The document has many important sections that promote an emphasis on Jesus Christ, a focus on the atonement including the crucial role of the cross, the depth of the effects of the fall, the need to be reborn and why we may describe ourselves as having been “born again”, the importance of grace, and in what sense we may or may not say we “have been saved”.
These are excerpts from “True to the Faith” about the relevant subjects. An online version of the publication on the church website is atthis link:
Love & Thanks,
Steve St. Clair
Atonement of Jesus Christ
The word atone means to reconcile, or to restore to harmony. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to our Heavenly Father (see Romans 5:10–11; 2 Nephi 25:23; Jacob 4:11). We can ultimately dwell in His presence forever, having been “made perfect through Jesus” (see D&C 76:62, D&C 76:69).
Jesus Christ “was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem [His] people” (Ether 3:14). In the premortal spirit world, Heavenly Father presented the eternal plan of salvation, which required an infinite and eternal Atonement. The premortal Jesus, then known as Jehovah, humbly declared that He would do the will of the Father in fulfilling the plan (see Moses 4:2). Thus He was foreordained to carry out the Atonement—to come to the earth, suffer the penalty for our sins, die on the cross, and be resurrected. He became “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8; see also 1 Peter 1:19–20; Moses 7:47).
The Atonement is the supreme expression of our Heavenly Father’s love for us (see John 3:16). It is also the greatest expression of the Savior’s love for the Father and for us (see John 14:28–31; John 15:9–13; 1 John 3:16; D&C 34:3; D&C 138:1–4).
Our Need for the Atonement
As descendants of Adam and Eve, all people inherit the effects of the Fall. We all experience spiritual death, being separated from the presence of God, and we are all subject to temporal death, which is the death of the physical body (see Alma 42:6–9; D&C 29:41–42).
In our fallen state, we are subject to opposition and temptation. When we give in to temptation, we distance ourselves from God and come short of His glory (see Romans 3:23).
Eternal justice demands that the effects of the Fall remain and that we be punished for our own wrongdoings. Without the Atonement, spiritual and temporal death would place an impassable barrier between us and God. Because we cannot save ourselves from the Fall or from our own sins, we would be forever separated from our Heavenly Father, for “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence” (Moses 6:57).
The only way for us to be saved is for someone else to rescue us. We need someone who can satisfy the demands of justice—standing in our place to assume the burden of the Fall and to pay the price for our sins. Jesus Christ has always been the only one capable of making such a sacrifice.
Jesus Christ, Our Only Hope
From before the Creation of the earth, the Savior has been our only hope for “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23).
Only He had the power to lay down His life and take it up again. From His mortal mother, Mary, He inherited the ability to die. From His immortal Father, He inherited the power to overcome death. He declared, “As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26).
Only He could redeem us from our sins. God the Father gave Him this power (see Helaman 5:11). The Savior was able to receive this power and carry out the Atonement because He kept Himself free from sin: “He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them” (D&C 20:22). Having lived a perfect, sinless life, He was free from the demands of justice. Because He had the power of redemption and because He had no debt to justice, he could pay the debt for those who repent. He can say:
“Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
“Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C 45:4–5).
Truly, “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).The Atoning Sacrifice
Jesus’s atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In Gethsemane He submitted to the will of the Father and began to take upon Himself the sins of all people. He has revealed some of what He experienced as He paid the price for our sins:
“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;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:16–19; see also Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7).
The Savior continued to suffer for our sins when He allowed Himself to be crucified—“lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world” (1 Nephi 11:33).
On the cross, He allowed Himself to die. His body was then laid in a tomb until He was resurrected and became “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Through His death and Resurrection, He overcame physical death for us all. He later said:
“I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
“And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
“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” (3 Nephi 27:13–16).
Universal Redemption from the Fall
Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ redeems all people from the effects of the Fall. All people who have ever lived on the earth and who ever will live on the earth will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God to be judged (see 2 Nephi 2:5–10; Helaman 14:15–17). Through the Savior’s gift of mercy and redeeming grace, we will all receive the gift of immortality and live forever in glorified, resurrected bodies.
Salvation from Our Sins
Although we are redeemed unconditionally from the universal effects of the Fall, we are accountable for our own sins. But we can be forgiven and cleansed from the stain of sin if we “apply the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 4:2). We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Alma counseled:
“Ye must repent, and be born again; 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 away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” (Alma 7:14).
The Gift of Eternal Life
The Savior has declared that eternal life is “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). To gain eternal life is to be made worthy to dwell in God’s presence, inheriting a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. This gift is available only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Mormon said: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41).
