And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
We are given, by virtue of the Book of Mormon, insight into the meaning of this verse in the New Testament. Christ taught those at Jerusalem that they were not the only ones who were of the House of Israel. After the Savior finished teaching the Nephites that which He taught His followers in Jerusalem, He elaborated on the meaning of these ‘other sheep.’
But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.
And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them.
And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (3 Nephi 15:19-21)
It was because of the iniquity of those in Jerusalem that they were not told of these other tribes. The twelve disciples of the Savior were given the knowledge that there were others beyond them who were to receive a visit from Him.
AND verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. (3 Nephi 16:1)
We learned that Christ was to visit these other sheep after His sojourn with the Nephites. That they, no doubt, would also record their experiences with the risen Lord. Is it because of our iniquity that we, ourselves, do not know of these other sheep? Have we not been told that we would receive these records if we were ready/righteous? Where are they?
Christ taught the Nephites that the record of this scattered people will be made available to the seed of others of the house of Israel, who were scattered,
And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer. (3 Nephi 16:4)
I would submit that we, today, could take advantage of this same promise: If we ask the Father, we will receive a knowledge, by the power of the Holy Ghost, of the existence of the progeny of those to whom the Lord spoke, as well as those others who were led away. We have not received this information collectively, but I would expect this could be received individually.
We also learn in this passage that it is through the Gentiles that the remnants of these scattered members of the House of Israel will receive this knowledge. This idea is reaffirmed in several places in the Book of Mormon.
And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive-tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” ( 1 Nephi 10:14)
We also find this later in the same narrative in first Nephi.
And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—
And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. (1 Nephi 15:13-14)
The fulness of the Gentiles is noted in these passages. The Gentiles, the same ones who fought against the mother Gentiles to establish this land of freedom would receive the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon was “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.” (Title Page) Of these three groups, to which do you belong?
I would suggest that most who read this should consider themselves Gentiles. This is the Gentile church, which received the gospel of the Messiah through the restoration. We are blessed with a knowledge of the fulness of the gospel.
And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. (3 Nephi 16:6)
We, again, are blessed to receive a confirmation through the Holy Ghost of these things. Who else could the Lord be talking about? WE are the recipients of the fulness of the gospel as contained in the Book of Mormon; we are the ones who are promised that we can receive a testimony of these things in and through the Holy Ghost.
Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them. (3 Nephi 16:7)
In this latter day, are we the believing Gentiles or the unbelieving house of Israel?
For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel. (D&C 42:39)
Do you find yourselves among the rich Gentiles who have embraced the gospel or are you among the poor of the house of Israel?
In the dedication of the Kirtland temple, Joseph Smith characterized our situation in this way:
Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles. (D&C 109:60)
In the context of the Book of Mormon, and, as cited here in the Doctrine and Covenants, are we not these ‘believing Gentiles?’ Are we not these Gentiles who have received the fulness of the gospel through the Book of Mormon? Are we not the ones, as Gentiles, who are supposed to take the message of the gospel to those who are of the house of Israel?
Now, returning to the Book of Mormon, we can read more regarding the Gentiles.
But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them; (3 Nephi 16:8)
How can we accept this reference to the ‘unbelieving of the Gentiles’ if we do not have the ‘believing of the Gentiles?’ It is here we find that those who did not believe in the restoration; those who did not receive a confirmation in and through the Holy Ghost are responsible for the scattering of the house of Israel in this land.
And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them— (3 Nephi 16:9)
The events which transpired were to, one, stand as a blessing to the Gentiles, as they came to possess the land and , two, a judgment against those who were of the house of Israel who were smitten because of their unbelief.
But, what is to become of these Gentiles, both believing and unbelieving?
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, 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. (3 Nephi 16:10)
The Gentiles, both believing and the unbelieving, are prophesied to sin against the gospel and reject the fulness of the gospel.
