God the Mother
by Janice Allred
Justification and Sanctification
[p.144]And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:16-26).
[p.145]Protestantism arose from the conviction that no one can be saved by works. It was a reaction against the Catholic doctrine of salvation by righteousness through the efficacy of the sacraments. According to Protestant thinking, the requirements of the law are too stringent for fallen humanity to meet. They believe that not only can this proposition be demonstrated from the scriptures but that the proof of it lies within every person’s experience. If we try as hard as we can to meet the demands of the law, we will discover that it is not within our power to do so. When we observe others, we do not find anyone who is without sin. Who can doubt that if salvation depends on works, we must all ask, like the disciples, “Who then can be saved?”
The central question for a Protestant is “Am I saved?” and his testimony is centered in the experience of being saved or receiving grace. This may be contrasted to conversion to Mormonism in which the central question often is “Is the Mormon church the true church of Jesus Christ?” When members bear their testimonies, they are more apt to say, “I know the church is true,” than to tell about being redeemed from their sins. When we think about or recount conversion experiences, we are more likely to think of them as how someone came to know the church is true than how they were spiritually reborn. When we tell the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision using the version in the Pearl of Great Price, we emphasize that he was seeking to know which church was right. However, in another version of his vision he says that he was crying to the Lord for mercy and the Lord’s first words to him granted him forgiveness for his sins. He also tells us in his history that in his second attempt to communicate with deity his purpose was to receive a forgiveness of his sins and to know of his state and standing with God. These accounts of his first experiences with deity more closely parallel typical Protestant experiences of receiving saving grace, but we rarely focus on this aspect of Joseph’s epiphany. Instead we emphasize his learning that no church was true and receiving a divine calling to restore the true church. Because we thus seem to ignore what is for Protestants the essence of Chris~ tianity, its redemptive message, other Christians sometimes wonder and ask if we Mormons are Christians. Are Mormons saved? Am I saved?
I think this question is important. The heart of religion is to bring human beings to a relationship with God. The question, “Am I saved?” has several dimensions. It is personal. It asks me to consider the status of my soul. It locates salvation in the individual. It presupposes the existence of God, an alienation between God and humanity, and the possibility that this alienation can be overcome.
I would like to point out the words of Alma as the Mormon version of [p.146]the question, “Am I saved?” He asks, “Have ye spiritually been born of God? Do you exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? And if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, can ye feel so now?” (5:14) I believe these words constitute the essence of what Protestants mean when they ask if we are saved, but the questions we are more likely to hear as Mormons are, “Are you active?” “Do you keep the commandmentst’ “Do you hold a temple recommend?” “Do you sustain the Brethren?”
I think that there are many Mormons who have been redeemed, but not as many who are able to give a coherent account of what redemption is. Most Mormons are aware that the Book of Mormon teaches the Plan of Salvation very clearly, although they may not be entirely clear as to what exactly it teaches. However, I think it is not generally appreciated that the Doctrine and Covenants also teaches the same doctrine of salvation. My task in this essay is to show that in the revelations contained in the Mormon scriptures—the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price—the same doctrine of salvation can be found which is taught in traditional Christianity, the same doctrine which is taught in the New Testament. The Mormon scriptures help answer questions about salvation dealt with in traditional Christian theology by unifying the various Christian doctrines of redemption arising from the grace/works controversy, answering the questions posed by its extreme formulations. They teach a doctrine of salvation which expands and magnifies the concepts of salvation of traditional Christianity. Much of the discussion of the doctrine of redemption has been dominated by the grace/works controversy. Is a person saved by grace or by works or by some kind of combination of the two? Another way of phrasing the question is to ask, “In the work of salvation what does God do and what must we do?” My inquiry into the doctrine of salvation taught in the Mormon scriptures is shaped by this question.
Humanism and Calvinism take polar opposite positions in the grace/works controversy—humanists claiming that humanity does everything, Calvinists holding that God does everything. Humanists, of course, do not ask “How am I saved?” but “How can I live the good life?” and attempt to answer the question without any reference to God. Their concern is to find what it means to be fully human and to show how this human potential can be reached by human beings. Our scriptures, which claim to be books containing the revelations and commandments of God to humaniry and the covenants he makes with individual human beings, implicitly reject humanism. However, we need go no farther than Section 1, the Lord’s Preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, to find a denunciation of humanism.
[p.147]Hearken 0 ye people …
For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape …
And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow … They who will not hear the voice of the Lord … shall be cut off from among the people;
They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the Great, which shall fall …
Man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh (vv. 1-3, 14, 16, 19).
The Book of Mormon is equally strong in proclaiming humanity’s need for God.
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the afm of fleshj for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the aIm of flesh. Yes, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm (2 Ne. 4:34).
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord (Mosiah 3: 19).
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters (27 :25).
The claim of Calvinism, that we play no part in our salvation, is also implicitly rejected by the very existence of the scriptures. If we can do nothing to bring about our salvation, if God does everything, then there is no point in his giving us revelations and commandments and making covenants with us. Again there are many explicit references to the individual’s role in his or her salvation. For example:
And those who receive … [the gospel] in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life; But those who harden their hearts in unbelief and reject it, it shall tum to their own condemnation (D&C 20: 14, 15).
[p.148]But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared fur them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever (2 Ne. 9:1S) .
… be diligent in keeping my commandments, and you shall be blessed unto eternal life (D&C 30:S).
Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire (Alma 5:35).
They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation (He!’ 12:26).
And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptized, shall be damned (D&C 112:29).
And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day (3 Ne. 27:6).
