Why do Latter Day Saints believe that they can work their way to heaven when the Bible clearly states that salvation is a gift (grace)? Today at the funeral of an LDS friend the speakers all spoke about how “Good works” was what leads one to heaven.
It is sometimes confusing for non-members to understand our beliefs as they pertain to salvation and exaltation. Salvation means to be saved. We believe this means to be saved from a physical death. Through the grace of our Lord we believe that all men will be saved from physical death. Everyone who has lived on this earth will be resurrected. This is a gift brought about through the resurrection of our Savior and His love for us.
We also believe that exaltation is made possible through the grace of God, but it is our individual works that will distinguish our status in the hereafter. The Savior indicated that there will be differences in the hereafter when he spoke of different mansions in John 14: “2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Paul when writing to the Corinthians spoke of various glories in the hereafter. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul states: “40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead…”
We believe that we were placed here on this earth to prove ourselves to God whether we would do good or evil. It is through our obedience to his laws and ordinances that we show him our worthiness. We are told in the scriptures that we will stand before God and be judged according to our works, whether they are good or evil. In 1 Peter we are told that Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison after his death here upon the earth. In 1 Peter 4, we are told why He went there: “6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”
In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us that: “21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” It is through the performance of good works that we show the Lord that we are His children and worthy to enter into His glory and dwell with Him forever.