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Latter-day scripture affirms that the Book of Mormon contains the “fullness of the Gospel” of Jesus Christ (D&C 20:9; 27:5). Some may wonder, since there are many notable Latter-day Saint teachings—such as pre-mortal existence, baptism for the dead, and eternal marriage—that are not discussed in the Book of Mormon, how it can be said to contain the fullness of the Gospel.1
While it is common today for Latter-day Saints to use the term gospel to refer to all Latter-day Saint teachings, a close reading of the Book of Mormon indicates that it has something very specific in mind. As explained in the Book of Mormon, the “gospel” and true “doctrine of Christ” refer to the way and means by which one must come unto Christ in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God. It is the teaching that when individuals (1) have faith in Christ, (2) repent of their sins, (3) demonstrate a willingness to take Christ’s name upon them and keep His commandments by being baptized with water and thereby joining His Church, that (4) God will pour out His Spirit upon them, cleansing them of all their sins and that (5) if they endure to the end in faith, (6) they shall be found guiltless before God at the last day and enter into the kingdom of God. This doctrine is taught repeatedly and with clarity in the Book of Mormon and is what is meant by the fullness of the Gospel (2 Nephi 31:4–21; Alma 33:22; 3 Nephi 27:13–22). The “good news” or “message” does not refer to every truth or teaching that has been revealed over the course of the Restoration or in the scriptural canon.
Although the Book of Mormon does not contain all restored teachings and truths, it does point to additional revelation and the need to continue to feast upon the words of Christ that will be revealed. After individuals are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit will continue to teach and guide them as they continue in faith, hope, and charity. As Nephi declared, the Holy Ghost will “tell you all things what you should do” (2 Nephi 32:3–5). In addition to teaching the Gospel in plainness and simplicity, Book of Mormon teachings invite us to look forward to additional precepts, truths, teachings, and even scriptures to be revealed in the Lord’s due time, “line upon line,” through God’s prophets by means of the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 27:10–11; 28:26–31; 29:8–14; 30:17–18; 3 Nephi 26:6–11; Mormon 8:12; Ether 4:13–16).
- 1. Marvin W. Cowan, Mormon Claims Answered, Revised edition (Marvin Cowan, 1989), 51.
See Book of Mormon Central, “What is the Doctrine of Christ? (2 Nephi 31:21),” KnoWhy 58 (March 21, 2016).
“The Book of Mormon Contains the ‘Fulness of the Gospel’,” FairMormon Answers, online at fairmormon.org.
Noel B. Reynolds, “The Gospel According to Nephi: An Essay on 2 Nephi 31,” Religious Educator 16, no. 2 (2015): 51–75.
Andrew C. Skinner, Third Nephi: The Fifth Gospel (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2012), 83–98.