Chapter 2: The Gospel Defined

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 14–20


The world knows President Brigham Young as a great colonizer who directed the transformation of a desert wilderness into a beautiful habitation. More important, he was a profound teacher of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ who inspired the early Saints to live the well-defined doctrine of a religion that assures everyone an opportunity to return to the presence of God.

Teachings of Brigham Young

The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses a system of laws and ordinances that leads to salvation.

Our religion is nothing more nor less than the true order of heaven—the system of laws by which the gods and the angels are governed. Are they governed by law? Certainly. There is no being in all the eternities but what is governed by law (DBY, 1).

The Gospel of the Son of God that has been revealed is a plan or system of laws and ordinances, by strict obedience to which the people who inhabit this earth are assured that they may return again into the presence of the Father and the Son. The laws of the Gospel are neither more nor less than a few of the principles of eternity revealed to the people, by which they can return to heaven from whence they came (DBY, 1).

When we talk of the celestial law which is revealed from heaven, that is, the Priesthood, we are talking about the principle of salvation, a perfect system of government, of laws and ordinances, by which we can be prepared to pass from one gate to another, and from one sentinel to another, until we go into the presence of our Father and God (DBY, 130).

We may receive the truth, and know, through every portion of the soul, that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; that it is the way to life eternal (DBY, 90).

Our religion, in common with everything of which God is the Author, is a system of law and order. He has instituted laws and ordinances for the government and benefit of the children of men, to see if they would obey them and prove themselves worthy of eternal life by the law of the celestial worlds (DBY, 1).

The Lord has not established laws by which I am compelled to have my shoes made in a certain style. He has never given a law to determine whether I shall have a square-toed boot or a peaked-toe boot; whether I shall have a coat with the waist just under my arms, and the skirts down to my heels; or whether I shall have a coat like the one I have on. Intelligence, to a certain extent, was bestowed both upon Saint and sinner, to use independently, aside from whether they have the law of the Priesthood or not, whether they have ever heard of it or not (DBY, 63).

You know that it is one peculiarity of our faith and religion never to ask the Lord to do a thing without being willing to help him all that we are able; and then the Lord will do the rest. I shall not ask the Lord to do what I am not willing to do (DBY, 43).

Salt lake temple contruction, 1880's

The Salt Lake Temple in the 1880s. The Saints felt a great desire to build a temple to their God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.

All truth is for the salvation of the children of men—for the benefit and learning—for their furtherance in the principles of divine knowledge; and divine knowledge is any matter of fact—truth; and all truth pertains to divinity (DBY, 11).

Be willing to receive the truth, let it come from whom it may; no difference, not a particle. Just as soon receive the Gospel from Joseph Smith as from Peter, who lived in the days of Jesus. Receive it from one man as soon as another. If God has called an individual and sent him to preach the Gospel that is enough for me to know; it is no matter who it is, all I want is to know the truth (DBY, 11).

“Mormonism,” so-called, embraces every principle pertaining to life and salvation, for time and eternity. No matter who has it. If the infidel has got truth it belongs to “Mormonism.” The truth and sound doctrine possessed by the sectarian world, and they have a great deal, all belong to this Church. As for their morality, many of them are, morally, just as good as we are. All that is good, lovely, and praiseworthy belongs to this Church and Kingdom. “Mormonism” includes all truth. There is no truth but what belongs to the Gospel. It is life, eternal life; it is bliss; it is the fulness of all things in the gods and in the eternities of the gods (DBY, 3).

In a word, if “Mormonism” is not my life, I do not know that I have any. I do not understand anything else, for it embraces everything that comes within the range of the understanding of man. If it does not circumscribe every thing that is in heaven and on earth, it is not what it purports to be (DBY, 2).

I want to say to my friends that we believe in all good. If you can find a truth in heaven, earth or hell, it belongs to our doctrine. We believe it; it is ours; we claim it (DBY, 2).

[The gospel] embraces all morality, all virtue, all light, all intelligence, all greatness, and all goodness. It introduces a system of laws and ordinances (DBY, 3).

Such a plan incorporates every system of true doctrine on the earth, whether it be ecclesiastical, moral, philosophical, or civil; it incorporates all good laws that have been made from the days of Adam until now; it swallows up the laws of nations, for it exceeds them all in knowledge and purity, it circumscribes the doctrines of the day, and takes from the right and the left, and brings all truth together in one system, and leaves the chaff to be scattered hither and thither (DBY, 3–4).

It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion (DBY, 248).

All knowledge and wisdom and every good that the heart of man can desire is within the circuit and circle of the faith we have embraced (DBY, 446).

It embraces every fact there is in the heavens and in the heaven of heavens—every fact there is upon the surface of the earth, in the bowels of the earth, and in the starry heavens; in fine, it embraces all truth there is in all the eternities of the Gods (DBY, 448).

Our religion measures, weighs, and circumscribes all the wisdom in the world—all that God has ever revealed to man. God has revealed all the truth that is now in the possession of the world, whether it be scientific or religious. The whole world are under obligation to him for what they know and enjoy; they are indebted to him for it all, and I acknowledge him in all things (DBY, 2).

It comprehends all true science known by man, angels, and the gods. There is one true system and science of life; all else tends to death. That system emanates from the Fountain of life (DBY, 2).

