Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)



Mormonism maintains that the New Testament terms eternal life and everlasting life have different meanings. The same applies to Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit. In order to clear up any confusion, we will start off by dealing with these two sets of terms. Then we will carry on with the subject of this article, which is the gift of eternal life.


Eternal and everlasting are derived from the same Greek word, aionion. And Greek scholars give them both the same meaning. So does Strong’s Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Our English etymological dictionaries do likewise and also use them as synonyms for one another: If something is eternal, it is everlasting, and if it is everlasting, it is eternal. Added to that, the New Testament uses these terms interchangeably:

“… He that believeth on me [Jesus] hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47, KJV)
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13, KJV)

Mormonism’s idea of everlasting life is resurrection without the forgiveness of personal sins. They call this universal salvation. On the other hand, their individual or conditional salvation provides for forgiveness of personal sins and exaltation to godhood, which they call eternal life (c/f The LDS Version of Eternal Life). (Links to explanatory articles on Mormon salvation are listed at the end of this page.)


To put it briefly, the New Testament terms ghost and spirit have both been derived from the same Greek word, pneuma. They have exactly the same meaning, and are used interchangeably.

“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [pneuma].” (Matthew 27:50, KJV)
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [pneuma]” (Acts 7:59, KJV)

Ghost is an old fashioned term for the word spirit and is rarely used these days.

Both the above sets of anomalies came about because Joseph Smith used biblical terms for Mormon theology, but changed their meanings to fit in with his own ideas. So although Mormon doctrines may sound biblical, they are not.

The remainder of this article will discuss the biblical teachings on the gift of eternal life.


Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said:

“… If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and he would have given thee living water … Whosoever drinketh of this water [from the well] shall thirst again: … but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:10, 13-14, KJV)

“… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, KJV)

In John 4:26 Jesus told this same Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah. At that she fetched some of the men from the city so that they could hear what He had been telling her. Verse 40 says that they asked Jesus to stay with them, and that He did so for four days. As a result many Samaritans believed on Him.

Jesus spoke on the same subject again, in John 7:37-39, this time to the Jews:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost [same Greek word as Spirit] was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39, KJV)

The Bible is a spiritual book, and the above scriptures are teaching deep, spiritual truths. God is the source of the living water; Jesus is the intermediary (the supplier); and the Holy Spirit is the actual living water that provides eternal life within us.


The second birth is yet another way of explaining the gift of the Holy Spirit, (same Greek term as Holy Ghost), whom Christ illustrated in the scriptures above by the use of the term living water.

In John 3:3 and 5 Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again he cannot even see, let alone enter the kingdom of God (i.e. the spiritual kingdom over which God reigns). He goes on to say in verses 6 and 7 in the KJV: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, you must be born again.”

None of us had any say over our physical birth. It did not come about as a result of our own will or through our own power. Just so, our second (spiritual) birth, which the Bible says is from above, also comes about without any efforts or merit of our own, by the power and the will of God:

“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8, KJV)

The reality is that fallen mankind is dead to the things of the Spirit. And it is only when we respond to God’s call in our lives and the convicting power of His Spirit, that we realize our desperate need for Christ. And at that stage we trust in Him alone for salvation. (Sadly, not all respond to God’s call on them.)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV)
“No man can come to me (Jesus), except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” John 6:44, KJV)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37, KJV)
“That whosoever believeth in Him [Jesus] should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15, KJV)


We do not attain the new birth, salvation or eternal life because of any works, effort or merit of our own. They are all part of the free gift that God bestows upon us when we respond to His call. Not even our belief on or faith in Christ stems from ourselves. God also gives us the faith to trust in Christ when we respond to Him:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8, KJV)

When we receive the Holy Spirit (same term as Holy Ghost) He comes to stay:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ” (1 Corinthians 3:16, KJV)
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God …?” (1 Corinthians 6:19, KJV)

From them on we live in a new spiritual dimension, and a whole new world opens up to us. The Bible becomes exciting and meaningful. So much so, that we can hardly bear to put it down. And the Holy Spirit convicts, guides and encourages us, always pointing us to Christ, His grace and His sufficiency.

We know all too well that we don’t deserve any of this and we literally never get over the wonder of it all. It changes our lives forever and we cannot stop praising, worshipping and thanking the One who made it all possible.

You are welcome to write to the editor.

The following articles have a bearing on what we have been discussing:

This site is dedicated to helping Mormons understand the Bible.

Copyright © 2017 by Yvonne Gibbs. All rights reserved.

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