Nephi gives his people the most important things he can think of to know—“the doctrine of Christ.” (2) He tells how plainness is how God teaches.
For after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.”2 Nephi 31:3
Light is truth; it helps us see through darkness to understand God better. I think it’s merciful and extremely loving that God speaks to each of us according to our understanding. He doesn’t do things in secret. He wants us to return to Him.
Baptism – Christ’s way
The doctrine of Christ begins with Christ being baptized by John the Baptist.
And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!”2 Nephi 31:5
Christ was perfect, yet He submitted to God’s will and was baptized, showing humility and obedience. He showed by example that baptism is the way back to the Father.
Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.”2 Nephi 31:7
Obedience is the key to open up the windows of heaven.
Even Christ, who was perfect, obeyed the Father’s will. He didn’t take the glory to Himself and think He could do what He wanted. He always submitted His will unto His Father.
And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.”2 Nephi 31:9
Christ set the example for us, showing us what to do to return to Him and the Father. He tells us to “Follow thou me.” (10)
Strait versus Straight
Baptism is the first step along this strait path.
Strait means narrow or constricted. The path is narrow, not necessarily a straight line. We might have to weave back and forth like a mountain hike that is narrow with dangerous cliffs on both sides. God’s way is strait and doesn’t allow for extra steps away from His word. When we leave His safe path, we risk slipping into destructive traps set by the great deceiver himself.
The word “willing” stands out to me in verse 10. It doesn’t say we have to follow the commandments perfectly. God knows we will make mistakes along the way. But we are “willing to keep the commandments of the Father.”
Merriam-Webster defines willing as inclined or favorably disposed in mind; done, borne, or accepted by choice or without reluctance; of or relating to the will or power of choosing. Willing denotes a personal choice. We want and choose to keep the commandments. We don’t complain about them being hard or constraining. We choose to follow because we love our Savior and trust Him and know that keeping His commandments will make us happy in the long run.
God’s Gift to Us
The first commandment after loving God is to repent (11) and be baptized. This is the ordinance that shows our willingness to comply with God’s word. After we are baptized in Christ’s name, “to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (12)
This is a good reason to study the life of Christ in the New Testament and Book of Mormon to learn what Jesus did…and strive to emulate Him. The doctrine of Christ is set forth plainly in the next verse:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.2 Nephi 31:13
Nephi bears pure testimony that we need to keep God’s commandments. We don’t follow God to get attention or honor from men, but because we love Him.
Repentance shows we are sincere in overcoming and becoming.
We witness our commitment to God by being baptized, like Jesus was—by immersion and by one holding priesthood authority, like John did. And God rewards us by baptizing us with fire—the Holy Ghost—who fills us with joy and rejoicing. This is such a great gift—a member of the Godhead that can be with us always.
It’s never too late to follow Christ. No matter where you are in life spiritually (far from Him or close to Him), it’s time to get closer. Jesus spent His whole life and gave us His word in the scriptures to testify of second chances. To bear witness of transformation. To give us hope of eternal becoming.
He wants us to seek Him with full purpose of heart, with real intent, which means repenting to engage the power of His atonement in our lives. His message is full of hope, calling us—His lost sheep—to come back to the fold and not be deceived by false voices (or wolves) in the world that tell us we don’t belong or have sinned too much to be accepted by Him.
Our living prophet today has given us specific counsel very recently on coming unto Christ–and hearing Him in our lives.
In the scriptures, there are very few sacred instances in which the voice of God the Father has been heard. So, when He says something, we really need to listen. Repeatedly, He has personally introduced His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, with a specific charge to “Hear Him!”
Have you ever stopped to ask, “Why?” Why is our Heavenly Father so insistent—and consistent—in His plea that we should hear His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ?
Jesus answered this question Himself. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”
Our Father loves us and yearns for each one of us to choose to return to His holy presence. He pleads with us to listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, whom the Father anointed and appointed as our Mediator, Savior, and Redeemer.
In this special year as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him? I also invite you to take steps to hear Him better and more often. Throughout this year, we will focus in a special way on the historic event that took place in the Sacred Grove.
I invite you to be proactive and look for opportunities to share your feelings about the Lord Jesus Christ with your family and friends, including inviting your friends to join you in worshiping Him on Easter Sunday.
Now, as one of the Lord’s special witnesses, I bless you in your efforts to get on and stay on His covenant path, and strive with all your heart, might, mind and soul to Hear Him!President Russell M. Nelson, Feb 2020
Our prophet has asked us to be more proactive in hearing Christ. Will we follow him? God’s prophet always leads us back to Christ–giving us the keys to enter in at the gate of eternal life Nephi talked about.
Endure in Christ
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ (we love Him. Doing His will is our top priority), having a perfect brightness of hope (hope in His atonement makes any trial small in comparison to what we know will be the end result—eternal life and salvation), and a love of God and of all men (charity fills our hearts as we repent and seek the Holy Ghost). Wherefore, if ye shall press forward (never give up—keep moving forward spiritually), feasting upon the word of Christ (love His scriptures and words of latter-day prophets), and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”2 Nephi 31:19-20
The Doctrine of Christ is the foundation we build upon. What can I do in my life to make this foundation stronger, so I won’t be susceptible to Satan’s deceptions? How can I prepare myself better to hear Christ’s loving invitations and follow Him?
Come Follow Me – Book of Mormon manual (watch the video that goes along with this)