by Sharon Lindbloom
15 July 2021
The first full article in the print issue of July’s Liahona magazine is headlined, “Our Heavenly Father Wants Us to Be Happy.” This “Gospel Basics” article presents an overview of the plan of happiness (aka the plan of salvation) according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the sub-section titled “Death Isn’t the End,” the article says,
“When God judges us, He will consider our actions and our desires. If we have tried to keep the commandments and the promises we made to Heavenly Father, then we can live with Him again.” (Liahona, July 2021, 7)
That is page 7. Flip over to the next article (pages 8-11) and readers are presented with a somewhat different message. This article, “Heavenly Father Wants Us Back” by LDS apostle Ulisses Soares, tells readers that the “true and faithful” are promised “an everlasting reward in God’s presence.” Citing the LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants 76, Mr. Soares “reveals how [the Lord’s] children can inherit the celestial kingdom.” The “path” begins with becoming a member of the LDS church and goes on from there. According to Mr. Soares, a person must:
- Receive “the testimony of Jesus”
- Be baptized by immersion
- Receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands
- Keep the commandments
- Overcome by faith
- Be sealed by the Holy Spirit (defined as “the Holy Ghost witnessing ‘to the Father that [our] saving ordinances have been performed properly and that the covenants associated with them have been kept’”)
- Being “just and true,” which is:
- Being courageous in defending truth and righteousness
- Magnifying callings in the church
- Paying tithes and offerings
- Living a morally clean life
- Sustaining church leaders
- Keeping the Sabbath as a holy day
- Obeying “all the commandments of God”
Furthermore, if one desires to reach the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (i.e., “exaltation”), Mr. Soares says there is “one final requirement” (although he lists two):
- Must be married for eternity “in the temple by proper priesthood authority” (if possible)
- Must hold out faithful to the end
Mr. Soares sums up:
“…all of God’s children who keep His commandments and are faithful, regardless of the circumstances of life, will be blessed and ‘received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness’ (Mosiah 2:41).” (10)
In Mr. Soares’ teaching on how a person can “inherit the celestial kingdom,” based on LDS scripture D&C 76, the word “try” is nowhere to be found. According to his understanding as an LDS apostle, a person must “keep the commandments,” “obey all the commandments,” assure that “the covenants associated with [the saving ordinances] have been kept,” and “keep His commandments” in order to receive “an everlasting reward in God’s presence.” The teaching that is asserted in the first Liahona article — that it is sufficient to merely try to “keep the commandments and the promises we made to Heavenly Father” without mentioning any obligation to succeed at it — is incompatible with the apostolic teaching presented in the second Liahona article.
This is a pretty important topic — a question of eternal significance. According to Mormonism, how is one enabled to “live with [the Father] again? How does one “inherit the celestial kingdom”? By trying (and perhaps failing) to be a commandment- and covenant-keeper? Or by actually keeping the commandments and covenants? The Liahona, an official voice of the LDS church, presents a mixed message, leaving it up to the reader to determine which one is true.
It’s very odd that a religion which distinguishes itself from others with the claim of being led by living prophets and apostles cannot present a consistent message on what it takes for a person to be reconciled to God and thereby live with Him eternally. The LDS church seems unable to confidently answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)
The biblical apostle Paul had no trouble answering this question when he was asked. Without hesitation he replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” Paul didn’t dither between the necessity of trying to keep the commandments and actually obeying all the commandments of God. He didn’t talk about keeping covenants. He didn’t mention “saving ordinances.” Paul said that being saved was all about Jesus. This is the consistent message throughout the entire New Testament. (See Romans 3:20, 28; 4:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9 for example.)
Mormonism disagrees with the Bible on the essential matter of what is required for a person to live eternally in the presence of God. Mormonism also disagrees with itself on this question. How, then, can it be trusted with issues of eternal consequence? In spite of its claim of being led by prophets, seers, and revelators, Mormonism is like a double-minded man – unstable in all its ways (James 1:8).
But God is not unstable. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2). In Him there is “no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
So, who is this unstable god of Mormonism? Who are these LDS church leaders claiming to speak for God that present inconsistent answers to issues of eternal significance? The answers to these questions are of great eternal consequence. We should think about these things.
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