2 Nephi 33: 3

“But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.”
Nephi’s single-minded focus was life-long. Now, as he writes advanced in age, with a retrospective knowledge, and prophetic foreknowledge of revelation, he confirms what he has written is “of great worth.” When a prophet like Nephi appraises the work as “of great worth,” it is important to realize that your disagreement with the assessment is a reflection on you, not him. It is a reflection of your own level of understanding rather than on the work itself.
Are Nephi’s two books “of great worth” to you? Why? Can you articulate the reasons they have this “great worth” in everything you think and do in your daily life? How have they changed you? If there is nothing you can point to of value, then perhaps you have not yet found the “great worth” Nephi believed his writing to hold.
Why “especially unto [Nephi’s] people?” Who are Nephi’s “people?” Why would they be more valuable to them? Why would they have a special value to them, above the value to the gentiles?
When Nephi says he “prays continually for them,” who is the group he identifies as “them?” Why does he pray for “them?”
Why does Nephi cry into his pillow at night because of “them?” Who are they and what did Nephi know would be the end of “them?” (See 1 Nephi 12: 19; 1 Nephi 15: 5.)
Nephi knew his cries to the Lord would not go unheard. He knew the Lord would keep a covenant made with Nephi concerning “them.” (1 Nephi 13: 30.) The remnant of Nephi’s seed would not be utterly destroyed. Nevertheless, the future destruction would be near absolute, leaving only a remnant.
Despite this foreknowledge, Nephi nevertheless reports he made it a practice to nightly “cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.”
Nephi kept faith in the face of certain destruction of his descendants.  Hope in the face of looming apostasy by his seed. Charity toward those who would reject the Lord.
He has ceased to be exclusively a prophet, and has risen to the role of intercessor and advocate for the unworthy. He has become covenantal father, and presiding Patriarch over a lineage whose redemption will come through his covenant with the Father. He has joined the ranks of the “fathers” toward whom hearts must turn in order to avoid cursing at the Lord’s return. (Malachi 4: 6.)

The circle has closed and the eternal round is completed. Nephi has godly feelings and godly empathy for a doomed posterity. We behold at last the veil removed. We see such nobility of character, and greatness of soul that we are compelled to accept his role as teacher and ruler. He has taught righteousness all his days. Though his older brothers refused to acknowledge or accept him, we should not. His parting message suggests, however, that more of those who will read his record have the same spirit as Laman and Lemuel than will have the necessary spirit to recognize and “esteem of great worth” what he has provided to us.

It is almost too great to take in for the few who are the humble followers of Christ. However, they can avoid being led into error by recognizing in Nephi the teacher and ruler who was sent to deliver a message of salvation to a doomed people. For those who now live under the same prophetic doom, (3 Nephi 16: 15; 3 Nephi 20: 16; 3 Nephi 21: 12) Nephi represents a lifeline offered to those humble enough to accept his message. They will gladly recognize their plight, awake and arise and become people of prayer.

2 Nephi 33: 1-2

“And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.”

Nephi would like to teach us (his readers) all he taught those who lived with him and heard him speak. But he could not. Even the things he was able to etch in the metal record he left was incomplete when compared to the body of teachings he preached to his people.

There is also a significant difference between speaking and writing. When you speak there are many tools of speech – emphasis, movement, presence, and radiation of the Spirit to help the speaker measure the effect of the message on the audience. When Nephi taught by the power of the Holy Ghost, he was able to see how his audience was receiving it. He knew when it penetrated “unto the hearts of the children of men.”

Writing was another matter. Particularly when it would be translated from one language to another before the gentiles would receive the words. The distance and language between Nephi and his audience is so great that Nephi came to the sad realization that a reader who is not already prepared to have the Spirit with them as they read will miss the power of the message.

In their presence Nephi could use the power of the Holy Ghost to affect the spirit of those who were listening. However, a reader separated by language and culture, and more than two millennia would have to have the Spirit first before being able to understand his message.

It was the recognition that many gentiles would read this record without possessing the Spirit that made Nephi acknowledge the gap between his spoken ministry and his written one. Those with “hard hearts” may be affected by his presence and preaching. Those with “hard hearts” who only have his written record, however, are going to “cast things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.” They won’t recognize that they were from God, written by a prophet who knew God, and were the result of a commission to preach given by God. Instead they will think him “a thing of naught.”

Nephi’s message will mean far more to those who are prepared. For those who are not prepared, the message will be meaningless. Nothing. A thing of “naught” to be “cast away.”

That is always the case. The Lord commissions someone with a message and the audience has a role in receiving the message. Powerful public ministries do not convince everyone. Even Nephi failed to convert Laman, Lemuel and the majority of those who were living together at the time of Lehi’s death. Then, immediately upon Nephi’s death, there were struggles in the society he helped found.

The process of salvation is always a work between God, His children, appropriately sent messages, and adversity and opposition. Nephi is reminding us how vital having the Spirit is to the success of understanding his written message. We should ask ourselves often if our hearts are open to receiving truth, no matter how it comes to us, and no matter how it may challenge our presumptions, pride and foolish traditions.

What a terrible thing it will be for some to realize they “esteemed as things of naught” the very words which might have saved them had they given heed.

