While Jesus ministers to the Nephites and Lamanites in the Americas He makes several prophecies and clarifies doctrinal truths. In 3 Nephi 16 He speaks about His gospel and its importance to our mortal experience on earth. In fact, Jesus suggests that qualifications for righteousness turn on the axis of accepting and living the gospel.
What is “the gospel?” Thanks to the Restoration and the translation of the Book of Mormon, we have a really clear understanding today. The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches principles and provides ordinances necessary for mankind to become worthy to receive eternal life. Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance form two foundational principles of the Gospel. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, performed by someone with authority from God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost are two halves of the initial ordinance necessary for salvation. Lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ, obedience to His laws, participation in further ordinances, and keeping covenants are necessary to “endure to the end” of this mortal life and qualify for eternal life.
I have mentioned before that I love patterns. I also love categorizing things and naming categories. One of my hobby horses is “irreducible truths,” or eternal truths or fundamental/foundational truths. I like using the term “irreducible” because it captures an important aspect of this category: The truths they describe cannot be reduced further; they are foundational to the universe and provide the answer for so many questions rather than being questions themselves.
The prophet Jarom (son of Enos) states a couple of these irreducible truths in his very brief section of the Book of Mormon. In verse two he writes about why his writings are so short, namely that previous prophets covered what he felt were the most essential doctrines. He names the Plan of Salvation as one of these foundational principles that is both essential and already covered in the writings to which he had access, “and this sufficeth me,” he concludes. If I ever wondered what the critical knowledge of the Gospel is, here’s my answer. The Plan of Salvation teaches us where we came from, why we are here on earth, and where we are going after this life; this is reality.
Another fundamental truth Jarom touches on appears in verse nine. He references previous scriptural writings to testify of the fulfillment of God’s word that, “Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land.” I love how the Book of Mormon references itself, how writers recollect past writings and confirm the fulfillment of prophecies. To me this is a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, but, even more importantly, it is a testimony of God: It expresses the irreducible truth of God’s existence, His participation in our earthly experience, His role as covenant maker, and the simply stated fact that He fulfills ALL His words and promises. It behooves us to listen and heed His word.
And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul. (Jacob 2:8)
How does the word of God heal the wounded soul? On the surface I think the logical explanation is that the word of God is another name for the Gospel of Jesus Christ––faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end. Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ literally heals the soul because participating in those steps results in a soul’s redemption and exaltation.
As John writes in his Gospel, Jesus Christ is the literal word of God (see John 1:1, NT). Our souls gain many wounds over a lifetime, whether it is broken hearts, pain for the sins of loved ones, scars from our own sins and transgressions, regret, unkindness, just to name a few. But Jesus Christ, who suffered so much on earth, learning through His mortal experience how best to help each of us with our individual pains, sicknesses, afflictions, sorrows, can heal any wound. One of the miracles of His Atonement is that it gives Him power to understand and apply the perfect treatment.