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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.

Spencer W. Kimball 1978

2 Nephi 31: 16

“And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.”
What does it mean to “endure to the end?” It is to put up with all the difficulties of mortality? Are we simply supposed to overcome boredom, irritation, trials of our patience, and the offenses caused by others? Is that what it means to “endure?”
What about “endure to the end in following the example of the Son of the living God?” Is that something different?

What if you see errors and mistakes all around you? Is it “enduring” to keep your mouth shut?  Do you need to speak up?

What about the changes that have been made or are being made which alarm you? Is it “enduring” to stay silent in the face of things that suggest this is harmful?
When I first went through the Temple, it was the understood and longstanding practice of the Saints to hold prayer circles in their homes, invoking the “True Order of Prayer” as taught in the Temple. President Kimball sent a letter to the Stake Presidents terminating that practice. I have a copy of that letter. It said that prayer circles were no longer to be practiced outside the Temple – by anyone in the church.

Then in 1990 the True Order of Prayer was altered again, with the elimination of penalties. Thereafter the name changed to the “Order of Prayer,” rather than the “True Order of Prayer.”

Those who went through the Temple before 1990 would know about how to conduct a prayer circle involving the True Order of Prayer. But they were instructed not to do so outside the Temple. Those who went through after 1990 would not know how to conduct a True Order of Prayer circle, because they were not instructed in the Temple in anything other than the Order of Prayer.

It was still possible for those who knew the pre-1990 form to communicate the process in the Temple to others. However, recently there has begun a practice of hushing any discussions  seen taking place inside the Celestial Rooms of the Temples.

It is as if those who are in control are opposed to keeping the earlier information, and working to keep it from being preserved by others. Is it “enduring to the end” to watch these changes and say nothing? Or is it “enduring” to actually endure, to preserve, to persevere against opposition and to keep as an enduring feature of the faith, information you received if you went through the Temple before 1990? Does a person who, in all sincerity before God, believes that Isaiah’s prophecy warned against this (Isa. 24: 5), “endure” if he remains silent? Or must he speak up? If so, how and to who? Which is enduring? Which is enduring to the end in following the example of the Son of the Living God? What example did Christ set in relation to this kind of a conflict? Did Christ submit, or resist authority? If He did both, how does one endure while appropriately weighing those things they will submit to, and those things they will resist?

What about Nephi’s warning that you “cannot be saved” if you fail to do the right kind of “enduring” to the end? If salvation itself hinges upon solving this riddle, then how carefully must you weigh what you resist and what you submit to?

It is for this reason we work out our salvation before God as Nephi has explained, acting no hypocrisy, with real intent, having faith in God, but also with fear and trembling. (Mormon 9: 27, also Philip. 2: 12.)

Indeed, God has given us a test worthy of a God. And only those worthy of becoming among the gods will be able to solve the riddle.  Because only they will humble themselves, come with a contrite spirit and broken heart to offer upon the altar a sacrifice worthy of being accepted. Others will proceed in ignorance and arrogance to proudly proclaim: “I know my culture is true!” “I know all is well in Zion!” “I follow a broad and safe mainstream into a great and spacious building where there is peace, pride, success, prosperity and assurance that I am saved while all around me there are those who will be cast down to hell!” Or similar such nonsense… Warmed over Evangelical gibberish, with a vague Mormonesque vocabulary applied to it. Having a form of godliness, but without power. This new form of ungodliness will not be lacking in body, parts and passions, for the image of the idol raised will be the very image of the person looking in the mirror. They will think themselves destined to rule and reign over principalities, dominions, heights, depths and others. They are their own idols! What irony it all invokes! It must make the devil look up to heaven and laugh still. (Moses 7: 26.) Perhaps we ought to see some humor in it as well.  …Or, since we’re speaking of the loss of men’s souls, maybe it can never be humorous.  Only tragedy. Only disappointment. Only foolishness.
Where is the hope? Is there none? Yes, in repentance! Changing our course! Remembering God again! Restoring what has been lost! Returning and repenting! That’s right! And Nephi has invited us to do just that.
So “enduring to the end in following the example of the Son of the living God” is not easy. Even understanding the meaning of these words is challenging. Thank you Nephi. You have proven yet again how prayerful we all must be. Let us, therefore, repent!

2 Nephi 31: 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.”

The dialogue continues. It is clear the conversation being reported by Nephi is one where both the Son and the Father spoke to Nephi, and contributed to the dialogue. A question was posed about whether Nephi heard this in connection with his vision of Christ’s mortal baptism by John the Baptist. He certainly beheld that event. (1 Nephi 11: 27.) However, the testimony and teaching of both the Father and Son regarding baptism, as reported by Nephi in this final sermon, are separate from that event. They are an independent revelation and explanation to Nephi, where both the Father and Son taught the importance of baptism.

We also have the important condition set out of “enduring to the end” as a requisite for salvation. A while ago there was a question about the concept of “enduring to the end” and the Second Comforter. They are directly linked. You cannot have a great season of concentrated effort, followed by abandonment of purpose. If it is in you to abandon the journey, then you will never qualify to receive these blessings. The Lord knows the intent of the heart. The preceding verses describe how the Lord measures the heart. You cannot deceive Him.

