Chapter 14: 2 Nephi 31–33

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 51–53


Introduction

Delivering a final message to the people, Nephi taught the doctrine of Christ “according to the plainness of [his] prophesying” (2 Nephi 31:2). He taught that we must follow the example of Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. This “doctrine of Christ” was revealed by the voice of Jesus Christ and confirmed by the voice of the Father (see 2 Nephi 31:12, 15). Nephi declared that as we follow the doctrine of Christ, we will receive eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:20).

Continuing his message, Nephi encouraged us to “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3), “receive the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 32:5), and “pray always” (2 Nephi 32:9). As you teach from Nephi’s message, you can assure students that if they live by the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost will “show unto [them] all things what [they] should do” (2 Nephi 32:5).

Nephi concluded his message with a plea that we believe in Jesus Christ. He taught that when we believe in Christ, we are prepared to receive His words in the scriptures (see 2 Nephi 33:10). You can help students see how their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ enhances their understanding of and appreciation for His words as delivered by latter-day prophets.

Some Doctrines and Principles

  • The doctrine of Christ leads to eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31).

  • The words of Christ and the Holy Ghost teach us what we should do (see 2 Nephi 32; 33:1–5).

  • Those who believe in Jesus Christ will also believe the words of Nephi (see 2 Nephi 33:3–15).

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 31. The Doctrine of Christ Leads to Eternal Life

Write The Doctrine of Christ on the board. Point out that Nephi uses this phrase in 2 Nephi 31:2, 21.

Share the following statement, in which Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains the simplicity and directness of the “doctrine of Christ” as taught in the Book of Mormon:

“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. … 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. …

“… The doctrine of Christ is not complicated. It is profoundly, beautifully, single-mindedly clear and complete” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997],49–50, 56).

Explain that Nephi teaches the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31.

Ask students to study 2 Nephi 31:5–9 and identify reasons why Jesus Christ was baptized. Write students’ responses on the board. They may include that He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, to humble Himself before the Father, to covenant to be obedient, to gain admission to the celestial kingdom, and to set an example for us to follow.

Invite students to read 2 Nephi 31:10–18 silently. Ask them to search these verses to see what they can learn about faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Explain that they should look for the meaning of Nephi’s teachings as well as for specific words. For example, they should look for examples of faith in addition to the word faith.

When students have had enough time to read and ponder, help them discuss what they have learned. To help them understand the foundational nature of the principles and ordinances mentioned in these verses, discuss the principles and ordinances one at a time.

Make sure students understand that each principle and ordinance is necessary for us to be fully blessed by the Atonement. These principles and ordinances are the foundation of Jesus Christ’s doctrine because they are necessary for us to be able to come unto Him.

Use some or all of the following questions to guide the students’ discussion:

  • In addition to the reasons given for Jesus’s baptism, what are some other reasons why we need to be baptized? (To receive the Holy Ghost [see verses 12–14], to receive remission of our sins [see verse 17], and to become members of the Church [see D&C 20:37].)

  • As you searched these verses, what did you learn about faith? about repentance? about baptism? about the gift of the Holy Ghost? about enduring to the end?

  • How are each of the first principles and ordinances related to the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

  • How does each point in the doctrine of Christ lead to the following point? For example, how does faith lead to repentance? How does the Holy Ghost help us endure to the end?

  • In what ways do all these principles and ordinances relate to one another?

Help students see that repentance and baptism are not the entrance to the celestial kingdom. They are the entrance to the path that leads to eternal life. Invite students to search 2 Nephi 31:19–20 and identify principles we must follow to obtain eternal life. Encourage students to highlight these principles in their scriptures.

  • In addition to repenting and being baptized, what must we do to obtain eternal life?

  • What does the word steadfastness mean? How does this word describe our progress along the path to eternal life?

  • Why do you think loving all people is a requirement for eternal life?

  • How does 2 Nephi 31:16 help explain what it means to endure to the end?

  • You may want to encourage students to memorize 2 Nephi 31:20.

Give students a moment to think about the following question. Suggest that they privately write their answers to the question.

  • In what ways could you follow the Savior more fully?