Although the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants both teach that we have a role to play in our salvation, they also agree that little children are saved unconditionally. In their case, God does everything. “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten” (D&C 29:6). “But little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (74: 7). “And even ifit were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved [without the Atonement]; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins” (Mosiah 3: 16).
Holiness or innocence is not a natural attribute of little children, but it is ascribed to them through the atonement of]esus Christ. In Section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants we read, “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God, having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (v. 3S). The beginning referred to here seems to be the beginning of spiritual existence. To say that human beings in their infant state became again innocent before God because the Atonement redeemed them from the Fall is to imply that without the Atonement we would not be innocent in our infant state.
Mormon also teaches that little children are saved by the atonement of Christ. “But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world” (Moro. 8: 12). Mormon is considering the question of whether little children need baptism. He received a revelation that they do not.
[p.149]Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, and it hath no power over them (v. 8).
Mormon does not say that little children are saved because they are righteous in themselves, but they are saved because they “are not capable of committing sin.” In verse ten Mormon links accountability with the ability to sin. He says that we should “teach-repentance and baptism to those who are accountable and capable of committing sin.” He reasons that since little children cannot repent, they do not need baptism because baptism is a sign of repentance. Because little children cannot repent, they are saved unconditionally by the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.
And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption (vv. 19-20).
The reason little children cannot repent is because they are “without the law,” that is, incapable of understanding the law and therefore incapable of committing sin, or rather, not accountable for their sins.
For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing (v. 22).
The Doctrine and Covenants also teaches that little children are saved unconditionally until they become accountable for their sins. “And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (13 7: 10). This implies that at a certain age children become accountable for their sins, not that they cannot sin until a certain age. Finally, in Section 68 we read, “And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old” (v. 27). There would be no point in being baptized at the age of [p.150]eight for a remission of sins if little children could not sin. The age of eight is the age chosen for accountability because by this age children are capable of understanding the doctrine of repentance and having faith in Christ. Mormon scriptures, then, teach that all little children who die before the age of eight are unconditionally saved in the celestial kingdom through the atonement of Jesus Christ. They are saved by grace.
Since only little children (and those who are without the law) are saved unconditionally, the rest of humanity must be divided into the saved and the unsaved. To the question, “Who is saved?” the Doctrine and Covenants answers, “Finally, everyone except a few,” In the vision given to Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon recorded in Section 76, the Lord says that all will be redeemed except the sons of perdition:
[The sons of perdition are] … the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.
For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.
And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—
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; [which, may I interpolate, are truly all] 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.
Wherefore, he saves all except them (vv. 38-44).
This is truly good news that should cause us all to rejoice and praise God for his infinite grace and mercy.
Several points, however, need to be clarified. The verses I quoted from Section 76 are talking not just about resurrection but redemption to a kingdom of glory. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that everyone will be resurrected. “But, behold, verily I say unto you, before the earth shall pass away, Michael, mine archangel, shall sound his trump, and then shall all the dead awake, for their graves shall be opened, and they shall come forth yea, even all” (29:26). Thus even sons of perdition will be resurrected. Sec-[p.151]tion 88 specifically states as much, referring to them as “those who will remain” (after mentioning those who receive the three kingdoms of glory). If all except sons of perdition will receive a kingdom of glory, how is this doctrine reconciled with the teachings of the scriptures that the wicked and the unbelievers will not be saved but will go to hell? In his vision of the kingdoms of glory, joseph Smith saw three kingdoms whose differing glories were compared to the sun, the moon, and the stars, and he was told who would inherit each of them. Those who come forth in the resurrection of the just inherit the celestial kingdom.
They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given-
That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sends forth on all those who are just and true (D&C 76:51-53).
The second kingdom is called the terrestrial kingdom and those who inherit it are those “Who received not the testimony of jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it… who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men… they who are not valiant in the testimony of}esus” (vv. 74, 75, 79). I interpret “received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh” to mean rejectecl the testimony of Jesus in the flesh” because in a later revelation joseph was told, “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it ” …, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God” (137:7).
Concerning those who inherit the last or telestial kingdom, the prophet wrote:
These are they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus.
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 are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and [p.152]whore mongerers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie (76:82,84,85, 103).
Thus the question “Am I saved?” is more complex for Mormons than for other Christians. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, everyone is saved from death. Everyone except the sons of perdition is saved from sin, but the way they are saved differs. Section 19 makes this clear. Christ the Lord declares:
And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless. Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment (vv. 4-6).
The Lord goes on to explain that because he is endless the punishment which comes from his hand is called endless and eternal; because “Eternal” is a name of God, eternal punishment means God’s punishment. Therefore, we are commanded to repent or else we must receive eternal punishment. “For behold I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (vv. 16, 17).
Those who inherit the telestial kingdom, then, are nor saved from the torments of hell, because they did not believe in Christ and repent of their sins. But they are finally brought out of hell and, through the grace of Jesus, resurrected, judged according to their works, and given a kingdom of glory. Traditional Christianiry has been criticized for consigning so many people to hell. This seems inconsistent with the loving, merciful God of the New Testament, and there have always been some Christians who have dissented from this view. The Book of Mannon teaches the traditional Christian view of heaven and hell.
But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of heaven is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy.
And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken (1 Ne. 15:34-35).
[p.153]Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I will swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my wrath (Alma 12:34-35).
And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire; from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father (3 Ne. 27:16- I 7).
The distinction which Doctrine and Covenants 19 makes between eternal as that which does not end and eternal as a name of God is an important one. In Section 29 eternal life is distinguished from immortality.
And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation— that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;
And they that believe not unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not (vv. 43, 44).
