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3 Nephi 11: 28-30

3 Nephi 11: 28-30:

“And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.  For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”
The Lord’s elaboration on “disputations” and “contentions” is important and consistent enough that all 3 verses should be considered together.
First, He clarifies that baptism must be done as He “commanded you.” Deviations are not permitted and should not be asked for, or entertained. That is the thing about ordinances. When given, they are to be kept in exactly the manner they come from Him. When we change them we risk breaking the covenant between Him and ourselves. (Isa. 24: 5.)
The Book of Mormon is silent about the “disputations” which existed among them over baptism. However, when Christ says there has “hitherto been” disputes, we know they existed. It becomes apparent from later passages that one practice which caused some of the argument was the issue of baptizing infants. There were likely others, as well. The Lord wants that to end. Perform the ordinances as He sets them out, and stop arguing about the manner.

The reason arguments arise is because men stop gathering light by righteous behavior. When they lose light they cease to understand the truth. They stray from the correct practice of the ordinance because they are unable to understand its importance. They see no reason to continue the ordinance in one form when another seems to work just as well. The result is a change to the ordinance. It is ever the same. By the time the change is made, the ones making it are unaware of any importance associated with the ordinance they change. They discard what they view is meaningless. It would require a good deal more light and truth for them to understand the importance of what was given them. But that light and truth has passed away from them because of their conduct.

Into the darkness the devil enters with arguments over the ordinances: Why do it that way? It really doesn’t mean anything. It is arcane and outdated. It doesn’t really matter as long as you still have faith in Christ. [That particular lie is very effective because it allows the person to presume they have faith, when in fact they haven’t the faith sufficient to obey Christ.] People will get more out of the changes if we make them. People will have greater peace of mind if we baptize their infants. We’ll save more souls, because by baptizing them when they’re infants we include everyone who would die before getting baptized. Our numbers will increase. We’ll look more successful by getting more followers by adding their numbers into the group. What we change isn’t important, anyway. If it were important, we would know that, and since it doesn’t seem important to us, it must, in fact, not be important. Those who rebel at change are not really faithful. This shows inspiration; it’s faith affirming. Change is proof that God is still leading us. …And other such arguments and persuasions from our adversary.

On the other hand, Christ is saying to keep the ordinances unchanged. And further, don’t even begin to dispute them. They are off limits for argument, dispute and discussion. When you open the opportunity to dispute over the ordinances, you are allowing the devil an opportunity to influence the discussion and change the ordinances.

Disputes lead to contention, contention leads to anger, and anger is the devil’s tool. So don’t start down that road. Accept and understand the ordinances. If you are perplexed by them, then let those who understand speak, exhort, expound and teach concerning them. As they do, you will come into the unity of faith and become one. Perplexity cannot exist when there is light and truth. Light and truth comes from understanding the ordinances, not changing them. So do not begin the process through dispute. The purpose of discussion is not to dispute, which leads to contention, which leads to anger.
When the Gospel and its ordinances turn into something angry and contentious, then the Spirit has fled, and souls are lost. It is the devil’s objective to prevent you from practicing the ordinances in the correct manner. But, more importantly, it is his objective to prevent you from becoming one. When he uses arguments over ordinances to cause disunity, he is playing with two tools at the same time. First, changing the ordinances brings about cursings, and second, encouraging contention and anger grieves the Spirit, and prevents the Saints from becoming one.

As a result, disputes or discussions over ordinances, which could lead to changing them, should not be entertained. As soon as the ordinances are open to dispute, reconsideration, alteration or to being changed, then you are opening the door to this whole process. It culminates in the souls of men being lost through apostasy. Once the ordinances are changed, the earth is cursed (Isa. 24: 5) and Israel is scattered rather than gathered (Jere. 31: 36).

The devil knows this, even if men do not. Men are urged to take steps they presume have little effect, all the while being lied to by the enemy of their souls.
When men arrive at the point they are angry in their hearts with one another, they are not united by love as they are intended to be. These are the end results of the two paths. One leading to love and joy (Hel. 5: 44), and the other to anger and wrath (D&C 76: 33).
Disputes over ordinances are caused by the devil. Ordinances that preserve symbolic truths and have the power to save are turned into tools for the devil by disputations. It is a complete victory when discussions about changing ordinances are allowed to take place. Even good men are taken in by such disputes.

