2 Nephi 31: 8-9

2 Nephi 31: 8-9:

“Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.  And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.”
This is an interesting cause-and-effect. Once Christ was baptized, “the Holy Ghost descended upon Him” as a result of the baptism. Now, true enough an ordinance was instituted by which hands are laid upon a person, post-baptism, where the “gift of the Holy Ghost” is bestowed. This practice was instituted by Christ. (Acts 8: 14-17.) However, in the case of Christ’s own baptism, no hands were put upon Him. He was baptized. The Holy Ghost descended upon Him.

It is clear that baptism is a gate through which all must pass.  Immediately after the ordinance, the Holy Ghost must become the companion of those who are redeemed.

Christ set the example. We are obligated to follow the example.

Receiving baptism without also receiving the Spirit renders the event incomplete. Nephi will explain the essential nature of the Holy Ghost in the redemption process in a few more verses. It is clear that the Holy Ghost is the instrumentality by which redemption itself comes. The Spirit is the guide which will lead back to the Lord’s presence. Without the guide, the doctrine of Christ is incomplete.

The water is something that we must pass through to keep the law.  It is the companionship of the Spirit which makes you justified, by leading you to do what is right. It is the resulting application of Christ’s blood on your behalf that will sanctify you. (Moses 6: 60.) You cannot receive sanctification without first receiving baptism and then also the Holy Ghost.

 If there is no other way, and all must comply, then the way is both “strait” and “narrow.”

Christ’s example is the only one for us to follow to obtain hope for our own salvation. He is the “prototype of the saved man” (Lecture 7, Lectures on Faith, paragraph 9). If it was necessary for Him, it is the more necessary for us.

Baptism is one thing, accepting the Holy Ghost is another. The one is objective, and openly visible when the act happens. The other is internal, involving welcoming a member of the Godhead into your life.

I remember kneeling on an Atlantic beach in the cool sand at the setting of the sun on the day of my baptism. The Atlantic is cold in September, and I was chilled from the ordinance, still wet while kneeling, and shivering as the elders began the ordinance.  When, however, they said: “receive the Holy Ghost” I remember becoming warm, beginning at my scalp and flowing downward until my entire body was warm and calm. It was palpable. It was physical. To me the experience was no less dramatic than the descent of the Holy Ghost “in the form of a dove” on the day of Christ’s baptism. It was every bit as objective, as physical and as memorable as any other distinct event in my life.

More importantly, I began to experience the fruits of that event immediately. What followed for me, within the hour of my baptism, was akin to what Joseph and Oliver experienced. (JS-H 1: 73.)  Within days I found also that the scriptures began to have far more distinct and clear meaning than ever before, again just as Joseph and Oliver found. (JS-H 1: 74.)

It was clear to me that the Holy Ghost imparts something altogether more significant than what I alone could do, understand, or accomplish. It expanded capacity, enlightened and informed the mind, and led to understanding things which were unknown and unknowable before.

This process is not just mandatory. It is a far superior way to experience life than to live alone, without God in the world.  (Alma 41: 11.) It is a blessing, a gift. The “gift of the Holy Ghost” is, without question, the great “gift” coming from God to aid us in our return to Him.

9 thoughts on “2 Nephi 31: 8-9

  1. Am I the only one that sees the following?

    We began by partaking of the family tree of out Heavenly Father.

    Next we partook of the family tree of Adam (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) and became mortal.

    Then we are offered the fruit of Christ’s family tree (the Tree [Eternal] Life).

    Guarding the way to this third tree are bearers of the Priesthood (seraphim) who wield the Flaming Sword of Truth to protect us. This sword (the words of Christ/Book of Mormon/other scriptures) cuts both ways as it tries us. We are either driven away by the truth or it becomes an iron rod that leads us surely to the Tree of Life.

    In partaking of this tree we must first be baptized to clear away the stain of mortality. Then a new clean body is prepared to receive it’s spirit, even the Holy Ghost.

    In all of these choices there was one, and only one, way to partake of each of these family trees.

  2. Perhaps I am wrong, but those of us who were baptised at age 8, have not had the opportunity to experience (with a mature level of thinking and feeling) the contrast of what it is like to NOT have the Holy Ghost, and then to have the Holy Ghost. This is what it is, but my struggle to “know” if the Holy Ghost is directing me or if it is my own thoughts has been a challenge. Perhaps it would not be so had I been able to experience the contrast later in life. I am not complaining, but I have just always wondered what the difference would feel like.

