As a member of the LDS Church, I believe it to be the only true church on the Earth. I know that phrase usually sparks unpleasant feelings among members of other churches, so I’d like to explain myself. Again my disclaimer is: Although I believe myself to be representative of an active LDS member, I do not claim to state the Church’s official position.
Unfortunately, many people assume the use of “only true church” implies that all Mormons believe that Mormons go to Heaven, and all others go to Hell. This not what I believe. I certainly would not make such a judgment, neither of LDS members, nor of those of other faiths.
When I say the “only true church“ I have singled out the LDS Church because it is fundamentally different than mainstream Christianity, though both share the key belief.
Jesus Christ established His church while on the earth. When He died, resurrected and finally ascended into heaven, he left that church in the hands of the Apostles, with Peter as the earthly head of the Church. Seventies were also called to lead the church as well as local leaders, including bishops. Christ continued to lead the Church by revelation to these leaders He had ordained.
However, the doctrine, authority, and organization were lost over time. Peter knew that this would happen, and both Paul and Jude saw it happening. This apostasy necessitated a restoration.
Just as He had always done, God called a prophet again to restore the doctrine and priesthood. Through Joseph Smith Jr., Christ again established His Church. That is why it is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The priesthood authority is essential. Only by this proper authority are ordinances, such as baptism, made valid eternally. The promises, or covenants, that we make with God in the saving ordinances must be made and kept for us to return to the Kingdom of Heaven. Simply being a member of this, or any other church, isn’t enough.
Many mistakenly think that Mormons believe in salvation by works alone, which simply isn’t true. The ordinances are necessary, but not sufficient for salvation. I know that Christ is our Savior. It is only through His grace - His Atonement - that we can overcome and be saved from our sins, after we have done all we can.
Membership in the only true church gives us access to the priesthood authority necessary for the ordinances Christ has established. Any authority outside of the Church of Jesus Christ is incomplete. However, church membership in no way guarantees salvation. We must make and keep the covenants with God to accept the Atonement and be saved.
This is the key, where Mormonism and mainstream Christianity agree: Christ is Savior and Redeemer. There is no other way or name given under heaven whereby men may be saved.
I know that God lives, and that His Son, Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know Christ has, and will continue to call prophets to lead His Church, to teach His people, and to perform ordinances by His authority. All that I or anyone knows of God and Heaven has come by revelation through prophets. Without them, we would have no Bible, no Book of Mormon, and no understanding of our eternal potential and worth to our Father. I know Our Father sent His Son to live, to die, and to live again for us. I bare this, my witness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.