The gospel covenant is as old as eternity. So far as this earth is concerned, however, it was first introduced to Adam and passed from him to later generations. Prophet John Taylor said:
“What is meant by the everlasting Gospel? I know that some people think there was no Gospel until Jesus came; but it is a great mistake. Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses had the Gospel; and when Jesus came he came to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and to bring back the Gospel which the people had lost. ‘Well,’ says one, ‘do you mean to affirm that the men you have just named had the Gospel?’ I do, and hence it is called the everlasting Gospel.” (In Journal of Discourses, 13:17.)
Abinadi, a Book of Mormon prophet, said the following (around 150 B.C.):
“For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them [the children of Israel] concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began — have they not spoken more or less concerning these things? Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?
“Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted? I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men…. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.
“And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, yea, even as Isaiah said [ch. 53], as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men” (Mosiah 13:33-35; 15:1-8).
The Lord has always worked with people who were willing to make covenants with Him. Covenant people understand that the foundational principles of the eternal gospel are obedience and sacrifice. Upon this foundation, covenant people build their understanding and are able to live higher laws. Eventually, they are able and willing to consecrate their time, talents, and resources to the building up of God’s kingdom on earth.
All prophets who have ever lived, since Adam, have preached Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and Him crucified. Most of these scriptures have been changed or removed from the Old Testament. As it says in the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13 (about 560 B.C.):
“…and I beheld a book…Andthe angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? And I said unto him: I know not. Andhe said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. AndI, Nephi, beheld it; andhe said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; andit also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
The most part of the Book of Mormon peoples came from Jerusalem to the Americas around 600 B.C., just before the city was overcome by the Babylonians. They kept the Law of Moses, but they looked forward to the coming of Christ:
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.