Immortality thus refers to the resurrection, or life which does not end, and may be either celestial, terrestrial, or telestial, while eternal life refers to life like that of God’s, which is also called celestial according to the Doctrine and Covenants. When the scriptures refer to salvation, they almost always refer to eternal life.
Because immortality is not contingent upon a person’s works, but is given by grace through the Atonement, while eternal life or salvation depends on what we do, some Mormons have seen the immortality/eternal-life distinction as a neat resolution of the grace/works controversy. According to this view, resurrection is something God gives us unconditionally, but we must work out our own salvation by keeping the commandments. I intend to show that the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants repudiate this notion and teach that salvation is by grace alone. However, they also teach that we do have a part to play in our salvation.
For Mormons the question “Am I saved?” seems premature because we regard salvation as a process which is not completed until the resurrection. The process of salvation can be divided into the processes of justification and sanctification. The distinction between justification and sanctification [p.153]is mentioned in Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, but these terms are nowhere defined either in the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Mormon. However, the justification/sanctification distinction had been well defined by the Protestant tradition in which Joseph Smith and many of the early Mormons were trained. Section 20 was given as a revelation on the coming forth of the church in the latter days. In this revelation some of the beliefs of the church are affirmed. It states that justification is just and true and that sanctification is just and true, implying that the concepts as they were already understood were true concepts. And, indeed, there is no conflict in the basic meanings ascribed to these terms in traditional Christian theology and the way they are used in the Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon, and Pearl of Great Price, but the revelations contained in these scriptures refine and expand the concepts.
To be justified means to be declared or shown to be without guilt before the law. In justification a person is freed from the guilt of sin and the necessity of punishment. To be sanctified means to actually become sinless. In sanctification a person is freed from the power of sin and its effects. He actually becomes pure and holy, possessing the powers and attributes of godliness. Initially it might seem that the justification/sanctification distinction correlates neatly with the grace/works distinction, that is, justification is by grace and sanctification by works. However, a careful reading of the relevant verses in Section 20 dispels this idea.
And we know that justification through the gtace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;
And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength (vv. 30-31).
This says that justification is through the grace of Jesus and that sanctification is also through his grace, but it adds that the grace of sanctification is to those who love and serve God. Grace and works, then, are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. The idea that we can sort out what God does and what we do in the work of salvation may be wrong-headed.
The scripture says that justification is through grace, but it does not mention what our role is in becoming justified. However, justification is cer, tainly not unconditional. We have seen that those inheriting the telestial kingdom are required to suffer for their sins because they did not repent. The crucial difference between the people of the telestial kingdom and those of the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms is that telestial souls do not [p.155]receive the testimony of Jesus and therefore cannot have their sins remitted through him. They are not justified. The first principles and ordinances of the gospel set forth the doctrine of justification, the process through which human beings obtain a remission of their sins. The doctrine of justification by grace is clearly taught in Mormon scriptures.
Yea, repent and be baptized, everyone of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved (D&C 33:11,12).
For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand (Mosiah 26:22-23).
And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits (Hel. 14: 13).
Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus, who was on the earth … Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, according to the holy commandment ,for the remission of sins;
And whoso doeth this shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (D&C 49:12-14).
Protestants believe that justification is by faith. Joseph Smith taught that faith is the first step in the process of justification. The question of whether faith is a work or a manifestation of grace has exercised Christian theologians. As a condition of justification it has been seen by some as a work. But since humanity before regeneration is incapable of good works, saving faith must also be by grace. The individual’s part, then, for those who see her as having any part at all, is to acknowledge her sinful state and to desire and ask for faith.
The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants also teach that faith is a gift. “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). Because this gift of believing in Jesus is so important it is [p.156]available to all. “To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful” (v. 14). “You must repent and call upon the voice [of God], even until you shall have faith in Christ” (Hel. 5:41).
The scriptures also talk about faith as something which we must possess, develop, and use. “Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith” (D&C 8: 10). “Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith” (Ether 12:9). “Without faith no man pleaseth God” (D&C 63:11). “For behold, I am God; … and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith” (2 Ne. 27:23). “Thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ” (D&C 11: 10).
At this point I will try to elucidate the grace/works dichotomy with a parable. A father had a daughter who came to him and told him she would like to have a computer. She explained all the benefits that having a computer would bring her. The father, impressed by the careful thought his daughter had given the matter, told her that it would be good for her to have a computer but he could not afford to buy her one. However, he was planning to hire someone to paint the house and if his daughter would like the job she could have it. The daughter consented, painted the house, received the money, and was able to buy a computer. She earned the computer. She did something for her father which was equal in value to the price of the computer.
Now I will change the parable. The father had plenty of money but did not want to simply give his daughter the computer. So he told her that if she got all A’s on her report card the next semester he would buy her a computer. The daughter studied hard, got all A’s, and was given a computer. She merited her computer. Although she may have worked just as hard as the daughter who painted the house, we cannot say she earned the computer because in market terms getting all A’s in school is not equal to the price of a computer.
Changing the parable again, let us suppose that the father was so convinced of the value of a computer to his daughter’s education and mental development that he simply bought her one. The daughter was delighted; she read and studied the manuals that came with her computer and learned to use it well, developing many useful skills. This daughter received a computer. Receiving is not passive.
To emphasize that receiving is a work, I will give one further variation of the computer parable. Again the father gave his daughter a computer. [p.157]The daughter was happy with his gift and tried to read the manual but found it too difficult. The father tried to teach her simple programming, but the daughter found it uninteresting and soon neglected her computer completely. The father was angry at his daughter’s indolence. He sold the computer to someone else and made his daughter work in the yard for him to pay back the money he had lost. This daughter was given a computer but she did not receive it.