2 Nephi 32: 9

 
“But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that 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, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.”
 
Another significant reminder by a prophet of what is needed.
 
The great passage from Alma on prayer is an echo of Nephi. (Alma 34: 17-27.) Nephi said it first.
 
What is involved with “performing anything unto the Lord?” How much of what we do in our daily responsibilities ought to be performed “unto the Lord?” (Rom. 12: 1.)
 
Do not “perform any thing” for the Lord until you have “in the first place” prayed to consecrate your performance. Here Nephi teaches you how to live the law of consecration. You don’t need others to join you. You don’t need a city to live where all things are held in common. You only need your own pure intent, acting no hypocrisy, consecrating your performance to the Lord for the welfare of your soul.

If you “must not perform any thing unto the Lord” before praying and consecrating it “for the welfare of thy soul,” then how should you proceed? How much thought should you take about the Lord and your relationship with Him daily? How careful should you be about your words, thoughts and works? (Alma 12: 14.) It is again, a reminder that we should always remember Him, and keep His commandments which He has given us, that we may have His Spirit to be with us. (D&C 20: 77.)

 
What does it mean to “pray always, and not faint?” What does “praying” have to do with “fainting?” What does it mean to “faint?” Can you “faint” in your spiritual life? Is a physical “faint” merely an example of what happens to us in the spirit? If so, what must you do to avoid becoming “faint” in your prayers?
 
How many of your prayers have ended by your mind drifting away? No certain conclusion to the prayer, just a distracted mind becoming occupied by something other than the prayer being offered? Is that to “faint?”
 
What does “fainting” tell you about your vulnerability? What precautions do you need to take to be able to “pray always” and not be vulnerable to “fainting?”
 
Is the primary difference between the outcome of the lives of Nephi and Jacob on the one hand, and Laman and Lemuel on the other, how they regarded prayer?
 
What does having prayer as a priority say about an individual?

2 Nephi 32: 8

2 Nephi 32: 8:

“And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.”
 
Again we are called “beloved brethren” despite having just reminded us of our unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness. His motive is our welfare. He doesn’t care a whit about flattering us. He wants us saved.
 
Still you wonder if this can be true. Still you doubt and think it too much. Still you are left not knowing if the message comes from the Lord. But those doubts are because of your failure to pray. You just won’t listen to the Spirit which teaches everyone they must pray. “For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know ye must pray.”
 
Nephi knows this because he is a man of prayer. Nephi, as a man of prayer, is struck by the foolishness of deciding matters without prayer. To him it is amazingly obvious that prayer will rescue you from doubt.  But Nephi knows why you won’t pray to know the truth of things.

You want an authority to tell you.
 
You want the truth to become popular so it is easy to find.
 
You want certifications, scholarly support and widespread recognition of the truth.
 
You want someone whose position you respect to tell you what is true.  And until they do, you feel confident you don’t need to study it out and pray to know for yourself if it is true.
 
But Nephi catches you in the act and tells you this is because you are listening to “the evil spirit” which is the one who “teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.” So you are following the spirit. But it is an evil spirit you follow.

God’s Spirit will always teach you to pray and to ask Him about the truth. And if you ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, He will manifest the truth unto you. He can tell you the truth of all things if you will ask and permit the Holy Ghost to respond. (Moroni 10: 4-5.)

 
If the only way to find the truth is to search prayerfully for it before receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that it is indeed true, what happens to you as a result? Do you gain a testimony of the process? Do you grow in light and truth by what you have experienced?  Was this always meant to be direct between you and God? Is the method itself necessarily always to involve God?
 
Nephi is a prophet. And he’s working to make others like him. That’s the way it is, you see. Those who have something are eager to have others join them. They are not interested in praise or recognition. Instead they are interested in seeing other souls redeemed. Hence Nephi’s blunt message and plain words. They are merciful indeed.

2 Nephi 32: 7

2 Nephi 32: 7:

“And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.”
Nephi has reached the limit of what he can say. He has alluded to the Second Comforter, or the appearance of Christ to you in the flesh, but then his message ends. He “cannot say more.” But he has told you that when Christ appears to you that you should do what Christ tells you to do.
Then Nephi laments our unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness. You have already been told that in the vocabulary of the Book of Mormon the word “unbelief” means that you do not understand correct doctrine. You accept false notions, or your understanding is so incomplete as to make it wrong.
What is “wicked” about not following the “doctrine of Christ” so that you can receive the tongue of an angel? What is wicked about not pressing forward in the light of the Holy Ghost to the point where you receive Christ in the flesh? Why would that failing be “wicked?” (D&C 88: 33.)
Why are we “ignorant?” Is it because of our lack of learning or sophistication, or instead because of it? Studied ignorance is the most indelible kind. It prevents someone from ever casting away unbelief. It enshrines unbelief.
These conditions are all culminated by “stiffneckedness.” Meaning that we are not only in error, but we are decidedly committed to remaining so. We won’t budge. Won’t humble ourselves and ask the Lord to remove our scales of darkness. We just remain devoted disciples of unbelief, leading in turn to our wickedness, borne upon the shoulders of our ignorance. What a spectacle we are when seen in the light of the Holy Ghost – that is, through the eyes of a prophet like Nephi.
What is interesting is this comment comes at the very end of Nephi’s ministry. It is an aged prophet carving his last message targeted to the last day audience of first gentiles, then secondarily the remnant, and finally the Jews. And to this latter-day audience beginning with us, Nephi is rebuking us. It must be because of his love for us. It must be motivated by the love of Christ, because it follows immediately after explaining to us the “doctrine of Christ.” So whether it seems to be the case or not, this is a loving, kind, light-filled warning from someone who knows what we lack.
Soberly, however, this rebuke should be compared to the rebuke he leveled at Laman and Lemuel. He told them to stop debating the meaning of a revelation given to their father, and start asking God for answers. Compare Nephi’s earlier warning and rebuke to his brothers with this verse addressed to us:
“And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive-tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.  And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?  And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.  Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?  Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15: 7-11.)
We read that and think ourselves better than Laman and Lemuel because we identify ourselves with Nephi. Nephi, on the other hand, sees our day, and identifies us with Laman and Lemuel. What a profound disconnect our arrogance causes between Nephi’s meaning and our reading.
He is being as plain as words can be. And we are being as obstinate and obtuse as unbelief, wickedness, ignorance and stiffneckedness can cause. You can feel the irony.