To receive this gift, we must meet certain conditions. We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and endure faithfully to the end. We must receive the ordinances of salvation: baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, Melchizedek Priesthood ordination (for men), and the temple endowment and marriage sealing. By receiving these ordinances and keeping the associated covenants, we come unto Christ and ultimately receive the gift of eternal life (see Articles of Faith 1:3).
In His infinite justice and mercy, the Lord also gives eternal life to “all who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry” and to “all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability” (D&C 137:7, D&C 137:10).
The Savior invites us all to receive eternal life: “He sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely” (Alma 5:33–34).
Finding Peace and Healing through the Atonement
The blessings of the Savior’s Atonement extend throughout eternity, but they also come in this life. As you come unto Christ, you will know the joy of being clean before the Lord. You will be able to echo the words of Alma, who, after much sin and rebellion, experienced the painful but healing process of repentance. After he had been forgiven, he testified:
“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!
“… There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. … On the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:19–21).
In addition to offering redemption from the pain of sin, the Savior offers peace in times of trial. As part of His Atonement, Jesus took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and infirmities of all people (see Alma 7:11–12). He understands your suffering because He has experienced it. With this perfect understanding, He knows how to help you. You can cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Through your faith and righteousness and through His atoning sacrifice, all the inequities, injuries, and pains of this life can be fully compensated for and made right. Blessings denied in this life will be given in the eternities. And although He may not relieve all your suffering now, He will bless you with comfort and understanding and with strength to “bear up [your] burdens with ease” (Mosiah 24:15).
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,” the Savior said, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). On another occasion He again promised His peace, saying, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). These are the promises of the Atonement, in this life and throughout eternity.
Promised Blessings of Baptism
As you keep the covenant you made at baptism, the Lord will bless you for your faithfulness. Some of the blessings you receive are the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, the remission of your sins, and the privilege of being spiritually reborn.
The Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost. After you were baptized, one or more authorized Melchizedek Priesthood holders laid their hands on your head and gave you the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift gives you the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as long as you are worthy. The Spirit’s constant companionship is one of the greatest blessings you can receive in mortality. The Spirit will guide you in the paths of righteousness and peace, leading you to eternal life.
Remission of Sins. Because you have been baptized, you can receive a remission of your sins. In other words, you can be forgiven through the mercy of the Savior. With this blessing, you can be permitted eventually to live in the presence of Heavenly Father.
To receive a remission of your sins, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, be sincerely repentant, and strive always to keep the commandments. The prophet Mormon taught, “The first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins” (Moroni 8:25). You “retain a remission of your sins” as you continue to humble yourself before God, call upon Him daily in prayer, remain steadfast in the faith, and serve those in need (see Mosiah 4:11–12, Mosiah 4:26).
Being Born Again. Through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, you were born again into a new life. The Savior said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Just as an infant enters a new existence at birth, you began a new life when you entered into the baptismal covenant. You can grow in spirituality and become more like the Savior by keeping your baptismal covenant, partaking of the sacrament to renew your covenant, and repenting of your sins. The Apostle Paul taught that when we have been baptized, we “should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
The cross is used in many Christian churches as a symbol of the Savior’s death and Resurrection and as a sincere expression of faith. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we also remember with reverence the suffering of the Savior. But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.
Your life must be the expression of your faith. Remember that when you were baptized and confirmed, you covenanted to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ. As your associates observe you, they should be able to sense your love for the Savior and His work.
The only members of the Church who wear the symbol of the cross are Latter-day Saint chaplains, who wear it on their military uniforms to show that they are Christian chaplains.
In the Garden of Eden, God commanded, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:16–17). Because Adam and Eve transgressed this command and partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were cast out from the presence of the Lord (see D&C 29:40–41). In other words, they experienced spiritual death. They also became mortal—subject to physical death. This spiritual and physical death is called the Fall.
Our Fallen Condition
As descendants of Adam and Eve, we inherit a fallen condition during mortality (see Alma 42:5–9, Alma 42:14). We are separated from the presence of the Lord and subject to physical death. We are also placed in a state of opposition, in which we are tested by the difficulties of life and the temptations of the adversary (see 2 Nephi 2:11–14; D&C 29:39; Moses 6:48–49).
In this fallen condition, we have a conflict within us. We are spirit children of God, with the potential to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). However, “we are unworthy before [God]; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually” (Ether 3:2). We need to strive continually to overcome unrighteous passions and desires.
