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.

13 thoughts on “2 Nephi 31: 17

  1. So your saying that to enter into the gate you have to repent, be baptized, be cleansed by fire and the Holy Ghost. That would mean that those who have not been cleasned by fire and the Holy Ghost have not yet entered into the gate.
    That would include a lot of church members who already think they have entered into the gate because of their baptism. Have we all been mistaken in this assumption?

    I have recently thought that repentance and baptism were entrance into the gate, but we did not actually enter onto the straight and narrow path until recieving cleansing by fire and the Holy Ghost.

    I supose it really doesn’t matter, because cleansing by fire and the Holy Ghost is necessary, to more forward reguardless.

    My real question is…will a person know when they have been cleansed by fire? Is it an event that puts a person into contact with angels and such. Something that give a person a certain kind of knowledge. It must be because the Lord said once it happens if we deny him it would be better to have not known Him.

  2. And if a person has been baptized by water and not received the baptism of fire, what could be the reason? Could it be because the repentance was not sufficient? Could it be because the priesthood of the baptizer was not authentic? If the latter is true, must the person be baptized by one with valid authority?

  3. Steve: I think it is possible (and was probably likely in my case) that sometimes there is inadequate commitment at the time of baptism. I was trying to keep one foot in each world–a VERY difficult balancing act!

  4. No need to post this however, I think that your premise is incorrect unless I misunderstand the following scriptures.

    41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;
    42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;
    43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;

  5. There are two parts to Steve’s questions. First, the command is to “receive the Holy Ghost.” It is not automatic. We are to receive Him by request. Second, there are some who want to doubt the who holds the priesthood and who do not. Any called and set apart full-time elder has the authority as do local priesthood authorities that have been called, sustained, and set apart/ordained in his position. If for some reason there is a lack of worthiness on the part of the priesthood holder, the Lord will recognize the act and then deal with the other problem.

  6. Eric:
    Your point deserves a response: Section 20 was given at the organizational meeting for the Church on April 6, 1830, instructing on the manner for conducting ordinances in the Church. As of that moment, no one would thereafter become a Latter-day Saint without conforming to the system put into place, including laying on hands for the Holy Ghost. If, therefore, after that time anyone was to receive the blessings, they would receive it in that formalized system.

    Nephi is writing in another day, under a different system. They are operating under the Law of Moses during Nephi’s time. Yet the higher law was nonetheless accessible because they received and handed down the higher priesthood among themselves. Hence Alma’s teachings about the higher priesthood. (You can’t teach about what you don’t understand. You can’t understand what you have not experienced. At least not in the manner in which Alma is able to understand and expound upon it.)

    After April 6, 1830 anyone who receives “fire and the Holy Ghost” will have been baptized and confirmed into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, these are still not co-extensive. Meaning it is possible to be confirmed into the Church and yet not have received the experience. Hence the importance of Nephi’s teachings in helping to illustrate the difference between the experience and the ordinance which we now perform.

    You must seek for and obtain this experience. Ordinances turn keys, or point you toward the event. But the event is between you and God, not you and an officiator.

  7. The book, “Experiencing the Mighty Change” talks extensively of this concept. It is by Foothill Publishing. The author seems to take no honor unto himself and does not publish his name in any easy to find location. But this book is very sincere and teaches truth. It cites examples from the scriptures that identify people who received the baptism of fire, and what the unique characteristics are of people who have undergone the mighty change. It is an inspiring book.

  8. So when King Lamoni and Alma the younger in the BOM have their incredible experiences, are they receiving the the fire of the Holy Ghost? I assume that at least in the case of Lamoni, he is not yet a member? I am so touched by this experience and it seems to demonstrate that even this king who as I understand it, had people murdered, when he finally received the word and was willing to immediately give up everything he had, both his kingdom and his sins, the Lord immediately extends His plan of salvation to him. So how can I have such an experience? Is there a key being taught here? Your thoughts are appreciated Denver!

  9. ‘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.”‘

    Seems to be opposed to D&C 20:37, which plainly and clearly indicates the remission of sins comes “BEFORE baptism, to wit (in pertient part):

    ” … 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.

  10. Stone,
    I suppose if you looked at “his church” as the LDS church, I can see where you think it opposes.

    However, I have a tendency to read the scriptures when they say “his church” to mean the Church of the Firstborn. If that’s the case, then all of those things leading up to the baptism by fire would be the requirement to be in His church at that point.

  11. Steven [ August 29, 2010 4:59 PM ]

    Based on the context of DS’s original posting and subsequent comments, by weight of proponderance, the conclusion is the “church” talked about was the “Church of the Son”; hence my comment.

    I take well, your point, “there is no exclusivity; and the inference may also be drawn to the “Church of the Father”. In either case, not all baptisms have instantaneous “fires”.

    Which leads back to the point I made in a comment I made for another of DS’s posts where the Holy Ghost, like spirit, priesthood, faith, and other words have multiple levels/defintions.

    I apply my analysis in a modified logical positivistic manner to determine a meaningful construct, or “sense”.

    To have the “burning” by having the Holy Ghost be with in you, where the Holy Ghost is an individual is nothing less than a “possession”. Regardless if one view this possession as good, isn’t “possessing”, regardless of the level of possession, bad?

    Hence possession by the Holy by either definition (1) or (2) as given (continued post) is a violation of law.

    This leaving definition (3) as the only viable alternative. “a moment of such powerful cognitive understanding (one of three definitions of spirit) that that particular interpretation, viewpoint, point-of-view, or any other words of such art, is indelibly impressed upon the individual for life.”

    In the instance of religion, this is experience of acquiring and assimilating the understanding of the thinking and acting patterns of a God (Father, Son, or even “Satan” as he too, is a God, albeit fallen–his minions have the same kind of experience–it’s called becoming a son of perdition).

  12. [ Continued ]


    Holy Ghost

    (1) an office in the Priesthood, viz, a testator.

    (2) a body quorum, in the Priesthood consisting of one testator for each one of the seven dispensations, with a president serving the last dispensation

    (3) a level of understanding which changes the natural cognation of an individual, typically securing a particular paradigm for the duration of the life of that individual


    (1) Organized intelligence, the animating energy of life.

    (2) The structural definition of an object, such as DNA contains the structural definition of a particular body.

    (3) Intellectual comprehension, understanding or acquisition of some ideation, conceptual or otherwise.

Comments are closed.