2 Nephi 32: 6

2 Nephi 32: 6:

“Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.”
 
This is the totality of the matter: the doctrine of Christ.
 
Receive the Comforter and it will tell you what you must do.
 
It will in turn lead you to the Second Comforter. He will then take you further still.
 
What does it mean that Christ “shall manifest Himself unto you in the flesh?” Is this speaking of the time when Christ appeared to the Nephites (3 Nephi 11: 1-41, where He did declare doctrine)?  Or is this speaking of Him appearing to each individual?  (John 14: 23 and D&C 130: 3)  Is it both?
 
What does it mean that “the things which He shall say unto you shall ye observe to do?” What takes primacy – your culture, respected peers, leaders of society or government or church, or the Lord and His sayings? Why?
 
What does it mean that “no more doctrine” will be given until Christ “shall manifest Himself unto you in the flesh?” Was there more doctrine given to later Nephite prophets before Christ appeared in 3rd Nephi?  What about the very next writer-prophet of the Book of Mormon and his testimony of revelation from Christ?  (See Jacob 1: 4, 6Jacob 4: 6; Jacob 7: 5) Was his ministry one that included the Lord “manifesting Himself unto [Jacob] in the flesh?” (See 2 Nephi 11: 3)
 
How and what is to be revealed? Although you may receive Christ “in the flesh,” does it mean you may tell others all things you learn as a result? Or are you constrained and limited in what and how you measure to others? Who decides what is appropriate to include in your testimony, you or the Lord? (Alma 12: 9-10)
 
If “what He shall say unto you shall ye observe to do,” then what of criticism? What of those who will not accept your testimony? What if your testimony of Christ is dismissed as merely your “claims?” What if things done in meekness and humility are misconstrued and said instead to be done to get notice and popularity? Should you expect to be without criticism?
 
What does it mean that “the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do?” Does it mean others will even understand why you do what you do? Does it mean it will be welcomed? Does it mean you will have some credential the world will recognize? Or will only those who hear the Master’s voice respond? (John 10: 27) If it is the Master’s voice which should be heard, then how do you avoid introducing your own voice in His place? What if the words are a rebuke or warning? Should you hesitate? (3 Nephi 30: 1-2)
 
If you only have your testimony to offer, how likely is it to be persuasive in this world where rank, position, acclaim and popularity define influence? What if, as Bob Dylan penned: “All I got is this red guitar, three chords and the truth.” What then? Is the truth resilient enough to endure in this hurricane of deceit and worldliness? It will, even if only with a few.
 
At your core, you love and respect Jesus Christ. When given the choice before your were born, you accepted and agreed to follow Him. That is why you are here. If you followed Him then, you ought to be willing to follow Him now. If you can find Him. I believe that anyone who can find the Master’s words, no matter how unlikely a source by which they come, will follow them. The only means authorized to declare them is through persuasion, gentleness, meekness, love and pure knowledge. (D&C 121: 41.)  As it turns out, that is enough. Those who have kept the Light of Christ shining within them will recognize His voice.  (John 10: 27.)

2 Nephi 32: 4-5

“Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.  For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
 
Comprehension of the “doctrine of Christ” is not based on command of a vocabulary or mastery of an argument. It is based on gathering light. Light is gathered by heed (obedience) and diligence alone. (D&C 130: 19.) By following the light you have received already, you grow in light. (D&C 50: 24.) This process leads to the “perfect day” where the light has chased away all darkness. This is how we, like Christ, can grow from grace to grace until we also receive a fullness. (D&C 93: 20.)
 
If you do not do this, then you may acquire a vocabulary with which to discuss the subject, but you will not have the light to comprehend it. Light can be shining all around you, but if you do not acquire light within yourself by your actions, you cannot comprehend the light.  (See, e.g., D&C 6: 21; D&C 10: 58; D&C 34: 2; D&C 39: 2; D&C 45: 7; and D&C 88: 49.)
 
