Many years before Jesus Christ was born, Nephi received a revelation about the Savior’s baptism. As Nephi told his people of this revelation, he taught what he called “the doctrine of Christ” (2 Nephi 31:2)—that in order to receive eternal life, we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
Display the picture John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus (Gospel Art Book , no. 35; see also lds.org/media-library).
Begin class by asking students the following questions:
What do you remember about your baptism? How did you feel when you were baptized?
As students study 2 Nephi 31 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them appreciate the importance of their baptism.
Divide students into groups of three or four. Provide each group with a copy of the following handout, and instruct them to complete the activities as directed. (If needed due to class size, adapt this activity by asking students to complete the handout in pairs or individually.)
After sufficient time, ask students to report the statements they completed on their handouts. Students’ answers should reflect the following truths:
Jesus Christ, though sinless, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.
Jesus Christ set the perfect example of obedience for us to follow.
If we sincerely repent and follow the Savior by being baptized, then we will receive the Holy Ghost.
Invite students to consider marking the phrases in the scriptures that teach these truths. Invite students to share any insights they received from the verses they read and from their group discussions.
Copy the accompanying illustration on the board, and explain that Nephi spoke of a gate opening to a path.
Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 31:17–18 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi taught about the gate and about the path the gate opens onto.
Based on 2 Nephi 31:17, what is the gate? (Repentance and baptism. Write Repentance and Baptism below the gate.) How are repentance and baptism like a gate?
According to 2 Nephi 31:18, what does the path lead to? (Eternal life. Write Eternal Life at the end of the path. You may need to explain that the phrase “eternal life” refers to exaltation in the celestial kingdom.)
Explain that Nephi taught that after baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:13–14). Write Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost to the right of the gate on the board.
According to 2 Nephi 31:17–18, what does the Holy Ghost do for us? (Help students identify the following truth: The Holy Ghost witnesses of the Father and the Son and brings a remission of sins. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures near verses 17–18.)
Why is it essential for us to receive a testimony of the Father and the Son through the Holy Ghost?
Point out that in addition to helping us know that the Father and the Son live, the Holy Ghost helps us come to know Them—Their will and character—and helps us to become like Them.
What does it mean that the Holy Ghost brings a remission of sins?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–1985) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the role of the Holy Ghost in the remission of our sins.
“Sins are remitted not in the waters of baptism, as we say in speaking figuratively, but when we receive the Holy Ghost. … We become clean when we actually receive the fellowship and companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is then that sin and dross and evil are burned out of our souls as though by fire. The baptism of the Holy Ghost is the baptism of fire” (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 290).
Based on this statement, how would you explain the meaning of the phrase “then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” in 2 Nephi 31:17?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:
“When [the Holy Ghost] is your companion, you can have confidence that the Atonement is working in your life. …
“Not only is your feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost a sign that the Atonement, the cure for sin, is working in your life, but you will also know that a preventative against sin is working” (Henry B. Eyring, “Come unto Christ” [Brigham Young University devotional, Oct. 29, 1989], speeches.byu.edu).
What are some ways we can recognize whether the Holy Ghost is our companion?
According to the statement by President Eyring, what can you know is happening when you feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in your life? Why is that helpful for you to know?
Testify of the power of the Holy Ghost to enable us to become purified from sin. Ask students to examine their lives to determine how often they experience the influence of the Holy Ghost and what might be keeping them from enjoying it as often as they would like. Encourage them to make any needed changes so that they can enjoy the Spirit’s purifying influence.
Explain that in 2 Nephi 31:18, the word strait means narrow, strict, exacting, and allowing for no deviation. Nephi used this word to describe the path we must take after baptism in order to receive eternal life. Ask students to quietly ponder the following question:
What do we need to do after baptism in order to stay on the path to eternal life?
As students ponder this question, invite them to look for answers in 2 Nephi 31:15–16, 19–21. Invite them to consider marking words or phrases that explain what we must do to receive eternal life. After sufficient time, invite a few students to report what they found. As they respond, write their answers on the board. Your illustration should look something like the accompanying diagram.
Explain that this illustration represents a simple summary of the doctrine of Christ as taught in 2 Nephi 31. Write the following truth on the board: If we live according to the doctrine of Christ, we will receive eternal life.
Point out that the idea of enduring to the end appears three times in the verses students just studied.
Why do you think enduring to the end is an important element of the doctrine of Christ?
How is Jesus Christ an example of enduring to the end? Who else is an example for you of enduring to the end?
What has helped you to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and faithfully endure?
Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals what they feel impressed to do to more fully live according to the doctrine of Christ and to thereby progress toward eternal life. Encourage students to apply what they wrote, and express your confidence in their ability to obtain eternal life.