Near the end of Nephi’s mortal life, he concludes by plainly declaring the doctrine of Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 31-33). One of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the March 2-8, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families invites us to consider the following question, “If you had to summarize the path to eternal life in just a few words, what would you say?” In developing our individual responses, reviewing Nephi’s final words in the Book of Mormon provides an inspiring template for framing ways that we can share “first principles and ordinances of the gospel doctrine” (Articles of Faith 1:4).
Affirming Baptism by Water and of the Spirit
Nephi begins his explanation of the doctrine of Christ by describing the importance of baptism: “Wherein the Lamb of God did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized by water? … But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:6-7). Jesus clearly demonstrates that baptism by water is the first ordinance of the gospel for entering the path to eternal life.
Nephi then describes what happened immediately after Christ’s baptism: “the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove” (2 Nephi 31:8). Nephi goes on to explain, “And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me” (2 Nephi 31:12). By fulfilling these ordinances, we are promised, “then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17). The Holy Ghost is one of God’s greatest gifts to all mankind.
During His mortal ministry, Jesus did not delay teaching Nicodemus the importance of both: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). These two ordinances are required of all accountable individuals who have lived, are living, or will live upon the earth.
Both Jesus and Nephi teach investigators the importance of baptism. We, likewise, should not hesitate to invite people to be baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Teaching Repentance, Faith, and Enduring to the End
To prepare for the baptisms of water and fire, Nephi counsels, “Can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son” (2 Nephi 31:10-11). Each person needs to be taught God’s commandments and repent by faithfully changing how they live to be in accordance with God’s will.
This process of change is ongoing, for Nephi states, “unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved” (2 Nephi 31:16). After we gain an understanding of the principles of faith and repentance, Nephi encourages us to: “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
Guided by the Holy Comforter
Concerning any fears that we have about what we should do each day, Nephi explains: “if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:5).
He adds that when Christ “shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do” (2 Nephi 32:6). This clarifies that Jesus would add commandments such as the sacrament, temple ordinances, and ongoing revelation from living prophets.
By walking the covenant path, we can, like Nephi, learn to love all people and to “have charity” (2 Nephi 33:7). Nephi concludes by testifying: “Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things” (2 Nephi 33:11).
Our Personal Summary of the Doctrine of Christ
Informed by what Nephi said and wrote at the end of his life, we are better prepared to offer our own summary of the path to eternal life:
We need to plant, nurture, and declare faith, hope, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ and His great atoning sacrifice.
We need to repent daily by living according to God’s commandments and inviting others to experience the joy of repentance.
We need to rejoice that we have physically walked where Jesus walked by following His footsteps into the waters of baptism: the first ordinance of the covenant path.
We need to experience the baptism of fire by receiving the Holy Ghost into our lives and receiving a remission of our sins. We can renew our baptismal covenant each week by partaking of the sacrament and keeping the Sabbath day holy. Additionally, we can regularly attend and renew the additional covenants performed in holy temples for individuals and families on both sides of the veil.
We need to endure to the end with an ever-growing faith that we will stand face to face before Jesus Christ and give an accounting of how we have lived our lives.
These are the glad tidings of doctrine we want to put into practice and share with others.