If it perplexes you, then ask God for understanding. He will tell you what to do.  Follow His instruction. In this way you qualify to receive further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord. He knows perfectly what you lack, and by the Holy Ghost within you will tell you what you must do.

If you will not humble yourself and ask for this to be made known to you, then you cannot be brought into the light. Then the only result will be to perish in the dark.

If you will follow the steps with the required real intent, acting no deception before God as you do, then you will receive the Holy Ghost.  It will be unlocked to tell you what you lack and what you need to do. This inner light is a powerful source which can literally tell “you all things what ye should do.”

 
It is in the doing that you find the learning.  It is in the act of following Him that you learn to be like Him. Obedience is the means by which you gather light. The commandments are revelations of the inner person you ought to become. They are how you grow in the flesh to comprehend God in the Spirit. Your body is a veil that keeps you from Him. By subordinating the will of the flesh to the will of the Spirit, you gain light and truth.
 
Do it to understand it.
 
Once you understand you will be able to tell when someone speaks with the power of the Spirit words of eternal life, or if they are, as Nephi puts it: “perishing in the dark.”  There are many who claim to speak on the Lord’s behalf who declare false, vain and foolish things. While they will be held to account for that, the point is not to condemn them. They may yet see the light, and repent and return.  The point is that you must avoid being misled by those who would lead you astray. The few humble followers of Christ are warned that they will be taught the precepts of men and must use caution to avoid being misled. (2 Nephi 28: 14.) We’ve discussed that already.
 
The proportions and the balances required to see things aright are too fine, too subtle and too difficult to put into words. They are harmony. Nephi’s teachings are woven into one great whole. There are not isolated strains to be taken from the great whole and then given undeserved importance. They must fit together. You can only accomplish that when you see the whole by the light of the Holy Ghost within you.
Nephi is both pleading and warning in these two verses. He wants you to go to the source and be directed from there. To have the words of Christ available to you. To hear the words of angels as you draw near to the light. If you do not, then it is because you refuse to follow the steps he has described.
 
You must act to know. Without following through in your heart (which you cannot ever deceive) you can’t draw near to the light. The discussion in The Second Comforter walks through line upon line that walk back into the light, and ultimately into Christ’s presence.  It is a modern manual to find Him.

2 Nephi 32: 4-5

“Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock; wherefore, ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark.  For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
 
Comprehension of the “doctrine of Christ” is not based on command of a vocabulary or mastery of an argument. It is based on gathering light. Light is gathered by heed (obedience) and diligence alone. (D&C 130: 19.) By following the light you have received already, you grow in light. (D&C 50: 24.) This process leads to the “perfect day” where the light has chased away all darkness. This is how we, like Christ, can grow from grace to grace until we also receive a fullness. (D&C 93: 20.)
 
If you do not do this, then you may acquire a vocabulary with which to discuss the subject, but you will not have the light to comprehend it. Light can be shining all around you, but if you do not acquire light within yourself by your actions, you cannot comprehend the light.  (See, e.g., D&C 6: 21; D&C 10: 58; D&C 34: 2; D&C 39: 2; D&C 45: 7; and D&C 88: 49.)
 
If it perplexes you, then ask God for understanding. He will tell you what to do.  Follow His instruction. In this way you qualify to receive further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord. He knows perfectly what you lack, and by the Holy Ghost within you will tell you what you must do.

If you will not humble yourself and ask for this to be made known to you, then you cannot be brought into the light. Then the only result will be to perish in the dark.

If you will follow the steps with the required real intent, acting no deception before God as you do, then you will receive the Holy Ghost.  It will be unlocked to tell you what you lack and what you need to do. This inner light is a powerful source which can literally tell “you all things what ye should do.”

 
It is in the doing that you find the learning.  It is in the act of following Him that you learn to be like Him. Obedience is the means by which you gather light. The commandments are revelations of the inner person you ought to become. They are how you grow in the flesh to comprehend God in the Spirit. Your body is a veil that keeps you from Him. By subordinating the will of the flesh to the will of the Spirit, you gain light and truth.
 
Do it to understand it.
 
Once you understand you will be able to tell when someone speaks with the power of the Spirit words of eternal life, or if they are, as Nephi puts it: “perishing in the dark.”  There are many who claim to speak on the Lord’s behalf who declare false, vain and foolish things. While they will be held to account for that, the point is not to condemn them. They may yet see the light, and repent and return.  The point is that you must avoid being misled by those who would lead you astray. The few humble followers of Christ are warned that they will be taught the precepts of men and must use caution to avoid being misled. (2 Nephi 28: 14.) We’ve discussed that already.
 
The proportions and the balances required to see things aright are too fine, too subtle and too difficult to put into words. They are harmony. Nephi’s teachings are woven into one great whole. There are not isolated strains to be taken from the great whole and then given undeserved importance. They must fit together. You can only accomplish that when you see the whole by the light of the Holy Ghost within you.
Nephi is both pleading and warning in these two verses. He wants you to go to the source and be directed from there. To have the words of Christ available to you. To hear the words of angels as you draw near to the light. If you do not, then it is because you refuse to follow the steps he has described.
 
You must act to know. Without following through in your heart (which you cannot ever deceive) you can’t draw near to the light. The discussion in The Second Comforter walks through line upon line that walk back into the light, and ultimately into Christ’s presence.  It is a modern manual to find Him.

