1 And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place. [Having been lead by the Spirit to gather to this place.]
2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death.
3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; [They heard it in their mind, yet it was audible as if having coming from above.] and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. [An immediate reaction by the entire body of people to a sound, which was not from the ears, but even more acute.]
There is something happening here, more than hearing a voice to prepare them, they were in the process of receiving a baptism of fire, or to be made clean to be able to stand in the presence of the Lord. Mormon records that “there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake” and the voice pierced their souls and their hearts burned. This is a typical description of the physical effects of a baptism of fire.
When a pillar of light and glory descends it can only be seen with the spiritual eyes. It cleanses, brings a remission of sins, and creates a circle of light that can surround a single individual or be as wide as a city.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. [To hear the literal voice of the Father introducing the Son. Three times was the words spoken so that all would hear and understand.]
8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
After about a year, many of the righteous had planned to gather for Passover at the temple in Bountiful. As they were assembled they heard the voice of the Father speaking to them and then saw the man in white descending from Heaven. It looked like a white light coming down into their midst. They saw Him in His glory, but it was a little different than I expected. What happened was that their spiritual eyes beheld him, and yet it was a physical manifestation too. Had they not been transfigured in the Spirit they would not have seen Him like this. Imagine a visionary experience where thousands witness the same thing! (personal journal)
There is something incredible happening here. How is it that the God of Heaven could simply descend into the midst of these people and they not melt from His power? Did the Lord leave His Throne and come to them, leaving all creation to fend for itself? Similarly to how Jesus was able to house His glorified spirit in a resurrected body and walk among men in Jerusalem after His resurrection, He is able to condescend from His Throne and visit amongst us in our physical bodies. It is a continual process of condescension and resurrection. He can show Himself as He wills. Yet, as an omnipresent being He is capable of continuing to oversee all creation and still focus His love upon a single individual.
9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
Jesus identifies Himself, yet they had already received a witness from the Father of His identity. He introduces Himself without raising His voice; there was no intercom. He spoke and they heard His words into their minds as if He was standing next to them.
12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
Every person attending this event was a humble seeker of Christ. Can you imagine the feelings and absolute love and contrition that you would feel to be in the presence of the Lord in this manner? In a similar manner as He came to the Nephites in Bountiful shall He come to His disciples in the last days when He first calls His Gatherers. Then there will be other visits before His final coming to the world in fire and glory!
13 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one [each individually] until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
About 2500 people were able to have a personal experience with Jesus Christ. It was not a single-file-line, with each taking the several minutes required to touch each of His wounds and embrace the Savior. They each had an individual experience in the Spirit, their full Second Comforter, a personal and unique conversation with the Lord. If they had done it in the flesh it would have taken at least 42 hours for each to have at minimum one minute to greet their Lord. Can the Lord provide this experience to all at once? Yes. They truly saw with their eyes and felt the prints in His hands and feet. They each witnessed the resurrected Jesus Christ and as Mormon said in the previous chapter, “did have great favors [Even that which is more than they were yet worthy to receive ] shown unto them, and great blessings poured out upon their heads [New Covenants that will be made.], insomuch that soon after the ascension of Christ into heaven he did truly manifest himself unto them—”
16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: [They all finished receiving their witness about the same time and there was an eruption of praise!]
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.
What does it mean to worship? It is to focus your entire heart and soul upon something to the extent that you desire nothing more than to emulate and be with that person or object. These Nephite’s hearts were completely broken and contrite before the Lord.
18 And it came to pass that he spake unto Nephi (for Nephi was among the multitude) and he commanded him that he should come forth. [This was Nephi’s first experience with the Lord in this manner, yet He had both seen and spoken with Him previously.]
19 And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet.
20 And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him.
21 And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. [Nephi had performed baptisms for the Lord before, but this was a new commandment.]
22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.
23 Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.
24 And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:
25 Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. [This is the exact manner in which a baptism is to be performed. The authority is given directly from the Lord, and the requirement is simple: they repent (desire to know Christ), and they desire to be baptized. That is all.]
26 And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water. [The immersion signifies a complete covering, and then to come forth renewed in Christ.]
27 And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. [They are of the same glory and mind of God, as we are to join with them in receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. In no other way may we become perfected.]
28 And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. [Even amongst the righteous who survived the destructions, there were many disputations concerning how to baptize, who should baptize, and many of the doctrines. The Lord commands this to cease and to focus upon the simplicity of the words He has commanded.
When the Lord comes at the commencement of the establishment of Zion in the last days there shall also be many disputations among us concerning doctrine. At that time He will again command His servants to have no disputations, and such diverse views shall be laid to rest]
29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
I have seen many good men and women in the Lord become angry and frustrated when others have different doctrinal views as them. We must judge righteously and remember that the Lord will sort out the differences. Do not become angry and allow the adversary to influence your heart. Trust in the Lord.
30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. [Another word for doctrine is “way” The “Way of Christ” is His Gospel and the Book of Mormon contains a fullness of His Way for us to come unto Him. It is glorious!]
31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent [Part One of the Doctrine] and believe in me. [The Lord always emphasizes this relationship between Himself and the Father, and our relationship with Them. The key is to come unto Him, to repent, and this is the grace that is given to us that we might have Eternal Life.]
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, [Part Two of the Doctrine] the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. [The importance of baptism is not to be overlooked. It is an essential part of the Doctrine. Why baptism? Because it is an eternal witness of our commitment that transcends time and space. In this is a mystery.]
34 And whoso believeth not in me [does not come unto Christ], and is not baptized, shall be damned. [cannot increase in glory]
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. [Part Three of the Doctrine is that you shall be visited with fire (the washing of glory that makes clean) and the Holy Ghost (the renewal of your spirit to a higher glory).]
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. [This is the gift to you.]
37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. [The Lord uses the example of being as a little child to explain repentance. You must believe and trust, for you know very little at this stage.]
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. [Twice it is spoken. The emphasis is striking!]
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. [A Warning that the adversary will come, but that if you remember what was commanded you will prevail against them.]
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. [Can you not see how this has occurred today, that many of the simple truths have been added upon, and the requirements for baptism have become complicated, or in some cases reduced? Evil is the express motive to undermine the kingdom of God. When men seek to lift themselves to gratify their pride the Doctrine of Christ is not allowed to function as it was designed. You must seek revelation to know the difference.]
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth. [The words “Go forth!” have special significance to a servant as they are to begin an important mission. And so it shall and has been spoken in these last days.]