Tower To Truth Question:
19. Why do you baptize for the dead when both Mosiah 3:25 and the Bible state that there is no chance of salvation after death?
The passage in Mosiah 3:25, and any passages in the Bible which also imply there is no chance of salvation after death, are clearly addressed to those who have the opportunity to repent in this life. Those who have not, by no fault of their own, embraced the everlasting gospel in this life will have the opportunity to do so after death.
The critics are on thin ice with this attack—do they wish us to believe in a God so unjust that He would damn someone for all eternity, simply because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus?
Why wouldn’t members of the Church baptize for the dead, when the Bible teaches this idea? (See 1_Cor. 15:29.)
To learn more:Baptism for the dead
This is another of the most oft-debated issues in the Christian-Mormon dialog. And it is another issue where the LDS system, sadly, has so misinterpreted the Bible that one is hard-pressed to know how to start. But, start we must. Let’s begin with the LDS position, and see how their “scriptures” read.
Mosiah 3:24-27—And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.
Notice some things about this passage. Notice that in the Mormon system, salvation comes based on our works. …they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations. According to this passage, if our works are evil, we will be condemned. This is a total contradiction of 2nd Corinthians 5:10—For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Thing is, The Judgment Seat of Christ is not about “judging” us to determine where we spend eternity. If one is standing at the Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ, that man is already saved, and is destined for Paradise. 2nd Cor. 5:9 has a parallel passage in 1st Corinthians 3:13-15—the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Will the person be tested by fire? No, his works will be tested. But even if the works are burned up, the person will be saved. The passage in Mosiah is diametrically opposed to the truth of the Bible.
Next, in the verse from Mosiah, the person whose works are evil will suffer “a state of misery and endless torment…” I’m not sure which original Reformed Egyptian word was used here, but in most languages, “endless” means Endless. Without end. Perpetual. Never ending. So, these that are “evil” are in a state of endless torment.
From whence they can no more return. Again, the wording is very clear. They cannot escape the state they are in. “…they can no more return.” What else does it say about these? they have drunk damnation to their own souls. They have been condemned, consigned to a never-ending state of misery, a place they can never leave. Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit. God’s justice must be done, and in order for that justice to be done, these people must be tormented forever. If they are not, then God’s justice is denied. therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. Once these people have died. Once these people have been condemned. Once these people have drunk down the cup of God’s wrath. There is no more mercy for them. This is right in their very own Book of Mormon! Once this person dies, their chances for mercy have ended! They are consigned to eternal torment.
And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen. Now, look closely. It says their torment is “AS” a lake of fire, &c. They will suffer a fate that feels like a lake of fire, and they will burn forever and ever. No matter what kind of spin they try to put on this, there is no denying that the wicked, who deny Christ in this lifetime and do wicked works, will suffer endlessly, they will suffer by burning, and the smoke that is caused by their being burned will ascend forever. There are no conditions. There are no addendums. There are no escape clauses. There is no “Unless someone does something for them.” This is where the other LDS “scriptures” come in. Since Joseph Smith forgot to put anything in the BOM about baptism for the dead, it had to be added later on, in the other books he fabricated.
In their statement above, FAIR claims, “The passage in Mosiah 3:25, and any passages in the Bible which also imply there is no chance of salvation after death, are clearly addressed to those who have the opportunity to repent in this life. Those who have not, by no fault of their own, embraced the everlasting gospel in this life will have the opportunity to do so after death.” [emphasis mine]. Clearly? By whose reasoning? There is nothing in these passages from the Bible that say anything about whether the person “[had] the opportunity to repent in this life.” In fact, what do a couple of Bible passages tell us?
Hebrews 9:27—And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment… We are born, we live, we die, we are judged. Notice, the writer says “THE judgment.” We are judged worthy (by virtue of our faith in christ) or unworthy (by our rejection of Him).
Luke 16:25-26–“But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'” There is no way for the rich man to leave where he is.
So what does the Bible say about those who never hear the gospel? Romans 2:12, 14-15—12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law…14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them). Those who neve hear the gospel do have the law written on their hearts, although they do not acknowledge it comes from God. They have a conscience, and when they do the things in the Law, even though they have never heard the Law, that conscience carries the ame weight as the whole of the Law. As Paul said in the preceding chapter, so they are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
“The critics are on thin ice with this attack—do they wish us to believe in a God so unjust that He would damn someone for all eternity, simply because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus?” No, friend. FAIR is the one calling God unjust, because that is indeed what he does. That does not make God “unjust,” contrarily it makes Him perfectly just.
Romans 9:14-16, 19-23–14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy…19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory?
To say that God MUST give everybody a chance to hear the gospel is to command of God that He bend to the feeble whims of human “fairness.” If that’s what FAIR wants to do, then be my guest. I will rather believe in a God who has every right to condemn the whole lot of the human race for our years of rebellion against Him.
Now, as for this matte of “baptism for the dead.” Never has an entire doctrine, built upon such a shaky foundation, ever caused so many headaches. Even the greatest theologians, historians, expositors and commentators who have wrestled with this passage for years are not much closer to an answer now than any have been in the past. But we do know this much: it is NOT talking about baptizing living people in place of dead people so the dead people can go on to some higher “glory.” In fact, there is nothing–NOTHING–that ANYBODY can do for someone, once that person has died. they are dead, they have been judged. Period. Paragraph.
1st Corinthians 15:29–Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? Notice something here: Paul says, what will they do who are baptized for the dead…? If Paul had meant to say that christians can be baptized vicariously for anyone who died before, then it only stands to reason he would have said something like, what will those of us do who are baptized for the dead…? At any rate, this verse cannot mean what the LDS system claims it means, since baptism can only come after a person hears the gospel and believes–and only in this lifetime (See Acts 16:32-33).