2 Nephi 31 The Doctrine of Christ
In verses 1-3 Nephi says he is ending his prophecies, but wants to share “a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ” (verse 2). He informs us that he will speak in the same manner of “plainness” as he did in his prophesying, and then proceeds to record some of the most basic yet profound scriptural writings we have. What is “the doctrine of Christ”? Verses 4-21 are indeed plain and teach us these crucial principles:
- Faith (verse 19: “unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is might to save”).
- Repentance (mentioned five times; see verses 11, 13-14, 17).
- Baptism (mentioned ten times; see verses 4-6, 8, 11-14, 17).
- Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost (also referred to as “the baptism of fire,” mentioned seven times; see verses 8, 12-14, 17-18).
- Enduring to the end—staying on the path—following Jesus’s example of obedience (mentioned 23 times; see verses 5, 7, 9-10, 12-21).
- It all leads to Eternal Life (mentioned twice; see verses 18, 20).
Nephi ends emphatically by declaring, “this is the way; and there is none other way.… And now behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (verse 21). (Other scriptures that clearly pinpoint these same principles of the doctrine of Christ are 3 Nephi 11:21-40; 3 Nephi 27:13-22; D&C 49:12-14; D&C 76:40-42, 50-53; Moses 6:50-68; and Articles of Faith 1:4.)
We should all consider how well we are doing in these simple yet penetrating principles: Exercising and strengthening our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, daily repentance, keeping our baptismal and other covenants, seeking and receiving the influence of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit, and enduring to the end on the covenant path. Verse 10 summarizes all this quite well, with the Lord’s invitation, “Follow thou me” (which is expanded upon in verses 12-13, 16). It is the greatest invitation of all time, and worthy of our greatest efforts, day after day.
2 Nephi 31:11, 15, 20 The Father Speaks
In his inspired essay on the doctrine of Christ, Nephi tells us three times that he heard the affirming voice of Heavenly Father:
- Verse 11: “And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.”
- Verse 15: “And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”
- Verse 20: “Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
This chapter provides one of the very few instances in the scriptures where the Father speaks. Other times where the Father is specifically identified as the speaker are Matthew 3:17 (the baptism of Jesus); Matthew 17:5 (the transfiguration of Jesus); John 12:28 (response to a prayer of Jesus); 3 Nephi 11:7 (the appearance of Jesus among the Nephites); Joseph Smith—History 1:17 (the First Vision); and Moses 4:15-31 (conversation with Adam and Eve after they partook of the forbidden fruit).
2 Nephi 32:8-9 Ye Must Pray
After re-stating several features of the doctrine of Christ (verses 1-6), this chapter ends with Nephi’s strong admonishments, “ye must pray” (verse 8); “ye must pray always and not faint” (verse 9); and “ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ” (verse 9). Perhaps Nephi used the word must three times because when we do not pray, we are choosing to obey the “evil spirit” which “teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray” (verse 8). Nephi then testifies that as we pray, God will “consecrate” our efforts that they “may be for the welfare of thy soul” (verse 9). (See also Ether 2:14-15 wherein the brother of Jared was chastised for the “evil which he had done,” for he “remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.”)
2 Nephi 33:4-5 “The Words Which I Have Written”
As Nephi approaches the end of his small plates, he teaches what his writings can do for us: They persuade us to do good, to believe in Christ, to avoid sin, and to endure to the end. Are Nephi’s writings persuasive to you? What do the scriptures do for you? Do you allow the Lord’s words to persuade you to do good, believe in Christ, and endure to the end?
2 Nephi 33:6-15 Nephi’s Farewell
What would you expect Nephi to say as he concludes his record? He makes several bold, powerful statements:
- He feels confident that he will be saved (verse 6).
- He has love for all and desires that we may come unto Christ and “continue in the path” (verses 7-9).
- He declares that those who believe in Christ will also believe his words (verse 10; which could be re-stated to say that someone who would reject the writings of Nephi would also reject Christ).
- He warns that those who judge his words as not of Christ will meet with him before the Lord—“face to face”—and the Lord will cause them to know that He commanded Nephi to write these things (verse 11).
- He expresses beautifully, “I pray … that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day…. I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come” (verses 12-13).
- He bids an “everlasting farewell” to those who will not respect the word of God, then adds a second warning: “for these words shall condemn you at the last day” (verse 14) and “shall be brought against you at the judgment bar” (verse 15).
- He summarizes his stewardship by saying, “thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey” (verse 15).
Almost a thousand years later, as Mormon encountered the small plates of Nephi, he wrote that Nephi’s writings were “pleasing” and “choice” to him (Words of Mormon 1:4, 6). And now, another 1,600 years after Mormon’s day:
- What have you found in 1 and 2 Nephi that is “pleasing” and “choice” to you?
- What things in Nephi’s life and writings have helped you the most?
- What do you love most about Nephi?
- If you were to leave behind a final admonition or testimony, what would you write?
- How has the Lord helped you grow during these first two months of Book of Mormon study?
- Is there someone with whom you could share any of this?