“…the enemy, even Satan, he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness. …
“But the Lord saith unto [the angels], pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also. Therefore,
1) let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe;
2) then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and
3) after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.”
We can see from this that as the Church grows its membership becomes increasingly polarized; the wicked becoming more wicked and the righteous becoming more righteous. And thus, the righteous (the wheat) will increasingly feel choked by the wicked (the tares). While the wicked clamor for weaker laws and the removal of laws, the righteous strive to live the laws of God that they have been given in hopes of attaining more laws. For scripture tells us, every law has a blessing attached (D&C 130:20-21). Therefore, the more laws God gives, the more blessings are available. As the righteous and wicked within the Church grow to maturity, a growing tension inevitably forms between them. How can the righteous be fed the weightier matters of the gospel when the teachers must dilute the word of God so as to continually speak to the weakest of saints? God’s remedy for this is to gather the righteous out from among the wicked that righteousness might flourish.
God knew the fulness of his gospel would be rejected by the majority of his Church, because the wicked have always outnumbered the righteous. The Church is a democracy and therefore, God in his wisdom knew it would ultimately follow the vote of this majority membership. This is a repeat of history. The same happened in the days of Moses and in the days of Christ. Only a few (the elect remnant) ever survive. Recall the account of Abraham and Lot fleeing Sodom & Gomorrah. Also recall Lehi gathering his family and a few others out from the wicked city of Jerusalem before it was burned. The nature of man remains the same and this pattern continues to repeat itself.
The wholesale rejection of the fulness of the gospel by the LDS church has been prophesied. Consider the following:
“And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel; But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men. And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Few would question that this light was the fulness of the gospel restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. You might be tempted to think that the Gentiles who “turn their hearts” from God are all those nonbelievers who rejected the light of the gospel when the missionaries brought it to their doorsteps. Read on and you will see that it also includes the vast majority of those who initially accepted the gospel.
“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all people of the whole earth, and shall be filled will all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel. But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father. But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.”
(3 Nephi 16:10-15)
Who is this “salt that hath lost its savor?” If you search the scriptures for the keywords salt and savor, you will find only a handful of references containing it. The following verses makes plain who these people are:
“When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men; They are called to be the savor of men; therefore, if that salt of the earth lose its savor; behold, it is thenceforth good for nothing only to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.”
“…inasmuch as [my people] keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them. For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.”
These two passages make clear that the salt of the earth are those Gentiles who have been called out from the world and who have made an everlasting covenant. They are the “saviors of men.” Understanding this, one can conclude that 3rd Nephi 16 warns that the fulness of the gospel would be rejected by the majority of the members of Gentile church founded by the Prophet Joseph. However, the scripture also points to a body of people called “O house of Israel” who the fulness of the gospel would be given to after it was taken from the Gentiles. The “times of the Gentiles” is the period of time when the gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles. It is finished when the gospel is taken from the Gentiles and given to O house of Israel. 3rd Nephi 16:13 tells us that the Gentiles can repent and be numbered with these people. If you are one who feels trodden down by the wickedness around you, you’ve got to asking yourself questions like: Has the times of the Gentiles been fulfilled? If so, where is this prophesied people, O house of Israel? How did Lehi know when it was time to pack up the family and get out of Jerusalem? Has Lehi already left?