Lesson 40: 2 Nephi 31

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

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”—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.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 31:1–13

Nephi teaches that when we are baptized, we follow the Savior’s example

Begin class by asking students the following questions:

  • What do you remember about your baptism? How did you feel when you were baptized?

Explain that when students were baptized, they were following a pattern that has always been part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nephi used a certain phrase to refer to this pattern. Invite students to search for a phrase that is found in 2 Nephi 31:2 and 2 Nephi 31:21. After they have identified the phrase “the doctrine of Christ,” ask:

  • What words or phrases in 2 Nephi 31:2, 21 suggest the importance of the “doctrine of Christ”? (Answers may include “I must speak concerning,” “none other way,” and “the only and true doctrine.”)

Display the picture John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus (62133; Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 35). Invite students to study 2 Nephi 31:5–9 silently, looking for phrases that identify why Jesus Christ was baptized. (You might want to suggest that they mark these phrases.) After a few minutes, ask students to read the phrases they have found.

Chirst's baptism
  • What do you think it means to “fulfil all righteousness”? (After students have responded, you may want to explain that it means to keep the commandments. President Joseph F. Smith said that “to fulfil all righteousness” is “to fulfil the law” [in Conference Report, Apr. 1912, 9].)

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 31:10–12 aloud.

  • How do these verses explain the importance of baptism? (Nephi teaches that baptism is a commandment from Heavenly Father, that it is required in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that it is necessary in our efforts to follow Jesus Christ.)

Ask students to summarize the doctrines and principles they have learned from 2 Nephi 31:5–12. As they share their ideas, ensure that they understand the following principles:

Jesus Christ set the perfect example of obedience for us to follow.

We must follow Jesus Christ, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost.

Jesus Christ, though sinless, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 31:13 aloud. Direct students’ attention to the phrases “with full purpose of heart,” “acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God,” and “with real intent.” You may want to suggest that they mark these phrases.

  • What do these phrases mean to you? (You may need to point out that all three phrases refer to the need to be sincere in our efforts to exercise faith in the Savior, repent of our sins, and follow the Savior’s example.)

To help students deepen their understanding of how to follow the Savior’s example in a variety of situations, ask questions such as the following:

  • How might these phrases apply to such activities as daily scripture study and Church attendance?

  • What is the difference between “saying a prayer” and praying “with full purpose of heart”?

  • What is the difference between eating the sacrament bread and partaking of the sacrament bread “with real intent”?

  • What is the difference between saying that you are sorry about something you have done and repenting “with full purpose of heart”?

2 Nephi 31:14–21

Nephi teaches that after baptism, we need to receive the Holy Ghost and continue following the Savior’s example

Explain that Nephi spoke of a gate opening to a path. Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 31:17–18 aloud. When the student has finished reading, draw a simple illustration like the following on the board:

gate opening to a path
  • 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.)

  • Nephi taught that after baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:13–14). According to 2 Nephi 31:17–18, what does the Holy Ghost do for us? (Help students understand that the Holy Ghost witnesses of the Father and the Son and brings a remission of sins.)

  • Why is it essential for us to receive a testimony of the Father and the Son through the Holy Ghost?

To help students understand the Holy Ghost’s role in the remission of sins, you may need to explain the phrase “baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:13–14; see also verse 17). Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what it means to be baptized by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

“The gate of baptism leads to the strait and narrow path. …

“We are commanded and instructed to so live that our fallen nature is changed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. President Marion G. Romney taught that the baptism of fire by the Holy Ghost ‘converts [us] from carnality to spirituality. It cleanses, heals, and purifies the soul. … Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and water baptism are all preliminary and prerequisite to it, but [the baptism of fire] is the consummation. To receive [this baptism of fire] is to have one’s garments washed in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ’ (Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney [1977], 133; see also 3 Nephi 27:19–20).

“Hence, as we are born again and strive to always have His Spirit to be with us, the Holy Ghost sanctifies and refines our souls as if by fire (see 2 Nephi 31:13–14, 17). Ultimately, we are to stand spotless before God” (“Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 81).

  • What did Elder Bednar and President Romney say the “baptism of fire” does for us?

  • What additional blessings can we receive through the influence of the Holy Ghost?

  • How do you “strive to always have His Spirit” to be with you?

  • When have you felt the Holy Ghost acting in your life?

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. You might suggest that they mark words or phrases that explain what we must do to receive eternal life. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they have marked. As they respond, write their answers on the board. Your illustration should look something like this:

gate opening to a path

Ensure that students understand that if we live according to the doctrine of Christ, we will receive eternal life.

To conclude the lesson, ask a student to read 2 Nephi 31:20 aloud. Point out that 2 Nephi 31:19–20 is a scripture mastery passage. You might encourage students to mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily. Invite them to respond to one of the following questions in their scripture study journals or class notebooks:

  • Based on what you have studied in this lesson, what gives you hope that you can receive eternal life?

  • How has the covenant you made at baptism influenced your life?

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

Share the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change” (“The Power of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 6).

On a poster (or a piece of paper), write I have memorized 2 Nephi 31:19–20. Place the poster in a place where students will see it. Challenge students to memorize this passage on their own or with their families. Invite them to sign the poster in the coming days when they have memorized the passage. If they work with their families to memorize it, they may also write their family members’ names on the poster. Remember to tailor this challenge to individuals’ capabilities and circumstances so that each student can be successful.

Share your testimony about the value of memorizing scriptures, such as 2 Nephi 31:19–20, that contain words of hope.

Note: Because of the nature and length of today’s lesson, you may want to use this activity on another day, when you have more time.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 31:2, 21. “The doctrine of Christ”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“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: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 49–50).

2 Nephi 31:13. “Acting no hypocrisy”

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of acting with no hypocrisy:

“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’? [Joseph Smith—History 1:19.]

“Are we righteous in fact, or do we feign 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” (“True to the Truth,” Ensign, May 1997, 15–16).

Counseling members to act with real intent and not merely go through the motions, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

“Following these most basic teachings, a splendor of connections to Christ opens up to us in multitudinous ways: prayer and fasting and meditation upon His purposes, savoring the scriptures, giving service to others, ‘succor[ing] the weak, lift[ing] up the hands which hang down, … strengthen[ing] the feeble knees.’ [D&C 81:5.] Above all else, loving with ‘the pure love of Christ,’ that gift that ‘never faileth,’ that gift that ‘beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, [and] endureth all things.’ [See Moroni 7:45–47.] Soon, with that kind of love, we realize our days hold scores of thoroughfares leading to the Master and that every time we reach out, however feebly, for Him, we discover He has been anxiously trying to reach us. …

“My desire today is for all of us … to have more straightforward personal experience with the Savior’s example. Sometimes we seek heaven too obliquely [indirectly], focusing on programs or history or the experience of others. Those are important but not as important as personal experience, true discipleship, and the strength that comes from experiencing firsthand the majesty of His touch” (“Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 70).

2 Nephi 31:13, 17–18. “Receive the Holy Ghost”

Elder David A. Bednar taught:

“The ordinance of confirming a new member of the Church and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost is both simple and profound. Worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders place their hands upon the head of an individual and call him or her by name. Then, by the authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of the Savior, the individual is confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this important phrase is uttered: ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’

“The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance. These four words—‘Receive the Holy Ghost’—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ and its attendant spiritual gifts. …

“Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost. The commandments from God we obey and the inspired counsel from Church leaders we follow principally focus upon obtaining the companionship of the Spirit. Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives” (“Receive the Holy Ghost,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 95, 97).

The following statement lists some of the blessings we can receive when we are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost:

“[The Holy Ghost] can guide you in your decisions and protect you from physical and spiritual danger. …

“He is the Comforter (John 14:26). … The whisperings of the Spirit can calm your fears, hush the nagging worries of your life, and comfort you when you grieve. The Holy Ghost can fill you ‘with hope and perfect love’ and ‘teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom’ (Moroni 8:26; D&C 36:2). …

“Full enjoyment of the gift of the Holy Ghost includes receiving revelation and comfort, serving and blessing others through spiritual gifts, and being sanctified from sin and made fit for exaltation in the celestial kingdom” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 82–83).