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift” (D&C 88:33). The concepts of meriting and receiving are important in the process of salvation. They bring together grace and works, showing that God makes it possible for us to receive and work out our salvation. The concept of earning does not apply to salvation. All the covenants God makes with us are gift covenants in which the concepts of meriting and receiving apply.
Faith is a gift but it is a gift that must be asked for and received.
And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
And everyone that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes (D&C 84:46-48).
Every person born into the world is given sufficient light to be able to respond to the word of God when he hears it. Faith is not simply a believing attitude. It must be faith in Jesus Christ and the power of his atonement. “And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of the last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:15). Faith is a response to the unconditional love of God offered to us in the atonement of Jesus Christ. It begins when we experience God’s love in Jesus Christ, when we understand and believe that he loves us as we are, in our sins, and that through his atonement he has power to redeem us from our sins. “I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name” (D&C 35:2). This simple faith, which is, [p.158]indeed, a gift, but a gift within reach of everyone because God’s love is given to everyone, is the faith required to begin the process of justification.
I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering toward the children of men; and also the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember and always retain in remembrance the greatness of God (Mosiah4:6, 11).
King Benjamin equates faith with tasting God’s love and coming to a knowledge of the Atonement and the goodness, glory, power, wisdom, patience, and long-suffering of God, because he puts these things in the place of faith in the Plan of Salvation. After knowing of God’s goodness and tasting of his love, and responding to this in faith, we receive a remission of our sins.
The second step in the process of justification is repentance. Repentance is made possible through grace. “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him” (D&C 18:11). Repentance comes through grace because it comes through faith in Jesus Chtist and the power of his atonement. “These are made white in the blood of the lamb because of their faith in him” (I Ne. 12: 11). The repentance of justification requires us to rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a forgiveness of our sins. “And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits” (Hel. 14: 13). “Believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ and be glorified through faith in his name … that through … repentance … [you] might be saved” (D&C 3:20). According to Moroni, those who take upon them the name of Christ, repent of their sins, and are baptized are “relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who … [is] the author and finisher of their faith” (Moro. 6:4). The experience of Alma shows that only faith in Jesus and sorrow for our sins is required to receive a remission of our sins in the process of justification.
[p.159]But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
And it came to pass that while I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: 0 Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain (36: 12, 17-20).
Alma was immediately forgiven of his sins when he called upon Jesus to save him. He did not have to keep the commandments for many years in order to be forgiven.
After receiving a remission of our sins through faith in Jesus Christ, we desire to be like him, to be righteous and sin no more, to keep his commandments. The first commandment we are asked to obey is the commandment to be baptized. Baptism is a symbol of our faith in Jesus, our desire to follow him, and our willingness to obey his commandments. “Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins” (Moro. 8: 11). “And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth the remission of sins” (v. 25). Repentance cannot be complete without baptism. “Preach repentance and remission of sins by way of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God” (D&C 55:2). “After thou hast been baptized by water, which if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands” (v. 1).
Protestantism has underemphasized the importance of ordinances, per, haps in reaction to Catholicism, which has overemphasized it. When Protestants say that justification is through faith, not works, one of the works they are referring to is that of the sacraments or ordinances. The revelations given in the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon affirm the importance of faith and works, including the work of the ordinances. In Section 22, baptism, an ordinance, is referred to as a work. Speaking of baptisms performed before the restoration of the church, the Lord says:
[p.160]Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for ye cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works. For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old (vv. 2, 3).
This seems to say that ordinances in themselves have no saving power. They are “dead works.” Only when Christ is at the foundation of our works are they efficacious. Nevertheless, if “dead works” are performed in sincerity, God in his mercy will give us the power to perform living works. Section 128 also refers to baptism as a work. Joseph Smith, in speaking of baptism for the dead, goes into great detail about the importance of accurately recording the baptisms performed. He explains why:
And further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead, when he declared, as you will find recorded in Revelation 20:12—And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previous to my leaving my place-that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven.
Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their sal-[p.160]vation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead (vv. 6-8).
Here Joseph explicitly says that the works which the scriptures speak of when they talk of people being judged for their works is the work of the ordinances.
Another way of understanding the faith/works dichotomy (which is, as we have seen, a variation of the grace/works dichotomy) is as the distinction between inner and outer. Protestants worry about overemphasizing ordinances because it is possible to perform them or have them performed for us without experiencing the reality for which the ordinances are symbols. The revelations given us in modern times affirm the importance of both the inner and the outer, the heart and the hand, motives and actions, faith and works (or ordinances). “God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also” (Alma 60:23). “He that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances” (D&C 52:15).
All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church (20:37).
And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.
Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.
And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end (Moro. 6:1-3).
Baptism is for the remission of sins, but it is not to be performed until we have demonstrated by our works that we have already had our sins remitted—and the works specified are humbling ourselves before God and coming to the church with a broken heart and contrite spirit, witnessing that we have repented of our sins.
[p.162]Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we repent of our sins and keep his commandment to be baptized. We then are able to receive the ordinance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. “After thou hast been baptized by water, which, if you do with an eye single to my glory, you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands” (D&C 55:1).
Through this ordinance we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but again we must already have received of the Spirit of Christ before the ordinance is performed. The gospel can only be preached and received by the power of the Spirit of God.
Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach rhe word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
And if it be by some other way it is not of God.
And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
If it be some other way it is not of God.
Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.
And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiverh light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day (D&C 50:17·24).
This is the principle of receiving grace for grace, which, as we shall see, is the principle governing the relationship between justification and sanctification.
Only through the influence of the Holy Spirit can we know of and ex· perience God’s love. According to Mormon, the “Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love” (Moro. 8:26). He admonishes us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (7 :48).
