There’s something amazing about reading the final words of any prophet as they sit down and seek to synthesize their life’s experience into words of counsel to those that follow.
Throughout Nephi we loved searching for the phrase, “My Soul Delighteth” to see all the things he felt were most precious about the gospel.
Here in 2 Ne 31:3 he writes for the 2nd time:
My Soul delighteth in plainness
How poignant is that principle that the depths and mysteries of God are not shrouded in obscurity or muddled by unfathomable mysticism.
We are each able to receive revelation and deep spiritual knowledge for ourselves as Nephi says: “The Lord giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.”
The Doctrine of Christ: Embarking Upon the Covenant Path
Two things we found remarkable about the gospel summary Nephi offers in these final chapters of Second Nephi:
1) It is completely and focused on Christ. Here he is both the power and our example.
2) It is focused on Action. What do we do once we have determined to walk this path?
We are told that Christ’s example will teach us what we should do (31:12). That the words of Christ will teach us what we should do (32:3). And finally the the Holy Ghost will teach us what we should do (32:5).
Between Us and the Lord
Christ’s example of baptism is given as the first point in this path. Here we find that baptism is more than just a symbolic cleansing of mortal stain, it is the offering of our souls with real intent, in covenant to follow God’s plan for us with the promise of both redemption and transformation through Christ’s power.
When we read the part about: “Acting no hypocrisy” (31:13), and we learned that hypocrite also comes from the Greek word for actor, we thought about how many times spiritual things get tied up with others impressions and judgements of us.
While comparison and judgement are common features of humanity, sacred covenants are not made to to impress or help others feel more comfortable about our life and decisions.
Here Nephi is telling us, this covenant is between us and God. We are offering ourselves to him and as he sees and searches our hearts that is all that matters.
The Tongue of Angels
When I (Eva) was baptized it was together with my parents in a Turkish Bath in Sofia, Bulgaria. We were some of the very first members in the country and I certainly didn’t have deep understanding of the fullness of the Gospel at the time (we only had about 3 chapters of the Book of Mormon translated into Bulgarian). Just the same I had read and prayed and felt the kinds of undescribable emotions that I could only relate to having found something true, alive and absolutely wonderful!
After the baptism and confirmation I remember boarding a bus to get back to our apartment and looking around at all these complete strangers and wanting to just go up to them and hug them and tell them how wonderful the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ was.
I was experiencing the kind of spiritual euphoria that Nephi describes in verse 13 when he talks about speaking with the tongue of angels. I have experienced similar feelings at various times since then and have often felt like baptism was a lot like unlocking the gate to a huge mansion filled with everything good you can imagine and explore following that first step.
I Would Ask If All is Done
Some years before I (Adam) was baptized, I attended a kintergarten graduation ceremony. I remember donning my paper cap and feeling ecstatic that there was an end in sight. Just a dozen or so more years I was told and I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore!
That next Sunday sitting in sacrament it donned on me that their might be a parallel principle at play, so I blurted out loud enough for most of the congregation to overhear: “Mom, when do we Graduate from Church?”
I remember being disappointed with the answer at the time, but since then I have come to appreciate that whatever spiritual light and joy and high places we reach along our lives, the best still lies ahead and there is no end to the wonder of learning and drawing closer to our Savior throughout this life and beyond.
I’ve since learned to love the repetition of each week partaking of the sacrament and renewing that though of: I want to do the right things, follow Christ, be better than I have ever been and I need all the help I can get.
This is what Nephi had in mind I believe when he penned these immortal verses:
“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; 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.
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.”
Spiritual Impressions & Translation
Speaking of penning, we marvel at the idea of scribing all of these words upon plates again. With the luxuries of pen, paper and word processors we can take spiritual impressions and turn them into written form in short order.
Can you imagine trying to hold onto those same impressions as you painstakingly carve out each individual letter over a course of hours and days and trying to remember what the next word was.
It’s no wonder that many of the Book of Mormon prophets took pains to complain about this process and their hopes that it wouldn’t detract from what they felt to share:
33:1 neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
Thankfully the Holy Ghost has the power to take those same initial impressions that Nephi scribed here, bring them into an English translation through the Prophet Joseph and then translate them once again back into spiritual insight as we read them.
How grateful we are for them and Nephi’s parting words about their power and potential to inform and influence our whole lives:
“33:4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life beternal.
5 And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil.
33:14 And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.”