Salvation through Atonement

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  11 hours ago, Maytoday said:

What does this mean?  Do you have to do this to be saved? If I mess up, does it mean I'm not?  

(According with: Through His Atonement, all mankind may be saved as we accept Him as our Savior and follow His teachings.)

This is a very common, but excellent question.  Unfortunately, the answer can become quite complex.  It is complex because of our belief in the afterlife.

Most of Christianity has the heaven/hell dichotomy.  No other options.  Catholics have the idea of purgatory (which, from your other postings, you are probably familiar with).

In our faith, there is a waiting period before final judgment.  That could be another thread in and of itself.

And there is the final state of our souls which can be divided into four levels.  This could also be another thread in and of itself.  Perhaps you could start threads covering various topics so we don't get all confused with all the topics being in one thread.

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I happened to have this open because someone elsewhere just tried to drop a canned list of "citations" on me (most of which were from non-canonical sources) -

What most of mainstream Christianity knows as "Heaven" and "Hell" we identify as "Paradise" and "Prison", areas where people will be *temporarily* assigned to based on their actions and knowledge in life. While there, these individuals will be taught in full and brought to a complete recollection of what they did while alive, leaving them to understand what they did both based on what they knew and compared to what should have been. 

It's only after a person has this understanding that they will be judged. 

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The underlying question really is: According to the LDS belief system, how do we gain salvation?

First, the broadest, clearest explanation is "Through the Atonement of Christ."  But there are a lot of conditions on that.

If I find Christ and accept Him into my heart and believe on Him, is that the end?  Can I then go and murder a bunch of people and commit multiple atrocities and believe that I'm going to be saved in the end?  We absolutely reject this.

Here is a principle: We cannot look toward sin and look toward Christ at the same time.  They're in opposite directions.  But if we all sin, then we never look toward Christ?  No, the normal pattern of life is that we tend to go into cyclic patterns.

We realize we're sinning -> We feel the Spirit telling us we've messed up -> We repent and turn to Christ for a remission of our sins -> We continue on the path of righteousness.

Then we tend to sin again -> And repeat the cycle -> Overall, we hope that through cycle after cycle we find that we're sinning less and less with each cycle. 

At some point, we may not yet be perfect in this life.  But we feel that overall our general motivation is to follow Christ and continue to rely on His Atoning Blood, rather than follow sin or depend on our own mortal, fallible strength.

Our beliefs say that there is a Hell that only the very worst types go to.  And it is so bad that we're not even certain if Hitler will end up there.

We also believe in "Three degrees of Glory."  Some say that this is the three levels in which heaven is divided (Telestial, Terrestrial, & Celestial).  But the important thing is that we should all be aiming for the highest (the Celestial Kingdom).

While there are scriptural descriptions of the separations (others have linked in this thread and others) I have spent time pondering what the practical application of these descriptions actually mean.  I'm sure many have pondered them.  As for me and my interpretations, I've come up with my "tooth-brushing" analogy.

  • Telestial level of obedience:  When I was a little kid, I hated brushing teeth.  But my parents made me do it.  They'd watch over me and make sure I learned how and made sure that I actually did it.  But if they stopped watching me, I'd refuse to brush my teeth.
  • Terrestrial level of obedience: As I got older, I realized that there were things like plaque, cavities, tartar, and a bunch of other stuff that made toothbrushing beneficial.  Because I wanted that reward, and I certainly didn't like the idea of the bad consequences, I would brush my teeth because I was aware of the natural consequences.
  • Celestial level of obedience:  Later, brushing my teeth was just a habit that I didn't even think about.  I had forgotten any reason I would resist brushing my teeth.  In fact, my mouth just felt disgusting if I ever forgot to brush my teeth.  Who on earth can stand the halitosis?  I had caught the vision of the importance of brushing my teeth.  Do I forget some times? Of course.  But I never go back to thinking that brushing my teeth is something I "simply don't want to do."  It is something I want to do.  But I may simply forget or whatever.

We tend to go through these types of steps or phases for every single sin that we commit.  Because most of us have so many sins we're guilty of (even the "little sins" will keep us from God's bosom) we really don't have a hope of getting there with each and every one of our sins.  But if, instead, we consider an overall attitude and perspective of recognizing that we want to be like Christ, and continually ask Him to apply His Atoning Blood on our sins, then we have a Hope in Christ

With that hope, any time we commit ANY sin, we realize that wasn't where we wanted to go, and it is our nature to turn to Christ, it is then that we are in a position to say, "I'm aiming for the Celestial."

Edited by Carborendum
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