In your conversations with other Christians, you may sometimes be asked, “Have you been saved?” Those who ask this question usually refer to the act of sincerely confessing, or declaring, that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. In asking the question, they show their faith in the following words, written by the Apostle Paul:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).
In Romans 10:9–10, the words saved and salvation signify a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Through this covenant relationship, we are assured salvation from the eternal consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every faithful Latter-day Saint is saved according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel. Through the ordinance of baptism, we have entered into a covenant relationship with the Savior, taking His name upon ourselves. We renew our baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament.
In the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terms saved and salvation have various meanings. According to these meanings, your answer to the question “Have you been saved?” will be either “Yes” or “Yes, but with conditions.” The following explanations outline six different meanings of the word salvation.
All people eventually die. But through the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected—saved from physical death. Paul testified, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
To be cleansed from sin through the Savior’s Atonement, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). If you have been baptized and have received the Holy Ghost through the proper priesthood authority, you have already been conditionally saved from sin. You will not be completely saved from sin until you have finished your life on the earth, having faithfully endured to the end.
Note that you cannot be saved in your sins; you cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring your belief in Christ with the understanding that you will inevitably commit sins throughout the rest of your life (see Alma 11:36–37). Through the grace of God, you can be saved from your sins (see Helaman 5:10–11). To receive this blessing, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, strive to keep the commandments, forsake sin, and renew your repentance and cleansing through the ordinance of the sacrament.
You may sometimes be asked if you have been born again. The principle of spiritual rebirth appears frequently in the scriptures. The New Testament contains Jesus’s teaching that we must be “born again” and that unless we are “born of water and of the Spirit, [we] cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5). This teaching is affirmed in the Book of Mormon: “All mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 27:25–26).
This rebirth is a process that occurs after we have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. It comes as a result of our willingness “to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” (Mosiah 5:5). Then our “hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, [we] are born of him” (Mosiah 5:7). If you have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the covenant to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you can say that you have been born again. And you can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when you partake of the sacrament.
Many people live in a state of darkness, not knowing the light of the restored gospel. They are “only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). As a member of the Lord’s Church, you are saved from this condition. You have a knowledge of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, the plan of salvation, and your eternal potential. You can live as a disciple of the Savior, who declared, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
The scriptures sometimes speak of salvation from the second death. The second death is the final spiritual death—being cut off from righteousness and denied a place in any kingdom of glory (see Alma 12:32; D&C 88:24). This second death will not come until the Final Judgment, and it will come to very few (see D&C 76:31–37). Almost every person who has ever lived on the earth is assured salvation from the second death (see D&C 76:40–45).
In the scriptures, the words saved and salvation often refer to eternal life, or exaltation (see Abraham 2:11). Eternal life is to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and dwell with Them forever—to inherit a place in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see John 17:3; D&C 131:1–4; 132:21–24). To receive this great gift, we must do more than repent of our sins and be baptized and confirmed by appropriate priesthood authority. Men must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, and all Church members must make and keep sacred covenants in the temple, including eternal marriage.
If we use the word salvation to mean eternal life, none of us can say that we have been saved in mortality. That glorious gift can come only after the Final Judgment.