2 Nephi 31:19–20; 32:2–3. Feast on the Words of Christ

Ask students to read 2 Nephi 31:19–20; 32:2–3.

  • What does it mean to you to press forward? What does it mean to you to feast on the words of Christ? Where can we find the words of Christ?

Share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), the 13th President of the Church:

“We need to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.’ (Moroni 10:32.) We need to come ‘with a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ (3 Nephi 12:19), hungering and thirsting after righteousness (see 3 Nephi 12:6). We need to come ‘feasting upon the word of Christ’ (2 Nephi 31:20), as we receive it through His scriptures, His anointed, and His Holy Spirit” (A Witness and a Warning [1988], 51).

  • In what ways does feasting on the words of Jesus Christ help us have a “perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men”?

  • How can our love of the scriptures help us endure to the end?

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how we can feast upon the words of Christ:

“If you and I are to feast upon the words of Christ, we must study the scriptures and absorb His words through pondering them and making them a part of every thought and action” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 15).

  • What have you done to make your daily scripture study a meaningful experience?

  • How have the scriptures become a feast for you?

2 Nephi 32; 33:1–5. The Words of Christ and the Holy Ghost Teach Us What We Should Do

Ask the students to read 2 Nephi 32:3, 5. Point out that in these verses, Nephi testifies of two great sources of spiritual knowledge: the words of Christ and the Holy Ghost. (You may also want to remind students that 2 Nephi 32:3 is a scripture mastery verse .)

  • Where can we read or hear the words of Christ? How do the words of Christ help us know what we should do?

  • How does the Holy Ghost help us know what we should do?

  • How do the words of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Ghost relate to one another?

Write the following scripture references on the board:

Explain that these are a few of the many examples of how the words of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Ghost relate to one another. Give students time to study these verses silently.

  • What were these prophets doing that led to receiving additional revelation from the Lord? (Emphasize that in addition to feasting on the scriptures, they were meditating on the word. See 1 Nephi 11:1; D&C 76:15–19; 138:1, 11; Joseph Smith—History 1:12–13.)

  • How did the words of Christ and the promptings of the Holy Ghost combine in these revelations?

  • Why do you think that feasting on the words of Christ helps us receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost?

Ask a student to read 2 Nephi 33:2. Emphasize that when people harden their hearts, the Holy Ghost “hath no place in them.” Then ask students to divide into pairs. Invite each pair to read and discuss 2 Nephi 32:4–9 and 33:1–3. In their discussion, encourage them to talk about how they can prepare their hearts so the Holy Ghost will have a place in them. After sufficient time, ask some or all of the following questions to assess students’ understanding:

  • Why do we sometimes struggle to experience and understand spiritual things?

  • As we follow the teachings in these verses, what does Nephi promise?

  • What words in 2 Nephi 32:8 suggest the seriousness of neglecting to pray?

  • Why is it important that we pray before we “perform any thing unto the Lord”? (2 Nephi 32:9). How have you been blessed as you have followed this counsel?

  • Nephi said that the Holy Ghost carries messages “unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). What does this mean to you? (You may want to have students read the statement by Elder David A. Bednar on page 111 in the student manual.)

2 Nephi 33:3–15. Those Who Believe in Jesus Christ Will Also Believe the Words of Nephi

Ask students to read 2 Nephi 33:4–5 and list the reasons Nephi gave for why his words would be a source of strength to those who would read them. The list should include the following reasons:

  1. 1.

    Nephi’s words persuade people to do good.

  2. 2.

    They teach Lehi’s descendants about their ancestors.

  3. 3.

    They speak of Jesus Christ and persuade people to believe in Him.

  4. 4.

    They encourage people to endure to the end.

  5. 5.

    They speak harshly against sin.

To help students understand Nephi’s role—and the role of all prophets—to persuade people to believe in Christ, ask the following questions:

  • What kinds of information did Nephi record to persuade people to believe in Christ?

  • How has studying Nephi’s words helped you want to grow nearer to Christ?

  • What do modern prophets do to persuade us to believe in Christ? (Invite students to review counsel from the most recent general conference.)

Conclude by bearing your testimony about the words of Nephi. Invite students to share their testimonies as well.