2 Nephi 31:15-21 — LeGrand Baker — a sacred conversation

2 Nephi 31:15-21 — LeGrand Baker — a sacred conversation

In these verses Nephi tells us part of a sacred conversation between himself, the Father, and the Saviour. He begins:

15   And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

The voice of Heavenly Father is not often heard in the scriptures. When it is, it is almost exclusively in either one of two contexts. The first is when He is quoted as giving instructions to the members of the Council, as in Abraham 3 and Psalm 82. The second is when He testifies of the divinity of his Son and of the validity of his mission, as in Joseph Smith’s first vision, Jesus’ baptism, Christ’s coming to America, and here, by Nephi. Nephi is telling us a story of great importance, but he is so concerned that we hear the message that the story is barely mentioned. This is not just a sermon by Nephi, it is a review of a conversation he had with the Saviour and the Saviour’s Father. Notice how frequently with which Nephi quotes from that conversation:

11   And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
12   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; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

14   But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me.
15   And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.

20   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.

Nephi’s report of this conversation is less a sermon than it is a pleading, but it is less a pleading than it is a testimony. Nephi is testifying from his own experience – not only what he has heard, but also what he has seen:

17    Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

Sometimes, as we read the scriptures, when we get to the parts about the “first principles,” we jump over them in our mind with a leap which echoes, “I don’t need to bother to stop here, I already know that.” But Nephi is not talking about simple stuff. He has witnessed and described to a coronation, and has discussed the principles of those ordinance with Jehovah and Elohim. Now he is telling us the implications of those ordinances:

18   And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

That’s interesting, isn’t it. When one has hands placed upon his hands after baptism, one receives a command. The words of that command are: “receive the Holy Ghost.” It appears that Nephi is speaking about those who have obeyed that command. I presume that’s what he means by “…and ye have received…”

19   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;

There is nothing unusual about what Nephi is about to say here. The profundity of the ideas may be obscured in the simplicity of the words, but what he says is what all the prophets say. When one follows the “way” through the “path” to the “end,” one always discovers the same thing there. It is faith, hope, and charity. More simple words, but buried beneath their meaning is the crown of eternal life.

You and I have talked about this before. Faith is not a passive “believing” word. It is an active, doing word. The New Testament Greek word pistis, which is translated “faith,” means making and keeping covenants (See the chapter called “The Meaning of Faith” in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord). The wonderful thing about Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon is that the words – including the code words – in the Book of Mormon mean the same as the words in the Bible. Faith is a token of the covenant. Being faithful means fulfilling the promises of the covenant. Acting in faith is acting according to the covenant. Praying in faith is praying according to the covenant. Faith in Christ is doing all those things while acknowledging that Christ is the token – the personification – of the Covenant of the Father. Nephi continues:

19-b   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.”

Nephi then talks about “relying.” It isn’t as one relies on a crutch. It is as one relies on the fulfillment of an immutable promise. The word which describes the way one lives when one looks to the future fulfillment of the covenant as though that covenant were already fulfilled, is “hope.” Hope is not wishing hard, it is not even believing. It is more like trust, but a trust so perfect that it is as though that which is trusted to become — already IS. Thus Nephi writes,

20   Wherefore, ye must 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.

Nephi’s final words ring with the authority of one who knows — first hand — “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”

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