3 Nephi 11: 27

3 Nephi 11: 27: 

“And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one.”
The ordinance of baptism is to be done in the names of all three members of the Godhead. And, correspondingly, Christ wants us to understand the unity that exists between these three. They are “one” with each other.
The “oneness” of God the Father, His Son, and the Holy Ghost was discussed by Christ in His teachings of the New Testament. The Intercessory Prayer recorded in John 17, includes His expansion on the idea. There Christ taught: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17: 20-24.)
This unity between the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is a point of doctrine raised by Christ in this teaching. It is important for us to understand that the message we receive from the Holy Ghost will be the same as the message we would receive from Christ. It is also important for us to rely on and have faith in Christ and the Holy Ghost so that we may trust them to bring us to the Father.
It is also a model for us to follow. We are supposed to drop our fears and worries, shed our ambitions and desires, and come together in unity until we are “one.” The non-competitive, fully cooperative manner the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are “one” is the model of Zion itself. Divisions and strifes are unthinkable between the members of the Godhead. In contrast, among us they are unavoidable.
The ideal is always the standard. We push toward perfection. The Father lives in absolutes. Therefore we strive for the absolute, all the while struggling with our relative and incremental improvement. We are in the process of being “added upon.” (Abr. 3: 26.) The Father, on the other hand, dwells where there is nothing but perfection. (D&C 1: 31.) So for us the Mediator and the Savior establish the bridge between where we are forbidden to enter in sin, and the borrowed cleanliness which momentarily lets us enter in.
We are to become “one” with Them. It is a distant goal, to be accomplished after being “added upon” for a long time. Joseph taught in the King Follett Discourse: “Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power… When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”
To become “one” will be to reach the end of a long journey. We can have promises of that end. We can receive covenants that will bring us there. But our arrival will “be a great while after [we] have passed through the veil” for “it is not all to be comprehended in this world.” Moses was told that, also. (Moses 1: 5.) We may be initiated, but to enter in will be “a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”
So the ideal of “one” with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost for us is distant, to be sought, to be kept before us, but not to be obtained until some time later. But to be “one” with each other is another matter. Being “one” is required of us for Zion to return. Zion is required for the Lord to dwell among us again. He is going to return to a Zion, no matter how few may be involved. He will come even if only two or three gather in His name. (Matt. 18: 20.) Zion may be small, but it will nonetheless be Zion before He can visit with her.

Comment Chaos

It has become apparent that this has changed in the last week from a teaching blog into a discussion blog.  As a result, comments are now disabled.  There won’t be any comments on this blog from now on.  Existing comments will not be taken down; but no new ones will be added.

As the next few verses are discussed, it will become apparent that adding or deleting from the doctrine of Christ is forbidden.  I cannot, in good conscience, violate the very doctrine I am expounding even as I expound upon it.

It is true that this blog has never vouched for the reliability or accuracy of comments made by others.  It is also true that I have freely allowed criticism against me to be published without any defense or challenge to the critics.  The decision has nothing to do with criticism of me.  It has to do with the fact that the overall content of this blog has become primarily comments and distantly the things I have been interested in explaining or teaching.  As the posts become dwarfed by the comments, the whole purpose of this blog is compromised.

3 Nephi 11: 26

3 Nephi 11: 26:

“And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” 

 
The manner of baptism is clearly by immersion. To perform the ordinance, they must be put under the water and then “come forth again out of the water” to follow the instruction given by Christ.

The purpose of baptism is to follow Christ’s example. (John 10: 27, John 14: 15.) It symbolizes the death of the old man of sin, and the resurrection into a new life in Christ. (Romans 6: 4.) That symbol cannot be mirrored by sprinkling. It must involve immersion.

In immersion we are placed below the surface of the water, in the same way as the dead are buried below ground.

In immersion the breath of life is cut off while under the water, and restored anew when you “come forth again out of the water.”

In the case of the officiator, they are the one who immerses and then brings the recipient up out of the water. Performing this ordinance puts the officiator in the role of the Lord who holds the keys of death (Rev. 1: 18) and resurrection (2 Nephi 2: 8).

Those who are baptized, and those who officiate, enact, by symbol, some eternal truths regarding the plan of salvation. In the very moment the ordinance is performed there is a renewal in symbol of life, innocence, forgiveness and resurrection. The earth itself is blessed by such things as baptism and other ordinances. The earth itself is defiled when the ordinances are not kept exactly as prescribed. (Isa. 24: 5; Moses 7: 28.)

The earth knows that God ordained the ordinances of heaven and earth.  (Jeremiah 33: 25.) As regular and reliable as the movements of the sun and moon are, so too should the ordinances of the Lord be kept in their appointed ways. (Jeremiah 31: 35-36.)

The heavens and earth rejoice when the ordinances are kept. They symbolize eternal hope, man’s acceptance of God’s plan, and a presence of righteousness in a fallen world. Our own participation in ordinances are vital to our own renewal, and the renewal of all creation through redemption of each individual soul.

The baptism ordinance, like all those that follow after, is intended not merely to fulfill an initiation rite. It is intended to communicate light and truth into the mind of the individual who is performing and receiving the ordinance. It is meant to enlighten.

I have discussed previously the meaning of “come forth” used by Christ in restoring life to Lazarus (John 11: 43) and therefore won’t repeat it again here. It is no accident the Lord employs the same meaning here as there. We are rising from the tomb of sin which imprisons us into the new life awaiting us in Christ.

The Lord is more than brilliant. He is filled with light and truth. The closer you draw to Him, the more light and truth you begin to receive from Him.

3 Nephi 11: 24-25

“And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:  Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Christ prescribes the exact words to be used in the ordinance. However, the instruction we use today is slightly different in wording, but identical in meaning: Instead of: “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ” we say instead: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.” (D&C 20: 73.) 

After giving these disciples “power to baptize” Christ’s instructions require them to say they have “authority” (in 3 Nephi) or today, hold a “commission” (in D&C 20). Is there a difference between “authority” to baptize and the “power” to baptize?
Why does the authorization come from Jesus Christ, but the ordinance get performed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?” The power to do the ordinance comes from the Son, but the ordinance is in the name of each member of the Godhead. Why?
Though they are one, the names show they occupy different roles and hold different responsibilities. (As to following and being sanctified by different laws and receiving different kingdoms, see D&C 88: 21-26.) We are in the fallen world where the primary means God communicates with man is through the Holy Ghost. (D&C 14: 8.) When, however, a person rises up through the merits of Jesus Christ to receive Him as a minister, they are living in a Terrestrial law and inherit Terrestrial blessings. (D&C 76: 77.) When He has finished His preparations with the person, and can bring them to the Father, the person is brought to a point where the Father can accept and acknowledge them as a son. (See D&C 76: 54-59, 92.) They are then begotten of the Father. (Psalms 2: 7.) Through each of these steps, does baptism matter? Does one receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost without baptism? Do they come to Christ without baptism? Do they inherit what the Father has without baptism? Is baptism critical to the association with each member of the Godhead?

The point at which the person’s journey is completed, and they may enter into the rest of the Lord is when the Lord declares by His own voice that the man’s offering has been accepted and they are sealed up to eternal life. I’ve explained this on the blog as to Joseph Smith. I’ve explained it for Enos and others in Beloved Enos. The Gospel is the same now, as always before. Therefore, no matter how you will receive blessings of the Lord in the afterlife, it will be through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by the ordinances instituted for claiming blessings. These were established as law to govern man’s conduct here even before the world was. (D&C 130: 20-21.)

Note also the person cannot receive the ordinance without also having their name stated. Why do you suppose it is necessary to first call out the name of the person before they receive an ordinance? Why would the Lord’s instruction require a person to be “called” first? Though they are submitting to the ordinance voluntarily, why call their name?

Does it matter if the full legal name is used? We do that in the church, of course. But does it matter? If the Lord called Joseph by name at the time of the First Vision (and He did, see JSH 1: 17), what name do you suppose was called? Was it “Joseph Smith, Jr.”? Or was it “Joseph”? Or was it that name used by his most intimate friend at the time?

