How does the Mormon plan of salvation compare with the Bible?
In this ongoing series, we attempt to answer questions from a searching Mormon.
“Is the plan of salvation wrong?”
I believe your question is referring to the plan of salvation taught by the LDS Church. According to several LDS sources, including the booklet "The Plan of Salvation" that Mormon missionaries hand out, the following is a brief outline on the teaching:
The purpose of the plan is to bring happiness and return to live with Heavenly Father.
All people have been given free-will (agency) to make good choices and follow the plan.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ enables all people to overcome the effects of the Fall.
The Atonement paid the penalty of sin (physical death), but it is the responsibility of every person to be obedient and worthy to overcome spiritual death.
Upon physical death, a person's spirit will enter the spirit world (paradise or spirit prison).
On Judgment Day, all people will be resurrected and stand before Heavenly Father to be judged according to their works and the desires of their heart.
The majority of people will be assigned to one of three kingdoms of glory.
Those who fully exercise their divine potential will become exalted (be like god) in the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom.
All of the blessings associated with the LDS plan of salvation rests on the person's ability and desire to follow the commandments and ordinances of the Mormon Church. This includes receiving salvation, grace, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins.
In answering a question of this importance, it is crucial to establish what absolute truth is in order to draw an accurate comparison. The words of Jesus Christ found in the Bible must be that point of comparison.
Mormonism teaches a plan of salvation while the teachings of biblical Christianity clearly state that God gives salvation.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Biblical Christianity teaches the way to receive eternal life and to avoid the consequences of spiritual death. It is either one or the other. Believing in Jesus Christ saves (salvation) a soul from spiritual death and receives eternal life with Heavenly Father. Nobody on his or her own obedience can overcome spiritual death and be with Heavenly Father. "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) The standard for obedience in order to receive salvation is to be perfect. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). Only one sin or mistake makes every person automatically ineligible to be perfect. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (James 2:10) Only Jesus Christ met the standard of perfect obedience. Christ's Atonement satisfied the consequences of both physical and spiritual death because of His perfect obedience. Faith alone receives Christ's perfect obedience to meet the required standard for eternal life and not eternally perish.
By believing in Jesus Christ and trusting His promises found in the Bible, one receives the full forgiveness of sins. A person who believes in Christ receives the status of being perfect and fully forgiven right now. Faith alone receives the full benefit of Christ's work on our behalf.
A person who places their sole confidence in the Bible as 100% reliable and the absolute source of truth for life and salvation must conclude that the Mormon plan of salvation is wrong. In fact, those who follow the teachings of Mormonism are in grave danger of suffering the eternal consequences of spiritual death.
Other Questions in this series, “Questions from a Searching Mormon”:
Is the Plan of Salvation Wrong?