2 Nephi 32: 3

2 Nephi 32: 3:

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” 

Nephi makes these three things equal:

1.  The power of the Holy Ghost to give words, which
2.  Are the same as what angels would speak, which in turn
3.  Are the same as the words of Christ.

Holy Ghost/words of angels/words of Christ.  They are all the same as “the words of Christ” which will “tell you all things what ye should do.”

If you will “feast upon the words of Christ” then you will know “all things what ye should do.”

How do you unlock this power that potentially exists inside you? What tools have been given to us to receive access to this great inner record of truth?

Why are we given ordinances? If we will follow them and receive them, what do ordinances allow the Lord to open up for us?

You know if you are doing as you should. You cannot lie to yourself. You cannot deceive yourself about whether you will follow God with full purpose of heart, acting no deception, repenting of your sins, and with real intent.  (2 Nephi 31: 13.) If you do these things there is a law irrevocably decreed which permits you to receive what is offered. (D&C 130: 20-21.) You actually know if you have offered the correct sacrifice. (Lecture 6, in Lectures on Faith discussed here.) Just as you know when you are unworthy before Him (Mormon 9: 4-5), you also know when your confidence before God grows naturally inside you and you follow the path to return to the light (D&C 121: 45-46.) It is extraordinary and even miraculous, but it is also absolutely natural.

The conditions were set before the foundation of the world and all you must do to obtain these blessings is to follow the path. You KNOW if you are in the right way. You cannot lie to God, and as we have seen in the discussion of the preceding verses, God is within you.

Do you keep the commandments? Why? Are you doing so with real intent, following the “doctrine of Christ” or just to be “seen of men?” (Matt. 6: 1, 5.) When you do these things in secret, your Father (and you) know it and then come the rewards of having your heart right with God. (Matt. 6: 4, 6.)

At the end of the long search into all the universe to find God, you will discover the search leads you back to what was inside you all along. You came from Him, and He is with you. But to find Him you must return. The scriptures and teachings of Christ are filled with this journey and the battleground has always been within you. You need to remember.  The Holy Ghost, the third member of the godhead, dwells inside you, provided you will receive it.

The laws irrevocably decreed are the very principles which permeate life itself. You are not separate from this “doctrine of Christ” but a living embodiment of it. If you live it, you will prove it. You are here to be proven.  (Abraham 3: 25.) What have you determined to prove with your life?

Nephi spoke in plainness to us. He could not find simpler language to describe this process. I have tried to be plain using other scriptures and language. But the great lesson can be reduced to this: Do what you have been taught. When you do it, the light will increase within you. That light is truth. It is intelligence, or light and truth, or the power of God. (D&C 93: 36.) All you must do to activate that light, gain that intelligence, and behold the glory of God is to keep His commandments. (D&C 93: 28.) If you want to receive a “fullness” then the immediate door through which you pass is to keep the commandments. (D&C 93: 20.) 

Most importantly, you must “follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ.” (2 Ne. 31: 13.) You alone will know if you have done this. Or rather, you and the Lord will know. When you are satisfied that there is no hypocrisy and no deception between you and God, that you have come to Him with real intent and repenting of your sins, witnessing through the ordinances (baptism and sacrament) that you will take upon you the name of Christ, then you qualify. If you do not, then you are not qualified.

I am completely satisfied that the people who gain such access, receive the blessings, or obtain a hope in Christ are ordinary people. They are not distinguished by their great intellect or powerful positions. They are typified only by the singleness of their heart and true devotion. There is not a whit of difference between what they believe and how they live. They do not excuse themselves from doing what they know to be right, even if it is painful, uncomfortable, or something they would never do on their own. They invariably do what the “words of Christ” bid them to do. No matter the price, they will follow Him; not a leader. Indeed, almost all of His servants are at odds with leadership. You know how completely He was at odds if you have read Come, Let Us Adore Him. To follow Him is to have that same contention between you and the larger religious community of any age or dispensation. Stop trying to please men and start following Christ.

I do not know what more can be said than Nephi has been saying. Let’s press on.

2 Nephi 32: 1-2

2 Nephi 32: 1-2:

“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts? Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost?”

It is the program of the Gospel that communication and understanding of God’s will should be obtained through revelation. That revelation comes from contact with, and communication by, the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is able to tell you “all things.” (Moses 6: 61; Moroni 10: 4.)

You don’t need another source once you are in contact with the Holy Ghost. It possesses the “record of heaven.” (Moses 6: 61.)

Nephi is assuring us that we can come into possession of the fullness of truth by the means he has been explaining as the “doctrine of Christ.” As a central, active part of that doctrine, the line of communication between you and God is opened. It is another reminder of counsel found in Deuteronomy 30: 11-14: “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”

Forget all the cultural assumptions and extras you hang on to. Leave them all behind and keep it simple:

You were a spirit before you were born.  (Abraham 3: 22-28.) You were there when some were chosen to be “rulers,” or in other words, teachers. (2 Nephi 5: 19.) You have within you a spirit that was in that group. You saw and participated in what went on, and have that somewhere still inside you. It is kept from you by the “veil of flesh” now covering your spirit. (Heb. 10: 20.) Somewhere within you lies the “record of heaven.” Or more correctly, the Record of Heaven. (Moses 6: 61.) If you gain access to it, it has the capacity to teach you the “truth of all things.” (Moses 6: 61.)  Within it is such an abundance of truth that the things of God are not hidden from you, neither far off. It is not in heaven, so that you ask: who will go to heaven to bring it to us.  It is not beyond the sea that you should ask who can go to bring it to us? But is is very close to you, in your own mouth, in your own heart, that you can do what is asked of you. (Deut. 30: 11-14, above.)