Only by the power of the Holy Ghost can we know that Jesus is the Christ, the savior of the world, who has the power to redeem us from our sins and lead us into etemallife. Moroni teaches that the truth of all things [p.163]is known by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moro. 10:5). “And ye may know that he [Christ] is, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (v. 7). The Lord says, “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words” (D&C 46: 12-13).
An ordinance is more than a symbol; it is a transmission of power and thus a manifestation of grace. “And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:21). The gift of the Holy Ghost transmits to us an actual power, the power of God or the spirit of God. Nephi equates the spirit of God with the power of God when he tells his brothers that he is “full of the Spirit of God” and then that he is “filled with the power of God” (1 Ne. 17:47-48). The spirit of God is the power to understand and transmit truth.
For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that harkeneth to the voice of the Spirit (D&C 84:45-46).
My voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abideth and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things (88:66-67).
For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost (1 Ne. 10:19).
The gifts of the spirit are different manifestations of the power of God. They include the power to discern spirits, teach wisdom, have faith to heal or be healed, perform miracles, prophesy, speak in tongues, and interpret tongues (D&C 46: 16-25; Moro. 10:9-16). Finally, the gift of the spirit gives us the power to develop in ourselves all godly attributes—love, faith, mercy, justice, patience, etc. This is the sanctifying power of the spirit.
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things, that which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment (Moses 6:61).
[p.164]Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day (3 Ne. 27:20).
The ordinances of baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost lead from the doctrine of justification to the doctrine of sanctification. In sanctification we actually become righteous. We afe redeemed not simply from the guilt of sin but also from its effects. We receive and develop the attributes and powers of God.
[The soul] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory (D&C 88:18).
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moro. 10:33).
Baptism symbolizes being born again. In baptism we take upon ourselves the name ofj Jesus Christ (D&C 20:37) and become his sons and daughters.
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his namej therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7).
Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;
Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day;
Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father (D&C 18:23-25).
Who so loved the world that he gave his own life; that as many as would believe might become the sons of God (D&C 34:3).
Even so will I give unto as many as will receive me, power to become my sons (39:4).
And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh (3 Ne. 9: 17).
Protestants call rebirth regeneration. They believe that faith in Christ [p.165]leads to a change of a person’s nature; a reception of the Holy Ghost removes him from the state of sin to a state of grace. And they believe that obtaining grace is usually an ascertainable experience. Being regenerated, receiving grace and the Holy Spirit, enables a person to do good works. Sanctification then becomes evidence for justification, but not the cause. A redeemed Christian brings forth good fruit because she has been redeemed; she is not redeemed because she brings forth good fruit.
Understanding the doctrine of justification can help us understand what our fellow Christians experience and believe when they declare that they are saved. When they receive the testimony of Jesus, they are entitled to a witness of the spirit to his divinity and the power of his atonement, and when they believe in him and call upon him to forgive them of their sins, if they do so in faith, he will forgive them and send them that assurance, as we showed from Section 20:37. To our Protestant friends who ask if we have been saved, we can answer that as we understand their question, we have indeed. For we have faith in Christ and have been forgiven of our sins through the power of his atonement. However, we should make it clear that we would not say that we are saved, because we understand that this is only the beginning of the process of salvation, but would say that we are justified. To be justified is to be in a state of grace.
It is important that we understand what it means to be in a state of grace. When we are justified or in a state of grace, we have faith in Jesus and rely on his merits. Our sins are forgiven and as long as we try to keep the commandments and are sorry for our sins, we are worthy to receive the spirit. Being in a state of grace is synonymous with being born of God. Alma says:
I have repented of my sins, and been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters (Mosiah 27:24-25).
But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to [p.166]taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost (Alma 36:23-24).
Many of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants begin with the Lord telling those receiving them that their sins are forgiven. This means that they are justified and thus able to receive the spirit. “Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore you receive these things” (D&C 29:3). The idea that we must already be righteous before the Holy Ghost can dwell in us is erroneous because, as we shall see, we cannot become sanctified without the power of the spirit.
Understanding that sanctification is a process and more than an evidence of justification enables us to deal with some questions that have given continual difficulty to Protestant theologians: (1) How can the certainty of salvation be reconciled with the inability to keep the commandments perfectly? (2) If assurance of salvation is possible, why do the assured doubt and sin? (3) Why should those who are assured of salvation try to be sanctified? (4) Why should we exhort people to do good works when these have no effect on their salvation?
I will examine what the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants teach about sanctification. First, justification is not assurance of salvation. It is the assurance by the Holy Spirit of God’s love and redeeming power and his forgiveness of our sins as we exercise faith in him. Thus sanctification is a process that we must actively seek. After stating that justification through the grace of Jesus Christ is just and true and that sanctification through the grace ofjesus Christ is just and true, the Lord declares:
But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God;
Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fan into temptation;
Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also (D&C 20:32-34).
Being justified does not assure us of salvation. Even those who have been sanctified must continue in faith to seek God.
Sanctification is through the atonement or blood of Jesus Christ. It is because of his atonement that we are able to be sanctified and become like him. “He came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness” (D&C 76:41). Describing the righteous, Alma declared, “They … were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the [p.167]Lamb” (13:11). Nephi “beheld three generations pass away in righteousness; and their garments were white even like unto the Lamb of God. And the angel said unto me: These are made white in the blood of the Lamb because oftheirfaith in him” (1 Ne. 12:11).
The Lord told Adam:
Inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified (Moses 6:59-60).
