BOOK OF MORMON - LESSON 11
2 Nephi 31-33
"Press Forward With A Steadfastness In Christ"
A study of this lesson will help us understand the doctrine of Christ and
have an increased desire to press forward, feasting on his words.
Nephi teaches of the doctrine of Christ.
Nephi teaches that we must press forward and endure to the end.
Nephi speaks of the importance of feasting on the words of Christ.
Nephi declares that people will believe his words if they believe in Christ.
2 Nephi 31 - The Doctrine of Christ
All who have studied the scriptures know that this undertaking can be a
great challenge. As we study the scriptures we often struggle to
understand their meaning. We turn to scholarly commentaries, even
though the best of scholars differ in their understanding.
Brother Joseph F. McConkie: "Some have responded
to such difficulties by avoiding the challenge. They are satisfied
to depend on interpretations given by others, particularly if the commentary
comes from a prominent person. The thought seems to be that all interpretation
and meaningful insights will come from a selected few while the rest of
us are to depend on their understanding; and that when we are called upon
to speak or teach, we are to confine ourselves primarily to weaving together
quotations from those commissioned to understand." (Studies
In Scripture, 7:162-163)
I suppose, the great irony is to quote a scholar to make this point.
Nonetheless, we are often guilty of leaning on the study and understanding
of others in an effort to achieve understanding.
One of the great things about the Book of Mormon is the assurance that
we all may know and understand the doctrines of salvation.
WHAT IS NECESSARY TO GAIN TRUE UNDERSTANDING?
2 Nephi 31 contains a discourse by Nephi that is without equal in the entire
Standard Works in terms of plainness and clarity. He who applies
these simple ingredients to this chapter has claim on the greatest treasure
man can obtain.
The Savior Is Our Example In All Things
Faith, sincerity, righteousness, and obedience.
These are things that we all have equal claim to. We don't need a
degree from divinity school. We don't have to have visited holy sites
around the world. The humblest person in the most remote part of
the world has as much claim on true understanding as the greatest scholar.
2 Nephi 31:2: "Wherefore, the things which I have
written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning
the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according
to the plainness of my prophesying."
READ 2 NEPHI 31:4-5. Jesus baptized to fulfill
WHAT DOES NEPHI MEAN WHEN IT SAY THAT THE LORD WAS BAPTIZED TO "FULFILL
Nephi explains that Christ did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized
1. He humbled himself before the Father;
2. He covenanted to be obedient and keep the Father's commandment;
3. He had to be baptized to gain admission to the celestial kingdom;
4. He set an example for all men to follow.
(see 2 Nephi 31:6-10)
Christ was not given a separate set of commandments from the rest of us.
He followed the same path that we must follow to gain eternal life and
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE RIGHTEOUS?
It is not simply the absence of evil or impropriety.
The active seeking of the mind and will of the Father.
Full compliance once that knowledge has been obtained.
Christ, in being absolutely obedient to the will of the Father truly fulfilled
Christ is our example in all things. All we have to do is to get
on the path and follow Him.
Can we not fulfill all righteousness in our own lives by repenting and
following the Savior into the waters of baptism and entering into a covenant
to do all that the Father would have us do?
Verse 11 teaches that the Father commands us to repent and be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ.
In verse 12 Jesus says to "...follow me, and do
the things which ye have seen me do."
Nephi counsels us:
If we truly repent and are baptized we shall receive
the Holy Ghost (v13).
If you do this and deny the Son it would have been
for you that ye had not known me" (v14).
He that endures to the end shall be saved (v15).
Follow the example of the Savior (v17).
The Master has scouted the trail ahead and has prepared
it for our passage. All we have to do is get on the path and follow
Baptism in the name of the Son with its attendant
covenants is the gate to the path.
Nephi counsels us as to what we must do after we
have made our way onto the path:
READ 2 NEPHI 31:19-20.
WHAT DOES NEPHI TELL US WE MUST DO? WHAT DOES
IT MEAN TO DO THESE THINGS?
Joseph Smith: "After
a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for
the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on
of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble
himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living
by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt
be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that
the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find
his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to
receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints."
VERSE 21 MAKES REFERENCE AGAIN TO THE "DOCTRINE OF
CHRIST". WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST? HOW WOULD YOU SUM
Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.
Nephi talks about the path.
All paths eventually lead somewhere. The path Nephi describes leads
to eternal life.
The dictionary defines "steadfast"
to be "fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze....
firm in purpose, resolution, faith, etc." (Random House Webster's College
Dictionary 1996, p1308). If one's goal is to reach the summit of
a mountain, one needs to keep his focus on the end goal and not be easily
On the path of eternal life,
we need to be steadfast. Steadfast in what? Steadfast in following
the example of Christ. Keeping our focus on him and our ultimate
goal. There are many attractive distractions in our life. We
cannot be distracted. If we do it will be as Alma so clearly states,
"...if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the
night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed" (Alma 34:33).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
idea or imagery of pressing forward suggests, therefore, earnestness and
energy and not a passive stroll in the general direction of Home and Him.
The imagery also emphasizes a direction—forward—not side trips and detours.
Detours don't have to be bad to have a bad effect—they always cost us time.
They may also mean that we were not there to help a fellow traveler who
needed us as he stumbled. Pressing forward suggests an enthusiastic, relentless
progress along the path, 'with a steadfastness in Christ' (2 Nephi 31:20)
being part of the imagery." (Wherefore
Ye Must Press Forward, p34)
Having a perfect brightness of hope.
Along the path to eternal
life, the road can seem long and difficult. We must maintain a "brightness
of hope" especially when we are discouraged. Christ is that hope.