Hence the saying of Christ that the Comforter will bring things to your remembrance. (John 14: 26.)

Christ taught the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17: 20-21.)

Why is it that the body is animated, with power of thought and communication, alive and vital while there is a spirit within it? But when the spirit departs, what then of the body? The power to live and breathe and move and do according to your will is gone at that point.  But from whence came that power? (Mosiah 2: 21.) If it is God who is “lending you that power” then how closely are you connected to God? How immediate is His presence within you?

If you can gain access to God, will you need to go out, or will you instead need to go within?

Our minds are corrupted. I’ve spent time dealing with the corrosive influence of cultures from Babylon to today in Nephi’s Isaiah. All that must be “ground to dust” and blown away. (Daniel 2: 34-35.) That will occur within you. You are the battleground where the conflict is being fought. You are potentially the Temple of God. (1 Cor. 3: 16.)

Awake and arise! Come to yourself and realize who you are. This “doctrine of Christ” will teach you all things you must know for life and salvation. But you ought not look to another to find what you already have. You must instead repent and return to God, who is your home.

2 Nephi 31: 21

2 Nephi 31: 21:

“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. 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, which is one God, without end. Amen.

This is “the way” to salvation. Nephi adds: “and there is none other way.” What does it mean there “is none other way?” Does that mean any religious system, institution, process, explanation or additional doctrine cannot save you? Is it true that you either enter in through this method or you cannot be saved? Is the purpose of the other rites, rituals, ordinances and teachings merely to bring you into this one true “way and there is none other way?” Or do you need to look for additional things, helps, ordinances, confirmations, and blessings to be conferred?

What of the other Gospel rites? They did come from God, didn’t they? How are we to understand the relationship between other ordinances, even “higher ordinances” and this “doctrine of Christ” being explained by Nephi?

Clearly the “doctrine of Christ” is intended to give you the underlying basis for all salvation. There is no other “name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God” apart from Jesus Christ. He is the one who, by His obedience and sacrifice, put power into the plan of salvation. We know this to be true from everything declared by the prophets of God. But what about “this is the way; and there is none other way.” What does that mean?  Does it exclude other ordinances or processes?  Does it make the Law of Moses no longer binding upon Nephi and his posterity?

Clearly following Nephi’s ministry, his descendants did not abandon the Law of Moses.  (See, e.g., Jarom 1: 5; Alma 25: 15.) And so, if there is “none other way,” it did not mean that the Nephites were to abandon practice of the ordinances then in effect. Nor does it mean that we abandon the ordinances now in effect in our day.

It is not that the ordinances are essential, but that the purpose of the ordinances are essential. The underlying meaning is essential. The “doctrine of Christ” becomes possible to understand, live and receive as you follow the ordinances. They are “helps” to bring you into this correct path. You will honor them, conform to them, seek for them, in order that you may inherit the blessings of the “doctrine of Christ.”

Why are ordinances instituted? They are to bring you to the point where you inherit in your body and spirit these great blessings of the “doctrine of Christ.” They prepare you.  Their effect is to qualify you, instruct you, advance you toward this goal of receiving the blessings found in the doctrine of Christ as expounded by Nephi in this chapter. Once ordinances have been adopted, it is then unlikely you can ignore them and receive what is promised by the “doctrine of Christ.” How can you refuse what is offered and still accept the underlying gift? How can you mix ingratitude and gratitude?

Is it important, therefore, to keep the ordinances intact? If changed does some of the communication involved in preparing you to receive the “doctrine of Christ” lose something?

For example, without the shedding of blood there can be no covenant. Christ’s blood is the culminating event which shed blood to activate a covenant between God and man. However, even after Christ’s sacrifice, we are still required to offer sacrifice, and even the return of animal sacrifice will happen at some point in this final dispensation. The Law of Moses was fulfilled and will not return. However, the sacrifice of blood by animals which was before the Law of Moses will return. As Joseph Smith taught: “These [animal] sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of my the Holy Prophets be brought to pass. It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses’ day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.” (TPJS, p. 173, D.H.C 4:212)

When the penalties existed in the Temple ceremonies of our dispensation, we were reminded of the shedding of blood required for a covenant. When removed, we lose some of that memory. How would penalties involving the shedding of blood prepare people for the return of animal sacrifice? Would it help remind them that shedding blood is required to establish a covenant? Even this final Dispensation of the Fullness of Time could not be an effective covenant without the shedding of blood to seal the testament or covenant. (D&C 135: 3.)