Here the Lord compares rebirth (spiritual birth into the kingdom of God) to birth (physical birth into the world). There are three elements necessary in physical birth: water (amniotic fluid), blood, and the spirit created by God. These same three elements are necessary in rebirth: By being baptized in water we keep the commandment to be baptized. The spirit is active in the process of justification in testifying of Christ and of his love and forgiveness of our sins. And, finally, receiving the Holy Ghost is a sign that we are justified. The blood of Christ, his atoning sacrifice, enables us to be sanctified from sin, to begin the process of becoming like him in this world (“enjoy the words of eternal life in this world”), and finally to become like him (“eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory”). But isn’t it through the blood of Christ that we receive a remission of our sins and isn’t this part of justification? And don’t we need the Holy Spirit to sanctify us from our sins and develop in us the attributes of godliness? The next two verses in Moses 6 show that this is indeed so.
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things, that which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten (vv. 61-62).
The Plan of Salvation is made possible by the atonement of Jesus Christ and justification and sanctification are parts of the plan. Although it is correct [p.168]to say that justification precedes sanctification, justification is not complete until sanctification is complete. The two processes are intertwined.
Although we may initially see the process of justification as preceding the process of sanctification, a careful reading of the scriptures shows that in becoming sanctified we must continually renew our justification.
Behold, thus saith the Lord unto my people—[those who have been justified], you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me, and are not pardoned, because you seek to counsel in your own ways.
And your hearts are not satisfied. And ye obey not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness (D&C 56:14,15).
Because justification does not yield immediate perfection, we must repent of the sins we commit while in a state of grace. And repentance and forgiveness of sins in the process of sanctification also come through the grace of Jesus Christ. To be pardoned of our sins while in the process of sanctification, we must humble ourselves before Christ (not seek to counsel in our own ways) and express remorse for our sins (not having pleasure in un~ righteousness). It is through the blood of Christ that we are cleansed in the process of sanctification. “My blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not [and do not repent]” (D&C 29: 17). Speaking to those who had already been justified, Alma asked:
Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith …
And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?” (5:14-15, 26-27)
Forsaking sins and being forgiven through the mercy ofJesus Christ is part of the process of sanctification. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43).
[p.168] Sanctification is by grace. “And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength” (D&C 20:31). The grace of the Lord is given to those who love and serve God to enable them to become righteous. This verse unites beautifully the principles of grace and works, God and humanity, inner and outer. God helps those who love him (an inner state) and serve him (outward actions) to become sanctified. Moroni also taught that sanctification is by the grace of God.
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God (10:32).
If we receive the grace of God, we cannot deny the power of God, because the power or spirit of God is the grace we are given. Moroni tells us to “deny not the power of God” and to “deny not the gifts of God” which “are given by the manifestation of the Spirit.”
I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
And again, I exhort you, my brethten, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them (17:7-8).
Sanctification is a process of growth that involves receiving, using, and developing that which we receive. “Ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth” (D&C 50:40). “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand” (88:78). King Benjamin told his people that in order to maintain their justification (a remission of their sins), they would have to actively seek sanctification, which would enable them to grow in the knowledge of God.
[p.170]And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this [retain in remembrance the greatness of God, repent of your sins, call on his name daily, and have faith in that which is to come] ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true (Mosiah 4: 12).
These verses point out the importance of growing in a knowledge of truth and laws of the gospel. Even Jesus, though he was without sin, was required to grow, develop, and incorporate the godly attributes which were present in his spirit into his mortal life.
[Jesus] received not of the fullness at first, but received grace for grace.
[He] continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness.
I give unto you these sayings … that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fullness.
For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fullness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace (D&C 93:12, 13, 19, 20).
The principle of receiving grace for grace is the principle by which we proceed from a small degree to a fullness. In continuing from grace to grace we are given another gift after we have received and developed one gift. “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day” (50:24).
The gifts are the powers and attributes of God given by the spirit of God. We receive them by desiring them (loving God and wanting to be like him), seeking them, and using them, which is done by keeping or trying to keep the commandments given by the spirit. “Seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do” (D&C 46:8-9). Moroni also exhorts us to seek them. “Come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift” (10:30). “He that asketh in the Spirit asketh according to the will of God; wherefore it is done even as he asketh” (D&C 46:30). “Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss” (2 Ne. 4:35). Finally, we receive them by acknowledging that they come from God. “And ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit [p.170]for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with” (D&C 46:32). “Always return thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).
Receiving grace for grace also means receiving grace for giving or for serving God and others. Sanctification is “to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength” (D&C 20:31). This brings us to the doctrine of sanctification by works of righteousness. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants are full of exhortations to keep the commandments and they also contain many specific commandments. In Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants we read:
These commandments … were given unto my servants … that they might come to understanding.
And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time (vv. 24- 28).
Commandments, then, aid us in becoming righteous. We cannot keep the law of God if we do not know what it is. We cannot repent of our sins if we do not know what they are. Lehi declared, “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness” (2 Ne. 2: 13). The law both defines righteousness and shows us our need to repent. “And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good” (v. 5). “Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law?” (Alma 42: 17) No person is able to keep the law perfectly, so the law shows us our need for a savior. “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Ne. 2:6). Abinadi taught this same doctrine. “Salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish” (Mosiah 13:28).
There are also many scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants linking salvation with keeping the commandments. “Be diligent in keeping my commandments, and you shall be blessed with eternal life” (30:8). “Keep [p.172]my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive” (25: 15). Promises such as these, however, are always addressed to those who have already received the gospel and been baptized. They are commandments to the justified. The Book of Mormon does not contain any scriptures linking keeping the commandments of the law to salvation. Only one verse might conceivably be interpreted this way. Nephi says, “Wherefore, if ye shall keep the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day” (2 Ne. 22:31). But a careful reading of all the words of Nephi shows that by “keeping the commandments” he means the commandments of justification (faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost) and by “enduring to the end” he means retaining your justification through the process of sanctification. More general statements linking keeping the commandments with salvation always begin with the first principles of the gospel. “And those who receive it [the gospel] in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life” (D&C 20:14). “And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else” (Alma 11:40). “And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (D&C 18:22).
