In explaining how we can have eternal life, many Mormon’s use the “Life Preserver analogy”. The analogy goes like this:

A man decides to go swimming in a pool, and dives into the deep end. Only after he has hit the water, does he realize that he cannot swim. He tries to keep his head above water, but is rapidly starting to sink. He cries out for help, and a lifeguard throws a life preserver to just within his reach. All the man has to do to be saved is to reach out and grab ahold of the life preserver as the lifeguard pulls him to safety.

In this analogy, the man is all of us, and the water is sin. The lifeguard is Jesus who extends his free offer of eternal life to all of us (the life preserver). All that we must do to be saved is reach out and grab ahold of this salvation (good works), as Jesus pulls us to safety. In this way God’s gracious offer, combined with our works cooperate together for our eternal life.

But this is NOT what the Bible teaches us about eternal life!

The Bible teaches that we are all spiritually dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1).

So we are not treading water, but have sunk to the bottom of the pool, and the bubbles have stopped. Our works don’t save us, because they CANNOT SAVE US (John 6:63)! In fact, our works were what got us in this position in the first place (Isaiah 59:2)! A life preserver then, is absolutely useless to us.

What we need is for the lifeguard to dive into the water (Romans 5:8, Galatians 4:4-5, John 3:16), retrieve our lifeless body from the bottom, drag us to the surface and then perform CPR to revive us (Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13-14, 1 Peter 1:3). In this way, we are entirely dependent upon Jesus alone for our salvation, and our works provide no help at all.

This is the Christian gospel: Jesus accomplishes all the work necessary for you and me to be saved.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Verse References
  • Ephesians 2:1
  • John 6:63
  • Isaiah 59:2
  • Romans 5:8
  • Galatians 4:4-5
  • John 3:16
  • Ephesians 2:4-5
  • Colossians 2:13-14
  • 1 Peter 1:3
  • Ephesians 2:8-9

“What we need is for the lifeguard to dive into the water, retrieve our lifeless body from the bottom, drag us to the surface and then perform CPR to revive us. In this way, we are entirely dependent upon Jesus alone for our salvation, and our works provide no help at all.