Selected Teachings Concerning

The Preparatory Gospel
and the Everlasting (Higher) Gospel

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What is the Gospel?

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;

Brigham Young

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. [Journal of Discourses 13:233; Discourses of Brigham Young, p.1]

Spencer W. Kimball

Now, what is the gospel of which we speak? It is the power of God unto salvation; it is the code of laws and commandments which help us to become perfect, and the ordinances which constitute the entrance requirements.

The ordinances begin with baptism by immersion by proper authority for the remission of sins and for entrance into the earthly kingdom of God. It is followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost, which is promised to every person who qualifies. The priesthood is given, which opens further doors; the endowment is an indispensable feature in preparation for eternal life; and then, the sealing in the holy temple of a man and a woman for an eternal relationship. These are indispensable! No one can ever reach the heights of exaltation and eternal life without all of them. [The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.502]

Stephen L Richards

Now if it is essential to receive the gospel in order to receive the Christ, what follows? To answer this we must understand and define the gospel. Is the gospel itself anything more than the sum total of the Savior's divine attributes and qualities? I think that all who give careful consideration to the scriptures and the works of the Master will agree that it is. Perhaps the most famous of all definitions of the gospel is that given by Paul when he said: ". . . I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;..." (Romans 1:16.)

It is certainly not difficult to gather from the words, "power of God unto salvation," a meaning beyond that of a moral code for living based upon the attributes of the Savior. The gospel as a power unto salvation must embrace not only all the Christlike characteristics of living, but also the means essential to salvation. These indispensable means or essentials for salvation have been clearly set forth by the Savior on numerous occasions and in unmistakable terms. He prescribed ordinances and proclaimed their indispensable nature.[Conference Report, April 1959, p.52-54]

Harold B. Lee

What is the gospel then? . . . So often I hear my brethren saying something that I wish we would not say quite that way -- that the gospel is a way of life. It is not a way of life -- it is the way to eternal life. It is the science of salvation. [Conference Report, April 1959, p.68]


Two Gospels

Bruce R. McConkie

There are two gospels -- the preparatory gospel and the fulness of the everlasting gospel. There are two proclamations, two pronouncements of glad tidings, two messages of light and truth and power, which God has given to his people at one time or another. What the people receive at any given moment in time depends upon them. The Lord gives them all of his word, or only a portion, depending on "the heed and diligence which they give unto him." If all men had open hearts and receptive minds; if they desired righteousness and sought truth in preference to all else; if they conformed to every true principle they received -- all would accept the fulness of his gospel and join that church and kingdom which is always administered for the benefit and blessing of mankind. As it is written: "He that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full." (Alma 12:9-10.)

As is evident from the pure meaning of the words themselves, the fulness of the everlasting gospel has always existed and will continue to endure forever; the preparatory gospel, on the other hand, is not eternal in nature, but is something that goes before and makes people ready for the receipt of the fulness of saving truth. [The Promised Messiah, p.404]

Delbert L. Stapley

Among the many choice teachings given by the Savior in that inspiring Sermon on the Mount, is this important instruction: "Enter ye in at the strait gate . . "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14.) You will observe that I have quoted only the positive elements of this scripture. To enter the straight gate implies obedience to gospel requirements, and the narrow way that leads to life connotes additional requirements, rites, and ordinances for all who desire salvation and exaltation. . . .All who have repented and then been baptized and received the Holy Ghost by authorized servants of I God have entered in by the straight gate. The narrow way can only be followed by obedience and faithfulness to all the sacred ordinances and requirements of the higher gospel plan, obtained in the holy temples of God. [Conference Report, April 1955, p.65]


Two Priesthoods

Bruce R. McConkie

George Q. Cannon

Here is plainly pointed out to us as a people the future glory that God has in store for all those who receive and magnify the Priesthood. They are to receive the Father's Kingdom, and if they receive the Father's Kingdom, they are to receive all that the Father hath, for all that he hath will be given unto them. Can you conceive of this? Can any human being conceive of the immeasurable extent of the glory here promised--the immeasurable extent of exaltation here offered unto all those who receive the Priesthood of the Son of God, and who magnify it? . . . .

God designed when He led Israel out of Egypt to make of that people a royal Priesthood--a kingdom of Kings and Priests. He designed to lead them forward under the guidance of the everlasting Priesthood, the Priesthood after the holy order of the Son of God--to lead them forward until they should behold the face of their God and see Him for themselves. But they would not. They hardened their hearts. They could not endure His presence. Moses, despite all the power which God gave him, and the revelations which He poured out upon him--Moses could not succeed in leading that people forward. They were a stiff-necked race; they were a rebellious race; they were an idolatrous race; they were hard in their hearts; and they would not have God to be their King. They wanted a lower order of affairs; they wanted lower laws, laws that were more in accordance with their fallen and carnal natures. Therefore according to those revelations which God has given unto us, He took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also, and the lesser Priesthood continued, the Priesthood of Aaron, a Priesthood that held the keys of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel, the gospel of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. He left that with them, and the law of carnal commandments which the Lord in His wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John [see D&C 84:23-27]. They were under this law during this long period. God raised up John as a forerunner to prepare the way for the fullness of the everlasting Gospel and the restoration of the Priesthood in its fullness, that Melchizedek Priesthood which Moses held, and through which he exercised such mighty power among the children of Israel. And it was God's design--if the people would have submitted to it, if they would have received the message that He sent unto them through John and afterwards through His beloved Son--to have restored the Kingdom even to Israel, and to have built up the Kingdom in great power and glory upon the earth. But instead of receiving the Gospel and the Melchizedek Priesthood, they actually destroyed the Son of God. But before they destroyed Him, they destroyed the heir of the Priesthood of Aaron, John the Baptist, who was a direct descendant of Aaron, and by virtue of this descent held the keys of that Priesthood, and exercised the authority and power thereof among the Jews. Not content with rejecting the Son of God, they rejected even John, and the Aaronic Priesthood as well as the Melchizedek Priesthood was taken from the midst of the Jews, and they have remained without Priesthood having been withdrawn from their midst--the authority to officiate in the ordinances pertaining thereunto.

