While Nephi was being caught up to a high mountain to see his wonderful vision, as recorded in 1 Nephi chapters 11-14, his brothers were in their tent arguing about their father Lehi’s dream and what he had said to them regarding future events. Nephi walks in on this argument at the beginning of Chapter 15 and tries to explain to them the meaning of some of the things that Lehi had said.
Among other subjects, Nephi explained the meaning of the metaphor that had been used of an olive tree and branches being grafted into it. He explained that the olive tree represented the House of Israel (all the people who are descendants of Jacob/Israel from the Bible) and that the branches being grafted in represented the Gentiles (everybody else). Specifically, the metaphor referred to a time when the “fullness of the gospel” would come to the Gentiles who would in turn bring it to the House of Israel.
We are living in the period of time that was being described!
What is the fullness of the Gospel? It is the total compilation of information made available to us in the Bible and the Book of Mormon (the “two sticks” that are to be one in our hand as prophesied in Ezekiel 37:19). We are often asked whether the information in the Bible is sufficient for salvation. To the extent that one can intuit from the Bible the need for faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, it can be sufficient for salvation. However, consider just some of what is added by the Book of Mormon:
- A second witness of Jesus Christ as the savior of the world
- Specific instructions regarding baptism (3 Nephi 11)
- Specific instructions regarding not baptizing little children (Moroni 8)
- Detailed description of what happens to the soul after death (Alma 40)
- A history of the natives of the Americas that identifies them as part of the House of Israel
None of the above appears in the Bible, making that volume appear somewhat incomplete when standing alone as compared to the fullness of the Gospel represented by both books together!
For example, many Christian denominations today believe in baptism but perform it in many different ways. Why? Because the only information available to them is the basic baptism references in the Bible, which leave considerable room for interpretation. Since The Church of Jesus Christ has access to the full description of baptism (from the fullness of the Gospel), our baptisms feel like they could have been performed in the days of Christ and His disciples, as testified to by those who observe them — even people who are not members of our church!
In order to fulfill the prophecy referenced above, The Church of Jesus Christ today is taking action to present the fullness of the Gospel to the “native Americans,” the descendants of the people referenced in the Book of Mormon, so they can understand that they are part of the House of Israel and that God has a plan for them. The Native American Outreach Committee (NAOC) coordinates this effort for the Church.
It’s a great blessing to be living the fullness of the Gospel today. Take advantage of the privilege and the information that is available to us and share it with others so they can benefit also from the fullness of the Gospel!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.