Mormonism’s View of Jesus Christ the Savior

By: Marvin W. Cowan; ©2006
Mormons today often say they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior just like other Christians, but Mormon leaders are teaching things that are not in the Bible. Marvin Cowan gives examples from Mormon leaders.

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Mormons today often say they believe in Jesus Christ as Savior just like other Christians, but Mormon leaders are teaching things that are not in the Bible. For example, Mormonism’s founder said, “To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 332).

The 1997 manual published by the LDS Church for its Priesthood quorums and the Relief Society says, “The Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son… The Gospel and the Priesthood are the means He employs to save and exalt His obedient children… every ordinance, every com­mandment and requirement is necessary for the salvation of the human family” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church—Brigham Young, pp. 15, 18).

The 3rd LDS Article of Faith also says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

If men must “do everything” God has commanded including keeping all the laws and ordinances God has given in order to be saved, no one will be saved. No one but Christ ever kept all the Old Testament laws. Galatians 2:21 says, “If righteous­ness came by the law, then Christ died in vain.” Romans 3:20 also says, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:28 goes on to say, “We conclude that a man is justi­fied by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” And Titus 3:5-6 declares it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

LDS Apostle LeGrande Richards wrote, “Jesus Christ redeemed all from the fall; He paid the price; He offered Himself as a ransom; He atoned for Adam’s sin leaving us responsible only for our own sins” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 102). And LDS Apostle John Widtsoe said, “Complete salvation, which is full and eternal life, results from man’s full endeavor to conform to the laws of life, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why we often say that men save themselves with the aid of the Lord” (Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 190).

Why call Jesus “Savior” if that is true since He would only be a partial Savior and we would be co-saviors with Him! But the Apostle Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). And the Apostle Peter declared that Christ “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Pet. 2:24). The Apostle John also wrote, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

On pages 70-71 of The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, the 13th LDS Prophet wrote, “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation… One passage in the Book of Mormon… is particularly enlightening … ‘For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (II Nephi 25:23).”

If someone drowning cried out for help while a person able to save him watched and said, “I will save you only after you have done all you can do, would you consider him a good “savior”? Did Jesus do that? Has any mortal done all he could do in any area of life? In contrast to what Kimball and the Book of Mormon said, the Apostle Paul declared, “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8). We were “without strength” since we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1 says. Paul did not say that Christ would save us after we did all we could do. But he did say, “For by grace are you saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Some today claim that Mormonism has changed and become more biblical, but an official LDS Gospel Reference book published in 2004 entitled True to the Faith doesn’t show such a change. It says,

When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He established His Church among His followers. After His Crucifixion and the deaths of His Apostles, the fullness of the gospel was taken from the earth because of widespread apostasy…. The fullness of the gospel has been restored and the true Church of Jesus Christ is on the earth again… As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can receive blessings that were absent from the earth for almost 2,000 years. Through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, you can receive the remission of your sins and enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. (pp. 135-136)

Notice that for almost 2000 years mortals had no access to the saving ordi­nances and now they have access to them but only in the LDS Church! Is that what the Bible teaches?

Before Jesus was born of Mary in Bethlehem an angel appeared to Joseph and told him “Thou shalt call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). When Jesus began His ministry John the Baptist saw Him com­ing and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And Peter, the Apostle said, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved

(Acts 4:12). The Apostle John also wrote, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His [God’s] Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). And Hebrews 7:25 declares, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost who come to God by Him.” These Bible verses and many others clearly state that Christ came to save us from our sins. And that included the penalty of sin, the power of sin and ultimately the very pres­ence of sin when we enter heaven. That is not what Mormonism was teaching in the passages we quoted in this article!

Those who want to read more about the LDS view of salvation can do so in Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, by Joseph Fielding Smith. Next time we will discuss LDS Priesthood.

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