Here are the previous parts of my Plan of Salvation series:
After we die, we exist in the spirit world. Then, once everyone has had a chance to accept or reject the gospel, Christ will return in his glorious second coming. Then, everyone who has died will be resurrected. We believe that our bodies are sacred and that when we die, our spirits and our bodies are separated. Then, during the time after we die and until we are resurrected, we exist solely as a Spirit.
However, we believe that we were created in the image of God, and that God has a perfect body of flesh and bone. Therefore, because of Christ's atonement, we will all overcome physical death and be reunited with our bodies. However, once this resurrection occurs, our bodies will be perfect. Thus, one aspect of Adam's fall is rectified.
Then, once everyone has been brought from corruption to perfection, we will be judged by our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Our Father wants all of His children to return and to live with him, but He will never force anyone to do anything. Choice is our greatest gift, and He has offered us salvation, if only we will choose to accept it. For those who accept Christ's sacrifice for them and who kept God's commandments to the best of their ability, they will be saved in the last day.
I think that nowhere is this better expressed then in the book of Alma 11:42-45:
I love these versus, because it so clearly explains what will occur when our spirits and bodies are rejoined.
Often people ask if Mormons believe we are saved by grace or by works. Really, we don't believe they are separate. We believe that the definition of grace is "the enabling power of God." This means that through Jesus Christ, we will have to ability to do anything, including obtain perfection. However, God has never allowed his children to sit idly by and let someone else do the work for them. Without the grace of our Savior, NO ONE would get to heaven. However, if we don't allow Christ's grace to work through us and change us, we won't be enough like our Father in Heaven to be able to dwell in His presence. Grace isn't simply saying that we accept Christ and then we're saved. Grace is doing our best and relying upon our Savior. As we do that, his grace (enabling power) will magnify all that we do and allow us to do things that are only possible through our Savior.
If you want to read an incredible talk about the grace of our Savior, go to this link. It changed the way I thought about grace.
It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that anyone is saved. Unfortunately, discussions about grace often come down to semantics. Often, Christians have more in common than we'd like to believe. I don't know very many Christians who really believe that if they accept Christ and then go out and kill someone that they will be saved because they accepted Christ. Most I know, in our faith and out of it, believe that they need to do their best and that their Savior wants them to treat others will love and respect. A true disciple of Christ will be judged on the way that they treat those around them and on who they become. (Matt 25)
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed or thirsty, and gave drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took in? or naked, and clothed Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done unto me.
For my final note to this topic, I'm going to geek-out for a second and quote from one of my favorite television shows. One of my favorite quotes from the Stargate universe goes like this:
“Judge yourself by the intentions of your actions and by the strength with which you faced the challenges which stood in your way. The universe is vast and we are so small. There is really only one thing we can ever truly control--whether we are good or evil.”
― Oma de SalaWe can't control what this life will throw at us, but we can control how we will react to the challenges that we will face. Every decision we make is important, and the Plan of Salvation is a plan of hope. God will be as merciful as He can be, while still assuring that justice is met. If we will accept the Savior's atonement, the demands of justice will be satisfied. However, if we throw his sacrifice away and treat it as naught, we will have to pay for our own sins, and that is a far less pleasant option.
Next week, I'll talk about the kingdoms of glory that are in store for Heavenly Father's children after they are judged.