How does one ‘sin’ against the gospel? I would suggest that the sin comes from accepting membership in His church but not seeking to understand, and receive a confirmation on what is the gospel as defined in the scriptures. Could it be this same reason that we are still under condemnation?
And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— (D&C 84:55-57)
What is the new covenant described here? I would suggest that it is none other than the covenant we make when we receive the gospel.
Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old. (D&C 66:2)
Here the Lord equates the everlasting covenant with the fulness of the gospel. Participation in the glories that are to be revealed to us is contingent on the reception of this everlasting covenant which is the fulness of the gospel. We are told in the history of Joseph Smith that the fulness of the everlasting gospel and covenant is found in the words of the Savior to the Nephites ( Joseph Smith – History 1:34)
The Lord, Himself, defines this gospel in the 27th chapter of third Nephi. He came to draw all men unto Him. The last verses of this discussion are repeated here:
And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.
And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; (3 Nephi 27:18-21)
This covenant has us repenting and coming unto Christ. He, in turn, will sanctify us through the Holy Ghost.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, we find the Lord rehearsing, again, the definition of His gospel:
Yea, repent and be baptized, every one of you, for a remission of your sins; yea, be baptized even by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and remember that they shall have faith in me or they can in nowise be saved; (D&C 33:11-12)
Both these baptisms are essential to our salvation, as was conveyed to the Lamanites by Mormon.
And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. (Mormon 7:10)
It is through this baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost that we receive a remission of our sins (see 2 Ne. 31:17) and are sanctified. This is the everlasting covenant, even the fulness of the gospel. This is the two-way covenant that we are called to make in order to be numbered with his people.
Now let me return to the discussion of the verses in third Nephi. How will we, as Gentiles, reject the fulness of the gospel? I would suggest that by rejecting the true meaning and process associated with the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost as it pertains to the fulness of the gospel, we are rejecting the fulness of the gospel. If we reject the scriptural definition of this sanctification through baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, we are rejecting the fulness of the gospel. It is incumbent upon each of us the study and understand the meaning of the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon was expressly delivered to us in this latter day so that we could be given the chance to receive this fulness.
In third Nephi, chapter 16, verse 10, we read that, not only will we, Gentiles, reject the fulness of the gospel, but that we will ‘be lifted up in the pride of [our] hearts above all other nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and deceits, and of mischief’s, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret combinations.’ This speaks to all Gentiles, but one must ask the question. Are we as the ‘believing’ of the Gentiles guilty of these same things?
Do we have pride? Do we practice lyings and mischief’s and hypocrisy? Do we practice priestcraft and whoredoms and secret combinations? This prophecy suggests that we do. If so, then the outcome is the loss of the fulness of the gospel; the Lord states that he will take it from among us.
Does that mean that we will lose the ability to receive a remission of our sins through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost? Is that true individually as well as collectively?
To avoid this situation, we must follow the Lord’s admonition found in this passage:
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.
And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.
But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel. (3 Nephi 16: 13-15)
We have an opportunity to return and repent. If we do so, we can be numbered with the house of Israel. How can we return if we were never there? If we choose not to repent, we will be treated as the salt that has lost its savor. This has direct connotation to the loss of the covenant and the gospel.
When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;
They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor, behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. (D&C 101:39-40)
The scriptures warn us against being complacent; we should not be at ease in Zion. The scriptures warn us that we are under condemnation; we should individually and collectively seek to remove this burden. The scriptures warn us that, because of our pride and practices, we are to lose the fulness of the gospel and its covenant. If we are to regain that which is lost, we must take these warnings to heart, repent and seek the Lord.
We must all cast off our sleepy rituals and awaken to the duty that must be ours. We must seek in the scriptures the true meaning of the fulness of the gospel. We must each be willing to approach the Father for the knowledge and confirmation of our path. We must, collectively, be willing to make the same covenants as did the people of King Benjamin. We must prepare ourselves to be a Zion people, individually then collectively.
What think ye?