For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely receive.
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand.
For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and they shall have a place eternally at my right hand (Mosiah 26:22-24).
The first commandments which we are to keep are the commandments of justification: to believe in Jesus, repent of our sins, be baptized in his name, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we have kept these commandments, we are enabled to perform works of righteousness. Works of righteousness are also called works “meet for repentance.” Alma says that Christ “has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance” (12:15). This means works which show our faith, contrition, and reliance on Christ. It is important to remember that these works do not earn us salvation. The concept of merit is closer [p.173]to what is involved in the works of righteousness. They are evidence of our love of God and willingness to do what he asks of us.
Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire—
For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God …
Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him (Alma 5:35, 40- 41).
Works of righteousness can only be performed by those who submit themselves to the will of God under the influence of the spirit.
And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.
And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.
And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked (D&C 84:49-50,53).
Those who have received Christ’s redeeming love know that they do not have to earn their salvation or build up a store of good works to save themselves. Not having to prove their own worth, they are then free to relate to others unselfishly, to serve others out of the love they have received from God. After being redeemed from his own sins and feeling the joy of Christ’s love, Alma spent the rest of his life serving others so that they might receive the same joy. “Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God and be filled with the Holy Ghost” (36:24). Works of righteousness are motivated by love and a desire to serve God. “For behold, God hath said that a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness” (Moro. 7:6-7). “Therefore, 0 ye that embark in the service of your God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2). “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind” (64:34). “And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works” (Alma 7:24). The power to do works of righteousness comes from God. “For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a [p.174]very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by the pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit” (D&C 97 :9).
But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things (Alma 26:11-12).
The purpose of sanctification is to make us actually righteous; the righteous are those who come unto God through his word or spirit. “For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ … And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father” (D&C 84:45, 47). Sanctification, then, is through the spirit. By keeping the commandments of justification, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost which enables us to keep the commandments of sanctification, which are the commandments given to us through the spirit. Nephi explains this clearly:
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts?
Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongues of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongues of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?
Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things that ye should do.
Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot under~ stand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.
For behold, again I say unto you that if you will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do (2 Ne. 32:1-5).
The commandments given to us by the spirit may be thoughts or impres-[p.175]sions that come to us directly or they may be commandments given in the scriptures or by the prophets.
To some the concept of living by the spirit seems to take away our free agency. Those who feel this way think of the spirit as a voice that gives specific instructions about what to do in every circumstance. I think the spirit sometimes operates this way, but even in such circumstances we do not lose our agency because we may still choose to follow or not follow the spirit’s promptings. Thus the Lord told Oliver Cowdery, “You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore you shall feel that it is right” (D&C 9:8). This verse is often quoted to show the importance of using our own minds in solving problems. However, it is usually not noted that the “it” which Oliver was to study out in his own mind was knowledge given by the spirit of revelation which the Lord had promised to give him.
Another reason that some see “living by the spirit” as relinquishing our volition is because they see the spirit as an outside force or another mind. Although the spirit can be another being (the being who is a member of the Godhead or another spirit being working under her direction), it is also a power or force which we can receive, develop, and use. Indeed, we ourselves are spirit; to live by the spirit may simply mean to use our own spiritual powers: intelligence, love, knowledge, etc. “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (D&C 8:2). The spirit speaks to our minds and hearts so that it is necessary for us to use our minds and hearts in order for us to receive revelation, and it is often difficult for us to distinguish the voice of the spirit from our own thoughts and feelings. This indicates that the purpose of revelation is to develop the power of truth in us and to endow us with the knowledge and attributes of God.
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise ser, vantj wherefore he receiveth no reward.
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteous, ness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward (D&C 58:26-28).
These verses are often used to argue that we should act independently of [p.176]God. I see them as urging us to live by the spirit rather than demanding that God through his prophets give us lists of commandments. The wise servant was the one who received his master’s gift and, by using it, increased it. The power to work righteousness is in a person who has received the gifts of the spirit and is transformed into a being of light.
He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself …
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light (D&C 93:28, 30, 31).
Finally, sanctification is through law.
[The earth] must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.
And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.
For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory (D&C 88: 18-22).
The law of Christ referred to here is the law by which we can become sanctified and receive eternal life or inherit the celestial kingdom. This law is the gospel of Jesus Christ which enables us to be justified and sanctified through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and receiving and living by the spirit of God. When Jesus visited the Nephites, he declared what his doctrine is:
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
[p.177]And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And whoso believeth not in me and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost (3 Ne. 11:32-35).
The Doctrine and Covenants teaches the same gospel.
And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me;
And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom (39:5-6).
By obeying the law of Christ, we become righteous and are enabled to abide the law of the celestial kingdom. What is this law? Is it the same as the law of Christ? How does it differ from the law of Christ?
It is not my purpose in this essay to enter into a discussion of the law of the celestial kingdom. I will just suggest one way in which the law of the celestial kingdom may differ from the law of Christ. The law of Christ sanctifies individuals and prepares them to live in celestial glory. The celestial law seems to require the righteousness of society and all its systems. It involves a law of union and covenants of union. In Section 105 we read:
But behold, they [the people of the church] have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself (vv. 3-5) .
One of the laws of union is the united order which is entered into by covenant.
Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind your-[p.178]selves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.
And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, …
And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents …
Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.
This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you (D&C82:15,17-20).
