2 Nephi 31–33

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 75–80


Introduction

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote:

“In a marvelous final testimony to his people, as well as to the unborn and unseen of the last dispensation yet to come, Nephi made ‘an end’ of his prophesying (including prophesying about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon) and concluded his writing—and his lifetime of teaching—with a ‘few words … concerning the doctrine of Christ’ [2 Nephi 31:1–2]. …

“The ‘doctrine of Christ’ as taught by Nephi in his grand, summational discourse focuses on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It does not, in this declaration, attempt to cover the entire plan of salvation, all the virtues of a Christian life, or the rewards that await us in differing degrees of heavenly glory. It does not, in this declaration, deal with the offices of the priesthood, the ordinances of the temple, or many other true doctrines. All these are important, but as used in the Book of Mormon, ‘the doctrine of Christ’ is simple and direct. It focuses on the first principles of the gospel exclusively, including an expression of encouragement to endure, to persist, to press on. Indeed, it is in the clarity and simplicity of ‘the doctrine of Christ’ that its impact is found. Nephi knew it would be so. He wrote, ‘I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying’ [2 Nephi 31:2]” (Christ and the New Covenant, 49–50).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 42–44.

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon2 Nephi 31:2–32:6. Obedience, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, feasting on the words of Christ, enduring to the end, and following the Savior’s example are all part of the “doctrine of Christ.” (35–40 minutes)

Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. Preoccupation with unworthy behavior can lead to unworthy behavior. That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 20; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Ask students what they think this statement means, and then share the following definition of doctrine by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Seventy:

Doctrines are teachings. … True doctrines come from God, the source and fountain of all truth, and are the teachings and concepts found in the gospel. …

“… The fulness of salvation can come to those only who believe and conform to the fulness of the Lord’s revealed doctrines” (Mormon Doctrine, 204).

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why do you think understanding true doctrine can have such a powerful impact on our lives?

  • How has understanding true doctrine helped you?

Have students read 2 Nephi 31:1–2, 21; 32:6. Ask: According to these verses, how important is the “doctrine of Christ”? Read to students the statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the introduction to this scripture block (p. 75). Point out that the “doctrine of Christ” that Nephi explains focuses on the basic principles and ordinances of the gospel.

Write the following topics on the board: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Explain that these are five essential parts of the doctrine of Christ. Divide students into five groups and assign each group a topic. Have them read 2 Nephi 31:3–20 to find what these verses teach about the topic. Discuss their findings as a class. Ask:

  • In what ways do these basic doctrines help us come unto Christ?

  • Why do you think understanding these basic doctrines is essential?

  • How can understanding these doctrines affect your behavior?

Elder Holland wrote:

“[Nephi’s] listeners, like some contemporaries, may have given quizzical looks at hearing such simple doctrine. Can this be ‘the doctrine of Christ’? they may have wondered. Is this the message? Is this the ‘good news’?” (Christ and the New Covenant, 55).

Ask students how the doctrine of Christ is simple yet challenging.

Conclude by reading the answer Elder Holland gave to these questions:

“They had no need to worry. It was not more complicated than it sounds. There was no other sandal to drop. They had only to comply with these oft-stated first principles and ordinances and then persist in them with two great safeguards, two unfailing sources of divine direction. As they ‘press[ed] forward,’ they were to ‘feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ [would] tell [them] all things what [they] should do.’ Then they must live true to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, which would ‘show unto [them] all things what [they] should do.’ …

“This is not easy or whimsical teaching, but it is plain and it is simple. It is not convenient or even comfortable doctrine for some—especially the repentance part—but it is very plain and very precious. The doctrine of Christ is not complicated. It is profoundly, beautifully, single-mindedly clear and complete” (Christ and the New Covenant, 55–56).

2 Nephi 31:4–9. Jesus Christ, though sinless, needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness. (15–20 minutes)

Display a picture of the Savior’s baptism (see Gospel Art Picture Kit, no. 208) and have students consider the following question: Since Jesus Christ never sinned, why was He baptized? Discuss their answers and then ask them to read 2 Nephi 31:4–6 and Matthew 3:15. Ask:

  • What reason is given for the necessity of the Savior’s baptism?

  • What do you think it means “to fulfil all righteousness”?

Read the following statement:

“Latter-day Saints understand from the Bible and the Book of Mormon that Jesus was baptized ‘to fulfill all righteousness,’ which means that Jesus humbled himself before the Father, witnessed to the Father that he would obey him, and thereby showed mankind the narrowness of the gate leading to eternal life” (“Baptism of Jesus Christ,” in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:730).

Tell students that Nephi identified four ways that the Savior fulfilled all righteousness. Invite students to read the following verses and mark the words that identify how the Savior fulfilled all righteousness, and then discuss the accompanying questions as a class.

