The Only True and Living Church

“The Only True and Living Church,” Topics and Questions (2023)

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Church and Gospel Questions

The Only True and Living Church

Seeking answers to our questions can draw us closer to Jesus Christ if we apply sound principles. Understanding how to receive revelation when seeking answers is important. See the topic “Recognize That Revelation Is a Process” to explore more tips on answering questions.


From the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel to the present, Church leaders have affirmed that all people are children of God. Our Heavenly Father loves and wants to bless all of His children.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not claim a monopoly on goodness and truth. There are countless people throughout the world who are examples of integrity and goodwill. And true and wholesome principles can be found in various religions and ethical systems throughout the world. Each of us has the right to believe and worship as our individual conscience leads us (see Articles of Faith 1:11).

At the same time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a unique commission from God to offer the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The Lord Himself declared it to be “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). The gospel message we share includes precious restored truths not found anywhere else about God and our relationship to Him. The Church also has the priesthood authority from God to administer the ordinances by which we enter into a covenant relationship with Him.

Latter-day Saints believe and testify that living the restored gospel brings lasting joy, heals the consequences of sin, and prepares God’s children to live again in His presence.

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Exploring Your Questions

How does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints view other religious traditions?

We believe God inspires good people of all faiths and beliefs. In 1978, the Church’s First Presidency declared: “The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.” We join with people of faith and goodwill throughout the world to strengthen communities, care for those in need, and do God’s work in the world.

Latter-day Saints value “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” in other churches and world religious traditions. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “We say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it.”

What does it mean that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the “only true and living church”?

The Church is guided by Jesus Christ, who reveals His will in our day to living prophets and other inspired leaders. Continuing revelation from the Savior allows the Church to be aligned with heaven and also to grow and progress—to be both a true and a living church. All living things grow and change. As President Russell M. Nelson said: “We’re witnesses to a process of restoration. If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come.”

The restored gospel found in the Lord’s Church provides knowledge and truth that isn’t found anywhere else. It offers individual access to the sanctifying power of God through the Holy Ghost and the salvation and exaltation of the family of God through priesthood ordinances. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:30, the Lord declared that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.”

Do you need to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be saved?

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God has prepared a way for all His children to obtain salvation through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. All will be saved from death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. A glorious vision shown to the Prophet Joseph Smith further teaches that virtually all of God’s children will inherit a kingdom of glory after the Resurrection.

These teachings affirm our loving God’s great power to save and His deep desire to do so. God offers us all that He has. But we must choose to accept these blessings. To receive exaltation, the fulness of glory that God offers, we must make covenants with Him, accept Jesus Christ and His gospel, strive to live according to Jesus’s teachings and example, and humbly repent of our sins when we fall short. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has authority from God to offer the covenants and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ that prepare us for the highest degree of glory in God’s celestial kingdom.

Of course, most of God’s children throughout the world’s history have never been members of the Church of Jesus Christ. In fact, most people who have lived on earth have not heard of Jesus Christ. Yet there are countless good people—in every age, religion, and culture of the world—who exemplify godliness in their lives. Each person will have an opportunity, in this life or in the next, to be taught the fulness of the gospel and to accept or reject its ordinances and covenants (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:30–35, 57–59).

Why doesn’t the Church accept the baptisms of other Christians?

Shortly after the Church of Jesus Christ was organized in 1830, prospective members who had been previously baptized wondered if they needed to be baptized again in the newly restored Church. In response, the Lord revealed through Joseph Smith that it was necessary to be baptized by the priesthood authority that He had restored. While the Church honors the righteous intent of other Christians in their previous baptisms, we follow this teaching today.

Does God have a “chosen people”?

Each of us is a beloved child of God. The scriptures teach that God makes covenants with His children to invite them into an eternally binding relationship with Him. From the Bible, we learn that God established His covenant with Abraham, declaring that through Abraham’s family all the world would be blessed (see Genesis 17:1–7; 22:17–18). This covenant was renewed with the children of Israel, Abraham’s descendants (see Genesis 28:10–15). Although people at different times throughout history have understood this covenant to be limited to a specific lineage, the Lord revealed to His Apostles that “God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

The Restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith was a renewal of God’s everlasting covenant in the last days. Anyone who chooses to enter into a covenant with the Lord by proper authority is part of His covenant people. As God told Abraham, “As many as receive this Gospel shall be … accounted thy seed.” As a result of choosing to follow Jesus Christ, they become “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [preserved] people.”

What are the Church’s views on religious freedom?

Our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation depends on our ability to choose for ourselves, making religious freedom a core principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Latter-day Saints have valued religious liberty since the early days of the Church. Joseph Smith’s experience as the victim of persecution and violence taught him to stand up for religious freedom, not only for Latter-day Saints but for all people. He urged the Saints to “[thrust] from us every spirit of bigotry and intolerance towards a man’s religious sentiments.” He taught that “the inalienable right of man being to think as he pleases [and] worship as he pleases” was “the first law of everything that is sacred.”

Church leaders today affirm the importance of allowing all people to “worship how, where, or what they may.” Speaking to all people of faith, President Dallin H. Oaks urged: “With the love and mutual respect taught by divine commandments, we need to find ways to learn from one another and to reinforce the common commitments that hold us together and promote stable pluralistic societies. We should walk shoulder to shoulder along the path of religious freedom for all, while still exercising that freedom to pursue our distinctive beliefs.”

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