The Fullness of the Gospel


Since the warning is that if we, “the gentiles” reject the fullness of the gospel it shall be taken away from us, let us consider what the phrase means.

Joseph Smith taught that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel. (D&C 20:9, D&C 27:5, D&C 35;12, 17, D&C 42:12). Yet, there are many principles that we presently believe and practice that are not taught in the Book of Mormon. Among these are temple covenants, baptism for the dead, salvation for the dead, eternal marriage, the three degrees of glory, and several others. Clearly, the “fullness of the Gospel” can exist without these apparently missing doctrines.

Elder McConkie made this observation:

The fulness of the gospel consists in those laws, doctrines, ordinances, powers, and authorities needed to enable men to gain the fulness of salvation. Those who have the gospel fulness do not necessarily enjoy the fulness of gospel knowledge or understand all of the doctrines of the plan of salvation. But they do have the fulness of the priesthood and sealing power by which men can be sealed up unto eternal life. The fulness of the gospel grows out of the fulness of the sealing power and not out of the fulness of gospel knowledge. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 333.)

Gospel fullness does not flow from knowledge of gospel principles alone, thus explaining how the Nephite faithful could have the fullness, yet apparently not understand, or at least not record their understanding of, the principles noted above. The fullness of the gospel grows out of the “fullness of the sealing power”.

Here is another term to ponder: the “fullness of the sealing power”. We understand what the sealing powers were restored by Elijah to Joseph Smith in April of 1836. (D&C 110), and include:

  • Sealing power (TPJS, 330)
  • Power to perform temple ordinances (TPJS, 330)
  • Power to perform eternal marriage (TPJS, 330)
  • Keys necessary to perform work for the dead (TPJS, 330)
  • Authority of the “fullness of the Priesthood” (D&C 110:12-16, WJS, 303)
  • Keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood. (WJS, 305-306)
  • Operation and availability of Holy Spirit of Promise

(TPJS Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, WJS Words of Joseph Smith)

While not directly restored by Elijah, the Holy Spirit of Promise flows from the covenants of the priesthood which Elijah did restore. The Holy Spirit of Promise seals and ratifies those ordinances in this life and the next.

Elder McConkie described it this way:

To seal, in the scriptural sense, is to ratify, to justify, and to approve. Any act that is approved by the Lord, any act that is ratified by the Holy Ghost, any act that is justified by the Spirit, is one upon which the Holy Spirit of Promise places a divine seal. “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations”—in short, all things—must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, if they are to have “efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead.” (D&C 132:7.) All that falls short of this divine approval passes away and has no eternal virtue. Among other things, this provision prevents anyone from gaining an unearned blessing. (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 273.)

When a person receives the full sealing and ratification of all the ordinances of the gospel, then that person will have experienced the “fullness of the sealing power”. When a person is thus blessed, they will have received every blessing possible for a mortal to receive, including the blessings associated with Zion, and if appropriate to their life mission, translation.

The term “fullness of the Gospel” clearly suggests that there is also a lesser portion of the Gospel which God dispenses among righteous people, with those doctrines and principles which constitute the “fullness” being added when worthiness allows. We have already discussed the principle of the lesser and greater portion of the word. (See The Lesser Portion and The Greater Portion by clicking on the links).

The lesser portion constitutes those doctrines and principles which bring a person through the preparatory Gospel of Jesus Christ and prepares them to seek and obtain the greater blessings. Those principles which constitute the greater portion are not often taught openly, but (at least in our dispensation) remain “mysteries of godliness” which must be found in a personal quest through righteousness and personal revelation.

Hyrum Andrus makes this observation about the fullness of the gospel.

The fulness of the everlasting gospel, on the other hand, is the higher program of salvation which is concerned with developing in man the divine truths, powers, gifts, and blessings of the Holy Spirit until he is able to partake of the divine nature, or glory, of God and make his calling and election sure to a fulness of glory in the resurrection. . . . The earthly program of this higher phase of the plan of life and salvation is consummated when man receives the fulness of the sealing power of the priesthood. (Hyrum L. Andrus, Principles of Perfection [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970], 17.)

