He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.
(Joseph Smith-History 1:34)
The angel Moroni told Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon contains “the fulness of the gospel.” What does that mean?
Within the Book of Mormon, some version of this phrase appears multiple times:
- Lehi prophesied that, “after the Gentiles…received the fulness of the gospel,” the descendants of the Israelites would “come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer” (1 Nephi 10:14).
- His son Nephi experienced a vision in which he learned that the Bible, in its original form “contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord” (1 Nephi 13:24-28).
- Nephi subsequently explained to his disbelieving brothers that, “in the latter days…the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah [would] come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed” (1 Nephi 15:13).
- During the Savior’s visit to the American continent, He explained that God would bless the Gentiles in the future because of their belief in Him. But at some point in the future, “when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel,…behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.” At that time, the Father says, “I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel” (3 Nephi 16:10-12, italics added).
- The Savior reiterated this prophecy the following day, promising that the Father will remember His covenant with the house of Israel, will restore them to their promised land of Jerusalem, and will ensure that “the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them” (3 Nephi 20:28-30).
Ezra Taft Benson taught that “the fulness of the gospel” represents the complete set of doctrines we need to understand in order to receive salvation:
The Lord Himself has stated that 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 (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Chapter 9: The Book of Mormon).
President Russell M. Nelson has further clarified that the core doctrine of the gospel, and therefore the central message of the Book of Mormon, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ:
[The] mortal mission of the Lord—the gospel as He defined it—we know as the Atonement. The fulness of the gospel, therefore, connotes a fuller comprehension of the Atonement (“A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” General Conference, October 1999).
President Nelson asked a series of questions to illustrate how the principles taught in the Book of Mormon can bless us in practical ways:
Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon! It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power. He who fed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes—He who helped the blind to see and the lame to walk—can also bless you! He has promised that those who live by the precepts of this book “shall receive a crown of eternal life” (“A Testimony of the Book of Mormon,” General Conference, October 1999).
Today, I will be grateful for the fulness of the gospel as taught in the Book of Mormon. I will be grateful for the understanding the book gives me about the principles which enable me to receive the grace of God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will strive to internalize and apply the principles I have learned from the book in my daily life, so I can grow closer to God and receive His saving power.