Truth will abide when error passes away. Life will remain when they who have rejected the words of eternal life are swallowed up in death. I like the truth because it is true, because it is lovely and delightful, because it is so glorious in its nature, and so worthy the admiration, faith and consideration of all intelligent beings in heaven or on the earth (DBY, 9).

I delight in this, because truth is calculated to sustain itself; it is based upon eternal facts and will endure, while all else will, sooner or later, perish (DBY, 11).

Every individual that lives according to the laws that the Lord has given to his people, and has received the blessings that he has in store for the faithful, should be able to know the things of God from the things which are not of God, the light from the darkness, that which comes from heaven and that which comes from somewhere else. This is the satisfaction and the consolation that the Latter-day Saints enjoy by living their religion; this is the knowledge which every one who thus lives possesses (DBY, 35).

How easy it is to live by the truth. Did you ever think of it, my friends? Did you ever think of it, my brethren and sisters? In every circumstance of life, no matter whether among the humble or lofty, truth is always the surest guide and the easiest to square our lives by (DBY, 11).

Our religion is simply the truth. It is all said in this one expression—it embraces all truth, wherever found, in all the works of God and man that are visible or invisible to mortal eye (DBY, 2).

Through the power of the priesthood, the gospel is the means of salvation for all of God’s children.

The Gospel which we preach is the Gospel of life and salvation. The Church which we represent is the Church and Kingdom of God, and possesses the only faith by which the children of men can be brought back into the presence of our Father and God. The Lord has set his hands to restore all things as in the beginning, and by the administration of his holy Priesthood, save all who can be saved, cleanse from the world the consequences of the Fall and give it to the hands of his Saints (DBY, 4).

The Priesthood … is a perfect order and system of government, and this alone can deliver the human family from all the evils which now afflict its members, and insure them happiness and felicity hereafter (DBY, 130).

The Gospel and the Priesthood are the means he employs to save and exalt his obedient children to the possession with him of the same glory and power to be crowned with crowns of glory, immortality and eternal lives (DBY, 5).

All the acts we perform should be governed by the guidance of the Priesthood (DBY, 133).

There is no ordinance that God has delivered by his own voice, through his Son Jesus Christ, or by the mouths of any of his Prophets, Apostles or Evangelists, that is useless. Every ordinance, every commandment and requirement is necessary for the salvation of the human family (DBY, 152).

With regard to the ordinances of God, we may remark that we yield obedience to them because he requires it; and every iota of his requirements has a rational philosophy with it. … That philosophy reaches to all eternity, and is the philosophy that the Latter-day Saints believe in. Every particle of truth that every person has received is a gift of God. We receive these truths, and go on from glory to glory, from eternal lives to eternal lives, gaining a knowledge of all things, and becoming Gods, even Sons of God (DBY, 152).

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the opening avenue—the open gate in the road or way from earth to heaven, through which direct revelation comes to the children of men in their various capacities, according to their callings and standing in the society in which they live. The Gospel of salvation is a portion of the law that pertains to the kingdom where God resides; and the ordinances pertaining to the holy Priesthood are the means by which the children of men find access to the way of life, wherein they can extend their travels until they return to the presence of their Father and God (DBY, 6).

The laws and ordinances which the Lord has revealed in these latter days, are calculated to save all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve (DBY, 1).

We declare it to all the inhabitants of the earth from the valleys in the tops of these mountains that we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … and we have the doctrine of life and salvation for all the honest-in-heart in all the world (DBY, 7).

Suggestions for Study

The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses a system of laws and ordinances that leads to salvation.

  • According to President Young, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the “power of God unto salvation.” How does his statement compare with the Savior’s definition of the gospel in 3 Nephi 27:13–14?

  • What is the role of the gospel of Jesus Christ in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man? (See also Moses 1:39; Abraham 3:25.) Why do we need a system of laws and ordinances to return to God’s presence? In what way are God’s laws and ordinances of “benefit [to the] children of men”? (See also 2 Nephi 2:13, 16.)

  • President Young taught that God is “governed by law.” How can knowing that God is governed by law help us? (See also D&C 82:10.)

  • President Young described the gospel as an orderly system. In what matters does God expect us to use our own sound judgment? (See also D&C 58:26–29.)

The gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth.

  • President Young challenged Latter-day Saints to be seekers of truth. Why do we need to understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ embraces all truth? Why should we accept truth from wherever it might be found? What can we learn from President Young’s statement that “all truth pertains to divinity”?

  • What do President Young’s statements teach about accepting and loving people of other faiths?

  • How can we distinguish between truth and error? (See also 1 Corinthians 2:11, 14; Moroni 7:12–17.) Why is the ability to “gather every item of truth and reject every error” so important in the latter days?

  • How does knowing gospel truths affect how we live our lives? Why is truth always “the surest guide and the easiest to square our lives by”? How are our lives affected when we live by lies and deception? (See also D&C 88:86.)

Through the power of the priesthood, the gospel is the means of salvation for all of God’s children.

  • What is the relationship between the priesthood and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Why are priesthood ordinances essential in the gospel plan?

  • What is the role of local priesthood quorums, groups, and committees in being ministers of the gospel? What is the place of the Relief Society in teaching truth and building faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ? What experiences have you had with someone providing Christlike service? How have such experiences influenced you?

  • President Young taught that the gospel is “the open gate in the road or way from earth to heaven.” What responsibility is placed on those who have accepted the restored gospel to spread their witness of its laws, ordinances, and truth? (See also Matthew 28:19–20; Proverbs 22:6.)