What Mormons believe: About grace, about baptism, about marriage (part 1)
We recently received this comment/question from a reader, Katie.
So, I have a question about what mormons believe. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and that not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” In 2 Nephi it says: For we know it is by grace we are saved after all you can do. When I asked my mormon friend what is it that you can do, she replied to try & live a good life the best we can. so my question is, how do you know when you have done “all you can do”? How do you know you’ve done your best, or could you possibly have done any better? I mean, even when we try so hard to do good, we still have broken God’s law and since God is a righteous God as well as forgiving, he demands that justice be paid.”for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in christ jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) If a criminal asked a judge in court to forgive him & say he tried to live right & the judge let him go unpunished, wouldn’t he not be a good judge? Jesus is the only way we can have eternal life as it says in John 14:6 “Jesus answered, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.” Many places in the bible say that it’s only by grace we are saved, not by anything we do. It says that salvation is a free gift to anyone you believes in his name, not by works. so then why do you believe that water baptism, repentance, and trying to live a good life to the best ability will contribute to salvation as well as God sending his son to dies for our sins? I hope I am not sounding offensive, I do not mean it at all that way! I love you guys, I am just trying to better understand why you believe what you do. I’m a senior in high school & have been studying a lot about this! Also, you teach that there will be marriage in heaven but in Matthew 22:30 it says there will not be marriage. I’m confused. Do you have an answer to my questions? Thank you so much for your time!(and being patient because this message is so long!
Thanks, Katie, for your questions. Your questions are not uncommon ones, and they hit at the core of our beliefs. I’m just one person, and my responses will not be able to capture all the facets of our faith. There is always much more that could be said about these topics. But so much of it is to be experienced and learned through your own seeking and study and prayer, so I hope you will continue such seeking! God will help you as you ask for His guidance.
First of all, before I get to your specific questions, I think it’s important to understand a little about what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call the Restoration. We believe in the Bible and in the teachings therein. We believe in the teachings of the Savior and of His apostles, such as Paul, whom you quote above. We also believe that after Christ’s death, after Jesus’ apostles whom He called during New Testament times died, the authority He gave them to administer His church and teach in His place died with them.
You’ve probably heard about Joseph Smith and how he struggled as a young man with how the different Christian denominations around him would interpret and practice Biblical teachings. I imagine that some of the very questions you ask were ones that probably plagued his mind. He didn’t know whom or what to believe. He prayed about it, and got a response he wasn’t expecting — God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him that Christ’s church would be restored through him. He had a specific and world-changing work to do!
Through the course of the next several years, he was taught by heavenly messengers; given (and given power to translate) the original plates of the ancient record known as the Book of Mormon; visited by some of the ancient Church leaders who restored sacred priesthood authority to him (John the Baptist (who restored the authority to baptize) and Peter, James, and John (who restored higher authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost and administer the Church and its ordinances); and guided to restore Jesus’ Church to the earth.
From that time forward, there has been a living prophet and living apostles continually guiding the Church, using ancient texts as foundations to their teachings, but also receiving current and continuous divine guidance. So, for example, the doctrines surrounding eternal marriage were received through Joseph Smith over time after the Church was organized.
I’ll address your questions about grace and works (baptism, etc.) in a separate post.
God bless you in your faith journey.
Editor, Mormon Women: Who We Are