Chapter 12 of the Teachings of George Albert Smith is the first of three chapters encouraging LDS members in their missionary activities. As is stated, this chapter “focuses on the reasons we share the gospel”.
Although these words are not directly used in this chapter, the reason for sharing the gospel is the belief that the LDS Church is the only true church. For example, Jose L. Alonso, one of its General Authority, stated at last October’s General Conference, “I bear witness that President Thomas S. Monson is Their prophet and that this is the only true Church upon the face of the earth.” Chapter 12 reflects that by saying that the only persons who possess divine authority are in the LDS Church.
The other reason why Mormonism teaches it is important to do mission work is because it feels it is the only one that has the true gospel. For example, President Smith states, in reference to pastors: “These good men, not understanding the gospel and the necessity for the ordinances of the same, confine their teachings very largely to moral lessons and to reading the psalms to their congregations. Isolated passages of scripture are chosen as texts for addresses on virtue, honesty, etc., all of which are helpful and uplifting, but few sermons are preached explaining the requirements made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is this information of which the world is most in need. Few ministers have a message for their congregations that inspires in them the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of partaking of the ordinances of the gospel prescribed by him.” I find it interesting that he sees most sermons largely as moral lessons and not as pointing to the wonderful things Jesus has done for us.
But what is most important to see is how Mormons define gospel differently than the Bible does. The gospel, according to the Bible, is simply the good news that Jesus, as our substitute, lived a perfect life for us, died a sacrificial death for us, and solely on the basis of that, God sees us as worthy and perfect in his sight. But when the LDS Church talks about the fulness of the Gospel it means much more. “In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.” (True to the Faith, p. 76) As that quote shows, included in the LDS gospel are many things that humans are to do. That is emphasized in chapter 12 of the Teachings of George Albert Smith when he states: “My understanding is that the most important mission that I have in this life is: first, to keep the commandments of God, as they have been taught to me; and next, to teach them to my Father’s children who do not understand them.” Note how when he talks about his most important mission he mentions nothing about teaching what Jesus did for him.
Sometimes Mormons wonder why Christians react so adversely to the teachings of Mormonism. This is one example. What Mormonism calls the fulness of the gospel I see as a terrible corruption and complete destruction of the true gospel. The true gospel is from first to last about what Jesus has done for us. Any mention of what I have to do in order to be accepted by God is not gospel, good news. Instead of relieving me, such things burden me. Instead of inspiring confidence, they introduce doubt as I wonder if I have done everything I need to do to be worthy. But most importantly of all, they rob Jesus of the glory of doing everything for me. “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6) Being accepted by God through grace – that is the true gospel. And praising God for it is the most important mission of all!