Now, this Priesthood which God has restored in these last days through Peter, James and John, is the Priesthood that continueth in the Church of God in all generations. The Church of God cannot be without it; for without it the power of Godliness is not made manifest to men in the flesh. A people can progress to a certain extent with the Aaronic Priesthood, but there is a limit to their progress. There are bounds beyond which they cannot pass. They cannot attain to the fullness of the glory of God the Eternal Father, without the presence of the Melchizedek Priesthood; for as I have read in your hearing, "This greater Priesthood administereth the Gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God; therefore in the ordinances thereof," [that is, in the ordinances of the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood] "the power of Godliness is manifest." This cannot be manifest without that higher Priesthood, without the power which accompanies it. "And without the ordinances thereof," the revelation continues, "and the authority of the Priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live." (D&C 84:19-22)

Without this Priesthood, without its ordinances, without its powers, without its gifts, "no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live." Therefore it is essential that, if a people should be exalted unto the presence of God, they should have this Melchizedek or greater Priesthood, and the ordinances thereof, by the means of which they are to be prepared, or they shall be prepared to enter into the presence of God the Father, and endure His presence. [Journal of Discourses, 25: 290-294]

The Preparatory Gospel

D&C 84:26-27

And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; Which gospel is the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb.

Joseph Smith

The spirit of Elias is to prepare the way for a greater revelation of God, which is the Priesthood that Aaron was ordained unto. And when God sends a man into the world to prepare for a greater work, holding the keys of the power of Elias, it was called the doctrine of Elias, even from the early ages of the world.

John's mission was limited to preaching and baptizing; but what he did was legal; and when Jesus Christ came to any of John's disciples, He baptized them with fire and the Holy Ghost. . . .

John did not transcend his bounds, but faithfully performed that part belonging to his office; and every portion of the great building should be prepared right and assigned to its proper place; and it is necessary to know who holds the keys of power, and who does not, or we may be likely to be deceived.

That person who holds the keys of Elias hath a preparatory work. [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.336]

Bruce R. McConkie

The Everlasting (Higher) Gospel

Joseph Smith

Ezra Taft Benson

When our Heavenly Father placed Adam and Eve on this earth, He did so with the purpose in mind of teaching them how to regain His presence. Our Father promised a Savior to redeem them from their fallen condition. He gave them the plan of salvation and told them to teach their children faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Further, Adam and his posterity were commanded by God to be baptized, to receive the Holy Ghost, and to enter into the order of the Son of God. (See Moses 6.) To enter into the order of the Son of God is the equivalent today of entering into the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is only received in the house of the Lord.

Because Adam and Eve had complied with these requirements, God said to them, "Thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity." (Moses 6:67.)

Three years before Adam's death, a great event occurred. He took his son Seth, his grandson Enos, and other high priests who were his direct-line descendants, with others of his righteous posterity, into a valley called Adam-ondi-Ahman. There Adam gave to these righteous descendants his last blessing.

The Lord then appeared to them.

The vast congregation rose up and blessed Adam and called him Michael, the prince and archangel. The Lord himself declared Adam to be a prince forever over his own posterity. Then Adam in his aged condition rose up and, being filled with the spirit of prophecy, predicted "whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation." All this is recorded in section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants (verses 53-56).

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that Adam blessed his posterity because "he wanted to bring them into the presence of God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book co., 1938, p. 159.) How did Adam bring his descendants into the presence of the Lord? The answer: Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the House of the Lord and received their blessings.

The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and a woman enter into a covenant with God--just as did Adam and Eve--to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord. Adam followed this order and brought his posterity into the presence of God. He is the great example for us to follow.

Enoch followed this pattern and brought the Saints of his day into the presence of God. Noah and his son Shem likewise followed the same pattern after the flood. Abraham, a righteous servant of God, desiring as he said, "to be a greater follower of righteousness," sought for these same blessings. Speaking of the order of the priesthood, he said: "It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time...even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, our first father, through the fathers unto me." (Abr. 1:2-3.) So Abraham declared: "I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers." (Abr. 1:4.)

Moses taught this order of priesthood to his people and "sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also." (D&C 84:23-25.)

We learn through the Joseph Smith Translation that the Lord further instructed Moses: "I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof." (JST Ex. 34:1; italics added.) This higher priesthood, with its attendant ordinances, was taken from Israel till the time of Jesus Christ. ["What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children About the Temple," Ensign 15 [August 1985]: 8-10]

John Taylor 

Then Peter, James and John appeared and conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Melchizedek Priesthood, which, as you all know, differs from that of the Aaronic. The Melchizedek Priesthood, which, as you all know, differs from that of the Aaronic. The Melchizedek Priesthood, according to the Scriptures, is after the order of the Son of God, and after the power of an endless life. It places men in communication with God our Heavenly Father, whereby through its influence, ordinance, powers and blessings, they can approach the presence of God, the Eternal Father, and come, as it was said by one of old, "To the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." It is that Priesthood through the Gospel, that brings life and immortality to light, that places man in a position whereby he can obtain, through faithfulness and adherence to the laws of God, all the rich blessings associated with the eternal worlds, of which we are allowed to partake while we dwell here upon the earth, or hereafter in the heavens. [Journal of Discourses  , 25:178]

Joseph Fielding Smith