“All Men Are Privileged the One Like Unto the Other and None Are Forbidden”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

The final eight verses of 2 Nephi 26 constitute a running argument for God’s graciousness in allowing all to come unto him.

Has he denied anyone entrance to his houses of worship, even to his holy temples? Has he denied anyone the opportunity to pursue salvation or to partake of his goodness? Absolutely not, Nephi exclaimed: “All men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.”

Of course there are stipulations and requirements to attain the blessings of heaven and the glories of his kingdom: all must repent; all must have charity; all must labor to build up Zion; and all must keep his basic laws, such as the Ten Commandments.

For those willing to obey him and keep his commandments, “he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

God does seem to have his own timetable for various peoples to be invited to come and partake of all his heavenly gifts and blessings—for example, the gospel to covenant Israel, and then to the Gentiles; the priesthood to Aaron’s family and tribe of Levi and then to all the tribes and those adopted into covenant Israel; the gospel and priesthood blessings to all other peoples and then to those of African descent; and the gospel and priesthood blessings to all nations and then to the Jews as a people.

The “first shall be last; and the last shall be first” clearly suggests a divine timetable for full accessibility to covenant blessings (Matthew 19:30; see also 1 Nephi 13:42; Ether 13:12; D&C 29:30). The same blessings offered “in this life or the next” also presuppose a schedule based on the wisdom of God.

In the meridian dispensation, Jesus said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24); his apostles would later take the gospel to the Gentiles, and interestingly, conflict persisted for decades among God’s people—especially between two great apostles, Peter and Paul—over the timing and conditions of Gentiles coming into the covenant people. 74

We may not presently have all the reasons for the variables in God’s timing of the dispensing of his blessings, but we trust in his perfect omniscience and wisdom as to exactly when to submit the invitation. The glorious truth, however, is that all children of Heavenly Father will—sooner or later—have full opportunity to receive all the privileges and blessings the Gods in Heaven extend to humans on earth.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks elaborated on the same concept: “Proclaiming the gospel is His work, not ours, and therefore it must be done on His timing, not ours. There are nations in the world today that must hear the gospel before the Lord will come again. We know this, but we cannot force it. We must wait upon the Lord’s timing. He will tell us, and He will open the doors or bring down the walls when the time is right… . The Lord loves all of His children, and He desires that all have the fulness of His truth and the abundance of His blessings. He knows when groups or individuals are ready, and He wants us to hear and heed His timetable for sharing His gospel with them.” 75

The First Presidency declared on 15 February 1978: “Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father… .

“Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come… .

“Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father.” 76

The Lord invites, on his schedule, all to come unto him and partake of his goodness: black and white, bond and free, male and female. We might add Germans and French, Chileans and Argentines, North Koreans and South Koreans. He remembers the Africans and the North Americans, and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Arab. 77

For example, Elder Howard W. Hunter in 1979 admonished members of the Church to remember that “both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring about love, unity, and brotherhood of the highest order. Like Nephi of old, may we be able to say, ‘I have charity for the Jew… . I also have charity for the Gentiles.’ (2 Nephi 33:8–9).” 78

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 1