Notice that Brother Andrus defines the fullness of the gospel as beginning at partaking of the divine nature, or glory of God, making your calling and election sure, and qualifying for a full glory in the resurrection. He then makes the observation that all these higher and “greater portion” blessings flow from the “fullness of the sealing power”.

We may, from all these various principles quoted above, draw this tentative portrait of what constitutes the “fullness of the gospel”. It is that man may seek and obtain every promised blessing that any mortal has ever received by obedience to law, partaking of the fully glory and power of the Priesthood, enjoying the fulfillment of every covenant, and thus “partake of the divine nature” and seek and obtain the supernal promise of having their calling and election made sure, and thereafter obtain a personal audience with their Savior, which is the gateway into Zion.

Thus, rejecting the fullness of the gospel consists of failing, for any reason, to claim the full glory and power available to us. This failure could constitute a willful rejection, but much more profoundly, it would more likely constitute a simple failure to take seriously what is being offered by the priesthood, and then by ignorance, rather than willfulness, failing to partake of these supernal blessings, including having one’s calling and election made sure and much more.

In this light, the condemnation of D&C 84:54-56 makes frightening sense.

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

(D&C 84:54-56)

Brother John

Next Un-Blog: Times of the Gentiles Fulfilled

© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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16 Responses to The Fullness of the Gospel

  1. Eva says:

    Dearest Brother John and Brother Jimmy from Japan,

    I am comforted by both your experiences and your words through which I have felt the Holy Spirit bear witness to me of the truth. Thank you so much for taking time to set my mind at ease. I am going to take your council and act upon it, I see the wisdom.

    I find it miraculous that I live here in Australia and last week I received a parcel in the mail from my brother in the States, in that parcel is the exact book you both mentioned “The Triumph of Zion” I had not requested this book, yet my brother was prompted to send it and it arrived the very week, even the very day I needed it.The Lord works in miraculous ways, Praise be to His name.

    I thank you both and everyone else in our unblogfamily
    Love you all

    Like

  2. cheyenne brashear says:

    Brother John, I have a question for you. What if a person is desirous and striving towards obtaining the fullness of the gospel at the time when the fulness of the gentiles comes in, but hasn’t obtained it yet; Do they lose the oportunity?, or because of their desires, will they still have the chance?

    As for me, I am desirous to come to Christ every day, but I also have a lot of profound weaknesses that makes me think that it will be awhile before I obtain this fullness. My desires for these things are so great however that it makes me feel like I have a constant fire burning in me that can’t be extinguished. Anyway, I was just curious what your thoughts are on this subject. Thanks. Brother C.

    Like

    • No, someone won’t lose the chance because completing our evolution to Zion stature is exactly what this period of time is set aside for! Such a person is exactly in step with the times. It would be much better if it was done before, and you were inside Zion doing the gathering, rather than outside waiting for someone to come and rescue you. But, it works both ways, and is a wonderful conclusion to a life’s work.

      You are much more powerful than you think. Like every one else, just keep obeying the Holy Spirit and walking in the light, and it will happen on schedule.

      Like

  3. jimmy tetuanui says:

    To Eva

    Happy New Year to you brother Pontius. Along with all the other blogers, I’d like to thank you very much for your writings and teachings. If you’d permit, I’d like to add something to your response to sister Eva. When I first read your book TTOZ, everything began to change for me. In our home I’m the one who loves reading Church books and seeking to understand the ‘mysteries’ of God Then, after learning about the Light of Christ, I began to have experiences after experiences. I started refering to spiritual thoughts/ideas/promptings to my wife by saying: The LOC told me this and that…and after a few months of watching me (I’m trying to say this in a non-prideful manner) having experienes after experiences (most of them through very small ways), my wife began to trust in those ‘the LOC told me this and that’ expressiosns. She now uses it as much as I do. In a word, she has caught up with me because as brother Pontius said, she began to see the tremendous impact it had on me and so her faith increased in those things which now she has fully embraced. But at first, I did feel ‘lonely’ with all the experiences I was having but I believe it was the fact that I took the time to talk about them with my wife consistently that without me realizing it at first, she began to ‘catch’ the principles. What I am trying to say is that my own personal experience is a witness of what brother Pontius just told you. Your husband will ‘wake up’ and will ‘catch up’ with you. Just keep sharing your experiences with him so that his faith will increase.