The Lord also knows whether it is in you to “endure to the end.” Whether the end has come is irrelevant to Him. He beholds all things, past, present and future. (D&C 130: 7.)  Therefore, He knows if you are willing to “endure to the end” before your life has been lived.

Enduring to the end, or the fixed purpose to always serve God so that you may always have His spirit to be with you, is essential to salvation. You claim this is your determination every time you take the sacrament. (D&C 20: 76-79.) Whether you take this commitment seriously or not determines whether you are destined for salvation or not. It also determines if you are qualified to receive His personal ministry and comfort.
The Father declares: “Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful.” The reason Christ is the Father’s “Beloved” is directly related to His words being “true and faithful.” That is, Christ only does and says what He knows represents the Father’s will. He has done this “from the beginning.” (3 Nephi 11: 11.) He represents the “Word” of the Father because you can find in Christ’s words and deeds the very word of the Father. (D&C 93: 8.)

It is this that qualified Christ to be the Redeemer. His words are faithful and true. So are Nephi’s. The words are the Lord’s though they were delivered by a man.

Nephi, having been true and faithful in all things, was able to converse with the Father and the Son through the veil and receive from them further instruction, counsel, warning, and comfort because of the things he learned. This is the pattern for all of us.  This is the culminating message of the Gospel of Christ.

2 Nephi 31: 14

“But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.”

Nephi first gave us his personal testimony and witness of the principles. Having done so, now he adds the testimony and promise of Christ.  Christ’s promise and covenant are slightly different than Nephi’s formula. But the two are nevertheless in complete harmony.

The “voice of the Son” declares to Nephi, and Nephi testifies to us, that “after ye have repented of you sins” and you have “witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep [Christ’s] commandments” by receiving “baptism of water” and then have received “baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” you will speak with “a new tongue.”
How can a man speak with a “new tongue?” What does “a new tongue” mean?
Think of Isaiah’s meeting with the Lord in the Temple. He confessed how unworthy his speech had been, and how much regret he felt at having been a man of “unclean lips.” (Isa. 6: 5.) His lips were unclean because of the low, mean, vulgar and unworthy things that occupied daily conversation. Or, as Joseph put it: “How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God, according to the purposes of His will, from before the foundation of the world!” (Letter from Liberty Jail.)
To speak with a new tongue is to speak worthily of sacred things. It is to correctly weigh the truth of a matter, know by the power of the Spirit that what is said is true and in conformity with God’s will and then to speak it. It is to render sacred the vessel by the things it holds.
To speak with a new tongue is to be able to speak with the tongue of an angel because you have become an angel; or a companion of angels anyway. It is to elevate your thoughts, and then what proceeds forth from your mouth, because of what is in your thoughts. It is to reveal truth by the things you are authorized or commissioned to speak. It is to have a right to speak in the name of the Lord by His consent, His authority, His will. It is to “know, nothing doubting” that He is your Lord. (Ether 3: 19.) It is to say, without hypocrisy, without guile, without hesitation and in truth, that the power of salvation is found in Christ and that you are His. That He has entrusted to you words of life, and that salvation can be found only in Him and His words. It is to have the Word of God within you.

Can an angel fall from grace? Only by being  cast out of heaven. (2 Nephi 2: 17.) When an angel falls he becomes a devil. For these it would be better if they had never known Christ, for they have decided to crucify Him anew. Because after having had the Holy Spirit make great things known unto them they have turned  against the Lord by their knowing rebellion against Him. (D&C 76: 35.) They are sons of perdition, and the heavens weep over them. (D&C 76: 26, 31-32.) These are they who know the battle is and always has been the Lord’s, and they either align themselves with Him or against Him.

You cannot speak with the tongue of angels without having knowledge of certain things given you. The clarity with which you can declare truth is distinct from what others say or claim to know. Light and truth, which is intelligence or the glory of God (D&C 93: 36), is not a mystery but an understood and appreciated experience where darkness has fled and God’s own glory has been upon you. (Moses 1: 11.)
This is what the Gospel of Christ was intended to confer. Not just belief, or faith, but knowledge and understanding. The journey back to God’s presence was always the outcome intended by the Gospel. The Gospel message is and always has been that you should receive further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil. Not through an intermediary, but in your own behalf, face to face.
The entirety of the process may be reduced to just a few words: You are intended to receive baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, which purges you from all sin. After being made clean, every whit, which is suggested by “fire” then through the instrumentality of the “Holy Ghost” which dwells within you you may be brought into remembrance of all things.
These then are the words of both Nephi and Christ. They agree. They are the two witnesses of this doctrine and truth. Therefore, it is so.

2 Nephi 31: 13

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall  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, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” 

Now we get the explanation of what it means to “follow Christ.” It is not merely the act itself, but the underlying intent of the act.  To follow Him requires:

-Full purpose of heart. What does that imply or require?

-Acting no hypocrisy. How so?
-No deception before God. Can a man deceive God?
-Real intent. What does “real intent” include?
-Repenting of your sins. How does one repent of their sins?
-Witnessing unto the Father: How do you witness to Him?
-Willing to take upon you the name of Christ. How?

