Commentary on 2 Nephi 31:17

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. 2 Nephi 31:17

“…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…” Apparently, Nephi was shown in vision some, or all of the life of the Savior[1].  He admonishes the reader to do the things your Lord and your Redeemer should do. In other words, we are invited to follow in the footsteps of the Savior.

“…that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter…” The word gate, as used in this verse, means entrance. What is it we’re entering? I answer: a relationship with Jesus Christ—our Lord and Redeemer, through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“…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.” The gate he describes is familiar to all members of the church:

1. Repentance—there are various kinds of repentance. As the apostle Paul points out, there is a worldly sorrow sort of repentance that is not acceptable to God. This kind of repentance needs to be repented of. Then there is Godly sorrow repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Worldly sorrow vs. Godly sorrow:

Worldly Sorrow

“Repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. Many men and women in the world demonstrate great willpower and self-discipline in overcoming bad habits and the weaknesses of the flesh. Yet at the same time they give no thought to the Master, sometimes even openly rejecting Him. Such changes of behavior, even if in a positive direction, do not constitute true repentance.” President Benson, Ensign, October 1989, p. 2.

Godly Sorrow

Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. Those who receive this gift suffer “very real mental and spiritual anguish”. The scriptures refer to this as a “broken heart and a contrite Spirit” (See 2 Nephi 2:7). Such a Spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.

2. Baptism by water—is a priesthood ordinance. By receiving ordinances by those having authority; the power of Godliness is manifest to men in the flesh. (D&C 84:20-21).

3. Remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost—the prophet Joseph Smith taught that baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing. To receive a complete baptism requires baptism of water, and of the Holy Ghost[2].

When followers of Christ enter the covenant of baptism the Lord in turn gives the supernal gift of the Holy Ghost to those who diligently seek for it (1 Nephi 10:17). Then in the time, the Lord gives the additional blessing of receiving a remission of sins by fire and the Holy Ghost. This is a two part process for most church members (2 Nephi 31:13).

Receiving a remission of sins fulfills the baptism covenant. Justification and sanctification are gospel terms that now have meaning. Based on my experience and understanding the recipient is in a state of grace; having been justified by the atoning blood of Christ. It is also a sanctifying experience, but it is important to understand that sanctification is not total. The recipient needs to retain their remission of sins (Mosiah 4:12,26).

Summary

I rarely hear church members testify of the things I’ve written about in this post. When was the last time you recall hearing a church members testify of diligently seeking for the gift of the Holy Ghost?

I mostly hear of Spiritual experiences that come in the form of comfort and help when a member is suffering from the death of a loved one, job loss, health problems, a wayward loved one, and etc. The Lord really does bless church members with these kinds of concerns.

Church members fast and pray for many things, but it appears (based on listening to members speak of their experiences for many years) that few fast and pray specifically for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and a remission of their sins by fire and the Holy Ghost.

My experience with obtaining a remission of sins came when I plead with the Lord to forgive me of my sins. I specifically asked with great intensity, fasting and praying, to be forgiven of my sins. After suffering much in both body and spirit the blessing came!

Since that day, I have been studying the scriptures, the Book of Mormon in particular, and the words of the prophets of the restoration to help me understand what I experienced.

I count the Lord as my friend because of the things I experienced when He extended His tender mercies to me at a time of great need. Click here for a more complete account.


[1] Elder Haight experienced a vision wherein he saw the life of the Savior. Click here.

[2] “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost” History of the Church, 5:499

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