    Jimmy, from Japan

    Like

  4. ken h says:

    Thank you John for posting this blog. In my ward we had our lesson on 2 Peter about striving to have our callings and elections made sure last year as everyone did in gospel doctrine class. I used many of the terms and phrases you mentioned here as a class member and so many people were not interested in any of it. Many claimed that these glorious blessing were reserved for the next life or being temple worthy and sealed together as a married couple in the temple was all that was needed to gain eternal life. My heart pained to hear such things, especially after reading these wonderful blogs and comments for those here striving to receive “the fulness of the gospel” with the great and marvellous blessings that you have explained so well. I know I need a lot more help in gaining the blessings of the fulness myself. But it was so sad to hear people who should be motivated to even desire to want them now but are content to stay inside their comfort zones. I am trying not to appear self righteous for I know myself well enough to know as I said before I need a lot of additional help. As I have said a number of times, John, your writings have been very inspiring to me. My desire to have those wonder blessings in this life has increased a thousand fold. Thanks again.

    ken h

    Like

    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Ken,

      Your comments are always insightful. I think of it as evolutionary, rather than sad. Even the fact that the words came up in a class, or in a lesson manual – whether they get it right or not – is evolutionary, and indicates a great period of growth now occurring. Just saying the words will invite the Holy Spirit to work in them to bring them a true understanding. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of being led by the Holy Spirit, and constant revelation, and being Born Again, we not spoken of or in the manuals. Now, it is everywhere. The Lord has His holy hand on the tiller, and we are steering a true course.

      JMP

      Like

  5. Thank you again Brother John for these great insights. When a husband and wife have obtained the fulness of the priesthood, and translation, if appropriate to their life’s mission, is that gift bestowed upon both the husband and his wife?

    Like

    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Elder Stroud,

      I’m going to play the “I Don’t Know” card on this one. The scriptures seem to point to individual paths. As an example, we don’t read of Sister John the Beloved being translated. However, your assertion is of course true, that if it is appropriate to their life’s mission those blessings will certainly be bestowed.

      In my book “Journey to Zion” which I am about to publish, Spencer talks about couples being called as members of the 144,000 to go and gather in the elect at the beginning of the millennium. He isn’t an authoritative source, of course, but it is interesting, and relevant to your question.

      Thank you for your service, and for being a part of the Un-Blog,

      Brother John

      Like

  6. Jared says:

    You might like this: “Priests of the Most High God” by Donald E. Goff. In this book he provides a comprehensive bank of quotes on this subject.

    If I understand this correctly, we receive the fullness of the gospel when we receive the fulness of the priesthood–an event simultaneously compounded with several others.

    Recognition and a full realization of this grand destination is what God most desperately wants us all to achieve. This is what gives both Him and us a fulness of joy. Thus we see that a fullness of all goodness is all bound together into one eternal joy.

    Jared

    Like

  7. Eva says:

    Brother John,
    Thank you for taking the time to teach us. Please can you tell me if all these blessings are for women as well. What if their husbands are not so enthusiastic about this further light and knowledge? Can a woman progress beyond a the point where her husband is at or do we have to wait for him to lead?

    I hunger and thirst for this light and knowledge but I dont know if my husband desires the same at this point. He would rather wait for the millenium. I dont know if I am supposed to sit and wait for him, encourage him more or seek the Lords presence myself. Are women entitled to same Priesthood, blessings and gifts? I have had the most spiritual experiences and a beautiful rebirth, I don’t want to loose this feeling waiting…

    Also, what if a husband doesn’t want to have the “fullness” in priesthood and gospel. What if he says then it would cause more accountability and more trials and that we should remain at the same simple knowledge as our children so they are not left behind?

    I feel what ever light and knowledge we receive will be added to/or cover/bless our children as they are born into the covenant, until such time they can receive these things themselves.

    I am sorry to bother, my mind is really in emotional over drive today.

    I hope you are feeling well dear brother.

    Love
    Eva

    Like

    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Eva,

      I have answered this question many times, so I know it is a question that is dear to the hearts of the sisters. I will give you the RD condensed version, and if you want more, there is a section in “The Triumph of Zion” and in this Blog last year on this subject. Ask again and I’ll point them out.

      We learn in the Temple, that women have the same privileges and the same path as men. The only thing brethren have that is different is the obligation to preside, (which is a duty and obligation most of us would be glad to share). Other than that, there is no spiritual difference. There are many role differences, but not spiritual differences in my opinion.

      This is my opinion, and not a church position I have ever heard, but I firmly believe that women should NOT wait for their husbands. I think you should reach out there and claim every blessing and obtain every privilege and seek the face of the Lord with all of your soul.

      You won’t be leaving your husbands behind – you will be taking them on a ride they will never forget. Instead of being married to someone who supports and enables their spiritual sleepiness, they will suddenly find themselves living with a loving woman of power, who walks by revelation, who calls down blessings and miracles, whose prayers are powerful and visibly answered. You won’t be leaving him behind, you’ll be giving him a powerful view of righteousness, and an powerfully visible reason to upgrade his own life.

      No woman or man of righteousness would try to force their spouse into greater righteousness. They would honor his or her agency, and testify by their joy and their righteous walk of these things. They would be a joy to live with, and a light shining on the true path. Can you imagine living with a spouse who speaks by the Spirit, who knows every step correctly, who honors and loves you, but who is your spitiual example every day of your life? This is powerful stuff. Who could resist it?

      My guess is that they will either ignore you – which is fine because nothing has changed for them, but it certainly has for you. They might resist you and try to stop your growth – which is fine because the opposition must arrise somewhere, and no person should be willing to trade their eternal life to follow someone into a lower kingdom. Or, they will join you – and that is just fine too.

      So, in my mind, it is a WIN WIN event.

      Go forth and glow, dear sisters!

      Brother John

      Like

    • Sharon says:

      Eva, this scripture came to my mind as I was reading your post:

      “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” – 1 Corinthians 7:14

      I pray that your husband will soon come to desire the fullness of the gospel.

      Like

  8. James says:

    Happy New Year, Brother John and all! I’m coming to the conclusion from your writing and my own personal study that unless we as members of His church each personally seek and embrace the greater portion, we will not possess a significant advantage before God over any other individual or organization devoted to good works. The true power of the priesthood and its purposes will never be realized, which is that we each come unto Christ.

    I used to really like the game show Family Feud with Richard Dawson. If we played that game with church members generally, and posed the question, “Name something you do to come unto Christ”. Chances are the surveys would come back: #1 Get baptized, #2 Prayer, #3 Attend Church, and other things like service, scripture study, go to the temple, etc. All good answers.

    However, if Richard Dawson were to host his game show in Zion and pose the same question, “Name something you do to come unto Christ”. I suspect the surveys would come back with such things as:
    Bath His feet with my tears
    Be embraced in the arms of His Love
    Stand in His presence
    Receive instruction and a ministry from Him
    View and comprehend all of creation with Him

    The Zion people would be members of the same Church as our members generally. They would have also done all those things the members generally considered as actions that bring one to Christ. The difference is that the Zion people wouldn’t see merit in the works alone, but would take literally, rather than lightly, the invitation to Come Unto Christ. By hearkening to the voice of His spirit and seeking to do His will in all things, they would inevitably find themselves in His presence, and never again be satisfied by anything less.

    James

    Like

    • John Pontius says:

      James,

      I really loved your reply. It made me laugh and nod in agreement. However, it is also my position that the church and its mission is exactly on course. It is we the people who must evolve, and that evolution is also on schedule I believe. As I go around and give firesides and meet people, I am constantly meeting people to whom the Holy Spirit has already taught these things you mentioned. They are already striving forward. All I’m doing is giving them a second witness by my words, that they are not alone in this quest.

      Thanks,

      John

      Like

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