“Lesson 40: 2 Nephi 31,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2012)
“Lesson 40,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual
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.
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 , 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.
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”?
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:
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 , 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:
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?