2 Nephi 31:15–16. “Endure to the end”

The phrase “endure to the end” 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:

“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 or, as the Book of Mormon prophet Amaleki teaches, we must ‘come unto him, and offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth [we] will be saved.’ [Omni 1:26.]

“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 or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 101).

2 Nephi 31–33. The Holy Ghost

Nephi’s final teachings in the Book of Mormon include many truths about the Holy Ghost. For example:

  1. 1.

    The Holy Ghost enables you to speak with the “tongue of angels” (see 2 Nephi 31:13).

  2. 2.

    Remission of sin comes by the power of the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:17).

  3. 3.

    The Holy Ghost witnesses of the Father and the Son (see 2 Nephi 31:18).

  4. 4.

    The Holy Ghost will show you all things you should do (see 2 Nephi 32:5).

  5. 5.

    The Holy Ghost teaches people to pray (see 2 Nephi 32:8).

  6. 6.

    When a person speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost carries the message to the hearts of others (see 2 Nephi 33:1).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

2 Nephi 31:5–21. Invite students to teach from 2 Nephi 31

Ask each student to prepare a three-minute talk on baptism or the Holy Ghost that they might give at a baptismal service. Encourage them to use principles in 2 Nephi 31:5–21. Also encourage them to include their recollections and feelings about being baptized. You might ask a few students to share the talks they have prepared.

2 Nephi 31:5–12. The need for baptism

The following chart may help you guide a discussion of 2 Nephi 31:5–12, focusing on why Jesus Christ needed to be baptized and why we need to be baptized. Consider copying the chart on the board, including only the words at the top of the chart. Then ask students why we need baptism, and write their answers in the first column. Then invite students to read 2 Nephi 31:5–9, looking for reasons the Savior was baptized. Write their responses in the second column. To emphasize our need to follow the Savior’s example, have students read 2 Nephi 31:10–12.

Why are we baptized?

Why was Jesus Christ baptized?

For remission of sins

To become members of the Church

To be obedient

To be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost

To fulfill all righteousness

To humble Himself before the Father

To witness that He would be obedient to the Father

To set an example for us

2 Nephi 31:20. The process of coming unto Christ

Ask a student read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar. Ask the other students to listen for what it means to press forward and come unto Christ.

“Coming unto Christ is not a single event with a fixed point of beginning or ending; rather, it is a process that develops and deepens during a lifetime. As an initial step in the process, we certainly must obtain knowledge and learn about Jesus and His life, teachings, and ministry. But truly coming unto Him also requires consistent obedience and striving to become like Jesus in our thoughts, motives, communications, and actions. As we ‘press forward’ (2 Nephi 31:20) on the pathway of discipleship, we can draw near unto the Savior with the expectation that He will draw near unto us; we can seek Him diligently with the hope that we shall find Him; we can ask with confidence that we shall receive; and we can knock anticipating that the door shall be opened unto us (see D&C 88:63)” (“Because We Have Them before Our Eyes,” New Era, Apr. 2006, 2, 4).

  • What does it mean to “press forward”?

Ask students to answer the following question in their scripture study journals:

  • How might you “press forward” and follow the Savior more fully?

2 Nephi 31:2, 21. “The doctrine of Christ”

Toward the end of the lesson, direct students’ attention to the phrase “the doctrine of Christ” in 2 Nephi 31:2, 21. You may have already discussed this phrase briefly. Divide students into pairs. Ask them to explain to each other what they have learned about the meaning of this phrase as they have read 2 Nephi 31. (They should be able to explain that through repentance and baptism, we enter the path leading to eternal life. With faith in Jesus Christ and the assistance of the Holy Ghost, we can endure to the end, diligently striving to do what God has commanded so we can receive eternal life.)