Whenever a name is given by an angel in an appearance to parents, the name is always the first name, or the name their friends would call them. (See, e.g., Luke 1: 13; Luke 1: 31.) Similarly, when the Lord calls a man’s name, He uses his first, given name. (See 1 Samuel 3: 4; Exodus 3: 4.) The Lord does not use formal names, but uses intimate names when addressing His servants.
We call the person to be baptized by name. Our practice is to use the full, legal name.

3 Nephi 11: 23

“Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.”

The candidate for baptism must first qualify themselves by “repent[ing] of his sins.” That’s an interesting pre-condition in the Lord’s instruction.  Until one has determined to abandon their sins, they are not fit for baptism. They first decide to lay things behind, move forward in following the Lord, determined to serve Him. This decision to make a change must come “through your words.” Meaning that before someone can repent, they must first learn the conditions for repentance and following the Lord.

This is much like the instructions given by revelation to this dispensation about how baptism is to be performed. We were told, “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.” (D&C 20: 37.) 
After having made the decision to be baptized with a broken heart and contrite spirit, confessing before the church that you have repented of your sins (or be willing to change and follow Christ), determined to endure to the end, a person receives from the Spirit of Christ a witness that changes their behavior. Their works show they are penitent. At this point a person is ready for baptism. Until then, they are not ready and the ordinance is not appropriate.
Now the instructions in Section 20 are more complete than the abbreviated statement in Christ’s instructions to His Nephite disciples, but it is to the same effect. When this pattern is followed, people are converted and follow Christ. Their baptism matters and will change them. When these instructions are not followed, the ordinance is relatively meaningless and people drift off into inactivity. I believe today the numbers evidence that approximately 10% of those who are baptized are actually converted. The rest are just names and numbers used as membership statistics to be reported and proclaimed each April in a worldwide conference.
The Gospel of Christ is quite exact and it works whenever it is tried. It is tried today in about 10% of the cases of those who are baptized by our missionaries.
Perhaps the ordinance ought to be offered to more of our adults as they come to recognize that they may not have actually been prepared to receive the ordinance when given to them. No matter, there’s always the Alma exception. (That’s when in the course of baptizing someone else, you go ahead and take the covenant yourself. See Mosiah 18: 13-15.) Clearly Alma was baptizing Helam at the time, and added himself for good measure; he (Alma) feeling the need for the ordinance himself. He went ahead and was baptized again for good measure. This seems to be a precedent that would allow for others to do likewise – perhaps when performing a vicarious baptism for the dead. I leave the Alma exception for your own consideration, and will stop short of advocating such a thing. I just notice things and share what I notice.  I’m not trying to convince anyone to do anything.
In Christ’s instructions, and in Section 20, the heavy lifting of repentance precedes baptism. Then, after determining to change and follow Christ, leaving behind the foolish errors of the past, the person is fit to be baptized. At that point the baptism symbolizes the new life being undertaken. The presence of the Holy Ghost then ratifies the purging of the repentant, now baptized convert. But that comes next in Christ’s teaching. 

3 Nephi 11: 22

3 Nephi 11: 22:

“And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.”

Space was limited and the mechanics of writing was difficult for Mormon. Therefore, in his abridgement of the account, for all others “the Lord called,” and the ceremony was repeated for each. In the process, He “said likewise” unto each of them. Every individual person was acknowledged by the Lord as having conferred upon each of them “power to baptize” by the Lord.

None of those who received this power had any doubt about their authority to act in this ordinance in the Lord’s name. None of them lacked the “power” to baptize others. None of those who were present, and still kneeling during the ceremony, or who overheard the Lord’s words had any doubts about those who held a commission from Christ to baptize them. Finally, none of those present would have any doubts about the need to be baptized by this newly bestowed power.
Although every one of them had been baptized previously, it becomes apparent that once new power to baptize has been given by Christ, that  power ought to be used. It is not given to be neglected. Nor can power endure through neglect. So when given, the power is to be used, and all who were present are candidates for baptism.
Then comes the instruction from Christ as to the manner for performing the ordinance. “On this wise shall ye baptize…” begins the instruction.  If the Lord provides the power and then gives the instruction, can the ordinance be changed? What if someone else says they hold the keys, and we all accept the person does in fact hold the keys, can such a person change the manner of baptism? If there is a potential convert who is infirm, ill or elderly and is unable to be baptized in the prescribed manner, can the ordinance be changed in form to accommodate the need? That is exactly how the ordinance was changed after the New Testament times. A reasonable need, and accommodation for that need, resulted in an exception. Then the exception became the rule, and the original manner was forgotten.

If the Lord’s instruction regarding the manner of baptism in this verse cannot be changed, even by one holding keys and authority to do so, then what about other ordinances? Can other ordinances be changed by one who holds keys if they choose to do them differently? Why not?  What happens when the one in a recognized position to perform ordinances decides to make changes to the ordinances?

Assume for a moment the Lord instructs Nephi on how to perform baptism, but Nephi decides thereafter to make a change to it. How would that reflect on Nephi? How would that reflect on the Lord? How would it reflect on the Lord’s instruction? What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p. 308) If the Lord gave Nephi the “power” to baptize, does that carry with it the “power” to change it as well?

Well, the purpose behind the Lord giving instructions was that “there shall be no disputations among you.” Does the instruction given by the Lord end as soon as we begin to see “disputations among” followers? Can an opinion poll that shows a majority of those who practice the ordinances don’t relate to them anymore and want to see them altered, create a “disputation” that allows the instruction from the Lord to be altered?
As stupid as these questions may seem, there are people who are genuinely confused by them. So I ask them. You must decide if the Lord’s instructions deserve respect and ought to be followed. Apparently men of good faith, honest hearts, and sincere desires can by reason of their status alone, contradict the Lord’s instructions and people won’t even blink. That’s the beauty of the claim that Rome makes to having Peter’s keys and the ability to seal on earth and in heaven. The Catholics can change anything and no one doubts they had the authority to do it. To allow the possibility that God would not support the Pope would be to entertain the unthinkable. So don’t even hold that thought.

3 Nephi 11: 21

“And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.”
Notice the Lord does not touch Nephi. He speaks the words. The Lord’s word is sovereign. If the Lord speaks it, it is so. It is not necessary for the Lord to lay hands on the servant He has just called, only that He speak the words of commission which give the servant “power.”

Notice that it is “power” and not authority. It is the “power” to baptize “this people” which is granted Nephi. Why would “power” be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed “authority” to baptize, but lacked any “power” in his priesthood? Is “authority” anything if it lacks “power?” What is the difference? Can a church spread about the “authority” to do ordinances if that church lacks “power” to do so?

Why are “that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?” (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: “I give unto you power”?

Why is it that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?” What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the “principles of righteousness?”  

Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.

Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.

In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils.  (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize?  Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?

Does the possession of authority in one dispensation (Moses’) continue into another dispensation (Meridian of Time)? When a new dispensation of the Gospel opens, does authority need to be conferred by angels (or the Lord) in the new dispensation? Without a commission from Christ, could Nephi continue his ministry into the new dispensation?  Why not? Did the end of the prior dispensation of carnal commandments require a new delivery of power to those serving into this era of a new covenant?  (Hebrews 8: 13.)
Does the Lord’s reference to “when [He is] again ascended into heaven” reveal anything to Nephi? To us? Does it confirm the Lord’s status, power and right? Does it confirm, also, the Lord will be leaving the Nephites again? Does it reestablish what they saw when He first appeared, that He now belongs to heaven? Do we need to keep that in mind as well?

3 Nephi 11

3 Nephi 11

I have always wanted to do something with Christ’s sermons to the Nephites. It seems to me that we’ve been running through prophecies and warnings which serve one purpose, and leaving another one neglected. Balance requires us to return to another important purpose of the Book of Mormon. Namely, testifying that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of Israel and the whole world.

So for that part, we’ll turn attention to Christ’s Nephite sermons.

I’ve already dealt with what I have termed the “Ceremony of Recognition” involved in Christ’s initial appearance. That is covered in The Second Comforter and won’t be repeated here. So I’m going to skip to verses 3 Nephi 11: 18-20.

