“Saved” is a supercharged word in Christian culture. Many people have varying ideas about what constitutes “salvation,” and rightly so. The word itself doesn’t have one universal definition. “Saved from what?” is the question we ought to be asking ourselves. Is being “saved” from death (by the resurrection) the same as being “saved” in the kingdom of God, or being “saved” from the flood? If there’s a distinction between any or all of these, it’s important we know what it is so that we can identify it when we see it in scripture.
Sometimes the most effective way we can learn from the scriptures is momentarily dropping our beliefs about what something means, and just letting the scriptures teach us.
I just want to focus on one definition here: salvation in the Kingdom of God. Who enters or inherits the Kingdom? Below, I’ve included every relevant reference to the qualifications for entering the Kingdom of God that I could find in the New Testament and Book of Mormon.
According to scripture, the qualifications are as follows:
New Testament references
- Be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20)
- Be persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Mathew 5:10)
- Keep the least commandments and teach them to others; not just superficially (Matthew 5:19-20)
- Not just say “Lord, Lord,” but actually do the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21)
- Become as humble as a little child (Matthew 18:3-4; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17)
- Serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:32-40)
- Remove our offensive attributes (Mark 9:47)
- Enter in at the strait gate (Luke 13:23-30)
- Be born again; born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:3-5)
- Pass through tribulation (Acts 14:22)
- Be resurrected or “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:50-52)
- Be poor of the world, but rich in faith (James 2:5)
- Make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:5-11)
Book of Mormon references
- Seek to bring forth Zion in the latter days, endure to the end (1 Nephi 13:37)
- Believe in Christ, endure the crosses of the world (2 Nephi 9:18; 2 Nephi 25:13; Mosiah 15:10-11)
- Repent, forsake sins, don’t follow the lust of your eyes, cross yourself in all things (Alma 9:12, 39:9)
- Be reconciled to the will of God, come forth in the resurrection of life (2 Nephi 10:24-25)
- Repent, be baptized by water and the Holy Ghost, press forward with steadfastness in Christ, have a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all people, feast upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end (2 Nephi 31:17-21; 2 Nephi 9:23; Helaman 3:29-30)
- Repent, be baptized in His name, endure to the end, be made clean and found guiltless at the last day (3 Nephi 27:16-20; Mormon 7:7; Ether 4:18-19; Alma 34:26)
- Be born again; experience a change of heart (Mosiah 27:25-26; Alma 7:14)
- Have good desires (Alma 41:3-4)
- Come unto Christ like a little child, keep His commandments (3 Nephi 9:22; 11:33,38; 12:20)
- Repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus (Ether 5:5)
- Have charity (Moroni 10:21)
Lists can sometimes be dangerous. Human nature tends to reduce our responsibilities to checklists. This is efficient when we need to organize our tasks, but can be handicapping when it comes to the gospel. As opposed to the many other things we need to do from day to day, the gospel invites us to be or become. It’s directly opposed to the world in this way (and many others). You can never do enough, but you can be enough. We should use these scriptures to triangulate on what it is we need to be in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God.
The natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). This is our default state. Accordingly, Christ invites us to humble ourselves, repent from our sins, be baptized by water and the Spirit (thus having a change of heart, becoming like a little child), and then trust and follow His voice until we come unto Him. The result of this refining process is that we’re reconciled to Him through charity. Pure love is the end goal. You “do” in order to “become.” But once you have become, you then do it because that is what you are.
Simply put, as we turn away from ourselves and turn unto Him, He’ll begin to change our hearts. If we continue to be perfectly obedient to His voice, it will be a natural byproduct that we develop a heart like His. It is through this cleansing and refining process that we are made fit for the Kingdom. More than what we confess, what we become will ultimately determine if we “inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)