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Fullness of the Gospel
by Dean B. Farnsworth
The phrase "fulness of the gospel" refers to the whole doctrine of redemption demonstrated and taught in the ministry and life of Jesus Christ. It "consists in those laws, doctrines, ordinances, powers, and authorities needed to enable men to gain the fulness of salvation" (MD, p. 333).
Fulness is a term sometimes used in the scriptures to describe Christ himself, regarding both his stature as the Son of God and what he offered mankind. John, in bearing witness of the Savior, said, "And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). To receive the fulness the Savior offered is to accept him as the one who made salvation possible for all through the Atonement and to follow his teachings. Thus, to experience a fulness of joy requires one to keep God's commandments (D&C 93:27).
Christ himself declared the fulness of his gospel: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will , that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:38-40).
Latter-day Saints believe that every prophet, from whatever dispensation, prophesied of Christ. But the phrase fulness of the gospel implies that periods have occurred when the gospel was not on the earth in its fulness, either in doctrine or in ordinance. The Book of Mormon was described by a heavenly messenger to Joseph Smith in 1820 as "giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent," and "the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior" (JSH 1:34).
President Ezra Taft Benson explains: "The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:9). That does not mean it contains every teaching, every doctrine ever revealed. Rather, it means that in the Book of Mormon we will find the fulness of those doctrines required for our salvation. And they are taught plainly and simply so that even children can learn the ways of salvation and exaltation" (Benson, pp. 18-19).
Nephi1, a Book of Mormon prophet living centuries before the coming of Christ, indicated that the fulness of the gospel would not always be on the earth. In a vision of the Lord's future ministry, he saw that parts of the gospel would be altered and tampered with. Nephi wrote, speaking of the Bible, "When it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the Twelve apostles bear record." But men have taken away from the Bible "many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away," which resulted in a loss of the gospel (cf. 1 Ne. 13:24-29).
Latter-day Saints believe that this apostasy and corruption of the scriptures necessitated a later restoration of the fulness of the gospel through prophets called of God. This restoration began with the first vision of 1820 to the Prophet Joseph Smith and continued with subsequent revelations, including modern scripture and priesthood authority, which remain today in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[See also Restoration of All Things; Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; Basic Beliefs home page; The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page]
Benson, Ezra Taft. A Witness and a Warning. Salt Lake City, 1988.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2, Fullness of the Gospel
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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