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Have You Considered? The Two Standards Of The Gospel

Saints of the Restoration
“Have You Considered?”
 

Members of Restoration organizations often refer to the “three standard books” as the fullness of the gospel, these books being the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and a book of latter day revelation, usually the Doctrine & Covenants but for some the Book of Commandments. But do these books support the commonly held Restoration belief that there are three standard books?

 

Ezekiel 37:15-19 (identical in King James and Inspired Version) describes sticks that represent the writings of the tribe of Judah, or the Bible, and the tribe of Joseph, or the Book of Mormon:

 

15 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions; then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions;
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

 

Did you notice that these verses only mention two writings or books? Did you also notice that these verses mention that that these books will be joined into one stick, or a unified message and standard, to be followed? Ezekiel 37:20-28 goes on to describe the promises that will happen when the Bible and Book of Mormon are embraced as a unified message and the message of the gospel contained therein is believed wholeheartedly.

 

2 Nephi 2:19-23 testifies to the same message that the writings of the fruit of the loins of Judah, or the Bible, and the writings of the fruit of Joseph’s (thy) loins, or the Book of Mormon, shall grow together into a unified message and standard to be followed:

 

19 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write;
20 And that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together,
21 Unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins,
22 And bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days;
23 And also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.

 

Did you notice that this passage also only mentions two writings or books? And that this passage also mentions that these books will grow together into a unified message and standard to be followed?

 

Also of note is that the message in Genesis 50:31 in the Inspired Version is word-for-word identical to 2 Nephi 2:19-23; thus providing an additional testimony.

 

So, what does latter day revelation mention about the books that should be considered as the fullness of the gospel? Doctrine & Covenants 42:5a-b states:

 

5a. And again, the elders, priests, and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in which is the fullness of the gospel;

 

5b. and they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit; and the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith, and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.

 

Similarly, the Book of Commandments 44:13-14 states:

 

13. And again, the elders, priests, and teachers of this church shall teach the scriptures which are in the Bible, and the book of Mormon, in the which is the fullness of the gospel; and they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them; and these shall be their teachings.

14. And they shall be directed by the Spirit; which shall be given them by the prayer of faith; and if they receive not the Spirit, they shall not teach.

 

Even though these latter day references have some differences in wording, the message is the same that the Bible and Book of Mormon contain the fullness of the gospel and that these books are to be used by the Restoration priesthood as the foundation for teaching the gospel.

 

Did you notice how none of the scripture references above makes mention of latter day revelation as part of the fullness of the gospel? So why does the Restoration refer to the “three standard books” when only two of the books, the Bible and Book of Mormon, are considered within any of the scriptures as the standards for the fullness of the gospel?

 

Many in the Restoration ask what can be done to achieve unity, to further the work of God, and to set the church in order for the return of Jesus. The most important things the Restoration can do in that respect are:

 

  • Accept the fullness of the gospel as contained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon as the standards
  • Study the fullness of the gospel so that the word of truth can be rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Use these standards to judge whether the beliefs we hold within the Restoration are in harmony with the fullness of the gospel

If the Restoration will do these things and fully accept the condition of the promises given in the referenced scriptures, which condition is that the Bible and Book of Mormon are the standards for the fullness of the gospel, then these promises show that among those who are willing to believe:

 

  • a unity of faith can be achieved,
  • false doctrines can be confounded,
  • contentions can be laid to rest,
  • peace can be established among the believers, and
  • a full knowledge of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the covenants God made with the House of Israel can be obtained.

 

All of which will lead to the point where Zion can again be on earth.

 

Rare is the person in the Restoration who is willing to consider whether the beliefs they have grown up with, been taught by Restoration priesthood, and held onto dearly as “the rod of iron”, are actually consistent with the pattern in the fullness of the gospel. The Restoration priesthood and members have often perpetuated fables and old wives tales as the gospel; thus corrupting the saints and causing them to contend not for the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3) but to contend among themseves and for points of “doctrine” that do not lead to salvation of themselves or others.

 

The question left for each of us to consider is: Am I willing to accept the doctrinally sound message that the fullness of the gospel is contained in “two standard books”, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and give up the commonly held belief that latter day revelation is also a standard for the fullness of the gospel?

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