The Fulness of the Gospel
“Where in that book of yours does it say anything about sleeping with a baby, huh? Nowhere.”
The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that The Book of Mormon
What exactly is meant by the phrase “fulness of the gospel”? Could it mean fulness of truth? Certainly not, as The Book of Mormon does not concern itself with scientific, historical, or other secular truth (imagine how big such a work, including a fulness of truth, would be!). Could it mean a fulness of religious truth? Certainly not that either, for “if [the things Jesus did] should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (see John 21:25).
So if the “fulness of the gospel” is not a fulness of all truth, or a fulness of religious truth, what does it mean? The Savior defines the gospel for us:
“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
“And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
“And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world….
“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end” (see 3 Nephi 27:13-19).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught that when the Lord said the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel it
“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.”
But the villager brings up a very valid point. The scriptures, including the Bible and The Book of Mormon, do not cover every possible contingency that we will face. What principles should we consider for these times when there is not specific direction? There are, in fact, two principles to keep in mind.
First, it’s not necessary that we be commanded in all things. The Lord tells us,
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
“But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-29).
John Taylor told us,
“Some years ago, in Nauvoo, a gentleman in my hearing, a member of the Legislature, asked Joseph Smith how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order; remarking at the same time that it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else. Mr. Smith remarked that it was very easy to do that. ‘How?’ responded the gentleman; ‘to us it is very difficult.’ Mr. Smith replied, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.'”
Knowing correct gospel principles, we can make good decisions even if our way is not explicitly laid out.
Further Guidance from God
Second, the very nature of the changing world in which we live necessitates further guidance from our Father in heaven. We face questions today that are different from any other time in history, or at least emphasized much more than they ever have been before. What of the concerns over gay marriage, abortion, or pornography? Media and communication is different, and the gospel is reaching different cultures than it has to this point. We desperately need “customized” instruction.
Are we not worthy of personal letters to us from a modern day Peter or Paul? I say we are worthy of such instruction.