A few weeks ago Barbara Walters of ABC’s 20/20 interviewed many different religious leaders for a special titled “Heaven”. Throughout the special Barbara continues to ask each religious leader who will go to Heaven and how they get there.
One of the individuals she interviewed was Elder William R. Walker who is a high ranking leader in the Mormon Church. Below is the segment of the program where she interviews him.
During the interview Mr. Walker said that Mormons don’t believe one can say “I believe in Jesus and you go straight to Heaven”. He went on to say that Mormons believe you will go to Heaven based on the kind of life you lived here, and if you have “kept the commandments of God”.
I don’t know of anyone who keeps the commandments perfectly or to the point their efforts alone would permit them into heaven, do you? Romans 3:10 tell us that “There is none righteous, no, not one:”. None of us truly do good on our own, not without Jesus being in the center of it, and being the motivator behind our good deeds. Without Him it’s all going to be filthy rags to God when we die, there’s no way we can make it to heaven on our own, nor can we earn our place in the presence of God.
As I read over and think about what Walker is saying to grieves my heart, because like so many Mormons he truly has no grasp on what being saved by grace is all about. In Romans 10 Paul speaks of Jesus being “the end of the law for righteousness” (v4) meaning there’s noting we have to do or can do for our salvation. Paul goes on to say that all those who call out to Jesus will be saved. (v 9-13). More specifically in verses 9 and 10 we read:
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.(Romans 10:9-10)
As she continues on with her interview Barbara asks about the three different heavens in Mormonism, she asked “And the better the life the higher point in heaven you go?” To which Mr. Walker replies “that’s correct”.
Below is a depiction of the Mormon’s “Plan of Salvation”
Of course the bible doesn’t speak of any different degrees of glory, or of heaven for that matter. Mormons believe we are all in a consistent state of progression and as Barbara said “the better the life” we live here the higher up we progress. Of course to get to the highest level according to Mormonism one must be baptized into the Church, received their endowments and accept Joseph Smith, along with the other men they call prophets.
She goes on to ask; “if you don’t accept Jesus will you go to heaven when you die”? Mr. Walker replied that he believes once everyone sees Jesus and is introduced to him they will accept him, and because of that all “mankind will make it into heaven”.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus speaks of those who will receive eternal life in heaven and those who will go to hell. The sheep are those who have accepted Him and trusted in Him alone for their salvation, they will be placed on His right. The goats are those who have rejected Him and His teachings, and they will be sent to His left.
Those who have rejected Jesus in this life will still reject Him in the next. God is holy and righteous, he’s so holy that He can’t allow the smallest amount of sin to be in His presence which is why the wicked will be sent to the left and to hell. Those who have spent their lives rejecting Him and blaspheming His name aren’t going to see Him and say “Ok I accept you.” They will hate Him forever for sending them away from Him and to the eternal punishment they deserve.
In Matthew 6: 13-14 Jesus talks about the two ways of life. The one way isn’t hard to find, but it leads to destruction. It’s easy to find false teachers who will tickle your ears with their words as they tell you all the things you want to hear.
The other way isn’t easy, but it leads to eternal life. Following the world or a false teacher takes no effort or thinking on your part, you just let them do your thinking for you. But if you choose to follow Jesus it takes some effort, in that you must be willing to be humble, to repent, and be submissive to His teachings.
Mormons are very adamant about you going to one of them when you have questions about their religion. In this interview we not only get to hear from a Mormon, but from one of their General Authorities, a guy who’s high up on the church’s totem pole.
At the beginning of the interview he was asked, what was the biggest misconception about Mormonism? He said the biggest one was that Mormon’s aren’t Christian. Now that you’ve had a chance to hear from a Mormon about what Mormonism teaches about heaven and how we get there I ask you; does what Mr. Walker say about his religion sound Christian to you?
Three degrees of heaven, second chance salvation, and a works righteous system, can you recall anywhere Jesus taught those things?
Melissa Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org