In the last post we learned that the only way we can be saved in the kingdom of God is through faith, repentance, baptism by water, baptism by fire, and enduring to the end. We also learned that only those in the celestial glory have met those requirements. Meaning that those of the terrestrial and telestial glories do not meet the criteria to be saved in the kingdom of God.
What about salvation then? We’re taught that the three degrees of glory are a key part of the plan of salvation. Is there a difference between being saved and receiving salvation? Some may argue that while we can only be saved in the celestial kingdom, perhaps we can still participate in salvation in one of the lower kingdoms.
Let’s start with the Webster 1828 definition.
SALVA’TION, [Latin salvo, to save.]
1. The act of saving; preservation from destruction, danger or great calamity.
2. Appropriately in theology, the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness.
SA’VED, Preserved from evil; injury or destruction.
Those two words appear synonymous. In fact, they are used interchangeably in the scriptures:
3 Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.
13 If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.
Saved in the kingdom = The greatest of all gifts of God (meaning no gift is greater)
Salvation = No greater gift (meaning it is the greatest gift)
Greatest of all gifts = No greater gift
Salvation in the kingdom of God = Saved in the kingdom of God
All these phrases show that salvation and being saved are equivalent. With that in mind, look at these other scriptures.
How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?
That 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.
But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us:
this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
I don’t think I’m wresting the scriptures when I assert that there is no difference between being saved and receiving salvation. Now that we know they are equivalent, let’s see if the scriptures provide the same qualifications for receiving salvation as being saved.
And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name. Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil.
And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this 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.
Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
So far, these are the same requirements as for being saved in the kingdom of God: faith, repentance, and baptism. These next verses add becoming as a little child and continuing in faith until the end, matching the requirements we found in the last post. But notice the qualifiers in red.
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.
12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that 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.
18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
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 towards 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—I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.
There is no other way, no other salvation, no other condition by which we can be saved. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. To argue otherwise is to deny the scriptures.
This presents the same problem with the terrestrial and telestial people – they don’t qualify for salvation. Salvation is only for the celestial category of people. Yet God says he will save everyone except for the sons of perdition. How can God save everyone, but only save celestial people? How can he save all, but not the terrestrial and telestial people?
1 Nephi 15:34-35
But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God 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.
There are no three degrees of glory here. You are either in the celestial kingdom or you are cast out. How can we reconcile what the scriptures plainly teach about salvation and being saved in the kingdom of God with the current LDS interpretation of the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms? It’s not possible. If we believe what the scriptures say, the plan of salvation, as taught by the LDS Church, is really a plan of condemnation. The vast majority of humans will be doomed to the terrestrial and telestial kingdoms, cast out, without salvation, without being saved; while a small portion enjoy the celestial kingdom.
We know that can’t be true, so the conclusion is that our interpretation of what the scriptures say about the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms is wrong. Once we have accepted that truth, we need to cast aside everything we have been taught and start fresh. Which is what we’ll start doing next.