Author: Burton, Alma P.
Salvation is the greatest gift of God (D&C 6:13). The root of the word means to be saved, or placed beyond the power of one's enemies (TPJS, pp. 297, 301, 305). It is redemption from the bondage of sin and death, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Some degree of salvation will come to all of God's children except the sons of perdition. Jesus said, "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" (John 14:2). Paul said, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars . So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor. 15:40-42). Paul also explained that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). The Latter-day Saint concept of salvation derives from the teachings of Jesus Christ and the revelations given to ancient and latter-day prophets. It is evident from such teachings that there are different degrees or levels of salvation in the afterlife (see Degrees of Glory).
There are various levels of salvation because there are various levels of belief and works among people (D&C 76:99-101). The Prophet Joseph Smith observed, "If God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body the term "Heaven' as intended for the Saints' eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one" (TPJS, pp. 10-11).
The gospel of Jesus Christ comprises fundamental principles and ordinances that must be followed to obtain a fulness of salvation. The first steps are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands by one who is in authority for the gift of the Holy Ghost. Additional ordinances are administered in the temple. And finally, "he only is saved who endureth unto the end" (D&C 53:7).
The most sacred ordinances pertaining to the salvation of both the living and the dead are performed in the temples. These ordinances include the Endowment, the sealing of husband and wife to form an eternal marriage, and the sealing of children to parents to form an eternal family. All the ordinances that are essential for the salvation of the living are likewise essential for the dead, beginning with proxy baptism for the dead. These can only be performed in a temple. Baptism is for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom; the Endowment and the sealing ordinances are for exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. In the mercy of God and his love for his children, the Plan of Salvation provides for everyone to hear and respond to the gospel either in this life or in the spirit world so that all who will may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (D&C 137:7-9; see also Salvation of the Dead).
Salvation in a Latter-day Saint context includes activity and service in the kingdom of God for all eternity, unhampered by the effects of sin, death, physical pain, sickness, or other impediments to joy. The highest level of salvation is to become like God and involves a family unit. Lesser degrees of salvation are correspondingly less glorious and have restrictions. ALMA P. BURTON