Deo Gloria - to the Glory of God Alone." To the simple question, "What must I do to be saved" a much simpler answer is given in Scripture. What is said? ... "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household" (Acts 13:30-31). What a contrast! What a Great Salvation! What a Savior!

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus left no room for another way - i.e. Joseph Smith, a church, Mormon ordinances, etc. As Luke wrote, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).

Related Topics

What is Mormonism?
The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
The Fictitious Mormon Jesus
Mormonism and Celestial Marriage
Are Mormonism and Islam similar in any way(s)?
The Mormon View of their god

Audio Seminar

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, by John McWilliams

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).