It is he who clears the path and makes it possible to continue forward.
concept of hope plays a vital role in Latter-day Saint thought. Firmly
centered in Christ and his resurrection, it is the 'hope of eternal life'
(Titus 1:2) repeatedly alluded to by Paul. It is the opposite of the despair
found among those who are 'without Christ, having no hope, and without
God in the world' (Eph. 2:12). As the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni writes,
'If ye have no hope, ye must needs be in despair' (Moro. 10:22). For those,
however, who accept Christ's Atonement and resurrection, there comes a
'brightness of hope' (2 Ne. 31:20) through which all who believe in God
'might with surety hope for a better world' (Ether 12:4)."
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, HOPE)
Love of God and all men.
This is the action part of
the path. Our love for God is demonstrated as we keep his commandments
and seek to do his will. "If ye love
me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
Our love of God is further demonstrated when we reach out and serve our
fellow men. "Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto
me" (Matthew 25:40).
Feast upon the word of Christ.
Are you feasting upon His
words today? Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "For
some Church members the Book of Mormon remains unread. Others use it occasionally
as if it were merely a handy book of quotations. Still others accept and
read it but do not really explore and ponder it. The book is to be feasted
upon, not nibbled." (But for a Small Moment,
Endure to the end.
If we were to enter
a path which led to the top of a tall mountain, there might come times
when we became discouraged, tired, or lose our focus on the goal and become
become distracted. Then comes a time of hanging in there. A
time of not only being "steadfast", but just sticking to the path and pushing
on one step at a time.
I am reminded the running
of my first marathon almost fifteen years ago. The first 20 miles
were not easy and I worked through some physical challenges. Just
past the 20 mile mark I hit the proverbial wall. I no longer had
the strength to continue the race at the same pace. In fact, with
six miles to go, I wondered if I would reach the finish line at all.
I continued forward, one step at a time, sometimes walking, sometimes jogging
slowly. I was "enduring to the end" of the race. Enduring to
me suggests times that are difficult, such as I encountered in the last
miles of the marathon. It suggests a time when we continue to push
forward one step at a time. To use modern terminology, a time of
"hanging in there".
The path to eternal life is
a long one. We sometimes become weary. Paul understood this
when he said, "And let us not be weary
in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"
(Galatians 6:9). We need to remain "steadfast" with our focus on
Christ. We need to take one step at a time along the path.
We cannot just leap ahead. King Benjamin reminds us, "And
see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite
that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient
that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore,
all things must be done in order" (Mosiah
Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"Enduring is more than lasting, however:
we are to 'endure it well' and to endure it 'valiantly' (D&C 121:8,
29). By taking Jesus' yoke upon us and enduring, we learn most deeply of
Him and especially how to be like Him (see Matthew 11:29). Even though
our experiences are micro compared to His, the process is the same."
(Men and Women of Christ, pp68-69)
To repent and follow the example of the Savior in
all things by being baptized and covenanting with the Father to do His
will, to receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
In verse 1 Nephi says, "I suppose that ye ponder
somewhat in your hearts that which ye should do after ye have entered in
2 Nephi 32:7: "And now I, Nephi, cannot
say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because
of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness
of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge,
when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be."
He responds to that in v3, "Wherefore, I said
unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ
will tell you all things what ye should do."
I believe that reading and studying the Book of Mormon, more than any other
book, will teach one how to feast upon the words of Christ and will keep
that person on the path to eternal life.
If you are struggling in life,
If your testimony is weak,
If you feel temptation pulling,
Drench yourself in the living waters of the Book of Mormon.
The battle between good and evil.
It would appear that Nephi was going to write more, but he said that "the
Spirit stoppeth mine utterance".
WHY DO WE NOT HAVE MORE OF THE WORDS OF NEPHI?
Ignorance and stiffneckedness.
An unwillingness to search the scriptures or try to understand it, even
when it is given in plainness.
Nephi has counseled us to "feast upon the words of Christ". As Elder
Maxwell stated, the scriptures are to be "feasted upon, not nibbled."
Why should we be given more, when we are still "nibbling" on what we have?
Why would anyone go to the effort of preparing a feast, just to have a
few people nibble? We will receive more when we are feasting upon
what we have and striving with all our hearts to abide by the principles
Last week we talked about the ongoing battle between the forces of good
and evil. We touched on some of the tools of the adversary.
In verse 8 we read: "For if ye would hearken unto
the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray;
for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he
must not pray."
The goal of the adversary is to separate men from God.
If we do not pray, we are heeding the call of Satan. Without communion
with the Father, we cannot enjoy the fruits of the Spirit.
The promise regarding the Book of Mormon requires us to speak with God.
Without so doing we cannot know of its truth and we will not be blessed
by the power of the "words of Christ".
In chapter 33 Nephi makes a passionate conclusion to his writings - a testimony
of its source.
In verse 1 Nephi states that he cannot write all the things that were taught
among his people.
He also says that he is not mighty in writing, like unto speaking.
If Nephi is a greater teacher than speaker, can you imagine what it would
be like to have him for a Sunday School teacher. Nephi's writings
are some of the most clear, concise, and inspiring writings from any prophet.
What an experience it must have been to sit at his feet and be taught.
READ 2 NEPHI 33:3-5. The words of Nephi are
of great worth.
READ 2 NEPHI 33:10-11.
The words of this book persuade men to do good, believe in Jesus, and endure
to the end.
Verse 3: "...no man will be angry at the words
which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil."
Nephi's final witness.
If you believe in Christ, you will believe in these words.
2 Nephi 33:13-15: "And now, my beloved brethren,
all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth,
I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until
that great day shall come.
"And you that will not partake of the goodness
of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words
which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold,
I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at
the last day.
"For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against
you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must
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