In Hebrews 1-4 Paul teaches that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Most Christians agree that salvation comes as a result of Christ’s atonement¾He suffered and died for our sins, that we might not have to suffer, and that we might go to heaven when we die. In 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 Paul mentions the three degrees of glory in heaven¾the Celestial, the Terestrial, and the Telestial, and Christ spoke of many mansions in heaven. Modern prophets have revealed the difference between “salvation” and “exaltation.” In Mormon Theology (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church by the media) salvation is being saved into a kingdom of heaven and exaltation is being saved into the highest kingdom of heaven where the fullness of God’s presence is.
Mormon Doctrines of Salvation and Exaltation
The Mormon doctrine of salvation is more inclusive and more loving than in any other Christian faith, and it is true. It says in the Book of Mormon that salvation is free:
And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free (2 Nephi 2:4).
Even people who reject Christ on earth and again in the spirit world after death may inherit a kingdom in heaven, although they must suffer for their own sins. Those who never heard the gospel of Christ on earth, or who rejected it on earth, may hear it after death and before resurrection. There is a space granted them for repentance, and ordinances are performed for them in Mormon temples, which they are free to accept or reject. Thus, all may have an opportunity to lay hold upon the saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are Eternal as is Their Love for Us
In Hebrews 1:10-12 Paul talks about how the earth will wax old and pass away, will be folded like a cloth. Mormon doctrine teaches that the earth will be cleansed by fire at the Second Coming of Christ, and the wicked will be destroyed. Fire will again engulf the earth at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, and the earth will be transformed into a globe of glass and fire, and become the celestial kingdom for just men (and) women who lived on this earth made perfect through Christ.
In Hebrews 2 there are famous and oft-quoted verses:
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (Hebrews 2:6-10).
Jesus descended “below all things” in order to save us and to know how to succor us with a perfect empathy. The “angels” are those worthy people who have lived on this earth who now minister to Heavenly Father’s children who know dwell here. They are servants of the Most High. Jesus through His atonement also overcame death, so that all living things regardless of worthiness might be resurrected to physical perfection in the afterlife. Because Christ has overcome death, He has overcome despair and grief for those who believe in Him. We have a perfect brightness of hope, not only for the resurrection, but for the reunion of ourselves with our dearest loved ones in the afterlife, so that we will not be forever separated.
Jesus Christ and Mormon Priesthood
Hebrews 2:17 speaks of the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Also see Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-16; 5; 7; 8.)
This royal priesthood was held by all worthy male members of Christ’s Church in ancient times and was conferred upon them by the twelve apostles, who received it from Christ. It was called The Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God. This priesthood holds the authority and power of God to administer the affairs of the Church, perform ordinances that will be sealed in heaven as on earth, and to perform the same kinds of miracles Christ and the apostles performed. Gifts of the spirit attend the priesthood in abundance. This priesthood was lost from the earth upon the death of the original apostles, but was restored in modern times to build up the kingdom of God on the earth in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. This restoration was actually performed by angels ¾ the resurrected Peter and James, and the translated being, John the Beloved under the direction of Jesus Christ. To keep from using His name too often, this priesthood is called the “Melchizedek Priesthood” after the righteous king of ancient Salem (Hebrews 5:6, 10). (Read more…)
What Does it Mean to Enter into the Lord’s Rest?
To enter into the Lord’s rest (see Hebrews 4) means to have one’s “calling and election” sealed upon him (or her). This means that the person receives in this life the unfailing promise that he or she will be an heir to exaltation. One of the blessings of receiving one’s calling and election is to see the Christ.
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end (3 Nephi 27:19).
But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory (Doctrine and Covenants 84:24).
What Is a Son of Perdition?
Hebrews 6 talks about the “Sons of Perdition.” Sons of Perdition are the only people who will not be saved into a kingdom of glory in heaven, but will be placed outside the light of God. Mormons also call this place Hell, or Outer Darkness. In order to “qualify” to be a Son of Perdition, one must gain a perfect knowledge that Jesus is the Christ; that means that the Lord Jesus has presented Himself to the person, so the person no longer has faith, but knowledge. If the person then denies the Christ, he or she has committed the “sin against the Holy Ghost,” the only sin that is both unforgivable and unpardonable. The person is cast out, turned over to the buffetings of Satan during this life, and cast out with Satan and his minions in the next. All others will inherit a kingdom of glory in heaven. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received a vision of the kingdoms of heaven, and they beheld that even the lowest kingdom of glory was glorious beyond description, but there is no glory in Outer Darkness:
They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—
Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels— And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power (Doctrine and Covenants 76:32-37).
Abraham Paid Tithing and So Do Latter-day Saints
In Hebrews 7 we read that Abraham paid “tithes” ¾ ten percent of his increase to Melchizedek the High Priest. This has always been a law among God’s chosen people, and here is the Apostle Paul teaching the precept to the Saints in ancient times. Mormons still pay tithing, and it is a prerequisite to making higher vows and covenants in Mormon temples. People who are worthy to enter Mormon temples are willing to consecrate all they have to the Lord, although the Lord rarely requires it. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith:
…a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. (Read about sacrifice.)
The “Better Covenant”
In Hebrews 8-11, Paul speaks of a “better covenant” driven by faith. He is comparing the lesser, Aaronic Priesthood, with the higher, Melchizedek Priesthood. The Melchizedek Priesthood ministers and administers Christ’s higher law. The Aaronic Priesthood is the foundation of the temple of God¾ repentance, baptism, sacrifice, and the ministering of angels. The Melchizedek Priesthood is the realization of that holy temple, wherein we may progress to enter the presence of God. This priesthood has to do with consecration of one’s whole self to Christ, so that we may, in turn, enter into His rest and become co-heirs with Him.