Repeating the words of an angel, King Benjamin said, “The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam.” King Benjamin warned that in this natural, or fallen, state, each person will be an enemy to God forever “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, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
Benefits of the Fall
The Fall is an integral part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16; 2 Nephi 9:6). It has a twofold direction—downward yet forward. In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death, it gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress. Through our righteous exercise of agency and our sincere repentance when we sin, we can come unto Christ and, through His Atonement, prepare to receive the gift of eternal life. The prophet Lehi taught:
“If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
“And [Adam and Eve] would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall” (2 Nephi 2:22–26; see also 2 Nephi 2:19–21, 2 Nephi 2:27).
Adam and Eve expressed their gratitude for the blessings that came as a result of the Fall:
“Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:10–11).
Redemption from the Fall
Because of our fallen, mortal nature and our individual sins, our only hope is in Jesus Christ and the plan of redemption.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will be redeemed from the effects of the Fall. We will be resurrected, and we will be brought back into the presence of the Lord to be judged (see 2 Nephi 2:5–10; Alma 11:42–45; Helaman 14:15–17).
In addition to redeeming us from the universal effects of the Fall, the Savior can redeem us from our own sins. In our fallen state, we sin and distance ourselves from the Lord, bringing spiritual death upon ourselves. As the Apostle Paul said, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If we remain in our sins, we cannot dwell in the presence of God, for “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence” (Moses 6:57). Thankfully, the Atonement “bringeth to pass the condition of repentance” (Helaman 14:18), making it possible for us to receive forgiveness for our sins and dwell in the presence of God forever. Alma taught, “There was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead” (Alma 12:24).
Gratitude for the Savior’s Atoning Sacrifice
Just as we do not really desire food until we are hungry, we will not fully desire eternal salvation until we recognize our need for the Savior. This recognition comes as we grow in our understanding of the Fall. As the prophet Lehi taught, “All mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer” (1 Nephi 10:6).
The word grace, as used in the scriptures, refers primarily to the divine help and strength we receive through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter taught that we should “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Salvation by Grace
Because of the Fall, everyone will experience temporal death. Through grace, made available by the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, all people will be resurrected and receive immortality (see 2 Nephi 9:6–13). But resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Our sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God’s presence, and we need His grace to purify and perfect us “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
The phrase “after all we can do” teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him. The Lord has commanded us to obey His gospel, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end (see John 3:3–5; 3 Nephi 27:16–20; Articles of Faith 1:3–4). The prophet Moroni wrote of the grace we receive as we come unto the Savior and obey His teachings:
“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.
“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” (Moroni 10:32–33).
Receiving Grace throughout Your Life
In addition to needing grace for your ultimate salvation, you need this enabling power every day of your life. As you draw near to your Heavenly Father in diligence, humility, and meekness, He will uplift and strengthen you through His grace (see Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5; D&C 88:78; D&C 106:7–8). Reliance upon His grace enables you to progress and grow in righteousness. Jesus Himself “received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13). Grace enables you to help build God’s kingdom, a service you cannot give through your strength or means alone (see John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; Hebrews 12:28; Jacob 4:6–7).
If you ever become discouraged or feel too weak to continue living the gospel, remember the strength you can receive through the enabling power of grace. You can find comfort and assurance in these words of the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
On January 1, 2000, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued the following declaration. Titled “The Living Christ,” this declaration bears witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and summarizes His identity and divine mission:
“As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
“He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He ‘went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
“He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
“We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
“He rose from the grave to ‘become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ (Ephesians 1:10).
“Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: ‘His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“ ‘I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father’ (D&C 110:3–4).
“Of Him the Prophet also declared: ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“ ‘For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“ ‘That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (D&C 76:22–24).
“We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—‘built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone’ (Ephesians 2:20).
“We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
“We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son” (Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3).
Our Heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and sins. He shows mercy when He forgives us of our sins and helps us return to dwell in His presence.
Such compassion may seem to conflict with the law of justice, which requires that no unclean thing be permitted to dwell with God (see 1 Nephi 10:21). But the Atonement of Jesus Christ made it possible for God to “be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).
Receiving God’s Mercy
The Savior satisfied the demands of justice when He stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins. Because of this selfless act, the Father can mercifully withhold punishment from us and welcome us into His presence. To receive the Lord’s forgiveness, we must sincerely repent of our sins. As the prophet Alma taught, “Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:24; see also Alma 42:22–23, Alma 42:25).