Another law of union is the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, … and if ye abide in my covenant and commit no murder, whereby to shed innocent blood, …
Then shall they be gods (D&C 132: 19, 20).
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage] ;
And if he does not, he cannot obtain it (D&C 131:1-3).
In the law of Christ we make a covenant with him in am baptism. We do not make any covenants with other people. However, in marriage we covenant with another person to live our lives together and seek a union that involves responsibilities to our marriage partner that we do not have for other people. In marriage we also may have children for whom we will have even greater responsibilities. It may be that the celestial glory requires some kind of covenant to seek the salvation of others.
I began my discussion by explaining the importance to Protestants of the question, “Am I saved?” For them receiving an assurance of salvation is the heart of redemptive Christianity and it is impossible for a person to be saved without receiving such assurance.
We Mormons also believe that “it is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that some obtain an assurance of salvation in this life. The Holy Spirit testifies to us that we have been justified; it will also testify to us when we have become sufficiently [p.179]sanctified to receive an unconditional promise of eternal life. In Section 131 we read: “The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” (vv. 5, 6). This means that it is impossible for a person to be saved without receiving the assurance of salvation through the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Mormon teaches that only those who have been both justified and sanctified will receive etemal life.
Now I say unto you that you must repent, and be born againj for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh way the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, … he shall have etemallife, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me (Alma 7: 14-16).
Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with un, shaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.
[p.180]Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: ye shall have eternal life (3 Ne.31:17-20).
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day (3 Ne. 27:20).
The vision of the celestial kingdom in Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants describes those who inherit the celestial kingdom as those who have been justified and sanctified.
They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power (vv. 51, 52).
This describes the process and commandments of justification. The vision continues:
And who overcome by faith [this refers to the process of sanctification, indicating its inner and outer aspects], and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise [this is receiving the more sure word of prophecy], which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true [which means the justified and sanctified] … (v. 53).
These are they who are just men made perfect [which means again the justified and sanctified] through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood (v. 69).
This perfect atonement which Jesus wrought brings together all dichotomies. I have tried to show that in the work of salvation God and human beings work together so that it becomes impossible to say what God does and what human beings do.
Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons [and daughters] of God—
[p.181]Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christs, and Christ is God’s.
And they shall overcome all things.
Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet (vv. 58-61).
The processes of justification and sanctification are also finally unified. Justification precedes sanctification but finally it is conditional upon sanctification. “Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off” (D&C 63:63). To retain our justification we must be in the process of sanctification, repenting of our sins and trying to keep the commandments. King Benjamin taught his people that in order to retain a remission of their sins (their justification), they needed to remember daily their dependence upon God and exercise their faith in him to be filled with his love—in other words, they needed to be actively engaged in the process of sanctification.
And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long, suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, ‘and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of that which is just and true (Mosiah 4: 1-12).
Mormon sees sanctification as a fulfillment of the conditions of justification.
And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come when all the saints shall dwell with God (Moro. 8:26).
[p.182]Justification is only provisional until the work of sanctification is completed in the resurrection. It can thus be seen as a symbol or foreshadowing of sanctification. The principles present in a small degree in justification are perfected in sanctification. In justification we have faith in Jesus Christ. When we receive eternal life, we know him (D&C 132:24). In justification we take the name of Jesus Christ upon ourselves. In sanctification we become like him. In justification we are sorry for our sins. In sanctification we overcome them. In justification we keep the commandment to be baptized. In sanctification we learn to abide the law of the celestial kingdom. In justification we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In sanctification we receive grace for grace until we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and receive a fullness in the resurrection. Baptism symbolizes our death and resurrection, and after baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, but in the resurrection our bodies will be quickened by our own spirits.
They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.
Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fullness (D&C 88:28, 29).
Alma also taught that in the resurrection we would receive a restoration of our bodies according to that which we have desired and followed.
I say unto thee my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body …
And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil … The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
And so it is on the other hand. If he has repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.
[p.183] These are they that are redeemed of the Lord (41:2-7).
After being baptized we are received into the church. “All those who … desire to be baptized, and … have truly repented of all their sins … shall be received by baptism into his church” (D&C 20:37). “And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ” (3 Ne. 26:21). After being resurrected with a celestial body we “come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all” (D&C 76:66) to “dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever” (v. 62). “The end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God” (Mora. 8:26).
To summarize, there is no doctrine taught more clearly in the scriptures given through Joseph Smith as the doctrine of salvation by grace.
Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer (1 Ne. 10:6).
And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free … (2 Ne. 2:4).
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth … (v. 6).
There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah (v. 8).
It is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved (10:24).
There is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ … whereby man can be saved … (25:20).
It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (v. 23).
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 (26:27).
There is no other name given whereby salvation comethi therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ (Mosiah 5 :8).
Were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people .. ‘ they must unavoidably perish (13:28).
And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else (Alma 11 :40).
[p.184]There is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood ofJesus Christ (Hel. 5:9).
Behold, I [Jesus Christ] have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin (3 Ne. 9:21).
My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me (Eth. 12:27).
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ (Moro. 10:32).
Believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name (D&C 3:20).
Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved (18:23).
Declare unto them repentance and redemption through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son (29:42).
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved (33: 12).
I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name (35:2).
Unto them that believed on my name gave I power to obtain eternal life (45:8).
For I am God, and have sent mine Only Begotten Son into the world for the redemption of the world, and have decreed that he that receiveth him shall be saved, and he that receiveth him not shall be damned (49:5).
The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel, according to the election of grace (84:99).
Redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross (138:35).
Jesus Christ [is] the only name which shall be given under heaven whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men (Moses 6:52).
Thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not of myself, but through thine own grace (7:59).