  1. 1.

    2 Nephi 31:7. “He humbleth himself before the Father.”

  • Why would it be important for you to be humble?

  • How does baptism show humility?

  • How can humility lead to becoming righteous?

  1. 2.

    2 Nephi 31:7. The Savior covenanted with the Father “that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.”

  • Read Mosiah 18:8–10. According to these verses, what covenants do we enter into at baptism?

  • Why is it important to you to know that the Savior made these same covenants?

  • How does keeping the commandments help us on the path toward righteousness?

  1. 3.

    2 Nephi 31:8–9. The Savior’s baptism showed the “straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate.”

  • How did the Savior’s baptism show His willingness to do the will of the Father?

  • How is baptism like a gate leading to the strait and narrow path to the celestial kingdom?

  • Why do you think it is important to know that the Savior entered the same gate that everyone else is required to enter?

  1. 4.

    2 Nephi 31:9. The Savior “set the example” for us to follow.

  • How has the Savior’s example helped you?

  • What righteous examples of others have helped you follow the Savior?

  • How does setting a good example for others help us become righteous?

2 Nephi 31:10–17. Baptism is the gate to the strait and narrow path that leads to eternal life. We should each repent of our sins, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (15–20 minutes)

Ask a student to come to class prepared to give a three-minute talk on baptism, including the student’s recollections and feelings about having been baptized. After the talk, discuss with the class how they would respond to the following two situations:

  1. 1.

    One day after seminary your friend says: “I don’t know why we are baptized when we are eight years old. That seems too young to me. Don’t you think we should wait until we are old enough to better appreciate and understand what baptism is all about?”

  2. 2.

    A friend confides: “I wish I could be baptized now instead of when I was eight. It sure would be nice to have all these sins of mine washed away.”

Write on the board: Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost can help young people learn about the gospel as they come to understand the covenant of baptism.

Read 2 Nephi 31:10–13 looking for a blessing associated with baptism that would be helpful for even an eight-year-old child to have. Ask:

  • Why is the gift of the Holy Ghost such an important blessing?

  • How could that gift bless a young person?

  • How can the gift of the Holy Ghost help a young person learn about the gospel?

  • How would your life be different without the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Write on the board: We are cleansed from sin through the power of the Holy Ghost. This can happen at baptism and throughout our lives.

Read 2 Nephi 31:17 and ask: What power cleanses us from sin? Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Sins are remitted not in the waters of baptism, as we say in speaking figuratively, but when we receive the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Spirit of God that erases carnality and brings us into a state of righteousness. 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” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 290).

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why would it be important to receive the baptism of fire?

  • How often can you receive the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost in your life?

  • How would the cleanliness you have whenever you receive forgiveness from Heavenly Father compare to the cleanliness you had as a child?

Share the following statement by Bishop Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric:

“You can invite the Holy Ghost’s companionship in your life. And you can know when he is there, and when he withdraws. And when he is your companion, you can have confidence that the Atonement is working in your life. …

“… You will feel the influence of the Holy Ghost helping you, and you will feel approval. And you will know that, for at least those minutes, the power of the Holy Ghost was with you. And you will know that some healing came into your soul, for the Spirit will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. His influence cleanses.

“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” (“Come unto Christ,” in Brigham Young University 1989–90 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1990], 41).

Return to the two situations presented earlier in the lesson. Invite students to again respond, this time using 2 Nephi 31 and the words of Elder McConkie and Bishop Eyring to answer the questions.

Testify of the importance of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Encourage students to continue to renew their covenants by taking the sacrament and to exercise the gift of the Holy Ghost throughout their lives.

2 Nephi 32:1–33:2. We can better understand spiritual communications by searching the words of Christ, praying diligently, and seeking the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. (25–30 minutes)

Blindfold one of your students. Show the class a picture or painting and ask someone to describe it to the blindfolded student. Allow the student to remove the blindfold and look at the picture. Ask the student:

  • How well were you able to understand what the picture looked like based only on the description?

  • How did the blindfold limit your understanding?

Ask the class: How does this principle relate to our other senses (smell, taste, touch, and hearing)?

Tell students that in addition to being able to see physically, we can also “see” spiritually. Invite them to think about a time they have felt the Spirit’s influence, and then ask:

  • Why is it important for us to have the influence of the Spirit in our own lives?

  • Why would it be difficult to explain your spiritual feelings to others in a way they could understand?

  • What are some things that can make us less sensitive to the Spirit?

  • How can we become more sensitive to the Spirit?

Read 2 Nephi 32:1–5 and ask:

  • What did Nephi say the “words of Christ” and the Holy Ghost would do for the faithful? (“Tell you all things what ye should do” [v. 3]; and “show unto you all things what ye should do” [v. 5].)

  • Why is it important to have this kind of direction in your life?