  3. I could be wrong, but I think one of the reasons we do not understand the magnitude of the gift of the Holy Ghost is because we assume we probably already kind of have it. Or that by virtue of our not completely riotous behavior we think we have a strange disadvantage not allowing us to distinguish between the Spirit and our own often very good thoughts or ideas. Kind of the old “they had the Holy Ghost and knew it not,” idea. My thought in this regard, however, is that even the best of us will begin to have those feelings Denver shares from his baptism, “convert” or not, until those feelings enlarge us and literally fill us to such a point that our very natures will have changed, leaving us with no further disposition to sin. We will absolutely recognize it when we are filled with the Holy Ghost, even filled with His love. I love the story of Ammon who literally falls into an almost lifeless state so overcome by joy.

    “Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.”

    Now I am guessing that as Denver has suggested in his books that one filled with such love needs to still wake up and go to work, but I feel that we have SO much to look forward to in seeking this gift. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed nor will they not recognize this precious gift.

  4. I have a very clear recollection of my baptism and especially my confirmation at age 8. Back then they confirmed the newly baptized on Fast Sunday. I remember feeling very good inside, and then as the meeting progressed wanting very much to bear my testimony. As I stood to do so the feelings that filled me were so overwhelming and powerful as I could hardly speak. I did not have the vocabulary at such a young age to say the words I was feeling. I remember crying as I said what little I knew how to, and sat down confused at the emotions within.

    I too am so very grateful for this tremendous gift. Whenever my actions, or the situation I may be in offends the Spirit, I can feel it withdraw, and it is painful and uncomfortable to me. I cannot imagine how one could live their life without it, nor make any decisions without it.

    However, it never really dawned on me before reading this blog that I am so honored as to have a member of the Godhead actually with me. Thank you Denver for this new insight. Perhaps it will make the idea of being in the presence of the Savior not feel quite so far away.

  5. Q: Could a man who has the mel PH conferred upon him, become inactive and then baptise his kids without the knowledge of the church? Wouldn’t the church just not recognize it and record it… but one with priesthood still did the ordinance for those he presides over?

  6. In a few more verses we will be upon the phrase “baptism by fire”. Is our own baptism by fire something we would be well aware of when it happens?
    Is it possible that we can receive our baptism by fire in stages? Or is it a “one time” event?
    There were clearly some converted Lamanites who received it and did not know it.

    It is obviously something more than just baptism and confirmation. Because the Lord says that once we receive it if we deny Him, it would have been better to not have known Him.

    I am very curious about this baptism by fire, because further on in this chapter it becomes apparent that baptism is entrance into the gate, but until we receive a baptism by fire, we have not actually entered onto the path.

    Most of us members are still just inside the gate spinning our wheels while we think we are traveling along the path. Am I understanding it correctly that we are not on the straight and narrow path until our baptism by fire?

    Sorry Denver, I know I am getting ahead. I am very interested in understanding this correctly. I feel as though I have found yet another “false tradition” that I have been laboring under! This is when I wish we were all together in the same room so we could talk about this.

  7. Anonymous (August 25, 2010 8:25 AM)

    A: I would say the baptism is not in force because it was not done with the authorization of the Lord’s current legal administrators who hold the keys of the Priesthood. In the case of baptism, this would be either the Bishop (for 8 year olds) or the Mission President (for converts).

    Despite the problems and difficulties in the church, it is still the organization recognized by the Lord (and there is currently no other) that has the keys to administer the ordinances of salvation to the men and women of the earth.

  8. I must admit, I was baptized around the same age and time as Denver, but I felt nothing or if I did, I don’t remember it. I can’t remember one word of the blessing, or if I that blessing took place at the time, or in Sacrament meeting. I only remember who performed it. That was most likely inadequate preparation on my part, and that is likely.

    I have certainly felt it since, but it took a few years, really before I began to experience the spirits direction in any real way.

  9. I was baptized on a Friday and confirmed on a Sunday almost 42 years ago. I was a convert and was a junior in high school. I am sad to say that I remember nothing about the confirmation and precious little about the baptism. Perhaps that is because my memory is not that good anyway. I love the Lord and want to be with Him and I try to follow His ways. I just don’t know why I don’t feel more of His Spirit. Help.

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