The only way I can think to touch upon Nephi’s meaning is to get personal about this process. It is by how I have lived that I have come to understand Nephi’s meaning.

I remember as the missionaries were teaching me that I came to the conviction that the restoration of the Gospel had indeed happened. It was not a happy thought. I did NOT want to become a Mormon. It seemed like a terrible change to attempt to make, in what was an otherwise content life at the time. As a lifestyle some of it seemed to have merit.  Not drinking, smoking and living a higher moral standard certainly made some sense to me. But the association with Mormons had no appeal to me at the time. I thought them shallow and artificial in many ways, and did not want to become immersed in a society that seemed to be either a pretense, or if not, then living a standard I could never attain.

I reluctantly accepted baptism, not because I wanted to become Mormon, but because I truly believed it was the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. However humiliating it may be to associate with a social group I had practically nothing in common, it was the right thing to do before God. I told God that I was doing this because of Him, and that I doubted I could live these standards, doubted I could be happy among these odd people, that I did not know if they were really sincere, but that I was. I intended to try to leave such sins behind as I understood I was committing, and to attempt to become part of the artificial life-form known as “Mormon.” But I doubted my capacity to continue on to the end. In all this I was absolutely sincere, but completely hopeless about what it would result in over the long run.

I was, in fact, willing to take upon me these obligations as a matter between me and God.  However badly it may turn out between me and other Mormons, I expected that as between me and God it would be better than alright. I thought it would please Him.

So I was baptized.

Oddly, upon baptism things changed. A great deal, in fact. What seemed unlikely for me to be able to do under my own capacity, became almost second-nature. These people who I feared I could never fit in with became my brothers and sisters. It took a surprisingly short time and I found that what I feared most was the lightest of burdens to carry. Associating with other Mormons was delightful. I found that I loved the Mormons and I loved being one of them. It ceased to be “them” and “me” but turned into “us” and “we.”

And, by damn, we are a peculiar lot. We’re the oddest people on the planet. Peculiar doesn’t even begin to capture our quirkiness, phobias, longings, hopes, aspirations, misunderstandings, convictions, genius mixed with stupidity, juxtapositions of truth and error, traditions and deep doctrines. We’re a cacophony, really. But underlying it all is a hope that we are on the right track and a conviction that we’re going to please God even if it requires us to offend Him.

I appreciate the faith restored through Joseph at a whole different level than the one which brought me into the fold. It IS true.  Abidingly and without any failing, the faith restored through Joseph is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The sad truth is, however, that faith has not been preserved as Joseph brought it back.  Even from the time I was baptized in the waning four months of President Lee’s administration until today, the faith has undergone a radical revisionism. Today it isn’t even what President Kimball presided over. It is becoming increasingly altered, bureaucratized, regimented and turning into a religious product managed by an increasingly menacing middle-management which prefers rules and regulations to the Spirit and truth. They manage it as if it is another Fortune 500 company whose product line is religion and religious paraphernalia. The Spirit increasingly withdraws from our councils, our conferences, our private as well as public conversations, because it is grieved, and not many people seem to notice as it does so.

The faith I joined still exists. But it is covered by layers of sediment making it progressively more difficult to breathe life into it. That original faith, the one that attracted me, was always meant to connect the believer to Christ. Directly, and without intermediaries. Each Saint was to be a prophet, because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, according to John the Beloved. 

But I began this process “acting no hypocrisy” and I will finish it remaining so. My “real intent” is before God, and the resistance, opposition and criticism of men will not alter that. Indeed, it cannot. As soon as I respect the opinions of men more than the “full purpose of heart” required of me, I cease to be “willing to take upon me the name of Christ.”

I understand Nephi’s words. I live them. I cannot do otherwise at this point. It is for that reason, therefore, that I have been privileged to receive “the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost;” which has permitted me from time to time to “speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.”  It has not been easy. It is certainly not what I wanted when missionaries interrupted a content life, and introduced this inconvenient faith to a reluctant 19-year old. It was not what I expected when the journey began before baptism, nor what I thought would then follow immediately after I was baptized. I find now, as I survey the altered and altering faith practiced by the Church I belong to, there are increasingly more troubles in living and acting with:

-Full purpose of heart

-Acting no hypocrisy
-No deception before God
-Real intent
-Repenting of my sins
-Witnessing unto the Father
-Willing to take upon me the name of Christ

But that will always remain a matter between the Father, the Lord and myself. Nephi lived these things, too. It was for that reason he understood them and was able to set them out with clarity in writing. Light and truth, which is intelligence, only come as a consequence of living it.

I will never stop being Mormon, nor forsake the faith I have accepted. I love associating with the Saints. I’m also glad to not be a part of leadership. I wouldn’t want the condemnation that accompanies leading these people in the course that we are currently set. It is better to practice the faith as I understand it, explain it to those who care to listen, support those who try to keep my ward family at peace with one another, and raise my children to respect the light and truth.

I am content. More than content, I am filled with joy and hope for what lies ahead for myself and all those who have the testimony of Jesus.