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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Have I Been Saved?

As a Latter-day Saint, the question above is a difficult one for me to answer. Latter-day Saints tend to think of the term "salvation" as being a future action rather than one which occurred in the past. I would like to break down the "terms" used in salvation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks did this in an article, which I read, and I want to expound on more. Elder Oaks said, "As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings..." I want to add one more to the list to make seven.
"But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ."

1.) The first meaning is described in Romans 10: 9–10, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Frankly, this is what we confess Christ is our Lord and Savior before we make the sacred covenant of baptism. Elder Oaks explained, "Every sincere Latter-day Saint is 'saved' according to this meaning."

2.) The second meaning is being saved from death. In his epistle to the Corinthians, Paul wrote extensively on the subject of "being saved from death" in Chapter 15. We read "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?...For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins... But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive... The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15: 12, 16-17, 20-22, 26). The instant Christ rose from the dead, we were saved from death. This meaning is one which has already been realized. 

3.) Elder Oaks expounded another meaning, "to be saved from the darkness of ignorance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the purpose of life, and of the destiny of men and women. The gospel made known to us by the teachings of Jesus Christ has given us this salvation. 'I am the light of the world,' Jesus taught; 'he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life' (John 8:12; see also John 12:46).

4.) Elder Oaks also pointed out another meaning for Latter-day Saints, "being 'saved' can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see 1 Cor. 15:40–42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earth—except for a very few—is assured of salvation in this sense. As we read in modern revelation: 'And this is the gospel, the glad tidings…That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him; Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him' (D&C 76:40–43; emphasis added). The prophet Brigham Young taught that doctrine when he declared that 'every person who does not sin away the day of grace, and become an angel to the Devil, will be brought forth to inherit a kingdom of glory' (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 288). This meaning of saved ennobles the whole human race through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

5.) The fifth meaning is often referred to being baptized, or "being born again." As Latter-day Saints we believe in being baptized by immersion. But Elder Oaks expounded further, "The question of whether a person has been saved is sometimes phrased in terms of whether that person has been 'born again.' Being 'born again' is a familiar reference in the Bible and the Book of Mormon... Jesus taught that except a man was 'born again' (John 3:3), of water and of the Spirit, he could not enter into the kingdom of God (see John 3:5). The Book of Mormon has many teachings about the necessity of being 'born again' or 'born of God' (Mosiah 27:25; see Mosiah 27:24–26; Alma 36:24, 26; Moses 6:59). As we understand these scriptures, our answer to whether we have been born again is clearly 'yes.' We were born again when we entered into a covenant relationship with our Savior by being born of water and of the Spirit and by taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when we partake of the sacrament. Latter-day Saints affirm that those who have been born again in this way are spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 5:7; Mosiah 15:9–13; Mosiah 27:25). Nevertheless, in order to realize the intended blessings of this born-again status, we must still keep our covenants and endure to the end. In the meantime, through the grace of God, we have been born again as new creatures with new spiritual parentage and the prospects of a glorious inheritance."

 By those five meanings all Latter-day Saints can say "Yes, I have been saved. Glory to God for the gospel and gift and grace of His Son!" The next one the answer can be, "Yes, but with conditions."

6.) The sixth is explained perfectly by Elder Oaks, "As to salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, our answer to the question of whether or not we have been saved is “yes, but with conditions.” Our third article of faith declares our belief: 'We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel' (A of F 1:3). Many Bible verses declare that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (e.g., John 1:29; Matt. 26:28). The New Testament frequently refers to the grace of God and to salvation by grace (e.g., John 1:17; Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:8). But it also has many specific commandments on personal behavior, and many references to the importance of works (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–17). In addition, the Savior taught that we must endure to the end in order to be saved (see Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13). Relying upon the totality of Bible teachings and upon clarifications received through modern revelation, we testify that being cleansed from sin through Christ’s Atonement is conditioned upon the individual sinner’s faith, which must be manifested by obedience to the Lord’s command to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee,' Jesus taught, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God' (John 3:5; see also Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37–38). Believers who have had this required rebirth at the hands of those having authority have already been saved from sin conditionally, but they will not be saved finally until they have completed their mortal probation with the required continuing repentance, faithfulness, service, and enduring to the end." This may seem like we believe we believe we are saved by works, which some Christians accuse us of believing. We are saved by grace. Elder Oaks further explained, "Some Christians accuse Latter-day Saints who give this answer of denying the grace of God through claiming they can earn their own salvation. We answer this accusation with the words of two Book of Mormon prophets. Nephi taught, 'For we labor diligently … to persuade our children … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do' (2 Ne. 25:23). And what is 'all we can do'? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, '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' (Moro. 10:32). We are not saved in our sins, as by being unconditionally saved through confessing Christ and then, inevitably, committing sins in our remaining lives (see Alma 11:36–37). We are saved from our sins (see Hel. 5:10) by a weekly renewal of our repentance and cleansing through the grace of God and His blessed plan of salvation (see 3 Ne. 9:20–22).

7.) The final usage which is unique to the Latter-day Saints and hasn't yet been realized.  Elder Oaks explained, "the words saved and salvation are also used to denote exaltation or eternal life (see Abr. 2:11). This is sometimes referred to as the 'fulness of salvation' (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 1:242). This salvation requires more than repentance and baptism by appropriate priesthood authority. It also requires the making of sacred covenants, including eternal marriage, in the temples of God, and faithfulness to those covenants by enduring to the end. If we use the word salvation to mean 'exaltation,' it is premature for any of us to say that we have been 'saved' in mortality. That glorious status can only follow the final judgment of Him who is the Great Judge of the living and the dead."

This may seem a bit strange to some that there could be seven different meanings to the term "saved." I assure you no other Christian religion is as obsessed with Christ as the Latter-day Saints. Just as Elder Oaks explained and I mentioned earlier ALL of these meanings of "salvation" come through our Savoir and Redeemer, even our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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