What you are about to read, if internalized, will impact every hour of your day, giving you the vision and confidence to press forward in the knowledge that you’re partnered with God in your daily life.
The Book of Mormon clearly defines the doctrine of Christ. There is not a clearer enumerated explanation of the doctrine of Christ than found in 3 Nephi 11, given by Christ Himself.
However, centuries earlier, Nephi, the son of Lehi, explained the doctrine in a way that some may say is a simplified version. He boils it down to essentially TWO words when he preaches on the subject as he closes out his record before he dies.
Nephi’s explanation of Christ’s doctrine can change your life. It can cause a personal paradigm shift.
As we explore closely Nephi’s presentation of “the doctrine of Christ” in 2 Nephi 31-32, be mindful of how your belief changes that God is and desires to be active in YOUR life this day and at this very moment. He’s anxious more than you are to walk with you, and to talk with you, in your mind (keep in mind the Holy Spirit is the mind of Christ) at first, then as an audible voice, then as a man speaks to another wo/man. First let’s look at chapter 31:
Christ was baptized. We should follow His example and be baptized. (v.9)
Repent. (v. 11)
Receive the Holy Ghost and follow Christ. (v.12)
Verse 13 then reviews:
Follow Christ with full purpose of heart, real intent, and no hypocrisy.
Be baptized, by water and the spirit/ fire.
Then in 2 Nephi 31:19, after you’ve been baptized (twice), Nephi asks if you are all done with what you need to do. He answers, “Nay”.
We must press forward after being twice baptized (first by water and then by the spirit), have a perfect brightness of hope, and love God and all men, and feast upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end (v. 20).
Nephi sums up by saying “THIS is the way” in verse 21. In the same verse, he reiterates, “THIS is the doctrine of Christ…”
Continuing in the very next verse (2 Nephi 32:1), he addresses what to do after you’re baptized. He reminds us that we’re now able to speak the words of Christ, which means the ability to articulate what God would have us say.
He teaches exactly what ‘speaking with the tongue of angels’ means. He says angels “speak the words of Christ”. That’s why he exhorts us to feast upon the words of Christ because those words come from his mind (the Holy Ghost). The words of Christ “will tell you all things” we should do. So WE can and do speak with the tongue of angels when we simply say the words of Christ. It’s that simple.
What an awesome promise it is that we can personally speak the words of Christ! How can we do this, save we receive His words?
We frequently wish to know what we should do. The answer is follow Christ. His words. When in doubt, do what the Scriptures teach. But is it simply a matter of doing the commandments listed in the Scriptures? Couldn’t you program a robot to do those things? Can a programmed robot receive personal revelation from God? Of course not. No matter how Hollywood will try to humanize a robot, they are not humans!
Nephi deals with us bluntly. He tells us in plain language that the Holy Ghost (the mind of Christ which we all can perceive in our minds) “will show unto [us] all things what [we] should do” (v. 5).
Then he puts an exclamation point on what the doctrine of Christ is in the next verse. He emphatically states without hesitation that “THIS is the doctrine of Christ”.
What is “this”?
He just took the 5 previous verses to explain what “this” is. It ties perfectly in with v. 21 of Chapter 31 where he said the exact phrase, “this is the doctrine of Christ”. In that verse he referred to the two previous verses which said we must follow “the word of Christ” in v. 19, encouraging us to implicitly trust everything Christ tells us to do. He does this by saying we can have “unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon” his “merits” because he will “save” us. Then he says we must “feast upon the words of Christ.”
The thing clearly being communicated is to follow the word of Christ, which is a prominent symbol from the Tree of Life vision, in which the IRON ROD is the word of God.
So what is “this”? Verses 1-5 of chapter 32 explain it is the “words of Christ” which “will tell [us] all things [we] should do.”
If that is the doctrine of Christ, then we have the doctrine summarized into one short, easy-to-understand statement:
Follow the words of Christ.
Or even shorter still….two words even!
Follow Jesus. Nephi is telling us the doctrine of Christ is to follow Him. Has Jesus ever said, “Come, follow me”? Christ preaches His doctrine when He makes that simple, humble invitation to us.
Following means doing. And to do something means we must know something. We must know His will for us individually.
Does Christ want us to know His will, and to know Him? Do you think He will invest His time to tutor and mentor each of us? What do you believe His interest level is in you?
We are not robots. We are made in the image of God, and we therefore have a divine destiny. Because God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life of man, it’s self-evident that He desires to get down into the details of our lives. He wants us to come to Him, literally, and any earnest journey in His direction must begin by a two-way conversation where He talks to us and we hear His voice. The Scriptures are nice to have, even essential, but again, the behavior protocol prescribed by the Scriptures can be programmed into AI in robots so they can obey the generic commandments in the Scriptures.
God isn’t a generic God where He only talks in grand announcements to the world or to a body of people. He is a personal God who is eager to speak to us as individuals.
He condescends from on High to interact with us and to instruct us in the things that He feels we are ready to receive. What a fantastic reality to live in!
So, what “follow the words of Christ” really means is to, by personal revelation, obtain the words of Christ for yourself. The Holy Ghost is present in each of us when our ghost (our spirit) is holy, or when we have the mind of Christ!
Nephi drops a bombshell in v. 6 just after he reiterates THE doctrine of Christ — which is to obtain and follow the words of Christ. He then declares that MORE of His doctrine will be given to you at a certain point in your life when you’re “in the flesh”, or in mortality. Consider carefully what you are about to read. Nephi says “more doctrine” will be “given” to you when Christ…
“…shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.”2 Nephi 32:6
This is the doctrine of the Second Comforter spelled out in plainness in the Book of Mormon. “In the flesh” can’t be referring to Christ “in the flesh” because Nephi lived 600 years before Christ was even born. So when Christ manifests Himself prior to His birth, it would have been an experience like the Brother of Jared had.
As one who has received this sublime experience with the Savior and received more doctrine from Him, Nephi further instructs in v. 6:
And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.
Then Nephi immediately laments at the revealed pearls he just shared because most people who read them will not even understand what he said “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.”
His concluding exhortation to those who do believe and understand what he’s saying is to “pray always” that we might know the Lord’s will for us in our daily lives. We must ask, “give us this day our daily bread,” and then do what He tells us to do. The active principle in coming to know God is, “Ask, and it shall be given,” or “Draw nigh unto God
Nephi’s closing words reveal Christ’s doctrine as an intended intimate relationship with each of us. Nephi doesn’t give a rote list of do’s or don’t’s. He proclaims a personal God who wants to interact with each one of us—- even YOU! He teaches concisely and plainly that Christ’s doctrine is all about Him telling us things personally. Perk up and listen, and do those things, enduring to the “End” (Christ) and then Christ will eventually manifest Himself to you and give you more doctrine.