Forgiveness of sin is not the only gift of mercy from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Every blessing you receive is an act of mercy, more than you could ever merit on your own. Mormon taught, “All things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them” (Moroni 7:24). For example, you are a recipient of divine mercy when Heavenly Father hears and answers your prayers, when you receive guidance from the Holy Ghost, and when you are healed from sickness through priesthood power. Although all such blessings come as results of your obedience, you could never receive them through your efforts alone. They are merciful gifts from a loving and compassionate Father.
Showing Mercy for Others
Speaking to His disciples, the Savior commanded: “Be ye … merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36). You can follow your Heavenly Father’s example of mercy in your relationships with others. Strive to rid your life of arrogance, pride, and conceit. Seek ways to be compassionate, respectful, forgiving, gentle, and patient, even when you are aware of others’ shortcomings. As you do so, your example will lead others to be more merciful, and you will have greater claim on the mercy of God.
Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all people live in a fallen condition, separated from God and subject to physical death. However, we are not condemned by what many call the “original sin.” In other words, we are not accountable for Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Articles of Faith 1:2).
Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden (see Moses 6:53). He has given us the assurance of resurrection and the promise that, based on our faithfulness, we can return to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father forever.
In your conversations with other Christians, you may sometimes be asked, “Have you been saved?” Those who ask this question usually refer to the act of sincerely confessing, or declaring, that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. In asking the question, they show their faith in the following words, written by the Apostle Paul:
“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” (Romans 10:9–10).
Answering the Question “Have You Been Saved?”
In Romans 10:9–10, the words saved and salvation signify a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Through this covenant relationship, we are assured salvation from the eternal consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every faithful Latter-day Saint is saved according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel. Through the ordinance of baptism, we have entered into a covenant relationship with the Savior, taking His name upon ourselves. We renew our baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament.
Different Meanings of the Word Salvation
In the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terms saved and salvation have various meanings. According to these meanings, your answer to the question “Have you been saved?” will be either “Yes” or “Yes, but with conditions.” The following explanations outline six different meanings of the word salvation.
Salvation from Physical Death. All people eventually die. But through the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected—saved from physical death. Paul testified, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Salvation from Sin. To be cleansed from sin through the Savior’s Atonement, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). If you have been baptized and have received the Holy Ghost through the proper priesthood authority, you have already been conditionally saved from sin. You will not be completely saved from sin until you have finished your life on the earth, having faithfully endured to the end.
Note that you cannot be saved in your sins; you cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring your belief in Christ with the understanding that you will inevitably commit sins throughout the rest of your life (see Alma 11:36–37). Through the grace of God, you can be saved from your sins (see Helaman 5:10–11). To receive this blessing, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, strive to keep the commandments, forsake sin, and renew your repentance and cleansing through the ordinance of the sacrament.
Being Born Again. You may sometimes be asked if you have been born again. The principle of spiritual rebirth appears frequently in the scriptures. The New Testament contains Jesus’s teaching that we must be “born again” and that unless we are “born of water and of the Spirit, [we] cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, John 3:5). This teaching is affirmed in the Book of Mormon: “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; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 27:25–26).
This rebirth is a process that occurs after we have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It comes as a result of our willingness “to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” (Mosiah 5:5). Then our “hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, [we] are born of him” (Mosiah 5:7). If you have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the covenant to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you can say that you have been born again. And you can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when you partake of the sacrament.
Salvation from Ignorance. Many people live in a state of darkness, not knowing the light of the restored gospel. They are “only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). As a member of the Lord’s Church, you are saved from this condition. You have a knowledge of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, the plan of salvation, and your eternal potential. You can live as a disciple of the Savior, who declared, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Salvation from the Second Death. The scriptures sometimes speak of salvation from the second death. The second death is the final spiritual death—being cut off from righteousness and denied a place in any kingdom of glory (see Alma 12:32; D&C 88:24). This second death will not come until the Final Judgment, and it will come to very few (see D&C 76:31–37). Almost every person who has ever lived on the earth is assured salvation from the second death (see D&C 76:40–45).
Eternal Life, or Exaltation. In the scriptures, the words saved and salvation often refer to eternal life, or exaltation (see Abraham 2:11). Eternal life is to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and dwell with Them forever—to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see John 17:3; D&C 131:1–4; D&C 132:21–24). To receive this great gift, we must do more than repent of our sins and be baptized and confirmed by appropriate priesthood authority. Men must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and all Church members must make and keep sacred covenants in the temple, including eternal marriage.
If we use the word salvation to mean eternal life, none of us can say that we have been saved in mortality. That glorious gift can come only after the Final Judgment.
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