“And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth. And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet.  And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him.”
The Lord has appeared, is identified and recognized by those who were at the Bountiful Temple. (This is probably an open air temple much like what we find in the Parowan Gap. If you consider the entirety of the description, it is not likely a closed structure like we build.) And those who are there have engaged in an Hosanna shout. (3 Nephi 11: 17.) When the ceremony has ended and the place has become sanctified by His presence, and the body there recognizes and accepts Him as who and what He is, the stage has been set for a further ceremonial event.
Christ speaks to Nephi. He calls his name. Important stuff. Being called by name by the Son of God! Now we’re seeing something really important. For those whose names are called by God are not merely being addressed. They are, the instant the Lord calls out their name, “called.” That is, the Lord will never speak one’s name to them unless He calls them to a work. So when we read that the Lord speaks to Nephi we know the Lord has both called Nephi’s name and called the bearer of that name to do a work. Nephi knew it. The crowd knew it. All present would have understood that Nephi just became the chief prophet of those present.
Nephi is told to “come forth.” It instantly puts us in mind of Lazarus being called forth from the tomb. (John 11: 43.) Like Lazarus, who rose from the dead by the speaking of those words, Nephi now goes forth to a new life. Resurrected from his prior status and put into a minister’s role by the Lord of all mankind.
Called, commanded to “come forth,” and endowed immediately with the Lord’s anointing voice, which bestows power and authority upon a man, (see, e.g., D&C 132: 46) Nephi arises from his kneeling position and steps forward.
Every knee remains bowed except Nephi’s. For a brief moment, as he walks forward, he alone, of all those assembled in the crowd, is the one who stands in the presence of the Lord. (c.f., Luke 1: 19). Others kneel, Nephi stands. It is honor, glory and privilege being displayed in this ceremony. Christ as King and Lord calls, His chief servant rises while all others remain kneeling. We are getting informed about the Lord and His ways in detailed ceremony conveying vast information in passing movement. It is too wonderful for words.
Nephi knows what he must do. For the servant who has been called to stand above his peers must then descend below them. Pride is unthinkable when in the presence of such a meek and humble figure as our Lord. It is required that the balance be restored. Nephi, who has been made to rise, must on his own choose to descend and abase himself. Those who seek their own glory will fall, while those who seek to humble themselves will rise again. So Nephi does what any person filled with light and truth would do in these circumstances. He comes to the Lord, falls below all, and descends to kiss the Master’s feet. He kneels again, bows to the ground. And in an ultimate sign of humility, he kisses His feet, which on any other being is the symbol of uncleanliness itself. Nephi can do nothing more to show his own submission to the Lord. He can do nothing further in ceremonial activity to say he is nothing and the Lord is everything. He can show no greater respect and gratitude. Here is a servant indeed. A chief servant to the Servant of servants! A Master and servant whose hearts are alike. Nephi is, above all else, showing to us all how we ought be.

The gentiles love those who rule over and exploit them. (Matt. 20: 25.)  But Christ’s true followers do not crave chief seats. They desire to serve. They will hold others up, even if it requires them to descend below to lift them. Nephi is not a gentile, nor one who would ever exercise unrighteous dominion over others. (D&C 121: 39.)

The ceremony now requires the abased to respond to the Lord’s command again. Nephi is commanded to “arise.” It was not enough to “come forth” to the new life. Now, having been chosen, Nephi must also “arise.” It is a terrible burden. How can man “arise?” How can a man assume his position alongside His Lord? How can one who feels more suited to kneel and kiss his Master’s feet, rise up and look his Lord in the face? It is all too much. One hardly can bear the burden and difficulty to “arise” when it is the Lord’s own countenance you must confront. Too much. Too difficult. Too heavy a burden to lay upon mere man. How does Nephi dare to respond to the command to “arise?”

Through the swirling anxiety following the command, Nephi doesn’t have the strength to do so until the realization that “arising” is the Master’s will. It is the Master’s command. It can be done through faith in Him. For He gives no command without having prepared the means to accomplish it. (1 Nephi 3: 7.) It must be possible for Nephi to actually arise. Though a lifetime’s dread and remorse says to remain on your knees, it is the Master’s will that you nonetheless arise. And so you begin the dreadful effort, and your trembling knees respond. To your own surprise you find it possible to arise and look into the face of Him who is compassion itself. There can be no pride in this, for rising is by His command, and not by your own will. You may want to join in Moses’ chorus that “for this cause you know man is nothing!” (Moses 1: 10.)  But it isn’t necessary to voice the thought. It is enough to understand the thought.

No man assumes this honor for himself. He must be called by God to stand in His presence. 
And so Nephi arose, and stood before His Lord.