Does the Gospel of Jesus Christ require the sacrifice of all things? (We’ve explained this before in relation to the Lectures on Faith.)  If so, then how do we obtain the blessings we desire from the hand of God without being willing to make a similar sacrifice? If it is required, then how do we qualify to receive this baptism of fire spoken of by Nephi that will purge us from all sin and permit us to speak with a new tongue? How is this sacrifice made apart from the irrevocable commitment made within yourself to “endure to the end” by laying upon the altar everything you have, even your own life if necessary, to build up His kingdom? How, in a fallen world filled with sin, in a day where there is no sacrifice or consecration being made by others; how do you do that? What does the “doctrine of Christ” allow you to do without regard to the sins and errors you find all around you? Even if all the world is content to remain Telestial, or some few encourage only a Terrestrial law be followed, can you still find and live the “doctrine of Christ?” Does Nephi’s teachings require you to be anything or anyone special or noteworthy in this life? Can you do this in private, between you and God? Can you follow the “doctrine of Christ” by what you think, ponder, pray, say, do and believe?

This statement, which concludes the exposition on “the doctrine of Christ” is concluded using the names of “the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.” Although only a few will recognize this, it is a formula used when using the sealing authority. If you are aware of this, then you would realize what Nephi has done is declared that he possesses the Patriarchal Priesthood authority, which invariably includes the power to seal. He will mention “sealing” his testimony again before he concludes. But if you know this is a formula employed in connection with this authority, you will recognize it. Within the ordinances of the church, we use this formula when baptizing and again when sealing a marriage in the Temple.  All other intermediate ordinances are done “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

2 Nephi 31: 19-20

2 Nephi 31: 19-20:
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.  Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. 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. in him,  

Once on the narrow path, are you done? Have you “arrived?” Is there “rest?”

No, you are on the path, but you cannot turn back. If you even look back, you risk moving on an uneven path. (Luke 9: 62.)

You could not get this far if you hadn’t followed “the word of Christ” and therefore you can only continue by following the word of Christ along the journey.

Your path is not just based on Christ’s words, but also “with unshaken faith in Him.” What is “unshaken faith?”

What does it mean to rely “wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save?” Can you take any pride in what you have done? Can you boast of something about yourself? (Mosiah 2: 22-25.)

What does it mean to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ?” How would “steadfastness” be lived?

What is a “perfect brightness of hope?” I’ve defined that kind of “hope” in Eighteen Verses.

How does any person come into possession of “a love of God and of all men?” Would that come from within, or as a gift from God? Moroni prayed for the gentiles to receive grace that they might obtain charity. (Ether 12: 36.) The Lord replied that if the gentiles lack charity it would not cause any loss to Moroni, for he was saved. (Ether 12: 37.) [Once again reflecting the pessimism which the latter-day gentiles are consistently viewed by the Book of Mormon.]

Why “press forward?” 

What does it mean for us to be “feasting upon the word of Christ?” Is “feasting” something more than participating in a gospel doctrine class discussion once a week? What would it require for you to “feast” upon the “word of Christ?” Is scripture study alone enough?  Would you need to receive anything directly from Him to be included in the “feast?” How would that be obtained?

Did you notice once again we are reminded we must “endure to the end?” Once again, you must determine how “enduring” is to be accomplished, and what “enduring” will require.

If, however, you do these things then “behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” Notice the promise of eternal life comes from the office of “the Father.” It is because this final step comes from the authority to make you a son. His office is the only one which can declare “this day have I begotten thee.” (Psalms 2: 7.)

Don’t Over-think Things

There are some brilliant comments from some of you. Profound comments, even. But you must be careful about over-thinking things. Doctrine is not to be understood as an academic or scholarly undertaking. (Remember the chapter in Eighteen Verses on Moroni 10: 5.)

It is supposed to be understood in the doing. (John 7: 17.) When you have done it, as Nephi has, then you will be able to explain the doctrine. To attempt to have a command of the doctrine without having done the will of the Father is to always be left without understanding. It is also not necessary to be able to fully expound the doctrine before doing it. It is necessary to take action consistent with the invitation offered to you.

Your mind can work at cross purposes. Remember the chapter on “Becoming as a Child” in The Second Comforter. In order to go forward you must go back. Simplicity is at the heart of God’s offer to commune with you.

2 Nephi 31: 18

 
“And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.”

This is the path to “eternal life.” It is “strait and narrow,” but it is the way to eternal life. What is eternal life?

 
Why is the path “strait and narrow?” Is it to deprive you of something, or is it to direct you toward the only path where abundance can be obtained? If you become connected to the “true vine,” are you then able to “bear fruit?” (John 15: 4-7.) If you bear fruit, what can you ask of Him that He will not give to you? (John 15: 7.) What does that mean? Have you read Beloved Enos? If so you will understand what is being discussed.
 
By doing as the Father and Son have asked, you “receive the Holy Ghost.” What does it mean to have the Holy Ghost dwell within you? (D&C 130: 22.) How does a spirit dwell inside a person? How does that spirit become “Holy” and the third member of the Godhead? If the scriptures say, and Christ taught that those who receive God’s word are gods, what does it mean? (John 10: 34-36.)
 
Did you notice the Father and Son promise the Holy Ghost, and when you receive it the Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and Son? The first promise to you the last, and the last bears witness of the first. In one eternal round, the doctrine of Christ includes all members of the Godhead combined into a witness that will come to you, take up residence within you, and make you a vessel of the promises  fulfilled. You are to return home, and take your abode again. Or, more correctly, permit Them to take up Their abode with you. (John 14: 23.)
 
