Unit 8: Day 4, 2 Nephi 31

Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, (2012), 78–81


Introduction

Nephi taught the doctrine of Christ: we must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. He also testified that as we apply these teachings, God will bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost and lead us to eternal life.

2 Nephi 31:1–21

Nephi teaches that the Savior set the perfect example for us

John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus

Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized. Since Jesus did not commit any sins, why do you think He was baptized? Why were you baptized? Pondering these questions will help you prepare for this lesson.

Read 2 Nephi 31:2, 21, and mark the phrase “doctrine of Christ.” Notice that in verse 2, Nephi stated that he “must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ.” Then in verse 21 he said that he had spoken of “the doctrine of Christ.” In 2 Nephi 31:3–20 we learn about those truths that Nephi called “the doctrine of Christ.” Two truths we learn are: Jesus Christ fulfilled all righteousness by obeying all the commandments of the Father, and we must follow Jesus Christ’s example of obedience by being baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost.

  1. journal icon1.

    Write the following headings in parallel columns in your scripture study journal: Reasons Why Jesus Was Baptized and Reasons Why We Are Baptized. Then read 2 Nephi 31:4–12, and list what you learn under each of those headings.

According to 2 Nephi 31:11, what must precede baptism?

To help explain why baptism by water is required, read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Baptism is a sign to God, to angels, and to heaven that we do the will of God, and there is no other way beneath the heavens whereby God hath ordained for man to come to Him to be saved, and enter into the kingdom of God, except faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and any other course is in vain; then you have the promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 91).

  1. journal icon2.

    Imagine that a friend who is not a member of the Church asked you why baptism is so important. Write how you would respond in your scripture study journal.

  2. journal icon3.

    Write in your scripture study journal how following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized has influenced and blessed your life.

There is more for us to do after we are baptized. Read 2 Nephi 31:13, and mark the phrases that describe the attitude someone should have as they follow the Savior’s example.

According to 2 Nephi 31:13, when we fulfill our covenant with full purpose of heart and with real intent, what does our Father in Heaven promise us in return? (You may want to mark this in your scriptures.) Read the last phrase in 2 Nephi 31:17, and identify why we need to receive the Holy Ghost. In the space provided, write a doctrinal statement or a principle based on scripture that explains what the Holy Ghost will do for us. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fire is used to purify materials such as metals. It burns out impurities, leaving behind a cleaner material. This is similar to what happens to us spiritually when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is also known as the “baptism of fire” (see 2 Nephi 31:13). The Holy Ghost witnesses of the Father and the Son and brings a remission of sins. President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency taught, “This baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost … cleanses, heals, and purifies the soul” (Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney [1977], 133).

To find another component of the “doctrine of Christ,” read 2 Nephi 31:15–16, and highlight what you find. Relate the phrases you discovered in 2 Nephi 31:13 to the instruction given in 2 Nephi 31:15–16, and think about how you can endure to the end with “real intent” and “full purpose of heart.”

  1. journal icon4.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      How might the terms “with full purpose of heart,” “acting no hypocrisy,” and “with real intent” apply to such activities as daily scripture study or Church attendance?

    2. b.

      What is the difference between someone who “says their prayers” and someone who prays “with full purpose of heart”?

    3. c.

      What is the difference between someone who “partakes of the sacrament” and someone who partakes of the sacrament “with real intent”?

Read 2 Nephi 31:18, and look for where we are after we pass through the gate of repentance and baptism. When we exercise faith, repent, are baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost, we enter into the “strait and narrow path.” Strait means narrow, strict, exacting, and allowing for no deviation. According to 2 Nephi 31:18, how can we know if we are on the strait and narrow path? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Experiencing the gift of the Holy Ghost is not simply a nice feeling we receive from time to time. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is a witness from God that we are on the path leading to eternal life.

  1. journal icon5.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      How has the companionship of the Holy Ghost helped you stay on the strait and narrow path?

    2. b.

      In what other ways has the Holy Ghost blessed your life?

Read 2 Nephi 31:19–21, and make a list by numbering in your scriptures other things we must do in order to stay on the path. (Note that 2 Nephi 31:19–20 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)

  1. journal icon6.

    In your scripture study journal, write one sentence describing what it means to you to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20).

In the spaces provided, summarize 2 Nephi 31:19–20 with a statement of principle:

If we __________________________________________________, then we __________________________________________________. (You may want to write it in your scriptures.)

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered this hopeful counsel to those who feel they have strayed from the strait and narrow path: “In your journey through life, you meet many obstacles and make some mistakes. Scriptural guidance helps you to recognize error and make the necessary correction. You stop going in the wrong direction. You carefully study the scriptural road map. Then you proceed with repentance and restitution required to get on the ‘strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life’ [2 Nephi 31:18]” (“Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 17).

Ponder how this statement and the scriptures you studied today bring you a “brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—2 Nephi 31:19–20

  1. journal icon7.

    Spend five minutes working to memorize 2 Nephi 31:20. Have a family member or friend test your knowledge of the scripture, or you may choose to cover the verse up with your hand and try to quote it without looking at it. Try writing the verse from memory in your scripture study journal.

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    Using 2 Nephi 31:20, select one of the things we must do to stay on the correct path that you are doing well. Then write a description in your scripture study journal of how you are doing it. Then select one area you would like to improve in, and write how you will do that.

Commentary and Background Information

How can we avoid hypocrisy?

Nephi warned against hypocrisy in 2 Nephi 31:13. Hypocrisy means to pretend or play a part for others to see that does not reflect our true identity. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of acting with no hypocrisy:

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Do we, indeed, actually live the gospel, or do we just manifest the appearance of righteousness so that those around us assume we are faithful when, in reality, our hearts and unseen actions are not true to the Lord’s teachings?

“Do we take on only the ‘form of godliness’ while denying the ‘power thereof’ [see Joseph Smith—History 1:19]?

“Are we righteous in fact, or do we feign [pretend] obedience only when we think others are watching?

“The Lord has made it clear that He will not be fooled by appearances, and He has warned us not to be false to Him or to others. He has cautioned us to be wary of those who project a false front, who put on a bright pretense that hides a darker reality. We know that the Lord ‘looketh on the heart’ and not on the ‘outward appearance’ [see 1 Samuel 16:7]” (“True to the Truth,” Ensign, May 1997, 15–16).

How do we “endure to the end”?

The term “endure to the end” (2 Nephi 31:16) is frequently used to suggest the need to patiently suffer hardships throughout our lives. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin explained that to endure to the end also means to continue in faithfulness to Christ until the end of our lives:

“Enduring to the end is the doctrine of continuing on the path leading to eternal life after one has entered into the path through faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Enduring to the end requires our whole heart. …

“Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil, staying in the mainstream of the Church, humbly serving our fellow men, living Christlike lives, and keeping our covenants. Those who endure are balanced, consistent, humble, constantly improving, and without guile. Their testimony is not based on worldly reasons—it is based on truth, knowledge, experience, and the Spirit” (“Press On,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 101).

  1. journal icon9.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied 2 Nephi 31 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: