The answer to the question, “Are Mormons saved?” is yes, but a simple yes doesn’t really answer the question. Mormons use the term “saved” a little differently and the answer might depend on your definition of the term. The Bible uses the word “saved” to mean many different things, all of which the Mormons, a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, accept. To understand the Bible, we have to consider the way the scriptures fit together and not look at single scriptures in isolation.
Mormons believe that we cannot save ourselves. No one can live a perfect life—only Jesus Christ was able to do that. He met all the requirements of a Savior and was the only One who could save us. What does it mean that He saved us?
Mormons teach that the atonement has two aspects. Some portions of it are given freely to all, regardless of the choices they make on the earth. For instance, because Jesus atoned for our sins, died on the cross, and was resurrected, we all are resurrected and live forever—even the wicked receive that particular gift.
Others require action on our part to activate. To receive the full measure of the atonement, one must accept Jesus Christ as his or her Savior (an act), be baptized (an act), and keep the commandments of God. Most Christian religions accept that certain acts are required to be saved. They accept that one must accept Jesus Christ as the Savior, and many also require baptism.
Baptism is so important and essential that even Jesus insisted on being baptized by immersion, despite having no sins to be forgiven of. He taught his disciples that both faith and baptism is required for salvation: Baptism is an act. We are not saved by our actions, but actions are required as part of the process—and must, as this Bible verse makes clear, be accompanied by faith:
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).
Peter also taught this doctrine: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:37-38).
Jesus warned us that while confessions of faith are an important part of our salvation, they must be accompanied by righteousness:
“9 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.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10)
These verses tell us that we need to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, but also have that confession of faith be sincere and life-changing enough to cause us to obey the commandments and to become righteous. A confession of faith that doesn’t change our lives is meaningless. The mouth says the words, but the heart obeys God.
Many scriptures emphasize the importance of keeping the commandments in order to return to God. This is where the confusion about Mormon beliefs concerning being saved come from. Many people misinterpret the Mormon emphasis on keeping commandments as being a belief that we can earn our way into Heaven. This is not actually what Mormons teach. In fact, the true Mormon belief is not that different from traditional Christianity, except that we emphasize it more, making certain our members understand that love must be accompanied by action:
If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
The Bible is emphatic in its teachings that faith without works is dead. If we say we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, but spend our days harming others and committing sins, we clearly didn’t really mean it. Our works are a manifestation of our faith—if, and only if—they are done for the right reason, which is love for Jesus Christ. Jesus consistently condemned the Pharisees for carrying out their faith for show, but then sinning privately, and He condemned those who obeyed for all the wrong reasons. For this reason, the claimed differences between Mormon beliefs and Protestant beliefs on this subject is really just wordplay. Mormons believe our works will develop out of our love. A former Mormon prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, once said, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” Our attitude toward obedience is a direct measure of our love for Jesus Christ, and it is for this reason Mormons spend a lot of time talking about commandments. Mormons want their members to live the way God has asked them to live—and to do so joyfully and for the right reasons.
Are Mormons saved? They have faith, they are baptized, and they receive the Holy Ghost. They repent of their sins and work to keep the commandments of God. They trust in the atonement of Jesus Christ to do for them what they cannot possibly do for themselves. They are saved as far as they can be saved in mortality, but no one completes the process until the final judgment. At that time, the Savior, and no one else, will determine their final status. Only Jesus Christ may say who is saved and who is not.