You become the record of God’s dealings with mankind. You become the promise of God’s presence, for you fulfill “the promise which He hath made.”
 
You receive the “record of heaven” or, more correctly, the Record of Heaven, for it is a proper name and title. (Moses 6: 61.) When it has come to you, then this Record of Heaven will abide with you. You will be the one who possess the “peaceable things of immortal glory.”  You will know “the truth of all things” for it will reside within you. (Moses 6: 61.) You will understand wisdom, for she will be with you. You will know mercy, possess truth, and be capable of performing judgment, for the judgment you judge will not be yours but will be given to you. (3 Nephi 27: 27.) God will dwell within you.
 
When He appears to you, you will see Him as He is, for you will be at last like Him. (1 John 3: 1-2.) If you can understand this, then you will purify yourself to receive it. (1 John 3: 3.) For the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost will purge and purify, refining you with that holy fire. (Mal. 3: 2.)
 
This doctrine of Christ will bring you in contact with God. You were meant to return to the Family you came from. It is the homecoming you have always felt was needed. You do not belong here. There is something higher, something more holy calling to you. It is not found in an institution, or program, or award, or office. It is only found in God, who is your home.
 
The doctrine of Christ is the doctrine of God’s return to be with you and abide with you. It is Him coming to sup with you. He has been knocking at the door all these years seeking entry into your life. (Rev. 3: 20.) If you let Him come in, He will prepare a throne for you. (Rev. 3: 21-22.) Only those who have descended will be permitted to rise. Only those who humble themselves can be exalted. (Matt. 23: 12.) While all those who rule rather than serve, will be disappointed. These are they who declare themselves worthy to be followed and insist they can use compulsion. They pretend to be on the Lord’s errand while they are on their own. They crave dominion over others but will be cast down. They will be denied priesthood, and be left begging for water to cool their tongues for the torment of it all. (D&C 121: 37 and Luke 16: 23-24.)
 
How much better is it, then, for us to repent?  It seems foolish to do otherwise. I find I’m persuaded by Nephi.

2 Nephi 31: 17

2 Nephi 31: 17: 

“Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.” 

You must “do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do.” You must “follow Him.” There is no other way nor name given under heaven to obtain salvation. (Mosiah 5: 8.)

It was for this reason Nephi was “shown” these things. The Lord and His Father taught Nephi so he could in turn teach others, including us.  The message was intended to save many, not just Nephi. But we must give heed to the message when we hear it.

The “gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water.” You must repent first. Then, having repented, receive baptism by water. When this is done, “then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.”

Without the “fire” to purge the sacrifice upon the altar, it is not cleansed. It cannot become holy unless exposed to that fire.

But note – this is automatic. It is not by the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost is not required in this teaching. Nephi, with elaboration from the Father and the Son, is teaching that this is an event that follows the process of “repentance and baptism by water.”  That is, the ordinance of baptism, when accompanied by repentance and done right, is the reason for this event. 

Laying on of hands is for “the gift of the Holy Ghost” so there may be a companion and guide for a person. This is an ordinance. It is also the moment one is confirmed a member of the church. But it is not necessarily co-equal with receiving “fire and the Holy Ghost” as described here. There is nothing that excludes it from being coincidental in time, however. They may happen at the same moment. That is, after baptism, and while receiving the laying on of hands, one may receive both the gift of the Holy Ghost, and also fire and the Holy Ghost. As a result one is renewed in the manner described in this chapter. They are not co-equal.

Laying on of hands does not appear to be an ordinance in the Book of Mormon until the coming of Christ in 3 Nephi. The only potential exception is found in Alma 31: 36, where Alma “clapped his hands upon them who were with him” and they received the Holy Ghost. This is similar to the Lord “breathing” the Holy Ghost upon His disciples. (John 20: 22.) They were instructed to lay on hands, and would perform that act rather than breathing upon those who were to receive the Holy Ghost. The ordinance is different from “clapping” or from “breathing” and involves the process we follow in the church today. (D&C 33: 15.)

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost promised here is given without man’s involvement, comes from heaven, is promised by both the Father and the Son. It is a signal of redemption, purification and holiness. It is included in the “gate” for entering into God’s presence.  For God is a “consuming fire” and those who enter into that presence must be able to endure that fire. (Heb. 12: 29; see also Deu. 4: 24.)  Without the capacity to do so, a person would be consumed by the flames. (Lev. 10: 1-2.) The fire and the Holy Ghost are also given as a sign to the recipient that they may know it is safe for them to enter into God’s presence and not be consumed. In earlier versions of the First Vision, Joseph described the “pillar of light” as a “pillar of fire” which gradually descended. He wondered if the trees would be consumed as it descended, but seeing they were not he thought it safe for him to be exposed to it as well. When it fell upon him, the vision opened up and he saw the Father and the Son.

Christ also entered into this glorious light on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matt. 17: 1-2.)

We are to do as Nephi instructs, “do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter.”

We live below the standard Christ set for us.  We needn’t. Have faith. Press forward feasting on His words. You can and will find Him there.