  • What can you do to receive this spiritual guidance?

Tell students that Nephi compares not understanding spiritual things to being in the dark (see v. 4). This is like being “blindfolded” to spiritual things. Have students read 2 Nephi 32:4–9 and look for ways we can better prepare ourselves to receive the influence of the Spirit. Discuss what students find, and encourage them to implement these teachings in their lives.

weekly iconscripture mastery icon2 Nephi 32:3 (Scripture Mastery). We should feast upon the words of Christ. (10–15 minutes)

Write the following words on separate pieces of paper: sample, gorge, taste, nibble, snack, and feast. Hand the papers out to six students, without letting the other students see what is written. Have the six students come to the front of the class. Give them dishes and tell them to imagine there is food in them. Invite the six students to describe or demonstrate the word on their paper, and have the class try to guess the word. Reveal the six words, and then discuss the following questions:

  • How does feasting compare to the other words used to describe eating?

  • Which of the following do you think feasting refers to most: (1) the amount of food eaten, (2) the type of food eaten, (3) the speed at which you eat, or (4) the frequency of your meals? Why?

Invite students to read 2 Nephi 32:3, and ask:

  • What did Nephi encourage us to feast on?

  • How does feasting on the scriptures compare to reading, scanning, looking at, or browsing the scriptures?

  • What are some synonyms for feasting on the words of Christ? (Studying, searching, pondering.)

  • What do you think feasting on scripture refers to: (1) the amount of scripture you read, (2) the types or passages of scripture you read, (3) the speed at which you read, or (4) the frequency of your scripture study? Why?

Share the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Individual, personal testimony of gospel truth, particularly of the divine life and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ, is essential to our eternal life. ‘And this is life eternal,’ said the Savior, ‘that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent’ [John 17:3]. In other words, life eternal is predicated upon our own individual, personal knowledge of our Father in Heaven and His Holy Son. Simply knowing about them is not enough. We must have personal, spiritual experiences to anchor us. These come through seeking them in the same intense, single-minded way that a hungry person seeks food” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 111; or Ensign, May 1996, 80).

Invite students to share positive experiences they have had as a result of diligently studying their scriptures. Encourage them to continue to feast upon the words of Christ.

weekly iconscripture mastery icon2 Nephi 32:8–9 (Scripture Mastery). The Spirit teaches us to pray, but Satan teaches us not to pray. (10–15 minutes)

Present the following situation to your students: If you were in charge of your country’s armies during a war, what would be the first thing belonging to the enemy that you would want to destroy? After students give their responses, ask:

  • What might be the advantage of destroying the enemy’s communication system?

  • What is our communication system with our Father in Heaven? (Prayer.)

  • Why would Satan want to destroy our communication with God?

  • How might he go about doing that?

Divide students into five groups and assign each group one of the following hymns:

  • “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” (Hymns, no. 26)

  • “Be Thou Humble” (no. 130)

  • “Did You Think to Pray?” (no. 140)

  • “Sweet Hour of Prayer” (no. 142)

  • “Secret Prayer” (no. 144)

Have students read the words of their hymn and look for three important principles taught in that hymn. Invite each group to share what they found, and discuss the principles as a class.

Read 2 Nephi 32:8–9 and ask:

  • Why do you think Satan doesn’t want us to pray?

  • How would life be different if we didn’t have prayer?

  • Is it easy or difficult for you to be consistent in your prayers? Why?

  • In what ways has prayer blessed your life?

  • What are some things that can help us become more consistent in our prayers?

Share an experience that you have had with the power of prayer (do not reveal anything too sacred or personal). Invite students to share their testimonies of prayer, and encourage them to continue to pray daily.

2 Nephi 33. Nephi ended his writings with his testimony. (30–35 minutes)

Ask students to imagine knowing that today would be their last day on earth. Ask:

  • What in your life thus far would you be grateful for?

  • How would you like people to remember you?

  • What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?

  • What would you like written on your gravestone?

Tell students that the following epitaph is written on President Howard W. Hunter’s gravestone: “A Prophet, and a kind, patient, courteous, forgiving man.” Ask: Even if you had never met President Hunter, what would be your impressions of him as you read his gravestone?

Tell students that 2 Nephi 33 is Nephi’s final testimony. This chapter can help us better understand what kind of man he was and what message he wanted to leave to the world. Have each student silently read 2 Nephi 33 to find answers to the following questions:

  • What teaching or doctrine do you think was most important to Nephi?

  • What are five words that could be written on his gravestone to describe him and his beliefs?

Discuss their findings.

Share your testimony of Nephi and your gratitude to be able to study his life and writings. Ask students to select the one character trait or teaching of Nephi that they would most like to exemplify. Have each student write a personal goal that would help them develop that trait, and encourage them to strive to reach that goal.