Lisa asked why I believe that we, the latter-day church, are the Gentiles spoke of as eventually rejecting the “fullness of the Gospel”. She also wondered how a member who has been adopted into the house of Israel can still be considered a Gentile.
This is my reply:
I believe there will be many millions of faithful LDS when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and far more than that. I also believe that in most references to the “Gentiles” in latter-day scripture, that it is speaking of the latter-day church because we are non-Jews. In some cases, it is speaking of America specifically, and in some cases of the whole world of Gentiles. It takes some careful reading to sort it out.
One can be considered a Gentile and still be adopted into the house of Israel (by membership) because we are still not “Jews”. It is confusing, but it makes sense when you look at it as if you were a Jew living at the time of Christ when this distinction or class was coined. To them, all non-Jews are Gentiles regardless of other bloodline or spiritual affiliations because the other tribes were lost and comingled through the world, and they alone considered themselves to be pure Israelites.
Here are a couple quotes about whom the latter-day Gentiles actually are, and when the Jews will finally receive the Gospel (which signals the end of the Times of the Gentiles). I’ve underlined a few key points.
“We have heretofore identified the Jews as both the nationals of the kingdom of Judah and as their lineal descendants, all this without reference to tribal affiliation. And we have said, within this usage of terms, that all other people are Gentiles, including the lost and scattered remnants of the kingdom of Israel in whose veins the precious blood of him whose name was Israel does in fact flow. Thus Joseph Smith, of the tribe of Ephraim, the chief and foremost tribe of Israel itself, was the Gentile by whose hand the Book of Mormon came forth, and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have the gospel and who are of Israel by blood descent, are the Gentiles who carry salvation to the Lamanites and to the Jews.” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, p 233)
“It is to those who are not Jews that the Lord promised to give his gospel first in the last days. “In the latter days, when our seed”—now known as Lamanites—”shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years,” Nephi said, “and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then”—and this is to be in the glorious age of restoration in which we now live—”then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, [the Latter-day church] and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed.” This gospel shall come to them “by way of the Gentiles.” Why? “That the Lord may show his power unto the Gentiles,” Nephi continues, “for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel.” (1 Ne. 15:13-17.)
“We are those Gentiles of whom Nephi speaks. We have received in this age of restoration the fulness of the everlasting gospel. It is now beginning to go from us to the Lamanites and to the Jews. But the great day of the Lamanites and the great day of the Jews both lie ahead. In the full and true sense of the word, the day of their worldwide glory, the day of the triumph and glory of both the Lamanites and the Jews, in all nations—that day will be millennial.” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, p 238)
“Why will the Lord take the gospel from the unbelieving Gentiles? Jesus answers: “At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel”—he is speaking here more particularly of the United States of America, of the nation that has scattered the Lamanites, of the nation that esteems itself greater than any other nation—”and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”
“When will the Lord take the gospel from the unbelieving Gentiles? It will be when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, when he remembers the covenant made with his own people, when the hour for millennial glory has arrived. “And then . . . I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah p. 240-241)
And when the times of the Gentiles is come in [that is, speaking in retrospect, when the restoration of the gospel takes place], a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel but they receive it not.” That is, there are many in the dispensation of the fulness of times who refuse the glories and wonders of the Lord’s new and everlasting covenant. “For they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (D&C 45:24, 25, 28-30.) In the ultimate sense, it appears that the fulness of the Gentiles-the time when the gospel goes on a preferential basis to Jews and Lamanites-is millennial. (Robert L. Millet, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume 4, p. 111)
“We may observe that the times of the Gentiles are rapidly nearing their close by watching the signs of the times. One of the first signs that the days of the Gentiles are nearing their close was given when Palestine was turned over to Great Britain and a Jewish state proclaimed. Another indication is the fact that the Jews are beginning to believe in Christ. They have not yet reached the point where they are willing to receive him as their Redeemer, and they will not, only here and there an individual, until Christ comes as their Deliverer. [the Second Coming and Millennium].” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Restoration of all Things, p 164-165)
“It is part of the great plan that the Jews shall gather [to Jerusalem] in their unbelief and then our Lord will appear to them as spoken of by Zechariah. Then they will be fully converted, and not until then. However, there is a great work to be accomplished among the scattered remnants of Israel and the Lord has said:
“And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
“And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this Gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people [scattered Israel]. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.—III Nephi 21.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Restoration of all Things, p. 165)
From these quotes we may conclude two things. First, WE are the latter-day Gentiles, and second, the times of the Gentiles will not be fulfilled until the Jews accept Christ at the beginning of the Millennium.
© January 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.